For decades, headphones have been nearly ubiquitous in the gym. Not the case in the pool. For the most part, swimmers and water-enthusiasts have been left high and dry, so to speak. That’s not the case anymore. Ear buds that deliver decent audio playback underwater are becoming common. Thanks to their affordable prices, it’s likely you’ll even see some of your lapmates sporting these buds.
Sure, some of these waterproof earbuds have names reminiscent of products found in a Sky Mall catalog. These are waterproof headphones, people. It’s a niche product. And yes, there are plenty of busts out there that just don’t stay in-ear underwater. But there are some terrific performers.
Here’s our roundup of the best waterproof headphones. Each should provide a tight seal, and some will even provide a pretty balanced bass. Better still, all of them can be purchased for less than $100.
Related: Best headphones for running
Before we get started, here’s a quick pointer. If you’re having difficulty forming a seal with your earbud, try spreading a small amount of Vaseline or chap stick on the rim of your ear. And take warning, these ear buds could cause significant ear damage if used below 3 meters (9 feet).
Swimbuds are commonly bundled with those waterproofed iPod shuffles that are nearly ubiquitous at swimming pools. It’s likely you’ve seen Swimbuds before. They’re one of the most popular options. For starters, they’re warrantied for two years and come with a gold plated stereo jack to help prevent corrosion.
Every swimmer is after a device that’ll remain securely in-ear. Swimbuds will do that. Inside the box are removable ear hooks that wrap around your ears and four different pairs of buds designed to fit different ear canal sizes. Also included are two cords, a short cord that’s long enough to wrap around your goggles, but not so long as to get in the way. There’s also waterproof extension that’ll come in handy for other water sports or visits to dryer parts of the gym. Again, applying Vaseline to the rim of your ear canal should help with the fit. SwimBuds are warrantied for two years.
Everything about these headphones is designed to fight off moisture. Sure, the Waterfi Short Cord excels in that category — that’s to be expected from Waterfi, the water-proofing veterans behind such waterproofed electronics as the waterproofed iPod shuffle. These headphones may not have the sound quality of those over-the-ear headphones you keep at the office, but they do just fine for the pool. Especially considering they feature a short cord that’ll easily clip to your goggles but won’t be long enough to get in the way of your workout. Waterfi added a gold plated audio jack to fight off salt, chlorine, and other corrosive elements.
These days, there’s not much you can do with $12. You could buy dinner, have a few beers, and maybe purchase 3 gallons of gas. Pyle’s PWPE10B could possibly be the best way to spend $12. Sure, they won’t give you the sound or the fit of some of the other options, but they’ll deliver enough utility and durability for the recreational swimmer who is simply curious if listening to music while swimming is worthwhile. It may be a good idea considering that underwater headphones are such a niche product.
Are the Marine Sport Waterproof Headphones perfect? Not exactly. The major setback is the fit. The stark reality is this: you’ll have to keep these ‘buds in place with a headband or swim cap. Inside the box you’ll find three sizes of earbuds and a somewhat cumbersome 4-foot long cord. The gold plated audio jack and silicone buds have the ability to withstand moisture, salt and chlorine. You’ll also receive a 1-year warranty. Though, lots have flack has been thrown in Pyle’s direction for not replacing broken headphones. If these headphones do malfunction (and they very well may, these aren’t intended to be a long-terms solution) it’s likely you won’t receive much in the way of support. But hey, you can’t return beer after it’s been drunk, either. Am I right?
Think of these marine-colored earbuds like Surge’s running headphones a la mode. Surge has designed running and water-resistant headphones for a while, and now they’re diving into the pool. These boast some impressive innovation, a completely waterproof microphone that allows users to take calls from the pool with the touch of a button. It’s unlikely that you’ll talke your phone into the pool anytime soon, but this could be a benefit for anyone who’s looking for a waterproof headphone that could preform well in the weight room as well.
Related: 10 best waterproof Android phones
Rated to resist water up to 3 meters, the package includes 5 different ear buds, amplified bass, somewhat isolated sound, and a remote that allows you to change songs or adjust volume directly from the cord. Though, these bad boys work best with iOS. Some of the features may not work on Windows or Android devices.
Sony W Walkman ($100)
Sony’s classic fitness headphone has been waterproofed. And the people at Sony are serious about proving the aqua-friendly nature of their headphones. Originally, the headphones were offered in a package that fully submerged them in water. That isn’t the case anymore, but it may be the best all-around solution for anyone who’s spent the last few decades exercising with a Walkman.
Admittedly, the the wrap around design may feel cumbersome and increase drag. Even so, the Walkman W has a bevvy of terrific features, including a quick charge feature that allows users to get 60 minutes of playback off of just 3 minutes of charging. It’s one of the most affordable options, considering you won’t have to purchase a waterproof .mp3 player. The W Walkman allows users to drag and drop music straight to the headphones and create playlists from third-party music players including iTunes and Windows Media Player.
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