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Having a solid pair of earbuds is like having a quality swimsuit—you wouldn’t want to hit the pool or go to the beach without them. And while it’s always important to get buds that repel sweat, water and moisture, if you’re going to be swimming a lot of laps, you’ll want earbuds that are fully waterproof, not just water resistant, and specifically designed to last.
The best earbuds for swimming can also prevent damage outside the pool too. No one wants to lose their tunes when they’re out running and get caught in an unexpected downpour, or have their buds start slipping after a particularly sweaty hike. In general, you shouldn’t let your gadgets near water, but there are earbuds that’ll let you jam to a workout playlist and help get you through any swim, run, or hike.
Whether you’re looking for the best waterproof headphones for swimming, or just want buds that can stand up to the elements, here’s what you need to know.
What Are the Best Waterproof Earbuds For Swimming?
While different earbuds have different levels of waterproofing, the best waterproof earbuds should be able to stay completely drenched in water without sacrificing audio quality. Mostly using your earbuds in the pool? Consider how long of a swim you’re taking, and how deeply submerged you’ll be.
Waterproofing: The IP rating is the industry standard for waterproofing, so you’ll know exactly how much your devices can handle. For earbuds for swimming, you wouldn’t want to go below an IPX7 rating unless you want serious damage. An IPX7 rating means your earbuds will stay protected in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Any longer and you’ll want to spring for IPX9-rated devices, which can handle continuous submersion.
Wired vs. Bone Conduction: If you’re wondering why there are no wireless Bluetooth buds on this list, that’s because Bluetooth technology is essentially rendered useless once you’re submerged a few inches underwater. So in this case you have two options for in-ear buds: a traditional pair of wired earbuds that you can pair with a waterproof MP3 player, or waterproof earbuds with built-in music storage. There’s also a third kind for swimming—bone conduction headphones, which go over your cheekbones and use vibrations to transfer the sound to your ears. Though the sound quality is debatable for this type, it’s worth looking into if you’re not a fan of in-ear headphones.
Integrated MP3 Player: Even if wireless tech like Bluetooth worked better in the water, you’d still have to keep your phone at a close range to listen to your music, which just isn’t feasible. If you spring for wired waterproof earbuds, it’s best to pair them with a waterproof MP3 player specifically for swimming. With a separate MP3 player, you also won’t have to worry about limited battery life in the same way you would with waterproof headphones that integrate MP3.
Eartip Fit: Eartips come in multiple styles (flanged, tree tips, etc) and materials (rubber, silicone, foam, etc), so you may have to try out a few to see what you like. But ultimately they should keep a watertight seal and have a comfortable fit in your ears, so you swim laps and not have to worry about a stray earbud sinking to the bottom of the pool. Some may come with an earhook, so you’ll be even more secure.
1. Zygo Solo
These true wireless Bluetooth top our list because of their design (which doesn’t actually include anything in-ear), with unique streaming capabilities that don’t compromise on sound. Since Bluetooth can’t cut it underwater, and other swimming earbuds make you manually upload MP3s, this set comes with a transmitter (kind of like a walkie-talkie). When kept poolside, it sends a radio frequency to your headset while you’re in the water, letting you easily stream music, podcasts, audiobooks, and workouts directly from your phone.
Great for swimming or working out, these comfortable, durable pair get you up to three hours of playtime, and eight hours on the transmitter. The material makes it fully waterproof in up to two feet below the service, which works well for impromptu swims as it does for longer practices. The bone conduction open-ear design means you won’t have to fiddle with controls or messy wires, either. Earplugs and goggles will be more comfortable to wear, since you won’t actually have anything in your ear.
The touch controls to play, pause, use volume and switch track order seem convenient, but reviews say they can be a bit tricky to use when you actually get in the pool. But overall these earbuds are durable, outlasting even your longest lap session.
2. Pyle Flextreme MP3 Earbuds
BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY PICK
These earbuds don’t have a ton of frills, but for their price point, they deliver on MP3 storage, so you can listen to hours of music with its built-in 8GB flash memory.
The physical touch controls make it simple to adjust your music when you’re actually in the water. The earbuds come with a bendable, adjustable headband that will keep them secure, but other than that, the design is fairly streamlined as to not distract while you’re working out or swimming.
They typically can play about 10 of music without needing to be recharged, and with an IPX8 rating, are listed as “fully submersible” in water up to 10 feet deep. But we recommend these more for lengthy swims rather than deep-diving. As durable as they are in the water, we also wish they could better handle more extreme conditions, like temperatures over 104°F, below 23°F or very dry environments.
But for waterproof earbuds with a built-in MP3 player, this is a top notch affordable option that will give you all the music you need to power through your workout.
3. Swimbuds MP3 Audio Player
Even though the design of these wireless earbuds from Swimbuds aren’t the most stylish, if you’re a hardcore swimmer, that won’t matter. With 11 earbud tips in four different styles and a grippy ear hook design, these buds are sure to stay in place for your entire swim.
The IPX8 rating means the earbuds are fully waterproof too, and will stay powered on for up to seven hours of battery life. Though they’re not Bluetooth-enabled, with 8GB of memory (that’s around 2,000 songs), you’ll have more than enough space for all the music you need to keep you motivated.
Audio is surprisingly well-balanced, with a full range of sound and detail even when you’re in the water. The playback controls are a little clunky, but the bigger buttons can actually be easier to press when you’re in the middle of an underwater workout.
These earbuds are absolutely the best fit we’ve seen though, so you won’t have to worry about your buds slipping out during a swim ever again.
4. SwimBuds Premium Waterproof Earbuds
BEST WIRED EARBUDS
There’s a lot to love about wired earbuds, and SwimBuds makes one of our favorite pairs for swimming. The premium waterproof earbuds have a sleek wrap-around headband that will keep these buds in place, but won’t interfere with head gear like swim caps. The IPX8 rating means the buds hold up in deep water and all weather conditions, while the interchangeable eartips make it easy to find the best fit possible.
Unlike the other waterproof buds, these earbuds feature a 3.5mm jack, and don’t come with an integrated MP3 player. But this can actually be a bonus, because you won’t have to worry about the battery dying in the middle of your butterfly stroke, or whether your music files are compatible.
We’ve found the sound on these to be clear and unmuffled, with multiple protection chambers making this one of the most watertight earbuds on our list. Connected to the best waterproof MP3 player, you can attach these to your goggle strap and easily hop in the water right away.
From Rolling Stone US