Other swimming headphones require you to download MP3s or stream via FM, but the YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones stream by Bluetooth instead. They can’t, however, transform water’s Bluetooth-blocking properties, so sound will cut in and out unless you keep your head very close to the water’s surface (a reasonable compromise given these headphones’ price and ease of use).
Bluetooth streaming, including phone calls
Low price for swimming headphones
Sound will fluctuate underwater
Waterproof rating is IP67
Charging port cover doesn’t stay closed
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YouthWhisper SuperQ3: One-minute review
Though the YouthWhisper SuperQ3’s instructions say they aren’t for swimming, that’s only because water blocks Bluetooth signals. These bone conduction headphones have a water resistance rating of IP67, which is good enough for at least a half-hour swim.
Unlike most waterproof headphones, you can take a phone call with the SuperQ3 plus stream whatever you like from your phone since there’s no need to download MP3s. As a bonus, the price is lower than most swim headphones too. Now, there is a tradeoff for all that, but it’s almost non-existent if you only want downpour- and sweat-proof headphones.
Physics is the challenge here – water blocks Bluetooth. When you swim, the device-to-headphone signal will cut in and out a bit unless the Bluetooth receiver (on the left side of the headphones) is just barely below the surface of the water. But we found it easy enough to keep the headphones almost always in range with just a minor head tilt while swimming. That seems a fair compromise to listen to whatever you want while swimming lengths and not even miss a phone call (though the latter might sound a bit tinny).
The bone conduction technology – with the sound traveling by vibration through your cheekbone into your middle ear – does mean there’s some sound bleeding. If you listen to the game during hot yoga or while you’re playing in the pool with your kid, it’ll be apparent your attention is elsewhere. But in noisier situations, it’s likely that no one will notice.
The YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones’ ease of use and nice price make up for their lack of sound quality perfection.
YouthWhisper SuperQ3: Price and availability
- How much does it cost? $129, currently on sale for $89
- Where is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US and Canada
Interface: Bluetooth 5.0
Battery life: 6 hours (8 hours for phone calls), with 20 days standby time
Noise cancellation: on the microphone only
Water resistance: IP67
Weight: 1.06 oz (30g)
Available in both the US and Canada and cheaper than most waterproof headphones, the YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones are regularly priced at $129 (around CA$178) on YouthWhisper’s website. They’re discounted to $89 (around CA$123) at the time of writing. The sale price is currently available on the US Amazon site too, and, on Canadian Amazon, they’re discounted to an even cheaper CA$63. The headphones are made in China, and YouthWhisper is headquartered in Texas.
- Value: 4.5 / 5
YouthWhisper SuperQ3: Design
- Minimalist titanium headband in smooth silicone
- Bluetooth and bone conduction design
- Charging port cover doesn’t stay closed
While YouthWhisper’s website and user’s manual say the SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones aren’t suitable for swimming, that’s because of the limits of Bluetooth and not because they’re not waterproof enough. Unlike most swimming headphones, the SuperQ3 operates with Bluetooth (version 5.0) rather than requiring you to download MP3s onto flash storage. If you don’t want to download, other options include the pricier Zygo Solo swim headphones, which operate by an FM transmitter or attaching a waterproof Apple Watch to your swim goggles.
The YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Headphones have an “ingress protection” code (i.e. waterproofing rating) of IP67. That’s the highest rating (6/6) for dust protection and the second highest (7/8) for water, which means it’s been tested for temporary immersion in water between 5.9 inches (15cm) and 3 feet 3 inches (1m) for 30 minutes. That means you can swim with them, as well as wear them in a downpour or while sweating up a storm.
Like other bone conduction headphones, the YouthWhisper SuperQ3 have hooks that go over the top of the ears and transducers that sit in front of each ear below the temple. The behind-the-head band, made from titanium, rests away from the head and neck. The whole device is covered in smooth, dark gray silicone. The transducers are a rounded square shape and sit comfortably whether in or out of the water and while wearing swim goggles. Weighing in at just over an ounce (30g), the headphones stay in place when swimming and running.
The easy-to-use control buttons allow even wet hands to pause, skip, fast forward, rewind, adjust the volume, and answer phone calls (there’s a noise-canceling, dual microphone hidden inside for calls). You can connect the headphones to two devices at a time.
Unlike most other bone conduction headphones, the SuperQ3 use a standard USB-C charging cord (provided) rather than a proprietary charger. A red light indicates the headphones are charging, and it turns blue when they’re maxed up. The battery capacity is billed at about six hours of continuous play or eight hours of talk time. It takes about two hours to charge them completely, and they have a standby time of 20 days.
Construction and design seem solid, except that the cover of the charging port doesn’t stay closed. That didn’t affect functioning while swimming and the headphones charged up again just fine, though we thought it wise to ensure they dried overnight first.
- Design: 4 / 5
YouthWhisper SuperQ3: Performance
- Works well when swimming, if left ear is near the surface
- Sound quality is decent though not stellar
- Easy to use both in and outside of the pool
The YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones score high marks for convenience. There’s no need to remember to download MP3s, and you can stream whatever you want from your phone, just as you do with other Bluetooth headphones. You don’t need to bring a separate FM transmitter to the pool, a waterproof Apple Watch, or a proprietary charging device. The SuperQ3 is great for almost any exercise, even swimming, with no need to worry about water damage or missing a phone call.
