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Watery environments and Bluetooth headphones traditionally don’t mix well. Most modern wireless earbuds and headphones do offer some level of water and sweat resistance, but what if you want to get more than a little wet? Listening to music while swimming not only requires a device that’s fully waterproof, but also a way to play your music underwater. Water disrupts Bluetooth signals, and so even the best wireless earbuds won’t be very useful in the pool, no matter how waterproof they are.
To solve the Bluetooth problem, the best waterproof earbuds for swimming come in two main types:
- Bone conduction headphones or earbuds with an onboard MP3 player
- Headphones and earbuds that come with a radio transmitter for aquatic environments
Swimmers aren’t the only athletes looking for the best waterproof headphones in 2022. Even terrestrial athletes may encounter water while they work out. For example, getting drenched in an unforeseen downpour while out running or being covered in three hours worth of sweat on a long-distance bike ride can also ruin unprotected electronics. An easy fix to this problem is to ensure your devices are fully capable of handling water-filled environments.
Thankfully, there are plenty of waterproof headphones and earbuds designed specifically for athletes that will completely suit your aquatic needs. Keep scrolling to find our selection of the best waterproof earbuds for swimming.
How To Pick the Best Waterproof Earbuds for Swimming
Before we share our favorite audio products for swimming, here’s what you need to know.
IPX67 vs. IPX8 Waterproofing
The IP waterproof system is a rating scale that helps you determine the water resistance rating of your devices. When buying Bluetooth headphones for swimming, you don’t even want to entertain anything that is rated below IPX67 or IPX7 — your headphones will get ruined. An IPX7 rating means your headphones, or any device with that rating, can handle being submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, which makes an IPX7-rated device suitable for activities in and around the pool.
You’d think that IPX8 would be a step up from IPX7, and in some regards it is, but not quite how you might think. IPX8 ratings are determined by the manufacturer. Devices that are IPX8 essentially go through the same testing protocols as IPX7 devices, but manufacturers can bump it up to an IPX8 rating if, let’s say, a device handles submersion for longer than 30 minutes. Either way, if you plan on doing anything in the pool, you should only be considering headphones specifically rated for submersion underwater.
Ear Hooks vs Earbuds vs Waterproof Headphones
Waterproof headphones and earbuds have come a long way in recent years, and there are lot of great options for working out. Usually, we recommend hook-style earbuds for athletes because they stay in place during vigorous exercise. When it comes to swimming, we recommend earbud-style headphones (no ear hooks) if you wear a swimming cap that covers your ears. Without a swimming cap, there is a good chance they’ll fall right out, and it won’t be fun trying to find your earbuds at the bottom of the pool. If you do buy earbud-style underwater headphones, then look for products that come with multiple ear tips (or ribbed ear tips) so that you can find a good fit.
For everyone else, the best waterproof headphones for swimming will have ear hooks to keep them securely on your head during flips and turns. As long as the ear hooks are on firmly, and the plastic ear tips have a good seal, you should be good even when swimming laps. Finally, you can also buy wrap-around bone conduction headphones, which are also popular among terrestrial athletes.
3.5mm Connector vs. Integrated MP3 Player
We didn’t include many waterproof Bluetooth earbuds in the shopping guide below, and that’s because wireless audio technologies like Bluetooth don’t work so well in water. Even if they did, finding a way to keep your phone within the 30-foot range at all times is far less convenient than just having a dedicated waterproof MP3 player. With this in mind, you have two options: using a waterproof MP3 player, or buying waterproof earbuds that come with their own wireless radio transmitter.
The Best Underwater Earbuds For Swimming
Below you’ll find our recommendations for not only swimmers but for all athletes who push their workouts to the next level. Trust us, these headphones can handle more than just sweat. If you get caught in a rainstorm while you’re on your morning run, or if you prefer to work out in the pool, these waterproof headphones won’t mind getting wet with you.
In our experience, the best waterproof earbuds for swimming cost between $60-$300. You can find cheaper options for sale, but they’re not always worth your time or money. You can find lots of cheap wireless earbuds that work perfectly well on dry land, but if you’re headed into the pool, then expect to pay a premium for the features described above.
