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Best swimming headphones: Soundtrack your swims with these waterproof headphones

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Keep yourself entertained in the water with our pick of the best swimming headphones

We know how tough it is to find the best swimming headphones for you. Indeed, finding any waterproof headphones worth buying is a challenge; when it comes to entertaining yourself during a workout, swimmers get a raw deal. Runners, cyclists and gym-goers can easily listen to music or podcasts and even watch TV to make their training more exciting.

Owing to the inherent wetness of swimming, all of that becomes far harder, and indeed some of that becomes impossible. Although manufacturers are doing more and more to produce unique swim-ready audio tech, vast swathes of the headphone market are still totally off-limits.

However, with a pair of waterproof headphones, it is possible to get some audio entertainment during your swims. We’ve rounded up the very best options right here: first, though, here’s what you need to know about swimming headphones.

READ NEXT: The best waterproof fitness trackers to buy

How to choose the best swimming headphones for you

How do swimming headphones work?

Swimming headphones are usually a combination of MP3 players and headphones, as you probably don’t want to take your normal audio source – whether that’s your phone or a dedicated MP3 player – into the water with you. You can either get larger headphones that have the MP3 player built-in, or ones that attach to a separate player you attach somewhere on your body or swimsuit.

Can you just use a set of waterproof Bluetooth headphones?

We’re afraid not. For one, headphones that are classed as waterproof generally have an IP rating of IPX7. This means they can only be submerged in one metre of water, and they’re tested for 30-minute periods, so if your swim is deeper or longer you’re out of luck. More importantly, Bluetooth doesn’t work well in water, so unless you tape your (hopefully waterproof) phone to your head, the signal won’t travel far enough.

What waterproof rating do I need?

The key number in the IP rating is the last one, because that indicates the level of protection against liquids, and you want to see the number 8. A rating of IPX8 means the headphones can be immersed in water that’s more than 1.5m deep for half an hour.

After that, it’s up to manufacturers to detail exactly how waterproof the product is, so you’ll see the same rating applied to headphones that can be used at different depths for different lengths of time. Clear as mud, right? If you see an 8 at the end of the rating, you can be pretty sure they’re designed for swimming, but you’ll need to dig deeper if you need more detail.

Do you want an MP3 player built in to the headphones?

Having the MP3 player built in to the headphones is convenient in that you don’t have to worry about attaching the player somewhere else, but it does usually make the headphones a little bulkier. This can mean you sometimes knock the headphones out of the perfect position when pushing off at the start of each length. Either can work well, but if you opt for headphones with a player built in, you’ll probably want to wear a swimming hat and goggles to help secure them in place.

READ NEXT: Best swimming goggles

What other features are important?

Fit is key, because the water will do all it can to unseat the headphones from your ears during a swim. Some brands use bone-conduction technology so the audio is delivered straight to your brain via vibrating pads on your cheekbones. This is handy, because in-ear buds can be hard to keep in position while swimming – sometimes leading to swimmer’s ear – and bone-conduction headphones can sound better underwater, too.

Also check the battery life and storage available on the headphones, to make sure they’ll last your entire swim and have room for all your favourite workout playlists, podcasts and even audiobooks.

How much do you need to spend?

You can get a good set of basic swimming headphones for £30 to £50, while most pairs are found in the £50 to £100 range, with a few premium options around for more than that.

The best swimming headphones to buy

1. AfterShokz Xtrainerz: The best swimming headphones, but pricey

Price: £135 | Buy now from Amazon

AfterShokz is well established as the market leader when it comes to bone-conduction headphones for all sports, and this swimming-specific set excels when it comes to fit and sound quality. Sound is incredible underwater thanks to a dedicated swimming EQ, with the bone-conduction pads sitting on your cheekbones and the ear-hook design resting comfortably under a hat or goggles. They're rated for use in both salt and fresh water for up to two hours and to depths of two metres, which should more than suffice for most swimmers.

The 4GB of space is ample for loading up your favourite music and podcasts, which can be organised into folders to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. The headphones are also amazingly slim and small considering they have storage space for music. As an added bonus, if you’re a runner as well as a swimmer, AfterShokz’s headphones are the only ones allowed into many road races in the UK.

Read our full AfterShokz Xtrainerz review for more details

Key specs – Style: Bone conduction; Waterproof rating: IP68, up to 2m salt and fresh water for 2 hours; Storage: 4GB; Battery life: 8 hours


2. Finis Duo: The best swimming headphones around £100

Price: £109 | Buy now from Amazon

The Finis Duo headphones are much bulkier than the Aftershokz Xtrainerz, but they’re also much cheaper. The design allows them to be hooked onto your goggles to ensure a secure fit where the bone-conduction pads sit on your cheekbones. The extra size means they have a little more drag, but it also allows room for the controls, making it easy to navigate through the files you’ve loaded onto the headphones.

