How to Choose Underwater Headphones
A guide of underwater earphones for swimmer
Waterproof headphones are available for those who worry about sweat damaging their headphones, those who want to listen to music while underwater, or those that worry about getting caught in the rain with their headphones. If you are planning on wearing your headphones while swimming or going underwater, you want a set of headphones that you will not have to worry about being damaged underwater.
Fit and Comfort
To keep out water and have the sound remain intact at the same time, you should look for waterproof headphones that come with multiple tip-sizes to ensure an optimal fit and seal. The fit will make sure the headphones remain in place. The seal will help keep water out, and uphold the quality of the audio sound.
There are different styles of wireless waterproof headphones available as well. Which style you need will depend on your underwater activity, and comfort preferences. You will want a pair that offers the most stability during wear, so that the earbuds remain sealed within your ears properly. You can find underwater headphones that are strictly earbuds only, some with ear-hooks or ear-fins, and some that are earbuds with a wire connecting them, for even more enhanced stability while underwater.
The Difference Between Water Resistant and Waterproof Headphones
Water resistance is the lowest level of water protection. It means the headphones are built in a way that makes it difficult for water to get inside of them, usually being coated by a water-resistant material. Water resistant earbuds should be limited in their water use.
Waterproof is the highest level of water protection. Waterproof means that the headphones would be able to survive direct immersion in water. For underwater use, you will want headphones that are waterproof, not water resistant.
Headphones will come with an IP rating. IP is short for the Ingress Protection Rating Scale. The rating describes how well the headphones can keep out debris, dust, and water. There are multiple levels for this IP rating. A typical rating can be “IPX5” or “IP56,” and will always be four characters, with the first two being IP.
The third character in the rating after “IP” is the headphone’s resistance to solids, such as dust, and will range from zero to six. The fourth character in the rating after “IP” is the headphone’s protection against water, and will range from zero to 9,000. If there is an “X” in the rating, then it means that category has not been tested.
The highest rating for an earbud, which would be used for underwater use, is IPX8. A certification of IPX8 means that the earbuds would be able to survive continuous immersion in water, at a depth of 13 feet. The next best certification is IPX7, which means that the earbuds are protected against the ingress of water and will survive water damage, submerged in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Without IPX rated, no need to pick
Any certification less than IPX7 is not sufficient for use while underwater, and only certify against being splashed by rain or water jets. As discussed above, water resistance is not optimal for underwater use. Ingress Protection ratings of one to six are only water resistant, and not certified as waterproof. The highest waterproof certification of IPX9K is not found in earbuds.
When choosing an underwater headphone, you will want to look for the highest IP certification available; levels seven or eight will be waterproof certified.
Always keep in mind that the waterproof notation on the headphones does not mean they will never fail, when in contact with water. If the headphones are submerged past the recommended depth and time of their IP rating, they will likely be damaged. Additionally, if there is a hyphen in the IP rating, then it is non-standard, and should not be trusted as a true IP rating.
Sound quality on underwater headphones depends on the wireless connection. Depending on the depth of use, there can be breaks in the connection that will distort the sound. Bluetooth wireless headphones often have connectivity issues, so if you can find a headphone that is Bluetooth 5.0 capable (the latest Bluetooth version), then the better wireless connectivity it will have.
You want to look for headphones that can offer balanced and continuous sound underwater. It is optimal if you can find headphones that have a completely sealed speaker grill, which helps enable the headphones to survive underwater, and have the sound remain balanced.
You will also want to make sure your earbuds have a tight fit, and good seal in your ear to ensure no water sneaks in during underwater use. The chemicals in the water, like chlorine, may build up on the headphones over time and affect their ability to charge, their audio sound, and their lifespan. It is important to descale the headphones, to keep their sound quality unaffected by the water’s chemicals.
Waterproof SwiMP3 Players
If you worry about the wireless connectivity and smooth sound connection from wearing underwater headphones synced to your smart device, there is another option. There are SwiMP3 players, that bundle a waterproof audio player with a pair of waterproof headphones. You would wear the entire device while underwater. The downside to these is that you would need to load music onto the device from your computer, for storage. The size of the device is also small, and will have a smaller audio storage than your smart device. These devices are also not as comfortable as using headphones alone.
You can find affordable waterproof earphones with an IP rating of IPX7 for under $20, but their sound quality may be lacking due to features in their build to keep costs down. A more expensive underwater headphone is going to offer better sound quality, more durability, longer battery life, and longer underwater time and further depths. The more durable the headphones are in build, then the longer they will last underwater and over their lifetime as well.