The Great Swimming MP3 Player Shootout

This past summer I started a swimming MP3 player test, one that I feel I can finally conclude.  I ended up buying just about every popular swimming MP3 player on the market, and then started testing them – one after another.  But it wasn’t just me, my wife got into the action too and also put them to the test, and interestingly, our favorite units ended up being the same.

Let’s start with all the units on hand.  This was an initial photo I took way back when I first started.  But along the way I picked up another few units – so in the end there were more than this group shot.  Kinda like when one of the kids on the soccer team misses the group photo day.


Here is a photo though with them all out of their packages, hanging out:


And, here they are getting all juiced up.  This is the USB unit I use to charge all the watches and other gadgets quickly at once for photo shoot and roller days.


For this review I’m going to go one by one through the units.  This is a bit shorter than my typical In Depth review because I wanted to compare all the products in a single post.  Further, for the most part these products are actually fairly straight forward.  You load music, you play music.  What differentiates them tends to be setup, how they feel on your head, and most importantly: The type of headphones you use.

Though because for the most part headphones can be interchanged between units – I try to differentiate whether or not my fondness or dislike for a given unit is due to the headphones, or the unit itself.

Finally, unlike most of my reviews which are pretty black and white when it comes to features – most of these devices are really rather similar.  Thus, the differentiating factors often boil down to personal preference more than a case of ‘absolutely better than the other’.  So do keep in mind that my personal preferences may vary from yours.

Make sense?  Good.  Onwards with the first one!



The SwiMP3 is the only unit of the bunch I tested that uses jawbone conduction – which means that it doesn’t actually plug into your ears, but instead resonates the sound through your jawbone which allows you to hear it.  The concept sounds a bit funky, but the music sounds just fine!


The SwiMP3 player is probably the most awkward looking of all the players, given it tends to make you look like you have little elf ears.  But, with that awkwardness comes what I found to be the one product out of the bunch that required the least amount of fuss.  It’s not that other products were difficult, it’s just that with no headphones or separate charging cable – the SwiMP3 is easy to manage.  Headphones in swim bags only seem to result in lots of tangles, whereas the SwiMP3 doesn’t really have that problem.


Charging is accomplished via a built-in USB port.  The USB port is covered by a snugly fit rubber stopper, which keeps the water out while swimming.  Though while it is waterproof, I found that after a few months the connection doesn’t seem to keep as good as a connection as it used to, becoming a bit finicky on charging.  Cleaning the contacts every once in a while seems like a good idea.


Transferring of music takes place via the same USB port, where you simply drag and drop your non-protected music files onto the unit.  Now, it doesn’t quite support as many formats as some of the other units out there, something my wife came to find out when she borrowed it once while I was on a trip.  She didn’t entirely understand the formats piece, resulting in this note when I returned home:


But, once you get the right formats figured out, it’s pretty simple and dependable.  You can arrange music into folders, as well as utilize playlists and podcasts.

You’ll adjust it to your goggles by simply clipping it on them.  This takes about 12 seconds for both sides and you’re done, the shortest of the bunch to add to your goggles.


As for swimming with it, you haven’t got a ton of options in button selection.  It’s pretty much a matter of turning it on and letting it play.  You can adjust audio volume and track  skipping, but as I found with most of the players – you’re more than likely only going to be adjusting the volume during your swim.  With all of the units being out of view, you have to do it blind.


Since the SwiMP3 doesn’t have earphones, it’s a bit different than the rest as far as quality goes.  It’s not quite as crystal clear at some of the headphones, but it’s still easy to hear and understand the song.  But because it doesn’t have headphones, you don’t have to deal with headphones popping out, or having the earbuds being uncomfortable.

Summary: This option continues to be my favorite, primarily because it just works, isn’t uncomfortable, and is super easy to use.  While the storage might be a bit slim for some – 1GB or 2GB – I found it find if you just downgraded some of the music file quality.  Given you’re listening to music underwater anyway, having 320kbps quality isn’t really relevant. Price: $85 for 1GB, $135 for 2GB.

NU Dolphin Touch MP3


The Dolphin Touch MP3 player is the one unit that came with the most stuff.  Multiple headphones and earbud sets, as well as the charger, a carrying case, some software and plastic clips to secure it to your goggles.


The Dolphin unit is about the size of a roll of dimes from the bank, and is unique in that unlike most of the players that tend to sit behind your head, this unit sits on the side of your head.  Additionally, this unit includes small orange straps to secure it to your goggles.  This is both good and bad, it’s good in that it helps it stay a bit more secure than some of the other units, it’s bad in that it’s a serious pain in the butt to put on and off a pair of goggles frequently.  So you’ll want to keep it there (including for charging).


Like the other units, this one charges and transfers music via a USB plug that goes into the headphone jack.  Once connected to your computer, it presents itself as a USB mass storage device, so you can just drag and drop items onto it quickly and easily.

The Dolphin comes with a few different sets of headphones, but it’s the additional earbud sets that save the day.  See, it’s in these extra sets that I found the little rocket engine looking earbuds:


These and the H2O Audio Surge earbuds were the only earbuds out of all the headphone MP3 players that I tried, that actually stayed put and in place in my ear.  This was desirable, as it allowed me to listen to music, as opposed to water.


Now, with these rocket engine looking earbuds also comes a bit of pressure.  The design of them creates some suction, that suction helps keep it in place.  It also keeps the audio quality really high, since it acts as a noise reduction barrier with all the layers.  But it tends to cause a bit of discomfort and pain after a while.  They did have a few different sizes available though in the package, but I didn’t quite find any that didn’t cause discomfort.

As far as the unit goes, it’s pretty sleek.  It’s got touch sensitive buttons, which do lock so you don’t have to worry about false positives.  The screen is pretty small though, so while appreciated, I wish the money had been spent on waterproofing the internal port instead.


