Best waterproof headphones: the best swimming headphones to take in the pool

Take your tunes in the pool

Swimming is a great form of exercise, but ploughing up and down a pool can get a little dull. To relieve the boredom, one option is to get a specialist waterproof MP3 player, often called a ‘SwiMP3’ player. 

Obviously listening to music underwater presents a number of challenges. Firstly, you will need a device that meets the IPX8 standard, meaning it can be submerged in water that’s at least one metre deep (ideally 3m if you are swimming in deeper pools). 

Another thing to bear in mind is that chemicals in the water, especially chlorine, can affect the device’s ability to charge over a period of time. Typically, the charging points can scale up like a kettle especially if you don’t clean them after each swim. This can limit the device’s lifespan. 

A further complication is that wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, doesn’t work underwater, so ‘streaming’ (pardon the pun) music from another digital device, such as a smartphone, isn’t an option. 

Instead you will need to load music (either MP3 or WMA files) onto the device’s hard drive via your computer. In order to keep its physical down, the capacity of SwiMP3 players are usually reasonably small (2Gb or 4Gb). However, that should be enough to store hundreds of songs, more than enough for even the most dedicated swimming session. 

Most importantly, you will also need a player that can be securely attached to your head so that the force of the water doesn’t knock it off as you are swimming.  Generally, players either attach to a pair of goggles or underneath a swim cap depending on the design (the Exeze WMR is the only one for which you will need a special headstrap).

Finally, it’s worth seeing how comfortable you are using the device before you get into the water as they can be slightly cumbersome to set up. Bear in mind too that you may need to stop your music during your swim to talk to other swimmers or the lifeguard. 

Here we look at four very different players for the swimming enthusiast looking for entertainment while they exercise.

1. Finis Duo

Built for swimming

Waterproof standard: IPX8 to 3 metres | Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion | Battery life: Up to 7 hours | Storage: 4GB | Audio formats: MP3 and WMA

Easy to wear when swimming
Great sound underwater
Not suitable for land use
Relatively expensive

Undoubtedly the leading SwiMP3 player on the market, the Duo comes from a US company that’s famous for its high quality swimming accessories. Two colours are available: black/acid green (pictured) and dark grey/mint. 

What’s great about the Duo is that it uses bone conduction technology to transmit sound underwater via your cheekbones. This saves you having to fiddle around putting headphones in your ears which can easily come out while you’re swimming.

Large buttons are provided on one of the ear pendants - including fast forward, rewind, shuffle and play/pause - and sound quality is remarkably clear and loud underwater (you can’t use the Duo on land).  

Charging is via a magnetic, USB-based dock although you will need to clean the very small charging points on the device out regularly as they can get clogged up.  

2. Exeze WMR

Plenty of storage

Waterproof standard: IPX8 | Battery: Rechargeable Li-Polymer | Battery life: Up to 6 hours | Storage: 8GB | Audio formats: MP3 and WMA/Audio connector: 3.5mm

More than enough storage for hundreds of songs
Doubles as a running player with supplied arm band
Separate goggles required for swimming
Poorer battery life than other devices

The second generation player from Exeze, the WMR now comes with a fully waterproof earphones socket. 

Various sizes of earplugs are provided but the large white earplugs are recommended for swimming as they can be pushed in further (although we still found they came out when turning in the water and pushing off the wall).  Alternatively, you can plug your own waterproof headphones into the 3.5mm audio jack. 

To attach the MP3 player there are two options. For running you can use the separate armband provided, while for swimming Exeze offers a separate pair of goggles with a larger headstrap as an optional extra (surprisingly they are reasonably good quality). Although it is possible to attach to your existing goggles the player is quite large so it doesn’t stay in place very easily.

Battery life is poorer than with other devices but because Exeze use the audio jack for charging there isn’t the problem of the points becoming damaged as with some MP3 designs. A bank of control is provided for fast forward, rewind, volume up and down. However, as with most underwater MP3 players these are quite fiddly to use in the water. 

Unlike the Exeze Rider, sound quality is good both in the water and on land although you will need to turn the volume up while you are swimming. We used the armband for running and found it worked well although we had to use separate earphones as the ones provided have a very short cable. 

3. i360

Great for use on land and in water

Waterproof standard: IPX8 to 3 metres | Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Storage: 4GB | Audio formats: MP3 and WMA

Number of earbuds for land and swimming use
Reasonably priced 
Device needs to be fitted tightly around the ears
Ear buds can come out when swimming 

The great thing about the i360 SwiMP3 player is that, much like the Exeze WMR, it can be used either on land for running or in the water for swimming. 

A number of different sized and shaped earbuds are provided (the longer ones for swimming, the shorter ones for land use) and there’s a robust Bulldog style clip for charging the device. The flexible plastic cable wraps around the back of your head with the two black control units lying over the top of each ear. 

Underwater, sound quality is much better than we expected using the longer earbuds although the i360 had to be fastened securely under a cap and goggles to ensure it stays in place. The device’s volume also has to be turned up a lot higher than on land.

One small problem is that the buttons on the top and bottom of one of the control units are very small which makes it difficult to use the fast forward, rewind and play/pause functions during swimming. 

4. Exeze Rider

A great value for money option

Waterproof standard: IPX8 to 3 metres | Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Storage: 4GB | Audio formats: MP3 and WMA

Can be used with different headphones
Reasonably priced 
Swimming earphones provided are very fiddly
Need to clip main unit to goggles 

The key difference with the Exeze Rider is that it comes with an integrated 3.5mm audio jack so it’s possible to pair with a separate waterproof pair of headphones if you prefer. 

The main unit attaches to the back or side of your goggle’s strap with a coiled lead running from the audio jack to the earphones supplied. These are designed to clip around the back of your ears and rotate into position for the optimum listening position. 

However, they are quite fiddly to put on in the water which is a major inconvenience (Speedo had a similar, more expensive, product called the Aquabeat which has now been discontinued). During testing we found that the ear buds rotated out of position and that the sound was a little echoey both in the water and on land. 

On a positive note there aren’t the potential problems of the charging points becoming scaled up as there are with other products because charging is via the audio jack rather than exposed connectors.