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The Athlete Approved Guide to Waterproof Headphones for Swimming
Listening to music is a must-have for running and lifting, so why not swimming?
Luckily, there are waterproof headphones for swimming that allow you to take your favorite music, podcasts, and audiobooks into the water with you!
There are all sorts of waterproof headphones on the market today and they range in price from $40-140+. If you’re looking for one that won’t break your budget or has certain features like bone conduction or streaming capabilities, then be sure to read our Athlete Approved guide before making a purchase.
Our Athlete Approved Team created a guide for using waterproof headphones that includes:
- The Best Waterproof Headphones Overall: Finis Duo
- The Best Waterproof Headphones for Land and Swimming: Sony Waterproof Walkman NW-WS623
- The Best Waterproof Headphone Earbuds with Plug In Cord: Underwater Audio Swimbuds Sport
- The Best Waterproof Headphones for Streaming Music with a Smartwatch: Finis Amnis Stream
- The Best Waterproof Headphones for a Budget: Pyle Flextreme Waterproof MP3 Headphones
- Benefits of Swimming with Music
- Bone Conduction vs Earbuds: Which is Best for You?
- Streaming App Services vs Purchased Audio Files
- Waterproof, Water Resistant, and IPX Rating
Elevate your swimming performance with music. Multitask your water time by learning from your go-to podcast. Or enjoy that audiobook you have been meaning to get to all while swimming laps!
BEST WATERPROOF HEADPHONES OVERALL: Finis Duo
The Finis Duo Underwater Bone Conduction MP3 Player is our top pick for underwater headphones.
It uses bone conduction technology to transmit audio. This means you can listen to audio without the use of earbuds! This patented technology by Finis is best in its class.
The Duo’s two piece design seamlessly attaches to your goggle strap. It is designed with buttons that make it simple to navigate the play, stop, forward, backward, and volume buttons.
We love the crystal clear audio while you swim with your head in the water.
What we love even more is the lowered audio while your head is not underwater. This makes it perfect for swimmers to easily hear coach instructions or chat with their fellow swimmers between swims.
The device comes with a USB magnetic dock for charging and importing files.
Files the Finis Duo Supports:
- Non-protected MP3 and WMA
- AAC and purchased AAC files that are converted to MP3 files
Files the Finis Duo Does Not Support:
- Protected MP3, WMA, and AAC files
- Audible book downloads
The Duo offers battery life up to 7 hours. It stores 60 hours of playback (approximately 100 songs).
BEST WATERPROOF HEADPHONES FOR LAND AND SWIMMING: Sony Waterproof Walkman NW-WS623
The Sony Waterproof Walkman NW-WS623 is out top pick for waterproof headphones to use on land and in the water.
Sony is one of the most reputable players in the headphone industry. This product delivers for both swimming and dryland use.
Store your favorite audio directly on the Waterproof Walkman NW-WS623 to use when swimming. The Bluetooth connectivity does not work in the water. If you are an avid swimmer, considering upgrading storage size:
- The 4GB model is called the NW-WS623. It holds approximately 1,000 songs.
- The 16GB model is called the NW-WS625. It holds approximately 4,000 songs.
It can stream audio wirelessly through your smartphone on land. It features an option for an ambient sound mode which allows you to hear outside noises. This is perfect for having conversations with your workout partner and being aware of your surroundings.
Pair it with your phone to take phone calls… Just not while swimming!
These headphones have a 3 minute quick charge for 60 minutes of playback. They will have 12 hours of playback on a fully charged battery. They come in black, blue, green, and white.
BEST WATERPROOF HEADPHONE EARBUDS WITH PLUG IN CORD: Underwater Audio Swimbuds Sport
The Underwater Audio Swimbuds Sport are the perfect pick for swimmers looking for earbuds with a cord to plug into a waterproof device.
Underwater Audio specialize in water proof music options. The Swimbuds Sports is their premium short cord headphone with amazing sound and comfort.
Swimbuds Sport come with 11 earbud tips unique for everyday listening, swimming, water sports, and dryland activity:
These waterproof earbuds give you a secure air tight fit. The short cord can be tucked into your goggle strap. It is the perfect length not to impede on your swimming.
Do you need a waterproof device to use with your Swimbuds? Look no further than Underwater Audio’s two options:
- Swim with apps Spotify, Apple Music, Audible, Stitcher, Pandora, and iHeart Radio through offline playlists. (Note that most of these apps require a paid subscription.)
- Upload file types including MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, and more.
- Counts your laps and split times!
- 8GB or 16GB storage options.
- Drag and drop MP3 and WMA files.
- This lightweight waterproof MP3 is designed to clip to your goggle strap.
- Simply plug it into your computer.
- 8GB of memory – approximately 2,000 songs.
BEST WATERPROOF HEADPHONES FOR STREAMING MUSIC WITH A SMARTWATCH: Finis Amnis Stream
The Finis Amnis Stream allows swimmers to listen to their favorite subscription service with Bluetooth through waterproof headphones. All you need is a smartwatch!
With the popularity of subscription services, Finis created a device to stream audio through your favorite smartphone app. The Amnis Stream works with Apple Music, Spotify, Audible, and more. Download music, podcasts, or audiobooks to your smartwatch. Or select “offline listening”, the same you would do in airplane mode.
Do not wear your smartwatch on your wrist. The Bluetooth connection cannot travel that far. Your smartwatch must be within 5cm of the cord for the Bluetooth to pass through water.