The biggest problem I have is that the headphones must be really well secured into the unit, otherwise it’s not fully waterproofed.  Which I suspect may be why mine no longer functions.  Yup, at some point along the way, either due to swim bag jostling or waterproofing, the unit has stopped working.  It won’t charge, nor play music.  Essentially making it slightly less useful than that roll of dimes.

Summary: While the headphones are clearly the best of the bunch, the unit met an untimely death, and thus I can’t really recommend it.  Additionally, while its cost ($115) is slightly less than the internally waterproofed iPod shuffle, the unit isn’t as versatile, nor is at easy to setup and move.  I should note however that it does have an FM radio built in – which is something none of the other units have.

WaterFi internally waterproofed iPod Shuffle


At first glance, you may think that the default Apple iPod Shuffle is waterproof.  But in fact, WaterFi has taken the stock iPod Shuffle and internally waterproofed it.  This means they took the whole thing apart, completely waterproofed the insides, and then put it back together again.  In fact, when you get it, you’d never know it was any different:


Out of all of the bunch, this is probably the one that most people gravitate to initially when researching options.  I suspect that’s due to the familiarity with the iPod, and the known functionality levels there.  But at the same time, it’s also the most expensive option of the bunch.

The unit I bought comes with waterproof headphones made by H2OAudio, though as is the case for most of these music players, you can somewhat mix and match headphone types (sometimes the connectors are different).

Because the unit is effectively a stock iPod Shuffle, you’ll load music onto it with iTunes, just like any other iDevice.  That means it can easily play anything that iTunes can load onto it.  You’ll also charge and transfer content to it just like a stock iPod Shuffle, with the little USB cable that goes into the headphone jack.

When it comes time to swim with it, this unit is middle of the pack as far as getting it mounted onto your goggles.  I clipped it onto the back using the small belt clip that’s integrated into the shuffle, but it also comes with a Velcro strap to help secure it in place.


I never bothered with the Velcro strap though, and didn’t find it necessary for keeping the unit in place.  I did however find it useful for keeping the headphones in place.  The headphones that came with it were a bit overambitious.  I suspect because they assume you can probably also clip it somewhere else.


Because the unit is probably the slimmest out of all of them, it’s also the least noticeable.  Some folks will undoubtedly give you slightly worried/confused looks though merely because you do have an iPod strapped to your head, but beyond that – it’s not an issue.  I also never noticed the unit itself from a feel standpoint.


The original earbuds that the bundle included were kinda annoying, they’d constantly fall out.  It’s not that the original earbuds were bad for dry land or sitting at the library.  But for swimming, they were constantly falling out.  I tried both earbuds, but they just didn’t last too long.  Thankfully the unit also came with a different pair of earbuds – and thus able to better evaluate the unit on those merits.


Once in the water the unit is super easy to operate, assuming you memorize the pattern of the buttons on the iPod shuffle.  Given there are only a few buttons, this shouldn’t take long.  Again, like the other units, I suspect the only buttons you’ll probably care about are volume up/down, and perhaps the changing track buttons.  Both are easily accessible.


The unit works well and is easy to use.  My favorite part is that it integrates with the rest of my iTunes library.  This means it’s super easy to just sync all my existing iTunes playlists and music – without having to deal with dragging and dropping onto a mass storage device.

Summary: I’d happily recommend this to anyone looking to get a unit that’s both pool and non-pool friendly. I would recommend picking up the H2O Audio Surge Headphones, which is what comes with the bundle if you buy that.  Now if you already have a Shuffle, you’ll probably want to check out the shuffle case that I talk about later on.  The price for the internally waterproofed shuffle though is $160 (non-bundle, $20 extra for bundle), which includes the iPod Shuffle itself and the headphones if you get the bundle.

Diver Waterproof MP3 Player


At $49 this is by far the cheapest option in this market.  The unit is also almost the smallest, just a touch bit larger than the iPod Shuffle.

The unit includes a bit of a unique headphone system compared to the rest, which includes headphones that wrap around the back of your ears, and then the earplugs insert in as normal.  The unit charges and transfers like the rest with a small charging cable that plugs into the headphone jack:


You’ll transfer music onto it just like any other USB mass storage device (like a thumb drive), so it’s easy to work with.  Of course, like everything but the iPod, it won’t play any protected media files.

From a functionality standpoint, the unit works well and is easy to use.  You press the bulb-looking button on the side to turn it on/off, and then on the main panel you have the familiar play/pause, volume, and track skip buttons.  Like the iPod Shuffle, you’ll learn to memorize these – assuming you put it on your headphones the same way each time.


Speaking of which, the unit is just a bit awkward in the way it attaches to your goggle strap.  It’s not bad, it’s just not as optimal as some of the others in that it creates a bit of a bump from a streamlining standpoint (likely to create force, thus holding it in place).  It feels a bit different due to that.  I suspect if you had it inside you’re swim cap, you’d never notice though.


The headphones that it came with were probably the worst headphones of all the units.  While the theory behind the additional ear bracket is logical, the reality behind it meant that I don’t think I ever made it 500 yards without both pieces falling out (once one fell out, the other quickly followed due to water drag pressure).


But again, assuming you swap out the earbuds, then you’re in business at a rather cheap price!  I also like the easy button to turn on and off.  I know it may sound silly, but some of the other units would easily get turned on in the swim bag, or just weren’t as easy to get turned on/off clearly.

Summary: For $49 this is a great way to get into the underwater music player scene.  Try out the default headphones, and if you don’t like them, then try out a different pair of earbuds with the stepped design – such as the ones I’ll list at the bottom.  Note because it’s a threaded headphone, you’ll be swapping out the earbuds, as opposed to the headphones.

