Updated: May 23, 2015
Underwater MP3 Player Reviews:If you wanted to, you could be surrounded by music everywhere you go. In the car, on your walks or runs, on your bike, and, yes, even while you're swimming. Portable music technology has come a long way since those big, clunky portable cassette players (anyone remember those? They were the accessory to have circa 1986); today, we have slim, streamlined, and convenient mp3 players that literally go everywhere with us - even where other electronics fear to tread: the pool. Made for competitive swimmers, tri-athletes, surfers, and even those who just want their favorite tunes with them when they're doing laps around the pool for exercise, these underwater MP3 players do the job. Music is incredibly motivating, and that is no less true in water than on land. Obviously you want your underwater mp3 player to be waterproof - that would be an unpleasant surprise when you dove in for the first time, wouldn't it? But what else do you need in a portable mp3 player that will be accompanying you on swims? What are some of the top brands? How much can you expect to pay for a waterproof MP3 player? We'll help you sort it out with this guide.
What Do You Need in an Underwater MP3 Player? - Besides the obvious, choosing an underwater mp3 player is rather like choosing a portable mp3 player that you'd use for jogging, running, or biking. You want something compact so your movements are not impeded - this extends to the earbuds and any cords. Getting tangled up in your headset does nothing for your training regimen. You also want to check how far the underwater mp3 player can be submerged. This is not really an issue for pool swimmers but might impact divers and others much more. You also want something that has enough storage for the music you want to have access to. Remember, though, that this is a dedicated underwater mp3 player, so you don't need a 32 gig beast. 1, 2, 3, or 4 gigs are perfectly sufficient, and they have the advantage of being more compact. Your underwater mp3 player should be easy to use, from simple attachment to your swim goggles or mask to simple operation. You'll find that most have an on/off button, next/previous track buttons, volume control, pause, and shuffle functions. Like an iPod Shuffle, these are meant to be operated without stopping with simple, intuitive touch. And finally, you need good sound quality. You're underwater, but you should be hearing the music as if itís coming to you from above. It shouldn't sound overly muffled or imprecise. Let's take a look at some top models to give you an idea of the quality you can get. You can browse the best selling underwater mp3 players here.
Best Underwater MP3 Player:Dolphin Waterproof MP3 Player - A review in InsideHW called the Dolphin Waterproof MP3 Player a "likeable gadget." Let's see if you agree. The Dolphin is designed for swimming, water sports, and singing in the shower. It is not meant for diving because it can only be submerged up to one meter. The Dolphin features 1 gig of memory and supports mp3 and WMA formats. A single battery charge will last you about 8 hours of continuous run time with a 1.5-hour charging time. Very light and featuring a compact, cylindrical casing, the Dolphin meets the International IPx7 water resistance standard and has a screw-in earphone jack and non-woven fabric membrane for the speaker vibration plate to keep everything watertight. CNET called the Dolphin one of the most "unassuming" mp3 players they'd ever tested with its simple operation and compact design, both of which are pluses for swimmers. You can choose from alphabetical or numerical orders, and you can tweak this when you're on your computer. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS. With the included rubberized rings, you can attach the Dolphin to your goggles. The Nu-Global waterproof earbuds also have clips so you can fasten the cables to the goggles. If you want, you can also get an optional armband. Now onto sound. According to CNET, the graduated shape of the earbuds tends to let a little water in, and the sound can be muffled with the Nu-Global earbuds. You can swap out the earbuds for your own - but because of the special watertight screw-in jack, you'll need an adapter. With the stock earbuds, you'll get ok sound. Nothing to write home about. With a good pair, you'll get better sound but you'll have to buy the adapter. InsideHW calls the Dolphin, "innovative, fun, and for some people, useful."
The Speedo Aquabeat - As ExpertReviews says, the Speedo Aquabeat "floats like a butterfly, swims like an mp3." The Aquabeat has 1 gig of memory, waterproof housing, floating chassis rated for depths of up to 3 meters, built-in memory for 250 mp3 or 500 WMA files, convenient attachment to goggles, swimsuits, board shorts, etc., compact design, short earphone cord, 9 hours of battery life, and 1-year warranty. Speedo is a widely respected name in the swim industry, and the Aquabeat stands up to the competition. A review in TopTenReviews said that while it does have limitations (muffly sound now and then), we have to remember that it is not designed to meet the needs of an "audiophile looking to go deep sea diving and swoon to the voice of Michael Buble." Instead, it is for people who want to hear something other than the sound of the water whooshing by their heads. Sound quality is not going to be as good as you would get with a beautiful Bose surround sound system. But you're underwater, listening to music. And for this, the Speedo Aquabeat is a great deal. You can find it for $83 - $173, depending on the color. We say go with yellow or black and save yourself some cash.
The FINIS SwiMP3 2G with X18 Firmware - This gets the prize for the cutest name, but what else can Finis do for you? The Swimp3 tends to review more positively across the board than the other underwater mp3 players. This is because, in addition to having a sleek, compact design and easy operation, the Finis model utilizes a different method for transmitting sound. Sound quality is often mentioned as one of the downfalls of underwater mp3 players and you'll notice that reviewers often say music sounds distant or fuzzy. The Swimp3 player spins high-fidelity sound through your cheekbone to your inner ear. The vibrations are conducted by your bone and this creates superior sound quality. Other waterproof mp3 players send the sound through the water, which leads to the muffled sound. A review in the Gadgeteer said that workout time seems shorter and speed is improved, while consumers on Epinions praise itís amazing clarity. You can find the Swimp3 player for $125.
H2O Audio Interval - You could do worse than having Michael Phelps as one of your spokesmen. The billion-time Olympic champion says that music is a huge part of his training, and H20 Audio offers an ideal solution with compact, comfortable design. In a sport where weight matters, even ounces, this is essential. H20 Audio is also endorsed by swimmer Natalie Coughlin and surfer Laird Hamilton. But sports celebrity endorsements aside, what does H20 Audio have to offer? Instead of an actual underwater mp3 player, H20 Audio offers waterproof housing for your existing player. They have models that are compatible with iPod Shuffles, Nanos, and Classics, as well as armband housings for small, medium and larger mp3 players and iPhones. The Interval is one of their most popular options, offering protection for iPod Shuffles. This was designed with input from gold medalists Phelps and Coughlin and is compatible with 3rd and 4th generation Shuffles. A Shuffle is an ideal choice for runners and bikers because they are ultra-compact and easy to use. This makes them a perfect choice for swimmers as well. The Interval is 100 percent waterproof and submergible to 12 feet (3.6 meters) underwater. It attaches to any swim goggle easily and quickly, and the operation is also easy. Simple push buttons for volume and music control offer the ability for seamless use. With the Interval, you will get 5 sets of Elastomer earplugs (from size extra small to extra large), and two sets (small/medium and medium/large) of foam earplugs to make sure the headphones stay in. How's the sound? It has powerful neodymium drivers so you get excellent clarity and bass response for clean, crisp, true music. A problem some reviewers had with the Interval was that the earplugs popped out or the sound quality was poor. This is related: if water gets onto the tip of the earbud, the sound can be displaced. Just shake off the water, and you'll be fine. But if you make sure to put the earplugs in securely, they are watertight. You can find the Interval for just under $87. There is no shortage of choices when it comes to underwater mp3 players; your decision is likely to be based largely on price and on your level of choosiness with the audio. Lower-end models can be excellent for motivating you and passing the time during workouts. If the less than stellar quality will irritate you, then upgrade to a Finis Swimp3 player. You can browse through a selection of underwater mp3 players here.