Simply tuck your smartwatch into your cap or clip it to your goggle strap.
Note that since you are not wearing your smartwatch on your wrist, you may not be able to use it to track laps, heart rate, or other traditional functions.
To view if your smartwatch will work for audio, view the compatibility chart on the Amnis Stream product page.
This device uses crystal clear bone conduction technology (no earbuds). Like the Finis Duo, the audio quality is second to none.
Place the headphones in front of your ears on your temple bones. The audio vibrates through your cheek bones allowing you to listen without the use of earbuds.
The Amnis Stream battery lasts for up to 5 hours depending on the volume. It is waterproof up to 3 meters.
BEST WATERPROOF HEADPHONES FOR A BUDGET: Pyle Flextreme Waterproof MP3 Headphones
The Pyle Flextreme Waterproof MP3 Headphones are our top pick for the least expensive option.
Despite their lower price, this device is still an all around solid product.
These headphones works both in water and on land. For water use, you can easily upload files from iTunes from Mac or Windows. For land use, you can pair it with your phone to stream audio of your choice.
It comes with 2 earbuds for water use and 3 earbuds for land use. When you couple that with the flexible band, you will find the perfect fit.
This device comes in black with blue trim. It has 4GB of storage and is compatible with MP3 and WMA. The battery lasts up to 10 hours on one charge.
Benefits of Swimming with Music
Some swimmers enjoy the quiet zen of swimming.
Others get bored of staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool. Listening to music while swimming can help solve that.
There are countless studies that show how music elevates mood, increases athletic performance, and even promotes metabolic activity. Music keeps you entertained while you workout longer and harder! It can also lower your perceived pain threshold.
Multitasking with an educational podcast can help you learn while you swim. Do your mind and body good all at the same time!
Do you have a book you have been meaning to read? Purchase the ebook version to listen during your swim.
It is not always easy to find the motivation to go to the pool. Waterproof headphones make it a little easier!
Bone Conduction vs Earbuds: Which is Best for You?
Bone conduction technology vibrates sound through your cheek bones into your ear canal vs. earbuds which traditionally have in-ear placement.
Bone conduction does not work as well on land. You can test it out on land when wearing bone conducting headphones and plugging your ears.
When swimming, bone conduction works with your ears in the water. It works with no disruption while swimming any of the four traditional strokes.
When resting on the wall or kicking head-up with a board the volume will be turned down. This can be perfect for swimmers listening to a coach or chatting with their fellow swimmers.
Earbuds are the way to go if you are an aqua-jogger, aquafit swimmer, or pool lounger.
They are most effective when placed into dry ears. It is a best practice to keep them in your ears for the duration of your swim. It can be difficult to get an air tight fit when water is already in your ears.
When you have a solid fit, they can double as earplugs (and we have a guide to earplugs too).
We feel the overall quality when swimming is better with bone conduction vs. earbuds.
Bone Conduction is best if you are…
- Lap Swimming
- Looking for high quality while swimming and lower volume when not swimming
- Hard of hearing since you are not using ear canal to hear sound
Earbuds are best if you are…
- Aqua-jogging or swim with your head out of the water
- Looking for headphones to also use on land
- Listening to music on a pool float
Streaming App Services vs Purchased Audio Files
These days purchasing audio files for download is becoming less and less popular.
Most people stream music through apps like Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora. There are options to use these apps when swimming through “offline listening”.
If you have music files you would like to upload, be sure your underwater headphones have a built in storage. If you do not, then use a streaming option. The streaming apps require that you download files for “offline listening” for listening in the water.
Headphones with Audio Streaming Apps:
Waterproof, Water Resistant, and IPX Rating
Keep an eye out for headphones that are water resistant instead of waterproof. Water resistant headphones are built to withstand rain and sweat. Do not mistake them for being able to withstand 100% water immersion.
Our top Athlete Approved picks in this article are all waterproof.
In case you look outside of this list, understand IPX rating. Most waterproof headphones will be at the IPX8 level.
- IPX0: No protection from water.
- IPX1: Resists water that drips vertically.
- IPX2: Resists water at a 15 degree angle or less.
- IPX3: Resists water sprays up to 60 degrees.
- IPX4: Resists water from any direction.
- IPX5: Resists low pressure water splashing.
- IPX6: Resists high pressure water spray.
- IPX7: Protected when submerged in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
- IPX8: Protected when submerged in water deeper than 1 meter.
- IPX9K: Protected from high pressure and temperature sprays.
Conclusion on The Athlete Approved Guide to Waterproof Headphones for Swimming
There are many important factors to consider with waterproof headphones, such as bone conduction vs earbuds and streaming vs audio storage.
These are a big purchase, so take time to make sure you get the right set for you.
Let us know your feedback on our Athlete Approved Underwater Headphone picks in the comments and social media.
See our Athlete Approved Buying Guides for:
- The Best Snorkels for Lap Swimming in 2021
- The Best Fins for Lap Swimming in 2021
- The Best Paddles for Lap Swimming in 2021
- The Best Waterproof Headphones for Swimming in 2021
- The Best Earplugs for Swimming in 2021
- The Best Goggles for Swimming in 2021
- The Best Kickboards for Swimming in 2021
- The Best Parkas for Swimmers in 2021
View all of our Athlete Approved gear here!