(Side note: The exact unit I originally bought appears to be out of stock, but it looks like there’s a rebranded unit for $59 – but I can’t attest to whether that’s exactly the same)

Nabaiji Waterproof MP3 Player and Distance Counter


The Nabaiji unit ended up being a bit of a latecomer to the swimming test, as I didn’t get it until October when the company heard of the test and sent me a unit to try.  It’s also not easily found in the states, but rather is far more commonly found in Europe – hence why they sent me a unit.  That said, it’s the only music player that also combines with it some basic distance tracking.  The unit comes with a single headphone type, but multiple earbuds.  Additionally, it also comes with a USB cable that plugs into the headphone jack to charge.

IMG_3401 (2)

Like the other units, by using the stepped (rocket engine) earbud, the plugs stay in and deliver decent sounding music.


The unit itself is a bit bulkier than the rest, and a bit more green.  Like a mini incredible hulk.  It’s also cased in a rubber shell in what appears to be an attempt to make it more durable, so you can easily drop it on the concrete swim deck and it doesn’t break (not yet for me anyway).  Though, I wouldn’t recommend multiple iterations of that test.

The unit simply snaps below your swim goggle strap.  They recommend placing it under a swim cap, but I found that the goggle strap worked just fine.


The unit includes an easy to read LED screen – making it simple to understand not only what’s playing, but also what you’re doing in the units menus.  Granted, once you start playing, you’ll never see what’s displayed since it’s on the back of your head.  The menus are easy to both operate, and memorize, so no concerns there.  Plus, with the rubber buttons – it makes them a bit easier to find on the back of your head.


The distance counter is mostly accurate.  It’s also mostly (well, fully) metric.  So for us here in the states, you’ll be either pretending to swim a meter pool – or having to find one for real.  But since you can’t download the data afterwards, it doesn’t really matter as long as you configure the proper number of yards/meters.  In my case, I just pretended to swim in a 25m pool instead of the 25y it really was.


When I say ‘mostly accurate’, I found out (and then confirmed with the product team), that if you don’t pause the unit once you hit the wall between sets (if you stop at the wall for rest), is it may mistake your turning around for another lap.  This is because unlike most swim distance watches, this one actually doesn’t use an accelerometer – but rather a compass.  This means it tracks the changes in direction each lap (flip or open turn).  Thus, if you sit at the wall and spin around in circles (such as watching other swimmers while looking occasionally at the clock)– it’ll think you’re knocking out laps (there’s a bit of a buffer built in to prevent it, but not enough if you’re standing there for a minute or so).

But again, for an added bonus feature – you really can’t go wrong.  This review isn’t about swimming distance counters, but rather MP3 players.  So given it works as a great MP3 player, but also tracks distance, I can’t complain about the imperfections there.

Summary: For the £70 (UK only) that the unit costs, it delivers quite a bit.  It’s the only unit to incorporate a distance counter in it, and its ruggedized outer housing helps to ensure that it can survive a fall from your swim bag.

H2O Audio 4 Interval Waterproof iPod Shuffle Case


The last device to get reviewed isn’t actually a device at all – but rather simply a case for a device.  In this case, the H2O Audio waterproof iPod case takes your existing iPod Shuffle (different cases for different generations of the shuffle) and makes it waterproof.  They also toss in a pair of integrated headphones.  The headphones are NOT replaceable, since they are semi-integrated into the unit.  The earbuds are replaceable though.


From a functionality standpoint, the case is quick and easy to use.  Its clamshell design opens up to house your existing iPod shuffle, and then the unit snaps together on the sides.  I found it easy to determine whether the case is opened or shut, so there’s no real concern about accidentally having the case partially open.


The unit wraps into your goggle strap, though I found that to be a bit clunky (likely since the case is also a bit clunky).


The buttons though are super-easy to press, and also probably the easiest of all the units to find, since the overall size of the unit is fairly large and the buttons really pop out.  Audio quality is good, though like the majority of the non rocket-engine looking earbuds, these fell out on occasion – though actually not as much as some of the other units.  Also, this case comes with multiple different earbuds, so you can swap them out if the sizes aren’t quite right.

Summary: Overall for $74 this is a good option if you already own an iPod Shuffle.  Though, do keep in mind if you don’t already own one, then you’ll end up spending more than most of the other solutions if you bought this and a new Shuffle.  Which seems kinda silly since for just about the same amount of money you could pick up a fully internally waterproofed shuffle.  But again, if you’ve already got an iPod, it’s a good option.

Final Summary Analysis and Conclusions:

As you have probably surprised by now, the most important factor in a swimming MP3 player is not actually the unit itself, but rather the method by which the unit delivers the sound to your head – typically the headphones.

In units that came with pain in the butt headphones where I was able to swap them out for a different pair from a different vendor (or different earbuds), it changed everything.  However, beyond that was at times just the mere fact of having headphones at all.

And that’s the key reason that both my wife and I preferred the SwiMP3 player – simply because there were no headphones.  While the audio quality was slightly less than that of units with headphones, we found that the issues associated with tangled headphones (be it in my swim bag or trying to get it on my head) – seemed to outweigh any of the increased audio quality aspects.

Additionally, we found that some of the earbuds – no matter how many different ways you’d try them with the different earbud sizes – would start to hurt after a while.  And for those that didn’t hurt, they wouldn’t stay in.  Now, there’s no doubt that these headphones by and large work – and work well for some portion of the population (just not me and my wife).  I just simply found that jawbone conduction was overall so much cleaner and easier day in and day out than headphones.