1. Zygo Solo Waterproof Headphones
Rather than using an onboard MP3 player or an unreliable Bluetooth connection, Zygo took a totally different approach with its waterproof headphones for swimming. After testing them out in the pool, we can verify that they’re the best underwater headphones, full stop. These headphones utilize bone-conduction technology and a wireless radio transmitter for clear sound underwater. You can wear the headphones comfortably over swim caps without loss of audio quality. Best of all, you can stream music, podcasts and workout routines from your device to the headphones while you get your laps in.
We also love Zygo Solo’s unique walkie-talkie feature that allows coaches to give instructions to swimmers in real-time. For anyone who is keen on not only bringing some music to their workouts but also improving their overall technique, we think you’ll love Zygo’s underwater headphones. We found they offered great sound, were easy to set up, and had reliable connectivity underwater.
Why They’re the Best: As we said in our review, we’ve never tested anything Zygo Solo, which offer clear sound, best-in-class waterproofing and a unique radio transmitter for a fully wireless setup. You’ll pay a premium for these features, but for serious athletes, these are the best waterproof earbuds for swimmers without question.
Why We Like It: Stream music and audio from your phone, live coaching feature, premium sound
2. Swimbuds Sport Premium Waterproof Headphones
Swimbuds is the most well-known brand in the underwater audio category, and the Swimbuds Sport wired earbuds are the follow-up to the brand’s popular classic headphones. These new Swimbuds were designed to offer less drag in the water, and that’s because Swimbuds products are designed specifically for swimmers. The downside to Swimbuds? You aren’t buying a complete audio package, and you’ll need a separate underwater MP3 player. Swimbuds does offer some bundles if you’re looking for a one-and-done solution. If you’re looking for a truly wireless solution, then we recommend investing in the more expensive Zygo headset.
Why We Like It: Top wired option, great for swimmers
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
3. Finis Duo Underwater Bone Conduction MP3 Player
The problem with water and earbuds is when water seeps into your ear canal, it can make music sound garbled and muffled. Eliminate that problem with the Finis Duo Bone Conduction MP3 Player. These headphones clip onto your googles and actually rest on your cheekbones, instead of going over your ears. Through bone conduction, the music travels through your cheekbone to your eardrum, so you’ll still be able to hear your music clearly. Ah, the wonders of science. Plus, you’ll be able to store around 1,000 songs, so you can keep jamming in the water. You won’t win any style points, but these might be the underwater music solution you’ve been searching for.
Why We Like It: Designed to clip to goggle straps, MP3 player and headphones in one
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
4. Swimbuds Waterproof Earbuds (w/ SYRYN Waterproof MP3 Player)
While we’ve only featured headphones with integrated MP3 players so far, there are also standalone wired earbuds that are designed to be used with a waterproof MP3 player that can clip to your headgear. This bundle from Underwater Audio pairs the Swimbuds with the Syryn Waterproof MP3 Player, providing everything you need to listen to music while getting your laps in. The SYRYN has big tactile buttons so you can easily shuffle through songs, play and pause, even while you’re in the pool. And since this MP3 player is rated to handle water up to 10 feet deep, you won’t have to worry about diving headfirst into the pool and damaging the player. And when it comes to battery life, you’ll prune up before you outlast the 10-hours it’s rated for, and you won’t even begin to scratch the surface of the 2,000 songs it can store.
Why We Like It: Convenient all-in-one bundle of headphones + MP3 player, great battery life
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
5. H20 Audio Sonar
These bone conduction headphones have 8GB of onboard storage, so you can fit thousands of songs on them to prepare for your long session in the pool. It supports both m4a and MP3 formats, and you just need to plug it into your computer and drag and drop songs to the headphones. They are completely waterproof and can handle a dive up to 12 feet with no problem. Finally, these headphones can also sync up with your smart watch.
Why We Like It: Built-in MP3 player, bone conduction waterproof headphones
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
6. H20 Audio Surge S+ Waterproof Headphones for Swimming
The most comfortable earbuds come with a variety of ear tips to ensure you find your perfect fit. These wired headphones use special tips to produce a tight seal inside of your ears, so you can still get premium audio quality underwater. And deep underwater you can go, as the IPX8 rating means these headphones can handle being submerged up to 12 feet. The headphones come with five unique tips for small to large ear canals, making them great for your entire workout regimen. Although these aren’t self-contained, they’re still a solid pair of waterproof headphones, specially made with swimmers in mind.
