In this article, we are discussing the best waterproof headphones and listing our top 10 favorite models. All the headphones on this list are suitable for open and closed water swimming and most other watersports.
In the run-up to doing my first half Ironman, the one thing I struggled with most was boredom when swimming. The hours in the pool added up, and I got more and more frustrated; swimming was monotonous and becoming more of a chore to me than a passion. Until one of my training partners introduced me to waterproof headphones (actually waterproof earphones), which completely changed the way I trained.
It has been a couple of years now, and I have tried many different models of earphones. With this being a headphone review site, it was time to put together this list of the 10 best waterproof headphones for swimming and let you know my favorite setup in 2021.
Something to note is that I don’t think that this list only benefits swimmers. These headphones will work well for almost any sport in which your headphones are going to get wet. They are perfect for paddleboarding, surfing, kayaking, wakeboarding, etc., and anything in between. The key thing to note here is that if your earbuds are going to contact water, these are the best options you can buy right now.
What Waterproof headphones do I use?
As I mentioned, I am no professional swimmer, but I am a hobbyist, triathlete, and mid-distance swimmer. I also happen to run this website dedicated to headphones. The two of those things I think make me qualified to share my insights with these products.
My own personal setup has changed very little over the past few years. Originally I started with an Audioflood waterproof iPod Shuffle and a set of the Surge waterproof earphones you can read more about in the full list below. I would use a clip of the iPod behind my head to my goggles and use the short cable on the earbuds to run into the headphone jack.
Today, in 2021, the products I use are different, but the setup is similar.
I replaced the Audioflood iPod with this Sewobye Waterproof Player. Thanks to its simplicity and pricing, it’s currently the highest recommended player on our list of the best waterproof MP3 players.
The earphones have also been changed out for the Underwater Audio Hydroactive short cord earphones. I have tried many, but these work best for me. Unfortunately, many lists just run down the products, and the truth is told, most sites have never even owned or tested their products to their full capabilities.
After some time, I have noted that the Hydroactive earphones are by far and away from the best option for me.
Don’t think for a second that anything on this list is sponsored, as I have actually bought and paid for every set of earphones on the list. No freebies, no paid placements. Just an honest opinion on what is good and bad.
While this article covers the best waterproof headphones currently available, you can check out our list of the absolute best sports headphones if you don’t need such a high waterproofing level.
My Recommended Waterproof Headphones:
Top 10 Best Waterproof Headphones for Swimmers – 2021
1. Audioflood Hydroactive – Test winners
At first, I was unsure about spending this much money on a set of waterproof earphones. However, with a few months’ use now under the belt, I can’t go back to using standard earbuds.
I have never been a fan of neckband earphones, but when swimming, they work very well to keep the earphones in place without them falling out.
The construction was also excellent, and they are made from high-quality materials that are resistant to snapping or cracking. The neckband is, in fact, quite flexible, and whether you drop it or tug at it, I really don’t see much chance for the headphones to fail unless you are particularly abusive.
The big selling point with Hydroactive is the plethora of ear tip options you can use. They come with 4 different styles of tips, each of which comes in 3 different sizes, so that gives you a lot of options to get a secure seal and keep water out.
The earbuds come with a short cable as a default which I found the perfect length to attach to my player at the back of my swim cap. In the box, they also include a longer cable that is a simple plug-and-play type so you can quickly convert them for use out of the pool.
2. Sony NW-WS623 – Waterproof headphone with integrated MP3 player
I prefer to use a separate mp3 player with my headphones, but I see some people at the pool with these all in one neckband earphones with an integrated MP3 player. After a lot of research and trying out a few different models, I settled on the Sony because the price was good, and they were the ones that managed to remain secure on my head during swims in open water.
Despite the large appearance in hand, the terribly named NW-WS623 is actually fairly comfortable on the head, and they managed to stay in place without coming loose for most of my sessions.
The charging was a mix of good and bad. On the one hand, the 3-minute quick charge function was amazing to use. But, on the other hand, if you charge these earphones for just 3 minutes from the flat, you can produce 1 hour of playback time at moderate listening volumes.
Not so great was Sony’s choice to use a proprietary charging dock. As a result, these earphones can not just be charged by inserting the cable. Instead, it would be best to plug them into the charging cradle used only for this earphone.