It’s important to note that while the Finis Duo buds are rated as waterproof enough to go to depths of 3m, that’s only for 30 minutes, so if your swimming sessions are usually longer it would be best to look elsewhere.

Key specs – Style: Bone conduction; Waterproof rating: IPX8, up to 3m for 30 minutes; Storage: 4GB; Battery life: 7 hours


3. Swimbuds Flip Plus SYRYN MP3 Player: The best swimming headphones with separate MP3 player

Price: £58 | Buy now from Amazon

If you haven’t already got a waterproof MP3 player, this package with the SRYRN player offers great value (you can also get the Swimbuds Flip wired headphones by themselves).

The headphones and the MP3 player are both IPX8-rated to go to depths of 3m, and the SYRYN has a huge 8GB of storage so you can be sure you’ll never run out of entertainment. The Swimbuds Flip buds have a short cord to minimise the chances of them flapping around in the water and pulling the headphones out of your ears, and the SYRYN has a clip you can use to attach it to the back of your goggles.

Key specs – Style: In-ear; Waterproof rating: IPX8, up to 3m; Storage: 8GB; Battery life: 7 hours (SYRYN)


4. Sony NW-WS410: The best in-ear swimming headphones

Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

These colourful headphones can be used in both saltwater and freshwater for 30 minutes at depths of up to 2m, and they’re excellent to use for all kinds of other sports as well as swimming, offering great sound quality and a streamlined fit that means they stay in place despite the slightly bulky design. They come with a set of swimming-specific buds that must be used to ensure that the headphones are waterproof and stay in place while in the water.

Battery life of 12 hours is a bonus, even if your swims do have to be restricted to 30 minutes at a time while wearing them, and the buds have an ambient sound mode that allows in more external noise so you can be more aware of your surroundings. It’s especially handy when using them for running on busy streets, but you can also turn it on to hear your coach or training buddy between lengths in the pool.

Key specs – Style: In-ear; Waterproof rating: IP68, up to 2m salt and fresh water for 30 minutes; Storage: 4GB (8GB available); Battery life: 12 hours


5. H20 Surge+: The best swimming headphones under £50

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

These in-ear headphones pair extremely well with waterproof MP3 players and waterproof phone pouches with a 3.5mm adapter. They're IPX8 certified and come with five pairs of ear tips and three sets of "tree tips" to ensure the earbuds fit comfortably and remain secure while swimming.

Custom-tuned dynamic drivers help deliver a rich bass response both in and out of the pool, while the Surge+'s form factor was designed with hydrodynamics in mind and minimises drag while you're gliding through the water.

Key specs – Style: In-ear; Waterproof rating: IPX8, up to 3.6m fresh water for 30 minutes; Storage: N/A; Battery life: N/A


6. Nabaiji SwimMusic 100 MP3 Player And Headphones: Best budget MP3 player with headphones

Price: £35 | Buy now from Decathlon

This waterproof MP3 player is the most wallet-friendly way to listen to music in the water. The SwimMusic 100 player itself can store and playback up to 4GB of MP3 and WMA files, runs for 10 hours on a single charge and clips easily onto your goggle strap. The headphones come with a variety of tips and fins to make sure you get a comfortable and tight seal, which is aided by pulling your swimming cap down over the top of them as well.

You can switch between classic and random playback of your tracks, play/pause, skip and change the volume using the controls on the side of the player, which is rated waterproof to depths of 2m. It’s designed for use in pools or freshwater, but you can take it into the sea as well – just make sure you rinse it thoroughly afterwards to get the salt off it.

Key specs – Style: In-ear; Waterproof rating: Up to 2m; Storage: 4GB; Battery life: 10 hours (SwimMusic player)

Buy now from Decathlon


7. Naenka Bone Conduction Runner Pro: The most versatile swimming headphones

Price: £94 | Buy now from Naenka

These Naenka bone conduction headphones have a similar design to the Aftershokz Xtrainerz, but have one killer extra feature: they can work as a conventional set of Bluetooth headphones, rather than solely as an MP3 player.

When you’re in the water you’ll be using the MP3 player, of course, but having the ability to switch to Bluetooth mode and connect to your phone at the touch of a button when you finish your swim is very convenient. This feature will make the Naenka more appealing to swimmers who also run or cycle and don’t always want to transfer the media they want played across to their headphones.

They have some shortcomings compared to the Xtrainerz though, the first being that the Naenka headphones aren’t quite as loud, which you’ll notice when using them on or by busy roads. The battery life is also a little sub-par when using the headphones in MP3 mode, dropping to around 3-4 hours.

Key specs – Style: Bone conduction;
Waterproof rating: IP68; Storage: 8GB; Battery life: 6-7 hours

Buy now from Naenka