And finally, waterproofing.  Some of the units with headphones had special locking headphones (where you twisted the headphones into the jack) – to prevent water from getting into the headphone jack.  This is also done to keep the headphones in the jack, thus preventing them from sliding out.  But, this also introduces the element of ensuring you’ve got it correct each time.  One wrong swim forgetting to properly twist, and your MP3 player is toast.  That seems silly to me.  I bought a waterproof MP3 player to be…waterproof.  Not half-way waterproof.  Hence my annoyance with the Dolphin unit.

Now, I know that not everyone will agree with my conclusions.  After all – many of these other units do work well, and work well for many people (many of which include you).  But my preference nowadays is the SwiMP3, due to the jawbone conduction and lack of headphones.  Though I do wish the USB connector was less finicky.

If however, you’re still looking for a unit with headphones, then you’ll want to consider if you already have an extensive iTunes collection, want something cheaper, or finally, if you want distance.  Based on those parameters, here’s what I recommend:

Overall: The FINIS SwiMP3 Player
iTunes Collector: The internally waterproofed WaterFi iPod Shuffle
Already have an iPod Shuffle: The H2O Audio 4 iPod Shuffle Waterproof Case
Music and distance: The Nabaiji Waterproof MP3 player and distance counter (UK)
Tight budget: The Diver Waterproof MP3 player
Headphones: H2O Audio Surge Waterproof

So why not the Dolphin unit (the only one not listed above)?  Well, despite having one of the best headphone sets, I found the unit finicky to operate, a solid pain in the butt to attach to my goggles and then track of the pieces, and most of all – it’s dead after just a few months of use.

As always, thanks for reading!  Hopefully you found this useful – and as always, feel free to drop any questions below in the comments.  And if you’ve got feedback on a unit you own, I’d love to hear about it as well!  As I noted above, most of this comes down to personal preference – so keep in mind that different people prefer different things.


Fun behind the scenes side note for the photographers in the crowd:

Lots of folks ask about the underwater photography, so I figured I’d include a little section on that. In the making of this review over 2,000 photos were taken underwater.  Everything was shot via a Canon 7D in an underwater case with a 10-22mm lens (some 17-40mm lens outdoor shots).  I had both my wife and my friend Bruce take the majority of the shots with me in them.  Most of the static shots I took.

IMG_3401 (3)

You may have actually remembered back in August I posted on a pool photo shoot outdoors.

IMG_3443Most of the shots were from then, and then another filler set a few weeks ago.


I prefer outdoor shots, so the day after all the units arrived I did the photos, and then used the units for months until now.

Just figured some of you might find that interesting…enjoy!


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  1. Great review! Thanks a lot. Now I have the excuse to buy myself SwiMP3 as a Christmas gift. :-)

    • Brad

      Please be careful of the Finis SwimP3’s! I’ve tried all versions, and had good luck with my first one a couple of years ago until it finally died. After that, every new one that I ordered stopped working on me after a few months or less. I then put out the money for their latest version, which has the player housed separately from the jaw bone pieces. It only lasted one month, then filled with water and stopped!

      The best one for the money is the JLAB Go Waterproof/Sweatproof/Sports MP3 Player ($43). The only issue is the ear phones and the way they seal, which can allow water into your ear and reduce the sound.

  2. Anonymous

    I’ve been using the v1 Nu Dolphin for years now without any issues. I’ve upgrades to the v2 headphones though as these work better.
    This is in fact my only MP3 player, and I use it for running too – as it can easily be mounted to rear of a baseball cap.
    Re earphone slipping out, I always use mine with a swim cap. I found this method stopped wires dragging all over the place (neatly tucked in the cap) and also helped with the waterproofing of the ‘phones.
    The other advantage to this, was instead of having to use the “rocket” type ear buds, I could use the more normal style. I found these far more comfortable, and the swim hat kept them in perfectly. I experienced zero pain on my last 10k swim.
    Re your comment on it being a pain to charge as they are fiddly to remove from the goggles – you can simply leave the orange loops on your goggles and slide the unit out of the loops. This may be easier after doing this for a few years though!

  3. As intriguing as they all look, I personally prefer the Lubell sound systems that our synchronized swimming team uses. The sound quality and volume are great…the only drawbacks are the price ($1500) and the fact that everybody else in the pool has to listen to your music.

    Actually…perhaps that last one isn’t a drawback.

    • Peter Jenkins

      It might be if you swim to Slayer or Megadeth or other death metal like I do. I’d love it of course, other pool users….. not so much…..

    • Flash Gordon

      you must be the dumbest and most boring person with an internet connection. are you cochabambino? this review is for IPX8 MP3 PLAYERS. not underwater pools sound systems, retard.

  4. Very good work (Again!) Thank you!!

    I have the swimp3 1G. A few months ago I tries to remove the cap of the USB connection. This was very tight and after release, it flew through my car (wanted to charge it oon my way to the pool).

    You can guess what happend, I lost it! There is no way to get a spare from finis.

    Twoo weeks ago during a major clean up of the car I found it again.

    Meggage is: Do not lose the cap, You cannot get a spare.

    (oh the unit also works in the water without)

  5. Pat

    I had the same problem with the Nu Dolphin dying after just a few months. I felt like I was pretty good about putting the headphones in there securely, and it actually died when I had not swam in quite a while so I do not think it was water. I think it may have been due to me completely draining the battery. Many batteries have protection circuits that prevent charging due to under-voltage. Anyway, that’s my though, but either way, it died. It was nice while it worked, but I had the same problem with the headphones. After that, I decided to go a different route and went with the SwiMP3, and I love it. It’s so nice to not have to deal with the regular headphones. As a side note, I’ve bought SwiMP3’s for my parents (who have also used some of the other units), and they both love it too.