The sound quality is brilliant and by far the best in class. I also enjoyed these as a full range of sports headphones that can be used equally well in and out of the water.
3. Agptek IPX8 – Best Budget Model
The biggest surprise on this list was just how well these cheap waterproof earbuds from AGPtek performed.
I had the company’s original style that came years ago with one of their own waterproof MP3 players, and they stayed with me for a long time as a backup to my Surge earphones.
Having had my Surge’s stolen while on holiday, I actually picked up the latest set of these earphones as a stopgap but honestly, while they might not have some of the refinements of some of the more expensive models, they are great for swimmers on a budget.
They are traditional cable down ear headphones, and they come in 2 styles of eartips in 3 different sizes each. I found them easy to insert because the molding on each earpiece’s back is easy to grip with wet hands. Insertion depth was deep, and both styles of tips were able to create a good water-tight seal.
The cable is standard short, but some people will praise for the freedom of movement in some spring style accordion stretch, but that I found added a bit too much weight to the cable.
The sound is useable, but it’s not going to win any prizes in this area. Instead, it’s an enhanced bass tuning with not too much treble.
4. H20 Audio Surge S+
H20 Audio is one of the pioneers that brought swimming headphones to prominence. They were the earphones I used in the pool for many years and a huge reason I so enjoy listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks when I swim.
H2O Audio offers a few different models, but the best price to perform is the Surge S+. They are small and light and out of all the earphones we tested and are the most comfortable for extended and long swimming sessions.
If you don’t want a set of neckband-style earbuds, these are definitely the ones I recommend. Little things in the build quality really make them a step above the cheaper models on our list.
The cable is the perfect length to be used in an mp3 player attached to goggles. It also has no cable win, so you don’t have the weight problem you find on the AGPtek model. With these, there is no excess, but the adapter’s quality to the extension cable is by far the best and most secure on the test.
They have 2 styles of eartips. One has triple-layer fins that are excellent to keep water out of your ears, and they come in 3 different sizes. The other style is the traditional bud style tip that is less secure at keeping out water, but many people find them more comfortable. These come in 5 sizes (XS-XL).
Sound is up there with the Hydroactive, and it has great clarity with tight, punchy bass that is sure to drive your sessions further and further.
The final point will be down to pure preference, but I really like how the Surge+ looks with their blue cable and black splitters.
5. Swimbuds Flip
Swimbuds have completely redesigned their waterproof earphones, and the Flip is right up there with the H2O Audio Surge+ in terms of quality and features.
These are premium swimming headphones with excellent build quality. They are cable the ear headphone as opposed to cable straight down. In that regard, one or the other is not necessarily better, and it comes down to preference. However, if moving around underwater a lot, in the case of freediving and flip turning, over the ear cable tends to stay a bit better.
Insertion depth on the flip is profound, and they have some serious extension into your canal. I thought on numerous occasions that I was going to touch my brain. Keep this in mind because I like this deep seating because it usually ensures the waterproof seal’s strength. However, some people could find this uncomfortable in longer listening sessions.
The sound quality is great They have punchy extension into the lows and a clear yet slightly warm midrange. Treble is nice and smooth, so there shouldn’t be any problems caused by sibilance.
6. H2O Audio Surge SX10
Take everything I said that was enjoyable about the Surge headphones above in this list and apply them to the SX10 variant.
The biggest difference between the two models is the SX10 has an over-the-ear monitor design where the cable runs upwards instead of straight down. This helps them stay in place when moving and makes them suitable as multisports headphones.
The SX10 sounds the same as the original H2O earbuds, and that’s a good thing as the bass is responsive and deep, but throughout all the frequencies, there is a clarity that cheaper earbuds in this category miss.
You get 3 types of eartips to try and help your get the perfect fit. My favorite was the tri flange mode once again, as I think the extra ribs help them grip the ear canals better and prevent slipping.
These are a good alternative if you cant get your hands on the Swimbuds flip listed above, and it was a close battle when comparing the two. However, I ultimately ranked the Flip higher on this list due to the lower price and excellent deep fit that made them feel very secure in the ear.
7. Pyle Flextreme – Inegrated MP3
The Pyle Flextreme is very similar to the Sony model listed above in function, but it costs just 1/3 the price, and you don’t have to deal with that proprietary charging dock.
It has an IPX8 rating and can be submerged to a depth of 2 meters for up to 5 hours, although I suspect you could push both those limits a touch without any major issues.
