I've taken over from our Buying Guides Editor, the excellent Michelle Ray Uy, in looking after the Waterproof Headphones guide. The JBL Reflect Aero, which sound great, is our number one, but the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport boasts its own onboard 8GB flash drive, which means you can store your favorite tunes and play them during your swims.
We're currently testing many of the newest and best waterproof headphones to add more options to our guide, like the Mifo O5 Plus Gen 2 Touch and the Cre8 Sounds. Watch out for our reviews landing soon. But I'm excited about the prospect of SONR Music: a wearable, waterproof, bone conduction "puck" that sticks to the back of your head and leaves your ears free.
It's not commercially available yet, but waterproof music is getting weird and I love it.
Matt Evans, Fitness, Wellness and Wearables Editor
The best waterproof headphones enable you to listen to your favorite tracks, podcasts and audiobooks while you swim. To be considered waterproof, headphones need an IPX7 rating or higher, which means they can be submersed in water to varying depths. However, there are several other factors to think about when you’re looking for the best waterproof headphones, which we’ll cover in our guide below along with our top suggestions.
The best headphones don’t necessarily make the best waterproof headphones. The main thing you need to know if you’re looking for the best waterproof headphones for you is that some rely on Bluetooth technology, which means your phone needs to be nearby. Whereas others have storage or a built-in MP3 player, which means you can happily swim at a distance and underwater. The option you choose will depend on what you need them for. If you're training for a big triathlon or regularly doing swim laps, the best waterproof headphones will need onboard tunes as Bluetooth will only deliver choppy audio.
Our top picks below include a range of designs, like in-ear headphones and bone conduction headphones. We know the top headphones to recommend as we’ve tested many of the best waterproof headphones, putting each pair through its paces by taking them to the pool and rating them for their performance, battery life, and sound quality. Looking for above-water workout buds with just a bit of sweat-resistance instead? Take a look at our best workout headphones and best running headphones guides. Not sure which you need? Check out our waterproof vs water-resistant headphones explainer.
The best waterproof headphones 2023
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The JBL Reflect Aero are the best-sounding waterproof headphones we've ever tested, which is why even though they still rely on Bluetooth connectivity to play you your favorite tunes, they beat every other product on this list if we're solely talking about waterproofing. That IP68 rating means these can stay submerged for 30 minutes in 1.5-meter salt or fresh water, which is impressive for a pair of headphones that doesn't use bone conduction technology and is this affordable.
The only thing that's really holding these back is that Bluetooth doesn't travel well underwater. Sadly, it might not fare well when doing laps, as one of our readers have experienced. But so long as you've got your phone nearby, it'll keep on playing those tunes. And, this is something we've found during testing.
The ANC here is nothing special, but the Ambient Aware feature is great, letting you hear enough of your surroundings to have a conversation with another person while music is still playing at about 50% volume. And, of course, the headphones' overall sound quality is very good. The mids may be a little recessed, but the highs are well-represented, delivering crisp and detailed audio. If you're looking for an affordable pair of waterproof headphones that you can use in water and on land, this is definitely the first one to consider.
Read our full JBL Reflect Aero 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 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 Tri Multi-Sport waterproof open ear headphones make listening to music underwater feel like a party with its bass-heavy audio and their 8GB flash memory that lets you store your favorite swim-appropriate tunes. These bone conduction headphones are terrific swimming headphones, especially since their overall sound quality are pretty fab.
During testing, we also found it easy to download to the 8GB memory and organize files how you want. So, if you're apprehensive about using an MP3 player in this century, don't be. If you do want to keep it to streaming, you'll be happy to know that this has Bluetooth connectivity – though fair warning, the technology hasn't improved much in terms of underwater functionality. However, that dual-mode feature does give you the best of both worlds and allow you to use these both in and out of water.
We just wish the control buttons were a little less finicky. The main button controls play, pause, toggling between Bluetooth and memory modes, and a few other functions, which means it takes some getting used to before you can use it intuitively. But, other than that, these are among the best waterproof headphones on the market.
Read our full H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport review
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. You'll just need to be sure to look into how much storage you're getting. For example, the Naenka Runner Diver headphones in our guide above have an onboard MP3 player with 16GB worth of storage – that's (very roughly) between 3,000 and 4,000 MP3s.
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 TechRadar-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.