Boy wearing waterproof headphones in swimming pool

The Best Waterproof Earbuds and Headsets of 2022

By Nikshep Myle SoundNo Comments

While water-resistant earbuds that can handle a bit of rain and sweat are a dime a dozen, those appropriate for underwater use are much harder to come by. Harder, but not impossible: a few models do make listening to your favorite music and podcasts while doing laps of the pool a reality.

When shopping for waterproof earbuds and headsets, you’ve basically got two choices: those appropriate for swimming, and those that are better suited to use in the shower or when splashing around in the pool. While we’re mostly focusing on swimmers today, we’ve also included a good, cheap option for those with less-demanding requirements.

For a long time, the only sensible option you had for listening to music while swimming was a self-contained set of earbuds with inbuilt storage and playback. You’d load up your songs or audiobooks, hit play, and start doing laps of the pool.

Many waterproof earbuds and headsets still use that approach, since Bluetooth streaming simply doesn’t work underwater: it essentially stops working when you’re more than an inch or two below the surface. Other options are available, though, from simple wired earbuds to high-end wireless FM transmission. We talk about them all below.

Whatever model you’re looking at, the IP (ingress protection) rating is key. Every IP rating consists of two numbers: the first is resistance to solids including dust, the second resistance to water. If there’s an X instead of a number, it means that aspect wasn’t tested or doesn’t exist.

For swimming and other sustained underwater use, look for an 8 (eg: IP68 or IPX8). While the exact tests vary, earbuds and headsets certified to IPX8 can handle continual immersion in water at depths greater than 1m (3.3 feet) for longer than half an hour.

With waterproofing out of the way, it’s time to consider other aspects. Battery life, size and comfort, audio quality, and any reduction of outside noise are all important. The playback method (internal storage, streaming, or physical connection) will have a big impact on both usability and price, and as with anything used during physical activity, durability matters.

Let’s look at the options.

Best Waterproof Headset for Underwater Streaming: Zygo Solo
  • Style: Headset (bone conduction)
  • Battery Life: 3 hours
  • Connection Type: FM transmitter
  • Storage: n/a
  • Water Resistance: IP68

Sale
Best Waterproof Swimming Earbuds: Sony Walkman NW-WS623
  • Style: Earbuds
  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Connection Type: Inbuilt audio player or Bluetooth
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Water Resistance: IP58

Sale
Best Budget Waterproof Earbuds for the Shower: Tozo T10
  • Style: Earbuds
  • Battery Life: 6 hours
  • Connection Type: Bluetooth
  • Storage: n/a
  • Water Resistance: IPX8

Best Wired Waterproof Earbuds: AGPTEK Waterproof Earphones
  • Style: Earbuds
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connection Type: 3.5mm cable
  • Storage: n/a
  • Water Resistance: IPX8

Best Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones: AfterShokz Xtrainerz
  • Style: Headset (bone conduction)
  • Battery Life: 8 hours
  • Connection Type: Inbuilt audio player
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Water Resistance: IP68

Best Waterproof Headset for Underwater Streaming: Zygo Solo

Zygo Solo headset, transmitter, and charging case on metal tray

As I mentioned earlier, until recently the simplest solution for underwater audio was a waterproof headset with an integrated MP3 player. The problem, however, is that we’re all moving to streaming our music and podcasts, and offline players don’t allow for that.

What about wireless earbuds, I hear you ask? Since Bluetooth hardly has any range underwater, you can’t use it to connect your earbuds to your phone while you’re swimming. That’s where the Zygo Solo comes in.

This bone-conduction headset dumps Bluetooth in favor of an FM transmitter, letting you reliably stream audio from your smartphone even when you’re under the ocean waves. No more dragging and dropping MP3 files onto your device again. 

In the package you’ll find an IP68-rated bone conduction headset, an IP67 FM transmitter and stand, a pair of standard waterproof earplugs, and a charging case. That’s a lot of gear to take poolside, and a security concern unless you have someone keeping an eye on it or it’s safe to leave it unattended.

Assuming that’s not a problem, the FM-quality sound, whopping 50m underwater wireless range, and coach-led workouts (via the Zygo app) are very impressive. The transmitter also doubles as a walkie-talkie if you’re working with a real poolside coach. There’s really no other device like this that allows for true wireless audio when you’re swimming.

It’s fine in salt water, and has great outdoor range for activities like water skiing or surfing, usable up to a third of a mile away. Even FM has its limits, though: leave it behind when you’re diving, since you won’t receive audio deeper than about two feet underwater. 

