Editor’s Note: November 2022
There are many other waterproof headphones out there, and we’re currently working on getting them tested and reviewed to give you more options especially during the holidays.
Models like the Mifo O5 Plus Gen 2 Touch and the Cre8 Sounds are currently in the running to be added to this list, and we’ll add them as soon as we’ve put them through their paces.
In the meantime, there’s already quite a few excellent options here for you to choose from.
Michelle Rae Uy, Buying Guides Editor
Soundtrack your swims with the best waterproof headphones. Whether you’re just a casual enthusiast or you’re training for a big triathlon, having a pair of headphones so you can listen to music is key to either motivating you or shutting the rest of the world away and center you.
Unfortunately, even the best headphones out there aren’t really waterproof. Most workout headphones and running headphones have some level of water-resistance so they don’t fail you at the first drop of sweat, but there aren’t a lot that offer full waterproofing. That means they only have enough water resistance to fend off sweat and rain, not complete and extended submersion in a pool.
To take headphones into the pool, they need an IPX7 rating or higher. To really know the difference, take a look at our waterproof vs water-resistant headphones guide.
Waterproof headphones are, therefore, not the typical headphones you’ll usually see out and about on public transport. They’re especially made for swimmers, and are there to soundtrack those laps as well as block out ambient noise. Many also come with their own built-in waterproof MP3 player and storage since Bluetooth doesn’t transmit as well underwater.
With Black Friday only a few weeks away, we expect to see deals on some of these waterproof headphones mixed in with many Black Friday headphones deals. We’re keeping an eye out so that as soon as those discounts starting rolling in, we’ll share them in this guide for convenience.
We have researched, tested, and reviewed many models, putting each pair through its paces by doing laps and taking notes on their performance, battery life, and sound quality. So, we know a thing or two about what makes the best waterproof headphones and which models are worthy to recommend. Take a look at our top picks below that include several in-ear headphones and some bone conduction headphones.
The best waterproof headphones 2022
The Zygo Solo is the only waterproof headphones we’ve tested that can stream music and podcasts from a phone sitting by the side of the pool. Bluetooth signals can only penetrate water for a very short distance, and the Zygo Solo gets around this problem using an FM radio transmitter – an unusual but effective approach.
The transmitter is quite large, but the ability to enjoy music, podcasts and coaching tips (provided by the Zygo app) without messing around with MP3 files is a real bonus. The headset itself isn’t as compact as the others in this guide, but in our tests, it proved comfortable and remained secure even when making turns underwater. The sound quality is impressive, too. Like the Aftershokz Xtrainerz and Sony NW-WS413 below, the Zygo Solo uses bone conduction to transmit sound to your auditory nerve, and while it sounds a bit tinny on land, once you’re in the pool, the sound has an impressive amount of bass.
We’re also big fans of the Zygo mobile app, which offers instructor-led workouts and drills to give you training some variety. In the future, the company plans to add Peloton-style interactive sessions, which will make use of the headset’s built-in accelerometer to track your progress in the pool. The best waterproof headphones you can buy today.
Read our in-depth Zygo Solo review
The H2O Audio Sonar are bone conduction waterproof headphones that clip securely to your swimming goggles and transmit sound to your auditory nerve without needing earplugs (unless you choose to wear a pair). The buttons are large with raised markings, allowing you to operate them with wet hands and to switch tracks by feel.
Unlike many competing waterproof headphones, the H2O Audio Sonar can also play music via Bluetooth – though this is limited by the range of Bluetooth underwater. The signal will only stretch around 4-in when the receiver is submerged, so you’ll need to attach your smartwatch to your goggles for this to work (streaming from a phone isn’t feasible).
It’s good to have another option if you use your watch for streaming music regularly, but the Audio Sonar’s generous 8GB onboard storage will be plenty for most swimmers. If you have an Apple Watch, check out H2O Audio’s Interval headphones, which hold your watch’s body at the back of your swimming cap so you can stream tunes from Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora and others.
The Naenka Runner Diver sets itself apart from other bone conduction headphones by offering something most of its rivals do not have – a Bluetooth module so you can stream music straight from your phone. Well, to an extent. Unlike the Zygo Solo, which allows you to do so underwater, these waterproof headphones are limited to streaming on land. You still have to rely on stored MP3 files for your music listening needs during a swim.
Still, it’s a step closer in the right direction, and it means that you can own only one pair to use for your land- and water-based audio enjoyment. Adding to its versatility is its 16GB storage, double the other options here. As for its performance, we found during testing that it works beautifully in and out of water – although the sound quality is much better in water when you’ve got the earplugs on.
Since it uses bone conduction, expect bass-heavy audio that lacks treble detailing. But, we didn’t find that particularly deal-breaking. Not for everything else you’re getting.
Read our in-depth Naenka Runner Diver review
A set of Sony headphones with a built-in MP3 player, the Walkman NW-WS413 is marketed for general active use and works much like any others. The fact they’re waterproof and ideal for swimming is a massive bonus.
Available with 4GB or 8GB of storage, this plus the buttons on either side makes them a tad larger than usual but not irritating. They arrive with four sets of earbuds – two standard ones and two matching swim-specific versions – although mixing the two up won’t result in damage.