Because the headphones are bone conduction style, your ear canals are open so you can hear sounds around you – an ideal safety feature for cyclists and runners. Whether in the pool or out, that does mean a loud noise might drown out whatever you’re streaming, but you can rewind the track with a triple-click if needed.
Overall, the YouthWhisper SuperQ3’s sound quality is fine but not stellar, though that seems a fair tradeoff given the price, waterproofing, and Bluetooth capability. We needed to turn up the volume for phone calls, resulting in a tickly vibration on the cheekbones, and we sounded a bit tinny on the other end of the line. Sound quality was better for podcasts than for music (but no tickly bass as with phone calls). Wearing earplugs – the SuperQ3 ships with standard orange ones in a reusable plastic box – did improve things, but we’re not sure we’d bother.
The YouthWhispers do have a whisper of a sound bleed, so you might annoy anyone in a quiet room with you. You can get away with sneakily listening to something else in louder spaces because you can still hear others clearly since your ear canals aren’t blocked (you’re just keeping the headphones on in case your phone rings, right?).
The main sound challenge is while swimming because Bluetooth signals travel well through the air but degrade quickly in water. For our tests, we put our phone on a bench at one end of a 60-foot lap pool and jumped in to see how well the SuperQ3 performed.
The sound was great when swimming with the left side of the headphones out of the water – such as a head-in-the-air breaststroke or a right-side side stroke. Doing the backstroke, the headphones were too far underwater and were silent. While swimming a proper breaststroke and front crawl, the sound cut in and out a bit regardless of how far we were from the phone. But we could make it tolerable with a slight tilt of the head to get the left side of the headphones closer to the surface of the water.
We didn’t mind the occasional skipped word in exchange for being able to listen to the latest podcasts without having to download MP3s. If you want full sound for every swim stroke, Bluetooth swimming headphones aren’t right for you; instead, download MP3s to one of these waterproof headphones or get the Zygo Solo headphones, which operate via an FM transmitter.
The YouthWhisper SuperQ3 has just three buttons: volume up (which also turns them on and off, and connects the Bluetooth), volume down, and a larger round button that controls everything else. These buttons work as you’d expect, though that’s different from what the manual says they’ll do. One click of the round button plays, pauses, and answers a phone call. A quick double-click skips to the next song. Even though the manual says that a triple-click is to “skip to forward [sic] song”, it actually rewinds to the beginning of the current song. On a podcast, a double-click fast forwards about 30 seconds to bypass ads and a triple-click rewinds by about 10 seconds so you can catch anything missed by a loud external noise.
Whether you’re in the water or in very sweaty situations, the YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones make it easy to listen to whatever you want to stream from your phone, eliminating the need to download in advance. They’re not perfect, but they’ll make your swim or wet weather exercise much more enjoyable.
- Performance: 4 / 5
Should I buy the YouthWhisper SuperQ3?
Buy it if...
You want well-priced waterproof headphones
Whether you want them for swimming, sweating, or just being outside in wet weather, the YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones are among the best-priced of waterproof headphones.
You want to stream Bluetooth directly from your phone
…without downloading MP3s or bringing an FM transmitter. No need to remember to download or bring an FM transmitter to the pool – you only need your phone within range.
You want hands-free calls in the pool or pouring rain
The audio isn’t stellar, but don’t you want to be able to do your workout swim while you’re waiting for that return call?
Don't buy it if...
You want to dunk your head underwater
Downloaded MP3s or an FM transmitter is needed if you want your head under, as opposed to just at or above the surface of the water, without the risk of the sound cutting out
You want fantastic audio and high volumes
Bone conduction headphones aren’t designed for pin-sharp audio, and high volumes can make the bass vibrate on your cheekbones.
You don’t want to keep your phone poolside
If you swim at a public pool where someone might swipe your phone, you’ll likely prefer to download MP3s directly into your headphones.
Bone conduction headphones that use an FM radio transmitter as a workaround for water’s Bluetooth-blocking properties (though without headset playback buttons).
Read our full Zygo Solo review
Naenka Runner Diver
With 16GB of flash storage, these minimalist but versatile bone conduction headphones are waterproof to depths of 5 m and have up to 10 hours of battery.
Read our full Naenka Runner Diver review
Once you’ve transferred MP3 songs or audio files from your computer, these bone conduction headphones allow in-pool control and great sound.
Read our full Shokz OpenSwim review
YouthWhisper SuperQ3: Report card
|Value||Even at full price, less expensive than most headphones designed expressly for swimming with the bonus of being able to take phone calls.||4.5 / 5|
|Design||The sleek silicone YouthWhisper SuperQ3 Bone Conduction Headphones stream via Bluetooth at a lower price than most other swimming headphones.||4 / 5|
|Performance||With a slight adjustment to your technique, YouthWhisper SuperQ3’s Bluetooth works just fine while swimming with reasonable sound quality both in and out of the water (and eliminates the need to download MP3s).||4 / 5|
|Total||Disclaimer: these scores help inform a product's final star rating, but the nuance of every review means the final rating can vary||4 / 5|
- First reviewed October 2022
How we test
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
Johanna Read balances life as a freelance writer/photographer specializing in responsible tourism and as a management consultant helping create healthy workplaces. Pre-pandemic, she travelled almost as much as she was at home in Vancouver, Canada. She’s keen on making life as stress-free as possible and assesses her gear accordingly. Her bylines include National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, TIME, Fodor's, Lonely Planet, Forbes, USA Today’s Reviewed, Insider, and Canadian Traveller.