  6. FYI, if you already have an iPod Shuffle or the current generation of iPod Nano, Waterfi can waterproof your existing device. You have to send it in to them and then they send you back your waterproofed unit, but it is cheaper than buying an already waterproofed device from them (it’s $100 to waterproof the Shuffle). I’m thinking about doing this with my iPod Shuffle. I don’t swim that much (I’m a runner), but I want to be able to use my Shuffle even in the rain (the shuffle is pretty watertight with the headphones in, but water can still leak in).

  7. My H20 Audio leaked the first time I used it and destroyed my ipod. I sent it back to them, they tested it and claimed it was fine and thus wouldn’t replace my ipod.

    I’m a scientist; if my ipod works before using it in the case, then doesn’t work after, I have a pretty good idea of why my ipod doesn’t work anymore.

    So BOOOOO for H20 Audio! Only get that case if you are willing to gamble your ipod on it.

  8. Anonymous

    The “rocket” type buds are also known as triple flange tips. A common modification is to cut the third flange off to make a double flange tip. This improves comfort at the cost of some isolation and retention. My guess is that it will reduce retention too much, making them fall out, but it might be worth a try.

  9. Anonymous

    I thought the SwiMP3 sound was terrible it seemed to me that you had to have them really loud to actually hear it underwater. I didn’t want to be “that guy” in the pool, with a heaphone set you can hear from 3 lanes away. I really like the nano from WaterFi though. Good sound from the headphones and *hopefully* a bullet proof waterproofing.

  10. Great Review

    Really enjoy hearing music while swimming (rather boring and I avoid to talk to myself too much).

    I have the Finis swiMP3, however was difficult to upload music and not all my iTunes music will play. Sometimes I forgot to charge it or bring it to the pool. So got the previous H2O Audio model ( aka 3, works with a old shuffle very tiny). Much easier to upload/play. I just need to carry one music player to gym/swim. On the downside the H2O case is a little bulkier.

    I find the WaterFi really appealing: no case, iPod functionality. Great for use during rainy days or in the beach. The long headphones cables will be the only problem.

  11. DS

    Is the sound on the Finis / jawbone model good enough to listen to podcasts and audiobooks, or is it just for music? Mostly-hearing a song you already know requires less fidelity than understanding spoken words.

  12. those are some prunes on dem hands…great reviews..will come in handy if I ever bump up to IM distances…

  13. Anonymous

    Great review, as always, thanks.
    A few terminology things that were bugging me, though:

    1) Earbuds – those are the ones that come with most mp3 players – they just sit on the dip in your ear, but don’t go inside the canal.

    Canal Phones, In-Ear, IEMs, (or other similar names) are the ones with the longer tips that go inside your ear canal.

    Headphones: Any device with the speaker, so earbuds, canalphones, or a proper over-the-ear set (that you wouldn’t want to swim with.

    2) The different sized tips that go on on the ends of the IEMs are called tips, not earbuds. They come in different sizes and shapes because people have differently sized/shaped ear canals. But they’re just tips, not “earbud sets”.

    In particular, this confused me for quite some time when reading your bit on the shuffle case – I couldn’t understand how it wasn’t possible to change the headphone, but it still came with different sets of earbuds.

    3) The “rocket shaped” tips are called flanges, yours look to be triple-flange, but they also make double-flange ones that don’t go in as deeply, or you could cut off the last one.

    Again, thanks for the details.
    Out of curiosity, how was the quality of voices from the conducting set? Could you make out, say, a audiobook?

  14. Ray: As usual, a very informative review. My real concern with an MP3 player is whether music will interfere with my concentration. I am a mediocre swimmer trying to improve, and am concerned that music will interfere with my stroke thoughts (e.g., high elbow, high elbow, high elbow or long extension, long extension, long extension). I think that I will wait until I am a bit better to invest in elf ears. Cheers. Richard

    • Flash Gordon

      why are you people so dumb. this is a review on ipx8 mp3 players. and a very good one considering it is 2015 and the scene hasnt changed much. if you need problems with your bitch ass mind, this is not the place.

  15. Have you tested a Speedo Aquabeat 2? Just curious if it is any good?

  16. Anonymous

    I just shared a post on Finis Swimsense
    I read the above E-mail adresses are ONLY displayed to me
    This is not true.
    Delete my comment or my email please!

  17. Anonymous

    I completely agree with comment #9 and disagree with your review of SwiMP3. After reading other reviews online, I purchased the Finis SwiMP3 and could not have been more disappointed. Quite simply, I had a huge issue with the sound: it doesn’t work for swimming (free stroke). With the volume set on high, I couldn’t hear podcasts as my head rotated through the water. At the same time, once my head was fully out of water (standing up), everyone around the pool could hear what I was listening to.

    I’d be interested in getting your response to this issue.

    Nevertheless, I want to thank you for the full review of MP3 players. Although giving mixed remarks about ear buds, you’ve given me some optimism that there may be usable options beyond the SwiMP3!

  18. Ray, thanks as always for the thorough reviews. I’ve used the H2O and the SwiMP3 and the SwiMP3 still remains one of my favorites. I always had trouble keeping the earbuds in my ears with the H2O, but with the SwiMP3 there’s no fussing around. Just attach to the goggles and start swimming.

  19. I got the Dolphin Nu last year for a birthday gift…even recommended it to my niece. I used it 4 times and it quit…same for my niece. Grrrr

  20. Response to this post by JAAP: I have the swimp3 1G. A few months ago I tries to remove the cap of the USB connection. This was very tight and after release, it flew through my car (wanted to charge it oon my way to the pool).

    You can guess what happend, I lost it! There is no way to get a spare from finis.