Once popped on, a sprung connective clasp around the back of your neck ensures both sides remain secure in your ears. This is perfectly acceptable in the pool, and if you’re very fast off the wall, a cap will further lock these swimming headphones in place.
The sound quality can be excellent, or a bit muffled depending on how the water sloshes around your ears. However, people who care about such things will likely find it an improvement over that provided by bone conduction waterproof headphones. There’s even an ambient sound mode that improves your ability to hear what’s going on around you.
They also sound great on dry land and can double up as a pair of running headphones. If you’re a swimmer and only want to own one set of headphones, these should be well up your list. Although you can’t connect them to your phone, they’re otherwise great for both sporting and general use. With top sound quality, normal looks, and a comparatively low price, there’s a lot to recommend them.
An excellent choice for all-around sporty types, these slim-fitting bone conduction waterproof headphones work both in and out of the pool. Containing an inbuilt MP3 player, they let you take your tunes with you when swimming while also allowing you to exercise to music away from your phone.
When swimming, we found the Shokz OpenSwim (known as the AfterShokz Xtrainerz until the company rebranded in December 2021) best paired with swimming goggles or a swim cap to keep them in place. Like many of the best waterproof headphones, they use vibrations to transmit sound to your auditory nerve without blocking the ear canal. The bit of the headphones that manages this sits just in front of the ear, and three small buttons behind the right ear let you navigate, play and pause your tracks.
With a dedicated swim mode, the sound provided is clear enough, while not only will your ears be free from potential irritation incursions, you’ll be able to hear ambient noise, like the lifeguard blowing their whistle at you for excessive splashing. This same facet means that sound does tend to bleed out when above water, so although great for cycling or running, they’re likely to annoy anyone you sit next to on the bus.
Although offset by the other benefits, the lack of Bluetooth does mean you’re left to plug the headphones in to upload songs or podcasts, and they’ll be no pairing with your phone to take calls. Still, if swimming is your main concern, these are an excellent choice.
Read our in-depth Shokz OpenSwim review
The Finis Duo waterproof headphones have been around for a while but are still a good choice. Like the Shokz OpenSwim above, they use bone conduction technology to transmit sound underwater via your cheekbones. The Finis’ twin units attach to either side of your goggles, while large buttons are provided on one of the ear pendants to allow you to fast forward, rewind, shuffle, and play or pause your tracks.
With 4GB of flash memory, you can store up to a thousand songs depending on file size, while the battery provides around seven hours of continuous use. The sound quality might not bowl over audiophiles, but on the plus side, you’ll likely have less fiddling around than with more conventional in-ear headphones.
Back on dry land, charging and uploading are achieved via a magnetic, USB-based dock. Although we found it necessary to regularly clean the very small charging points on the device as they can get clogged up.
Still a solid option, the Finis Duo now faces competition from smaller, less obtrusive-looking systems. Attaching to your goggles also means that, unlike other waterproof headphones, they’re only usable for swimming and not other activities. Worth considering if time in the water is your only concern, they’re quite a specialized product.
How to choose the best waterproof headphones for you
The style you prefer is the first thing to consider when buying a pair of waterproof earbuds or headphones. If you like the fit and feel of regular in-ear headphones, a couple of earbuds might be your best bet. However, a pair of bone-conducting headphones will work best if you want to keep your ears free to tune into your environment.
It’s also worth thinking about how you want to access your music. If you want to keep your phone by the side of the pool, a pair of swimming headphones with a built-in FM transmitter like the Zygo Solo are your best option – regular Bluetooth earbuds just won’t cut it underwater.
If you don’t want to rely on your phone, you’ll need a pair of swimming headphones with a built-in MP3 player; be sure to look into how much storage you’re getting.
How we test waterproof headphones
We’ve tested every pair of waterproof headphones in this list and in order for them to be included in this very select and specific roundup, we needed each pair of headphones to excel at a number of things.
The first thing, of course, is effective waterproofing – you need these swim-specific headphones to survive multiple dunks in the drink. But that is closely followed by audio performance, battery life, wearer security, comfort and ease of use. An IPX7 rating should not mean poor sound quality and we made sure to check for that.
From there, we looked at Bluetooth connectivity – or alternatives to it, such as onboard storage or (anyone familiar with smartphones knows that generally, they don’t play well with water) or FM radio transmitters. Elsewhere, on-device controls, comfort, value for money and of course decent sound quality helped us to reach our verdicts.
Our testing is independent – there are no sales teams involved in our review process. That is why if you take the plunge (see what we did there?) and buy a set of waterproof headphones from this buying guide, you can rest assured you’re purchasing a -approved product. For more information, you can check out our page on how we test. Happy shopping – and safe swimming.
Can you use Bluetooth headphones while swimming?
Not usually, because Bluetooth signals don’t travel far through water. If you can attach your smartwatch to a pair of swimming goggles, you may be able to use it to stream music to a pair of headphones, but not all watches and headphones support this.
Can you swim with Apple AirPods?
No, the Apple AirPods, AirPods 3, and AirPods Pro aren’t fully waterproof. Only headphones specially designed for swimming should be worn in open water or the pool.