It has 4GB of storage and a wide range of file support from MP3, FLAC, and many more, and I really like the simple to use drag and drop file system that worked on both my Mac and PCs and
Our battery life test showed the Pyle earphones had about 7 hours of playback at about 75% volume. That’s pretty good, but I will admit that I miss the Sony model’s quick-charge feature.
They are very well made for such cheap headphones, and I have been used in the sea and the pool for a few months, and nothing has gone wrong. (Update: 2 years of use from the original model, and they still work as normal.)
The bulky shape makes them a bit uncomfortable under the swim cap, so that’s worth taking note and without a cap, they are prone to catching the water flow.
8. H2O Audio Sonar
H20 is one of the best know companies for listening to music whilst swimming.
They have several headphones that can be used in pools or open water. Think of them as the Apple of waterproof headphones as they do research and create their own products and stand behind them with warranties.
This is the companies first foray into bone conduction to deliver sound and the work incredibly well.
For me, the biggest advantage is that they allowed me to use my standard swimming earplugs, meaning it was less likely to get water in my ears from a bad seal.
9. Finis Duo Bone Conduction Headphones for Swimmers
Bone conduction headphones are a technology that uses your facial bones to send the sound waves up to your eardrums. The article linked above explains how it works and its various applications in the 21st century.
One of those uses is swimming. These headphones from Finis are an integrated earphone and an MP3 player. Each side clips to your goggles, press down onto your upper cheekbone/eye socket area and transmit the sound.
It’s a bit strange to hear sound in your head and not in the traditional sense, but the big advantage here is you can use your traditional swimmer’s earplugs to protect from water whilst having this player provide the music.
The sound quality has a lot of clarity but is lacking in bass. I found that it worked well for audiobooks and podcasts but less so for music.
Tactile controls on the device allow you to control playback functions such as play/pause, skip & scroll tracks, and shuffle your playlist.
The earphones were easy to transfer with both PC and Mac, and they have solid build quality.
Differentiating the Finis from the other earphones on this list is that they are useless when you are not swimming, as you would need to have a band on your head to attach them to.
10. Audioflood Flip & Waterproof iPod Shuffle Package
Suppose you are looking for the absolute best solution for listening to music whilst swimming, then hands down, I recommend the audio flood iPod shuffle. I use the shuffle myself, and it just works flawlessly. Audioflood basically takes a stock shuffle and modifies it to allow it to be used underwater.
The bundle comes with excellent included headphones and other accessories and is covered by their 2-year warranty.
Update: I have been using my Audioflood for 2 years now, and it has not skipped a beat. I have been extremely impressed at just how practical it has been, and despite numerous more specific and modernized designs, this is, in my opinion, still the best option on the market.
Water Resistant Headphones vs. Waterproof Headphones
Don’t make the mistake of buying something that is only water-resistant; you are looking for waterproof headphones or earphones for swimming. Preferably something with an IPX68 or IPX70 rating. Only those are designated as being fully waterproof will stand up to being fully submerged in water.
Some headphones will be labeled as sweat-resistant or water-resistant, and this does not mean they are waterproof. They will work great if your headphones will get splashed in the rain or if you sweat on them when running, but they are not designed for swimming and watersports.
Also, the one thing I have learned is to manage expectations with the durability of the earphones. This most likely won’t last a couple of years if using saltwater in the sea or chlorinated water in the pool. If you use them in such environments, I highly suggest rinsing them after every use with clean fresh water. This will help avoid staining and corrosion over time.
Best Waterproof MP3 Players for Swimming
To use your waterproof headphones whilst swimming, you will need a device capable of playing music underwater. Whilst some mobile phones are indeed labeled as being waterproof, they are not designed to be used continuously underwater for either extended periods of time. Additionally, they are meant to be used at depths greater than a few feet. However, several companies make awesome waterproof MP3 Players for swimming.
The 2 I recommend most and that I personally use are the SYRYN 8GB waterproof MP3 player and the Audioflood iPod Shuffle by Apple. Both of these MP3 players are excellent for the task. They are fully waterproof and designed to be used for swimming. Both also come with a good set of waterproof earbuds, which kicks this off with 2 solid sets.
Update: We now have a list of the best waterproof mp3 players for swimming and will continue to keep it updated during 2021 as new models become available.