    You can get replacement USB caps. I have them in my store: http://www.transitiontri.com

  21. I have used the SwiMP3 for years and in every iteration that it has existed in and I always come back to it. I keep thinking there must be something more elegant but in the end the thoughts fail and I end up with the SwiMP3 for the exact same reason – it simply gets the job done. Every unit has eventually failed but so far Finis customer service has done a good job of replacing them for me even when outside of their own warranty.

    Thomas Gerlach
    Professional Triathlete

  22. Roland

    Hello Rainmaker!
    WaterFi internally waterproofed iPod Shuffle, have you ever had some issues with the waterproofnes using it during swims also without any headphones plugged in? I was thinking wheather to purchase the Waterproofed Ipod Nano from Waterfi and using it during my swimming sessions also without having any headphones plugged in.
    Read some reviews on Amazon having issues with the waterproofing, maybe it might be a problem in a longer time frame span?

  23. Anonymous

    Hello and thanks for another good comparison review.

    The one issue I am most concerned with was not mentioned. Perhaps it is a non-issue but I want to ask.

    Drag, when swimming hard sets I come out of my wall flip turns pretty hard and I frequently feel my ears flap from the drag. It is hard to believe that any of these head mounted players would not also flap and pull my goggle straps down. Did you have any issues with this?

    There seems to be a fair amount of confirmation that use of swim caps is necessary to hold things in place but I am bald and to resort to a cap takes away my primary advantage to this genetic predicament.

    I have tried quite a few different expensive versions of speedo and TYR goggles trying to find one I like as much as my sweedish goggles. But I just keep coming back to that loose strap, poor anti-fog and touchy bridge setup because they just do a better job of keeping the water out(without crushing my head). I am suspicious that the looser straps of these goggles would not adequately support the addition of an mp3 player. Can anyone confirm or refute that?


  24. Anonymous

    The swimp3 does peel off my heah during hard turns which has me now making slow turns to stopping for a re-positioning.

    And it is both obnoxiously loud to others at the wall while also suprisingly quiet in the water. The user manual says that for best result you should wear earplugs while using it. #%$@! if I wanted to wear earplugs I would have purchased a player with earbuds.

    They call it bone resonant I interpret that as blasting a speaker in a small rigid housing until it starts to vibrate its not technology its just a bad design that has found a niche market. It actually is louder right over your ears than on the bone in front of them.

    I wish I had the dolphin because at least I know that would break soon so I could justify buying something else.


  25. Great post. I currently have the SwimP3, but it is not working these days. I have owned it for about 3 years. Last year (I only swim in the summer), the sound started to sound very tinnie (no bass). When I started swimming again this year, the unit gave out completely. I am trying to decide what to do.

    Sadly, my ears are defective as no ear bud stays in for more than 30 seconds, even while remaining completely motionless. Do the rocket buds actually use all suction to stay in? I am hoping they may work for me, or, I will have to go back to the SwimP3, which was not bad as it was easy to use. Thanks again for the post.

  26. I’ve had several swimp3’s over the years, back to when the unit was the size of a cellphone strapped to the back of the goggles. When it works, it works great, but I’m finding I have to reformat the drive every couple of weeks and reload the files. Also, I’m lucky to have one last a whole season before it craps out – and it’s a bit pricy to have to buy a new one, sometimes within a year. The most recent 2-gig version seems to be more fragile than before. I think once the one I have breaks, I’ll be trying out something else.

  27. Anonymous

    Great post. I am a long time 5x per week swimmer and these solutions have really helped me get through long workouts. I have also found that they help in open water races to keep the insides of my ears dry/ warm.

    I have used H20 audio and Waterfi and have yet to find something with lasting results. H20 Audio’s case based solution is great but their headphones would fail with regularity at about 3-4 months of use. I then moved to waterfi which worked great for about 4 months and then the unit would no longer hold a charge.

    This article will help me plan my next move.

  28. John

    I bought the SwimP3 about a year ago. It played a song or two then stopped. I thought it wasn’t fully charged. But it ended up being a known issue that several people on Amazon had the same problem with. Unfortunately Finis would neither acknowledge nor fix the problem so I got a refund from the seller. As such I’m not a fan of the Finis product even though the issue may be fixed by now.

  29. Remi

    Thanks u very much for this post : i’m french and it had help me for Xmas !!!

  30. parismarathon

    I don’t recommend the WaterFi MP3 player. The unit I purchased died after only 40 mins into my first swim with it. WaterFi was amazing and immediately sent a replacement. But the replacement unit only worked for 3 swims and then also died. I purchased the swim bundle and used the waterproof ear buds that came with the unit. I also followed the use directions exactly. I did receive a prompt refund when I returned the 2nd unit. I don’t think they’ve quite mastered their waterproofing technique yet.

    Thanks for this site! I ran the Paris marthon 2012 – it was AMAZING! Have fun!!!

  31. Lisa

    Here is another one i’ve found, would be interesting to know whether it is any good – link to subsonicbeats.com.au
    Think I might get the finis one though

  32. Henrique Cooper

    Is the subsonic beat one for real? Not a single review in google…

  33. David R

    Has anyone tested these devices for their radiation emissions and electromagnetic fields ? One would think that having a battery right close to your head in the water might have some effect on your brain. I have to think that there would be a negative effect especially for those who are very sensitive to EMF’s.

    Sorry to be a killjoy but using these things could be the same as putting your cell phone in a waterproof bag, strapping it to your head and laying in the bathtub to fry your brain for an hour. Not saying I know this to be true. Just wondering if any testing has been done ?

    • Flash Gordon

      thanks for bringing such issue up. i have some thing with electrostatic fields and i think my body would somehow affect the workings of the DIVER unit i was using. songs would loop. raising volume was almost impossible. i would not be surprised if many of the negative feed back would in part due to this issue.