The headset has limited playback options (all you get are volume controls) so you’ll want to queue up enough tracks to last your session, unless you enjoy swimming back to your transmitter whenever you want to switch track.

Although it’ll take a bit of getting used to compared to standard earbuds, the open-ear, bone conduction nature of the headset means that none of it goes inside your ear. As a result, swimming caps and goggles are much more comfortable to wear than with other models. The lack of wires, too, is a big bonus in that regard.

The Zygo Solo earbuds have pretty much everything we looked for when it comes to an underwater streaming headset like this. The only real issue was the limited battery life: at around three hours between charges, it’s lower than anything else on this list. You’ll also need to charge the FM transmitter, albeit not as often.

If your swimming sessions don’t run longer than that, though, and you can find somewhere to safely stow your phone and the transmitter when you’re swimming, this is by far the best way to stream unlimited music and podcasts when you’re underwater.

Pros
  • Reliable underwater streaming 
  • Coach-led workout via the Zygo app
  • Bone conduction technology for clear underwater listening
  • 50m range (swimming pool)
  • 0.3 mile range (outdoor water activities) 
  • Works in salt water
Cons
  • Need to leave your phone and the transmitter poolside
  • Limited underwater range (two feet)
  • Low three-hour battery
  • Minimal headset controls

Best Waterproof Swimming Earbuds: Sony Walkman NW-WS623 

Sony NW-WS623 4 GB Waterproof Walkman MP3 Player with Bluetooth - Black

If you’re looking for waterproof earbuds with great battery life, clear sound, and a rugged build, you can’t go past the Sony Walkman NW-WS623. These IP58-rated earbuds are aimed at those who spend time in or around water, but can do double duty for anyone who spends time in the great outdoors.

The earbuds are compact and lightweight, and will hardly take up any space in your swim bag. As well as the earbuds and charging cradle, you’ll get a pair of dedicated swimming eartips, along with a standard set for use on dry land.

One thing to note if your head is on the larger side: the cord at the back isn’t particularly long. This can put tension on the tips that stops them from sitting snugly in your ears, which isn’t ideal when the tips aren’t especially comfortable in the first place.

The inbuilt player has 4GB of storage (enough for around 1000 songs), and handles a range of file formats including MP3, WMA, and others. Unusually, you’ve also got the option of Bluetooth streaming as well: it won’t work underwater, but makes these earbuds much more useful the rest of the time.

When using the internal player, the lack of streaming provides a big boost to battery life: you’ll get a full 12 hours between charges, the best on this list. When you do finally run them flat, it takes around three hours to get back to 100%. In a hurry? A three-minute charge adds another hour of listening time. 

Like most Sony gear, these earbuds are well-built and full of features. Also like most Sony gear, they’re not particularly cheap. If you can handle the price and have an appropriately-sized head, however, there’s an awful lot to like and very little to complain about here.

Pros
  • Long battery life 
  • Equally useful on land
  • Has both Bluetooth and internal storage
  • Supports multiple audio formats
Cons
  • Short cord 
  • Uncomfortable ear tips 
  • Not particularly cheap
Buy on Amazon

Best Budget Waterproof Earbuds for the Shower: Tozo T10

TOZO T10 Bluetooth 5.3 Wireless Earbuds with Wireless Charging Case IPX8 Waterproof Stereo Headphones in Ear Built in Mic Headset Premium Sound with Deep Bass for Sport Black

The words ‘waterproof’ and ‘cheap’ usually don’t go hand in hand with earbuds, or at least not when combined with the words ‘worth buying’. There are exceptions, though, and Tozo’s T10 is one of them.

While these earbuds have an IPX8 rating due to their waterproof coating, they’re not built for swimmers. Rated to a depth of one meter for thirty minutes, the water resistance is really more like IPX7, and lower than any other earbuds in our review.

It’s still far better than not being waterproof, but if you really want that underwater listening experience, you’ll have to pay for it. What these earbuds are ideal for, however, is use in the shower or bath. While the company recently rolled out a T12 model with higher specs, the T10 works better in the shower, so that’s what we’re recommending here.

Like any other wireless Bluetooth earbuds, you can use these wherever you like, not just in the bathroom. Battery life is rated at six hours, with an extra four charges from the case. The case can be charged via a cable or wirelessly, although you’ll need to provide the charging pad yourself.

Sound quality is reasonable for a set of earbuds at this price point, with crisp highs and thumping if somewhat muddy bass. Pairing is fast, and connections are reliable even when you’re in the shower. The same can’t be said for much of the competition!