Why We Like It: Swimmer-friendly short cord, flexible ear fit
Waterproof Rating: IIPX8
7. Underwater Audio HydroActive Waterproof Headphones
If you want a more fitted wired option, the HydroActive earbuds are a performance-focused model made by Underwater Audio. These swimming headphones feature a wrap-around design that is guaranteed to keep your buds in place as you let those butterfly strokes fly. However, these still feature a 3.5mm jack and not an integrated MP3 player. And for some, this is a good thing: You can use these with any MP3 player you like for years to come without having to worry about compatibility with file formats or computers, or whether the battery will go kaput.
Why We Like It: Secure wrap-around design, unique wraparound design
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
8. Sony Waterproof Walkman MP3 Player
This Sony Waterproof Walkman MP3 Player is made for extremes. Whether you’re swimming across a lake or hiking the highest peaks, this water- and dust-proof device is capable of coming with you. The tough and durable design is ideal for sporting activities and also includes 4GB of built-in memory for storing your music. The intelligent device also lets you answer calls and delivers up to 12 hours of playback from a full charge. In addition, the player is capable of dealing with saltwater and extreme temperatures. These headphones are designed to be submerged (including in saltwater), but they have a lower waterproof rating than the other options on this list.
Editor’s Note: These headphones have been discontinued, and there is a very limited number available for sale online.
Why We Like It: Sony’s famous audio quality
Waterproof Rating: IP67/68
9. Nocmpic Bone Conduction Headphones
Using the latest Bluetooth technology, these bone conduction headphones pair and stay connected with your mobile device, even when you’re in the pool. As we’ve warned, Bluetooth connections can be unreliable underwater, but these headphones also have 8GB of onboard storage that allows you to keep thousands of songs readily available. It sports about eight hours of battery life, plenty for your morning run and afternoon swim before it needs a recharge. This is also one of the top-rated options in the underwater headphones category, which is full of buggy products that don’t perform as advertised.
Why We Like It: Strong customer reviews, onboard MP3 player and bone conduction audio
Waterproof Rating: IP68
Updates: This article was last updated on July 29, 2022. At that time, we selected a new “Runner Up” option — the Swimbuds Sport Earbuds — based on reader feedback. We then moved our previous “Runner Up,” the Nocmpic Bone Conduction Headphones, to the “Honorable Mention” position. The Sony Sports Walkman NW-WS413 4GB Digital Music Player has been discontinued, although a limited supply is still available online, so we moved these headphones further down in our shopping guide and added an editor’s note. We removed the JBL Endurance Dive headphones, which have also been discontinued. Finally, we added additional information on the Zygo Solo and updated pricing information throughout the article.
Previously, this article was last updated on February 24, 2022, at which time we completely revamped the product selection based on research and product testing. At that time, we named a new “Best Overall” winner, the Zygo Solo.
FAQs About Underwater Headphones & Earbuds
While popular audio companies like Sony and JBL used to make underwater headphones for the mass market, these products have been discontinued. As a result, it can be hard to pick out a winning pair of headphones for swimmers. We've already covered the best waterproof earbuds for swimmers, but we wanted to summarize our advice. Keep reading for answers to frequently asked questions about swimming headphones.
Unfortunately, you can't use waterproof earbuds underwater. Bluetooth signals are compromised by the water, which will make it difficult to stream your music. As a result, you need a specialized set of underwater earbuds or headphones. Most of these products come with an onboard MP3 player or connect to one via an 3.5mm audio jack. In addition, you can find underwater headphones that come with a radio transmitter, which does work well while underwater.
There's really only one product for serious swimmers to consider: Zygo Solo. These bone conduction headphones are designed specifically for swimming and come with a wireless transmitter so you can listen to music, podcasts or workouts. They also feature a walkie-talkie feature that can be used for swimming instruction.
If you prefer earbuds to headphones, then we recommend the Swimbuds Sport Premium Waterproof Headphones. Keep in mind that these wired earbuds require a separate MP3 player to function.
If you wear a swim cap, then hook-style earbuds are not necessary. Your swimming cap will keep earbuds securely in place while you swim. However, if you are not wearing a cap, then you'll definitely want to use hook-style earbuds.
With a $300 price tag, these headphones are definitely an investment. However, if you're a serious swimmer, then these are the best waterproof earbuds around, and there's nothing else like them. We've tested (and loved) these headphones, and we think you will too.