  34. Ale

    Please tell me how to get those optional earbuds for the H2O Audio Surge Headphones! My bundle did not include them :(

  35. Sue

    Finis SwimP3 – hate it. Great idea, pooor poorly working product. As others have mentioned – I’ve needed to reformat a couple of times. It spontaneously quits working. Can not tell if it is on or off, so no matter what the battery dies each time. I charge it, I “safely remove” from computer, and the damn thing still dies at 75 yards. The buttons are undersized and poorly responsive. You can’t tell if you’re in shuffle mode or not, so if you want to restart a song you are really grooving to – it plays something else. Also, it’s hard for me to get them onto my jaw bone without messing up the fit/usefulness of my goggles. This is improved (goggles stop taking in water so frequently), if I slide the units closer to my ears. But then my swim cap gets in the way and the unit sounds very quiet. Then it dies at 75 yards like I mentioned and, honestly, it’s a small wonder I haven’t smashed the little p.o.s. into a million peices yet. Surely there must be a *working* bone conduction model out there made by someone else?

  36. Paul Hancock

    Love your site, bought the garmin forerunner 910xt based on your review and was not disappointed. I’ve experimented with several models (including the speedo brqnded ones) – (Summary a bit fragile and clunky software not quite ready for primetime) and ended up with the waterfi.

    Protip to keep the headphones in. Tuck some of the wire that comes out of the top of the earbuds into your goggle strap above your ear. I find that what drags them out is the loose wires, so if you effectively shorten them to an inch or so, they tend to stay in much longer. I find the waterfi ‘just works’ and have no complaints with the unit)

  37. Jeff

    This review is great! I haven’t seen any reviews for headphones for running and/or cycling. Have you considered doing one? There are so many options out there that it’s tough to find a quality pair at a reasonable price.

    • DC Rainmaker

      I haven’t. Mostly because I don’t tend to run or ride with music too much. About the only time I do riding with music is if it’s lots of climbing (like hours worth), in which case I just toss my phone in my back pocket and let the music play as-is. In that case, with my speed at about 8MPH it’s quite audible.

    • I have used quite a few because of kids and trainers in teh same house do not mix at 8-9pm or 4-5am. I will cut to the chase, after many different types of motorolas, jaybirds, phillips, panasonic, and plantronics (notice a trend? All bluetooth) I have settled on the jaybird X. The problem I have is that they keep getting stolen or lost.

  38. portlandpaul

    I’ve had the Finis Siwmp3 for over 6 months now. I use it twice a week for about 30 minutes. I agree with some of the posters that you need to crank the volume (BTW, my buddy uses his for audiobooks – so yes you can) making you a bit ‘obvious’ and that it can upset the seal on your goggles. Having said that, I haven’t had any reliability issues and it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s on or of (there’s a green LED). For me, it does exactly what it was supposed to do – and without the hassle earphones falling out constantly. A 7/10 from me.

  39. guest123

    Does any of these players saves the last playback position?
    So if I stop listening to an audiobook I could continue playing from the same position the next day.

    • portlandpaul

      The current version of the Finis Swimp3 (yellow and black) resumes from exactly where you left off, so is great for audiobooks. If I recall the earlier models did not.

  40. Cherice

    Thank you for all of your in-depth, excellent reviews. I just wanted to share with you that I’ve had my swimP3 for 5 years now and it still works fine. Today I jumped in WITHOUT putting the cover back on the USB end and it still worked FINE! Cheers to the SwimP3

  41. Great reviews Ray ! Its useful to see some different waterproof mp3 players compared. Personally the swimp3 has been my favorite waterproof mp3 player for swimming since using it in 2005 for swim training. I liked it so much I set up a website and started retailing them in 2006 as Swimmer Ltd. Over the past 7 years I have sold a couple of thousand units with a fault return rate of about 10% to 15% but good product replacement support from Finis Europe. The main advantage of the swimp3 and why I like them so much is simply its ease of use (you do not have to fiddle with ear plugs) just clip to your swim goggles and off you go !

  42. Rods De Faria

    Hi mate, and thanks again for your great work.
    I was about to purchase the waterfi ipod shuffle but when browsing on Amazon I came across the new Sony Walkman W273 4GB Waterproof MP3.I’ve got it for £44(USD68) I used for cycling and was impressed how stuck it was on my ears and how clear was the sound quality and the review is quite positive.Today I’ve tried on the pool for the first time and I must to admit it wasn’t as I’ve planned.I am still trying correct sizes earbuds and I believe the issue is when I try to put my cap on and the elastic band from my googles, so I think I need to find a perfect fit still.I did noticed that once, my ears got fully sealed with the earbuds, but the sound was already weird due to the amount of water inside,therefore I’ve decided to remove and put my earpieces back on to finish my training. I was also trying my new garmin swim as I’ve finally got rid of my pool mate, so I was quite overwhelmed with gadgets and ended up not swimming properly.As I was trying to clear the water on the headphones as per Sony advice shaking the piece, my watch was already marking 800mts in the pool and kept going so it needed reset, so not a great start, but I do think you should review and I am positive I will get used to it.Regards from London

  43. Sue

    Hey, I wonder if you’ve had any experience with the iCharge (link to amazon.com)? I’ve used it a couple of times now, and what I like about it over the Finis SwiMP3 player are:
    – More robust design – not held together by a thin wire
    – Self-supporting product – doesn’t require attachment to/mess up the fit of swim goggles
    – Simple button design – easy to use buttons are large enough and spaced far enough apart to make it easy to select the desired one while swimming
    – Also has FM reception (though I haven’t tried this under water yet)
    Given the above, I can only hope at this early date that it continues to work reliably, b/c the need to reformat my SwiMP3 player after every couple of uses drove me bananas.