We had no concerns about comfort, with four different sizes of tip in the box to help ensure the buds stay put while running, working out, or of course, dancing in the shower. Like many cheap earbuds (and some of the higher-priced ones as well), though, onboard controls aren’t great: all you get is play/pause and basic call functionality. 

Still, given the price, we can’t complain about what’s on offer here. These are an ideal way of listening to music in the shower, with audio quality that you’re happy to listen to, and long battery life into the bargain.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Long battery life
  • Works well in the shower or bath
  • Stable Bluetooth transmission 
Cons
  • Limited controls on earbuds
  • No noise cancellation
  • Not for underwater use
Buy on Amazon

Best Wired Waterproof Earbuds: AGPTEK Waterproof Earphones

AGPTEK IPX8 Waterproof in-Ear Earphones, Coiled Cable Swimming Earbuds with Stereo Audio Extension Cable, Wired, Black

AGPTEK is a relative newcomer to the waterproof audio market, but it’s off to a good start with its wired waterproof earphones, offering an affordable way of listening to music and podcasts underwater.

The company is taking a simple approach here, letting you use your own (waterproof) audio player rather than building one into the earbuds. There are a range of waterproof MP3 players out there (the Syryn is a good example), but anything that plugs into a 3.5mm headphone socket will work.

This also means that you can use these earbuds when you’re out of the water, connecting them to your phone, laptop, or anything else with a standard audio jack.

The downside, of course, is that you’ll need to shell out the extra cash for a waterproof MP3 player to use in the pool, making this low-cost option not quite so wallet-friendly any more. 

The coiled earphone cord is a mere 6.3″ (16cm) so it stays out of the way if you have your MP3 player mounted on your neck or the back of your head. The cable stretches out to 13.8″ (35cm) as needed, and there’s a 3.3′ (100cm) extension cable in the box for use on dry land as well. 

The earbuds also come with waterproof ear tips in three sizes (S, M, and L), so there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to find a comfortable fit.

Just in case the price didn’t give it away, don’t expect audiophile quality with these earbuds. Although the sound isn’t bad on the dry land, things get a little muddy when in contact with water. There’s only so much you can hope for when you’re on a budget, I guess.

As with low-end (and even some premium) models, you won’t get controls on these earphones either. You’ll have to reach for your MP3 player each time you want to pause/play/skip tracks—not so fun mid-stroke. 

While the rated water resistance isn’t the highest we’ve seen (a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes), it’s not the worst either. If you won’t be swimming too deep, it’ll be safe to use for noticeably longer than the rated time, and should be fine for most swimmers.

Pros
  • Low cost
  • Adjustable coiled cord with extension in the box
  • Comfortable in-ear fit
  • Wide compatibility
Cons
  • No inbuilt audio player
  • No playback controls 
Buy on Amazon

Best Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones: AfterShokz Xtrainerz

AfterShokz Xtrainerz Bone Conduction MP3 Swimming Headphones, Black Diamond

Don’t like things in your ears while swimming, but still want to enjoy music underwater? The open-ear bone conduction approach of the AfterShokz Xtrainerz is the way to go.

These IP68-rated headphones are ideal for swimming, providing impressive audio underwater through vibrations in your skull and cheekbones while leaving your ears free for earplugs (or nothing at all). There’ll be significant sound leakage when you’re out of water, however, so don’t expect high-quality audio while lounging on your couch. 

Battery life is pretty good, at around eight hours between charges. The headphones come with a fancy proprietary charging cradle, which is great right up until the point where you lose it or it stops working. We much prefer standard wireless or cabled charging options, but alas, that’s not what you’ll get here.

The internal player has the usual 4GB of storage, with support for a wide range of popular audio file formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and FLAC. 

Other features are almost entirely non-existent: there’s no Bluetooth support or noise-cancellation, and while there are a few different playback controls, you can’t fast-forward within a track. That makes these headphones better for music than audiobooks or podcasts.

Thanks to the bone conduction technology, these are an expensive set of waterproof headphones that are geared almost exclusively at regular swimmers. If that’s you, and you’re happy with inbuilt audio rather than the streaming approach of the Zygo Solo above, the Xtrainerz are as good as it gets.

Pros
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Good battery life
  • Good underwater audio quality
  • Support for several audio formats
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Sound quality drops out of the water
  • No option to fast-forward within a track
Buy on Amazon

Main image via Olga Pink/Shutterstock.com, Zygo Solo image via Zygo, other product images via Amazon

About the Author
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Nikshep Myle

Nikshep Myle is a freelance writer with a passion for technology, travel, health, and fitness. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him meditating, traveling, and discovering new music.

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