Help me find a good waterproof MP3 player/case.
February 5, 2009 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I need a recommendation for a waterproof mp3 solution. I was looking at the H20 Audio iSH-2 + an iPod Shuffle, but I've read some mixed reviews. This is for me to wear while swimming laps - I swim just under 3km an hour and don't do flip turns.

I'm looking for something Mac compatible, which seems to eliminate most of the ones that are built waterproof that aren't hideously expensive. Trying to keep this entire debacle under $150.

I actually already own two iPods - a 3g (fatboy) nano I got as a gift from an old job and never use and then a 5.5g regular iPod, so if anyone has suggestions that would work for either of those two items within my price range of case+headphones, I'll take those. However, I l like like the iSH-2 because it seems like it would eliminate the whole armband throwing me off/headphone cord tangling issue.

There is one guy at my gym who had a shuffle that he sent off to get completely waterproofed so he didn't need a case, but I recall that even before buying waterproof headphones that was over $250. As awesome as it was, I'm not buying a $250 shuffle.

Anyone got any suggestions? Audio fidelity is not of the greatest importance to me since I'll mostly be listening to talk podcasts when I swim, but I obviously would prefer it not be ear-bleedingly awful.
posted by loudguitars to Technology (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Swimman has a shuffle, completely waterproofed, with headphones. I know it's over your budget, but I know a couple people at my pool that swear by it.
posted by notsnot at 7:42 PM on February 5, 2009

Response by poster: Yep, that's exactly what the dude at my gym has. He also swears by it. I'm debating saving up a bit longer and just going for that since it seems to be the least-fuss option, but there's something that just sticks in my craw about paying $250 for a shuffle. Even if it is waterproof.
posted by loudguitars at 7:54 PM on February 5, 2009

I have the H2O Audio Amphibx armband (large) + Surge headphones combo and it works fine. The headphones tangle and drag less than I thought they would, and they don't fall out. I wrap them around my goggle strap a few times though, to reduce the pull of the cord at the ear. I get used to the armband after half a lap or so. I bought the large armband and put a Nano 2nd gen in it - the small would probably work but I read that it was hard to take it in and out. It does take up a huge part of my upper arm, but would fit better on a guy.

I haven't had any leaks and the sound seems to be about as good as one could hope for underwater. The whole combo is a bit fiddly to get started but once I'm going it is fine. I remember it used to seem like a big hassle to strap on an armband + headphones before a run, too, so some of it is getting used to the idea of gearing up before a swim. I'm happy with this combo, especially since I already had the nano.

FWIW, I swim about the same speed as you and I don't do flip turns either.
posted by pekala at 8:47 PM on February 5, 2009

I have a Drypak which works fine, I don't know about the drag because I stick it into the top of my swimsuit. I do have to fiddle with the earphones to get them to stay in, tucking them under my goggle strap, but it's pretty cheap ($30). There's also the Otterbox which has a sleeker design but (I believe) about twice the cost since headphones don't come with. They may not make the case for that nano anymore though, although you may be able to find it still available online.
posted by lemonade at 10:25 PM on February 5, 2009

If you wanted to go for the waterproof player (instead of a case), there's the Freestyle Audio DMP for $90 (includes waterproof earbuds). Cheaper than a Shuffle.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:51 AM on February 6, 2009

Response by poster: Civil_Disobedient - Thanks for the heads-up on that one. I do notice it only plays mp3s and not m4a's (which is most of what my music collection is ripped/bought as), so if I ever want to listen to music instead of podcasts, that might be an issue. I'll definitely consider it, though.

pekala - Where did you hear about the nanos not fitting right in the small armband? I am also not a guy, so my inclination if I bought that system would be to buy the smaller armband.
posted by loudguitars at 8:47 AM on February 6, 2009

I have the iSH2 and the sound is terrible. I don't know what I expected listening to mp3s underwater to sound like (the same as above water maybe?), but it's impossible to hear anything. The buds wiggle around and let water into my ears which blocks the sound. Its totally not worth it; unless I'm doing this all wrong I will never use this piece of ess again.

It might be something you just have to deal with when trying to listen to music underwater. In which case I choose to not listen while I swim.
posted by nomad at 10:23 AM on February 6, 2009

It looks like you're supposed to use the included earplugs to create a seal in your ear, according to the manual I will attempt this and report back.
posted by nomad at 10:38 AM on February 6, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah if it's letting water into your ears it's going to sound like crap since audio waves get badly distorted when they go through water. However, if it's hard to create a proper seal with the earbuds, that's a very good piece of info to have.
posted by loudguitars at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2009

This review recommends just getting the bigger armband. But the reviewer might have giant arms. I can't remember where I read that it was really hard to get things in and out of the medium, but I find it's pretty hard to get the nano out of the large. And it has to come out in order to sync or charge. It seems like it would be really difficult if it was any smaller, and the bulk of the large is fairly easy to get used to.
posted by pekala at 2:21 PM on February 6, 2009

Response by poster: And of course as I'm finally looking at the H20 Audio site to see what the large armband + surge headphones would cost, it looks like they've released an update to their shuffle case as the Interval, which seems to have surge-type headphones built in. Decisions, decisions...
posted by loudguitars at 11:30 PM on February 11, 2009

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