How to get a pair of waterproof headphones for under $100

How to get a pair of waterproof headphones for under $100
(Image credit: Shutterstock / darksoul72)

Waterproof headphones for swimming can get expensive quickly. They’re meant to survive conditions other headphones and earbuds can’t, after all. And, they frequently come with onboard storage to compensate for the fact that Bluetooth is unreliable underwater.

But, you don’t have to test out your wireless earbuds to see if they can survive in the deep end just to save some money. There are a few ways to find and get waterproof headphones under $100 / £100, and you don’t necessarily have to wait for Black Friday to roll around to get a deal. Though, as we’ll discuss, you should keep an eye out for upcoming sales.

We’ll also give you a few other tips to help narrow the options to a more affordable price tag. Of course, you can always just splurge and get something like the Zygo Solo. If you’re not sure what constitutes waterproof headphones, we highly suggest checking out our waterproof vs water-resistant headphones guide so you know what to consider.

1. You don’t have to get bone-conduction headphones

Bone conduction technology lends itself beautifully to headphones that have to be protected from the elements. The sensors that send audio to your cochlea are completely surrounded and covered by protected materials, unlike traditional headphones that only have a partial covering over the driver that’s pumping audio into your ear. That’s why you see many earbuds meant for working out or running listed as water-resistant instead of waterproof. They’re not completely sealed off from the elements because they can’t be.

That said, bone-conduction headphones are pretty niche so they’re often a little more expensive. Don’t ignore bone conduction options outright as there are some, like the H20 Audio TRI Multi-Sport Headphones, that just barely fit within the budget and are worth a look. But, you’ll also find some traditional headphones that employ a little extra protection within that sub-$100 / £100 price range. Models like the HydroActive Waterproof headphones and the H2O Audio Surge SX10 are just some examples.

2. Compromise on sound quality

Don’t expect to get amazing-sounding headphones on the cheap that will sound just as stellar underwater. They’re employing certain technologies to function while submerged, which means they have to make some sacrifices. That’s especially true when you’re trying for more budget options.

We’re not suggesting going with something that sounds terrible. Just be aware of the limitations. Even more expensive options that utilize bone conduction sensors aren’t going to give you the same immersive experience as some top-notch earbuds or headphones. As long as they’re able to do a decent job reproducing the music or audio you want to listen to, they’ll be good enough to accompany you on a handful of laps in the pool.

3. Don’t cheap out too much

How to get a pair of waterproof headphones for under $100

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Olga Pink)

We’re not going to point any particular waterproof headphones out as a bad purchase – we do suggest avoiding random Amazon finds with names that don’t make sense – but you shouldn’t go for the bargain bin items just because you’re trying to save some money. After all, if you get something that’s cheap because it’s cheaply made and likely to break after a few months of use, you’re going to end up spending at least the same amount again to replace those broken headphones.

Instead, make sure that whatever you get, no matter the price, is made well enough and comes with the features and performance you need so that you only end up making one purchase. Unless you want to start a collection, it’s better to get the right one instead of the cheap one.

4. Don’t skip certain features

On that note, many waterproof headphones for swimming have onboard storage for MP3s and other audio files. We may be in a world of Spotify and Apple Music playlists, but the current Bluetooth standards have yet to overcome the hurdle that water presents. What do we mean by that? Bluetooth only works intermittently underwater.

So, yes. You can get some headphones that skip the onboard storage and are cheaper for it, but you’ll end up with an unreliable signal every time you submerge in that pool, lake, or ocean. 

5. Take advantage of sales

While the above tips will help you focus on options that are within your price range, sometimes you can stretch your money to get a slightly more premium model. Though you’ll still have to pay extra for something like the Naenka Runner Diver, you can spring for something that usually won’t go for under $100 / £100 for that price if you time it right. 

However, that does mean that you have to be cognizant of upcoming sales holidays or even just price drops. If you don’t need a pair right away, whichever water headphones have piqued your interest most likely will get a temporary price cut throughout the year. 

Whether you’re keeping tabs on Black Friday headphones deals when the holiday shopping season is around or are waiting for a regular sale, the best thing you can do is be vigilant. We suggest that you bookmark our buying guide above and check in on them periodically. You’ll find a list of deals that reflects current prices.

James Holland

James Holland loves audio gear! So much so that he covers all the ins and outs, good and bad for Tech Radar and T3. Where does that so-called expertise come from? Not only is he a lifelong music-lover but he also works in the music industry and is a musician. When not testing headphones or listening to music, he loves to travel, rage at the latest PC games, and eat off-the-beaten-path but not too off-the-beaten-path food.