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how to listen to music while swimming?
July 24, 2014 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I saw a guy at the pool the other day wearing a headphone apparatus, he said it was a waterproof mp3 player. Upon checking Amazon I see there is a wide variety of such devices. What's the best combination of value and reliability for something like this? It needs to be wireless, to not get tangled up, and somehow it needs to not come loose during vigorous lap swimming… anyone know what works? (By the way I see this question from 2010, and I will check out the one recommended product, but maybe there is more on the market now four years later?)
posted by fingersandtoes to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Other triathletes I know use the Audioflood waterproof iPod shuffles clipped to the back of their caps. I'm not aware of a wireless solution.
posted by dorque at 7:41 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Theoretically, when The Dash comes out, they will be waterproof/water resistant to one meter, as well as wireless, and in fact, will come with a built in player, as well as streaming from a device like a phone.

However, it's a Kickstarter, and while you can order ahead from their online store even though the Kickstarter part itself has closed out, obviously there's some risk involved in backing it/purchasing before the product is completely developed, plus a time delay of several months before it hits the market. Still, it looks promising.
posted by instead of three wishes at 7:58 PM on July 24


My team lead is a swimming nerd, he loves his Waterfi waterproofed Shuffle. There must be a bit of a cottage industry around waterproofing these things.
posted by mindsound at 8:25 PM on July 24


I use the Finis swimp3. It died in its first year, but was replaced under warranty. Their customer service is pretty efficient and reasonably pleasant. The replacement has lasted 2 years after a major firmware update. I haven't noticed any battery or charging issues. You can only use mp3 format, so no purchased iTunes music, but that works fine for me. It works via bone conduction, so there are wires, but they are minimal-- it clips to your goggles and rests against the temples, and is totally waterproof. It appears there is a new version, the Neptune, but I haven't used that. I have spoken to a people and it seems that waterproofed ipods are really hit or miss, but I don't have any direct experience.

It's two small units that are connected to each other and a USB plug in the middle by wires. The entire thing is about a foot long and pretty sturdy, and has never come off in the pool or ocean. It took me a few trial laps to figure out how to get it set properly in the goggle straps (if it's not adjusted right, it pops the goggle seal) but I figured it out. I can't wear it under a wetsuit cap/warm cap but I have kind of a big head so YMMV.

The sound quality is pretty good-- you lose some of the fainter details (for example, the man speaking over the fade at the end of "Dark Side of the Moon") but I suspect that some of that is me (I'm slightly hard of hearing) and some of that is the background noise of the water splashing. The only really annoying thing is that you can't adjust the volume. It's at an OK level but it's a little louder than I think is probably safe over time. All in all, I am very happy with it.

ETA: It looks like the Amazon link is to the newer version. Mine was the x18 that appears not be available, but this unit is very, very similar.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:04 PM on July 24


I can't vouch for them for swimming but after sweating through a lot of 'sports' headphones I got some waterproof Sony's. They're spec'd for swimming in fresh water and I like them.

I got them from Best Buy but Amazon has them too.
posted by ftm at 7:21 AM on July 25


FWIW I looked more closely at the Sony headphone ftm mentions. It's an interesting product, as far as I can tell the only one that has the electronics integrated into the two earbuds, no extra cord running to a third object. Drawback is only one hour of battery life. I found this review which was helpful.

Unfortunately I couldn't figure out if you have to use their media transfer software and/or iTunes to load it, or if you can just mount it like a normal USB drive and copy ordinary MP3 files to it. If it supports the latter, this would be the perfect thing for listening to podcasts in the pool.
posted by Nelson at 8:19 AM on July 25


Just a drive - it behaves slightly differently than a straight flash drive but it can be drag and dropped to.

And FWIW the 1 hour life is after a 3 minute charge - it's 8 hours total. I use them for audiobooks and don't have to think about charging them very often at all. But the fact that you only get track-up and track-down is slightly problematic for 1-hour tracks.
posted by ftm at 9:15 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I recently bought and have used my waterproof iPod Shuffle from Underwater Audio and LOVE IT. I haven't had any issues with it; set up was a breeze (since I already have iTunes) and it works great, sounds great. I've used it about 10 or so times so far (and still haven't had to recharge as of yet). It comes with 3 different sized earphones. Underwater Audio has a high number of reviews and I think overall review was 4.5 stars or something (on Amazon). Plus, I read that they have great customer service if you do have issues.
posted by foxhat10 at 9:42 AM on July 25


I just reread your post, sorry. Yes, this has short wires, but I assume you are wearing goggles? I simply clip the shuffle to my goggles and neatly tuck the wires under my goggle straps. It never comes undone or tangled, I don't even know the wires are there. FWIW.
posted by foxhat10 at 9:44 AM on July 25


I sometimes swim when the local senior citizen's synchronized swimming team is practicing at the Y. They have music blaring into the water from underwater speakers. If that's not an option for you - and dear heavens I wish it was because it is FAB - then the Underwater Audio shuffle seems pretty popular for pool swims.

I'm not sure I'd use any headphones for open water, but that's me.
posted by 26.2 at 9:49 AM on July 25


Excellent 'here is the single best, best value and best high end thing you've been considering' website The Wirecutter recently did waterproof mp3 players.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:59 AM on July 25


I used a Neptune for about 6 months (roughly 100 hours in the pool) before it started acting funny and stopped working. Currently working on a warranty replacement.

As has been noted, it is not wireless, but the wires are very short and out of the way. I found the sound quality to be more than adequate for audiobooks and podcasts. You do lose high-end frequencies and subtleties, but hey, you're underwater listening to an MP3!

I've been using a Pyle while I work through the Neptune warranty claim.

The Pyle actually has more functionality, but I find the rocket-style earbuds it came with to be uncomfortable towards the end of a long swim and if they aren't in there perfectly the sound can drop in and out. The wires are slightly more noticeable, too.

I have yet to see a wireless MP3 player in the pool. Conversations with others who use the 7 or 8 different types of players (and a few mix and match waterproof ear buds) I've seen lead me to believe there's a high degree of personal YMMV involved. One married couple I met championed their own devices until they tried their spouse's--and it turned out both wanted to switch!
posted by dacbeerpig at 8:40 PM on July 25


I took the Sony NWZ-W273WHT headphones ftm recommended for a test swim. I'll give them a B-. Totally fine for my intended use, which is floating in the pool while listening to podcasts. Totally see why the reviews criticize the earbud design though; there's no way to keep water out, and once it's wet in there the sound is distorted. I understand the reason for the bone conduction designs now. Getting the fit right probably helps; they include like 10 pairs of earbuds.

Usability is pretty good for a device with no UI other than some buttons. It does mount as a USB drive with a folder named "MUSIC" that you can just drag files to. Choosing a track for playback with the buttons is difficult, of course, but not awful. There's even some modest playlist support which might be helpful if you set it up.

It's a 2013 device and listed as clearance, so I'm guessing this was a failed product for Sony. Ah well, I still like the idea of something this small and simple.
posted by Nelson at 4:33 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Updating my post regarding the resolution of my warranty claim on the Neptune Finis: The company stood behind their product and shipped me a replacement. I don't want to make it seem like it took them a long time to do so--They were prompt with their side of the process. I was not.
posted by dacbeerpig at 4:37 PM on August 29


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