When you’re getting your laps in at the pool, or going for a swim in the open water, a good set of headphones can add a soundtrack, give you a rhythm to work with, and elevate your entire experience. If you’re on the hunt for a good pair of swimming headphones or earbuds, you’re in the right place.
What should I look for, when buying swimming headphones?
Runners usually opt for headphones or earbuds that are sweat-proof and dust- or dirt-resistant. Those kinds of headphones don’t transfer well in the water, because they’re not completely waterproof and cannot withstand extended submersion in a pool. So, if you’re a regular swimmer, investing in a pair of waterproof swimming headphones is ideal.
What kind of headphones you should get, depends on your comfort and swim style. Our audiology expert, Alexander Foley, head of the audio department at SAE Institute Dubai, shares some advice: “If you are planning on using headphones while wearing a swimming cap, this can directly affect the comfort and performance of the headphones. The last thing you want is to constantly be diving to the bottom of the pool to rescue your fallen earpiece.” He recommends looking for waterproof earbuds that have a tight seal to keep the water out of your ears.
Most waterproof headphones differ from their regular counterparts, in that they integrate an MP3 player and storage library, because Bluetooth signals don’t work well underwater. But Foley said it’s still worth considering headphones with Bluetooth technology: “Having Bluetooth capabilities make the headphones useful for simply listening to music in general, or while you are in the gym and lounging by the pool. Most swimming headphones have a built-in MP3 or media player, so checking the amount of storage they have, the types of files that can be used and how the earbuds are controlled is also important.”
Next, think of whether you’d prefer inserting earbuds in your ears, or using headphones that don’t need any insertion. This is where bone conduction headphones come in.
What is bone conduction technology?
In bone conduction tech, soundwaves bypass the eardrum so there’s no blockage of your ear canal and you can hear ambient sounds (like the lifeguard telling you to stop splashing).
Foley discussed the positives and negatives of bone conduction headphones in the water: “For swimming, this technology would be useful, as water will hinder your eardrums’ ability to respond to sound if submerged. It also means that out of the water, your ears will also be able to hear the outside world, as nothing is blocking sound from entering your ear as normal. The main disadvantages would be that they can be cumbersome, and depending on their design, may become dislodged during activity. There are other possible drawbacks, as they can be uncomfortable over time, and some people have even reported experiencing vertigo-like symptoms.”
Based on Foley’s recommendations and user reviews, we’ve curated several highly rated options for you, from traditional in-ear headphones to bone conduction headphones. Take your pick and purchase with Amazon Prime, for free, fast delivery.
1. Best Overall: AFTERSHOKZ Xtrainerz Open-Ear Swimming Bone Conduction Headphones
- 4GB of MP3 storage
- IP68 waterproof rating
- Compatible with swim caps, goggles, ear plugs
- Powerful eight-hour battery
- Not compatible with Bluetooth
If you’re looking for a lightweight pair of bone conduction headphones, AFTERSHOCKZ Xtrainerz is a great option, and is one of our expert's top recommendations. Its IP68 rating means it’s fully waterproof and can be submerged in up to two metres of water for two hours. The headphones have a storage capacity of 4GB, equating to about 1,200 songs. Reviewers say the headphones’ sound quality is best when doing the front crawl or backstroke, when the device is completely submerged. You may find some variation when doing a breaststroke, however, since you can hear the water sloshing about as you repeatedly rise and submerge (it’s because the ear canals are left open, when using bone conduction headphones). This is not a deal-breaker in any way, however, as the headphones are a comfortable fit and easy to use, with excellent sound quality.
Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh74.25 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers 1-year extended warranty for Dh52 and 2-year extended warranty for Dh85.
2. Best Multipurpose: Sony NW-WS623 Waterproof All-in-One MP3 Player
- IP6X dustproof and IPX8 waterproof rating
- 4GB of storage
- Multisport use
- Includes Bluetooth
- Includes ‘ambient mode’ feature
- In-ear fit may not be suitable for everyone
- Some reviewers say battery depletes quickly
Are you looking to use one pair of headphones for all your workouts? Then, this Sony MP3 player, which comes highly recommended by Foley, is the one to get. The in-ear pair of headphones is waterproof and dustproof, and is designed to be tough, for multisport use. Its head-hugging design ensures a comfortable fit, so it doesn’t matter if you’re doing your laps in the water or running on land – it’s going to remain secure. With an ambient mode that you can switch on to improve your ability to hear what’s going on around you, these are great to use when you’re working out with a friend or trainer. Amazon reviewers like how easy it is to transfer music or podcasts onto the device, and appreciate that you can switch to Bluetooth when you prefer. But some find that the battery life is not ideal, and lasts just over three hours rather than the 12 hours claimed by the headphone maker.
Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh70.90 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best Fit: FINIS Duo Underwater Bone Conduction MP3 Player
- Secure fit
- Excellent sound quality
- IPX8 waterproof rating
- 4GB storage
- Cannot be used securely on land
This pair of bone conduction headphones has a unique design for a reason – it provides the most secure fit, according to Amazon reviewers. One user said it remained firmly secured when he tried different swim styles at the pool, and most impressively, when he tried diving in and tumbling. FINIS Duo performs at a depth of three metres for up to 30 minutes, and its 4GB of storage space allows you to play up to 1,000 songs in both MP3 and WMA audio formats. The twin units clip onto your goggles, and large buttons give you easy access to volume and playback controls. Because it’s so specialised though, its secure fit may not transfer when running or cycling on solid ground.
4. Best Bluetooth Headphones: H2O Audio Sonar
- 8GB of storage
- IPX8 waterproof rating
- Connects with iOS and Android smartwatches
- Great sound quality
- Cannot be worn without goggles
Using bone conduction technology, these H2O Audio Sonar headphones clip onto your swimming goggles and depend on them for support. The device is very easy to use – large, raised markings help you toggle even as you swim – and its massive 8GB library gives you the ability to listen to over 2,000 songs. Unlike many other waterproof headphones in the market, H2O Audio Sonar lets you stream via Bluetooth. But watch out, because the range of Bluetooth underwater is notoriously limited – the signal only stretches four inches deep when the receiver is underwater, so you’ll need to attach your smartwatch to the goggles for it to work!
Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh42 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers 1-year extended warranty for Dh35 and 2-year extended warranty for Dh57.
5. Best Value: Swimbuds SYRYN
- 8GB of storage
- Large, tactile buttons for easy navigation
- IPX8 waterproof rating
- Good battery life
- Not a secure fit, according to reviewers
A straightforward, easy-to-use gadget, Swimbuds SYRYN has a compact body that you can clip on to the back of your goggles. You get 10 hours of playback from a single charge, and 8GB of storage means it can accommodate a library of over 2,000 songs in a variety of formats – AAC, WAV, WMA or MP3. SYRYN’s IPX8 rating allows it to withstand 3m of submersion, and Amazon reviewers attest to its sound quality. The only thing to watch out for is a dislodged device during dives and tumbles in the pool, but this is easily managed, considering the device’s attractive price.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.