    Downside – it doesn’t come with any instructions, finding them on-line isn’t very easy either, and those instructions aren’t very thorough. Specifically, files dragged and dropped on to it would not play. But when they were copied over using Windows Media Player, those same files played just fine.

  44. Rami

    Hi, all the way from South Africa. Once again a brilliant review. I don’t buy a product without reading one of your reviews. They are always very detailed and also to the point. I have read your Garmin 910xt, Timex GPS ironman watch, Suunto and now the Mp3 article. I am on my way to purchase the Finis MP3 player. Regards Rami

  45. My wife and I both tried two pairs of the H2Audio case. After about half a year and normal use and abuse the headphones would cease to work. Their RMA policy is fairly draconian so we eventually gave up trying. Not that this will be everyones’ experience, but Apple pulled them from their shelves in the stores about 4 months after my wife and I both had our units go bad.

    Cheers and good luck.

  46. Great review, thanks Ray – I’m a bit suspect over whether ANY in-water players will do the job in the long term so it was good to read this.

    I notice a few people have asked the question already, but I don’t see an answer. I listen to Podcasts/Audio Books much much more than music. Do you know if the quality is good enough for voice?

    Would really appreciate your thoughts,

    • I just don’t have much experience with Audio books, so I can’t help much there. In most cases though, I’d question any of the units in being able to discern that. It’s just a lot of water rushing by that seems to obscure precise speech.

  47. Hmm.. I kinda thought that might be the case. Never mind, thanks for letting me know!


  48. Elise

    Hi there! Thanks for the great reviews – very informative!

    I have owned two SwiMP3s, and will not purchase another. The sound is decent (if your head stays underwater), they are easy to use, music is easy to upload, but both of my units have quit working suddenly – and permanently – after just a few months of use (an all-too-common problem that seems to occur just after the warranty expires – read online reviews and you’ll find WAY too many identical complaints). I maintained my units well, kept the contacts clean and dry, and did not drop them. When this player works, it works beautifully, but don’t expect it to work for long!

  49. TB

    Ray – I’m planning to buy a waterproof IPod shuffle for my sister-in-law. It appears there are two options: Waterfi, and AudioFlood. I have a Waterfi that I’ve used for over a year now. The first one I got zizzed out after 2 swims, but the replacement has been going strong (3-4 pool workouts/week) since then. When I got the Waterfi there didn’t seem to be anyone else in the iPod shuffle market. Now AudioFlood is here, with the claim that their process for waterproofing is different/better than Waterfi’s, since they coat the entire interior, whereas “the competition,” just treats the perimeter, leaving the interior electronics untreated. The advantage, according to AudioFlood, is you don’t lose the use of the on/off and voice over buttons, which Waterfi did advise not to mess with, as they can screw with the waterproofing. Any thoughts on this are welcome.

  50. Martin

    I recently bought a Speedo Aqua Beats 2, and to start with I was a fairly disappointed – I couldn’t get the ear buds to stay in, and the unit seemed limited in it’s functionality. Since my early sessions with it, I have managed to re-configure it (ie. take of those stupid earholder thingies off the bud wires) and actually learn what the unit does.
    I’m now super happy with it, and I can’t swim without it. I listen to all sorts while I swim. I got bored with music fairly quickly, and I now listen to Podcasts from the BBC – which not only have the benefit of teaching me something new and interesting each time I swim, but actually distract me from the effort and allow me to swim for longer at a higher rate of knots…
    The interface is a bit basic – like the first iteration of iPod – so i’m looking forward to the Aqua Beats 3.0…
    If there is a down side, it’s that the swim distance function doesn’t work too well. It counts neither laps, nor number of strokes particularly well – but then, i’m still trying to figure out if it’s because i’m not putting it in the right place on my head… Which btw is very easy to do because it has a handy little clip on the back which just pops on and off of my goggle strap.

    Good job Speedo – 4 out of 5.

  51. Not FINIS

    A great review (as always), but what you didn’t have the chance to encounter was the wondrous opportunity to the test the atrocious and downright illegal customer service Finis give (or don’t give) on their (mostly) faulty products.

    I have also been in the position of returning a faulty (out-of-the-box faulty – never worked, never connected to the PC, never turned on) SwimMP back to Finis – only to be told that I ‘over charged it’ and the battery was swollen. Duh! also. Being that the fault, in their learned opinion, was therefore ‘my fault’ they would also kindly charge only $75 for a replacement (plus p&h and import duties to South Africa). A faulty product, that never worked, and I am £100 out-of-pocket and 2-weeks out-of-time. If you search various forum on waterproof MP3 players you will very quickly come to the conclusion that the chances of you receiving a non-faulty item are remote and that honest and rapid service are a term wholly foreign to Finis.

    Avoid this company at all costs.

    • Eli

      Aren’t devices these days supposed to be intelligent enough that you can’t overcharge it?

    • Max

      Unfortunately my Neptune MP3 also failed repeatedly! My latest Neptune MP3 lasted only a couple weeks with very careful use and care. Getting a replacement RMA has been a miserable experience! Reading similar posts that mirror my experiences with the Mp3 clearly indicate QC on the Neptune would be suspect at best. Customer service has been non responsive. It’s a shame! The technology has been around for decades and it works well in other implementations where failures like this rarely occur… Get it right Finis! Please!

    • Joy

      Just want to offer an opposing reflection on the Finis customer service comments. I’m on my second Finis Neptune. I bought the first in early fall and had to contact the company (did so through their website) because while I could still charge the unit when connected to the PC, I couldn’t upload or change any songs after about a month’s use. The play/pause button on the left ear piece also quit working.

      But, I was thoroughly pleased with Finis’ customer service. I was emailed back within 24 hours, asked specific questions about my purchase and the problems, and then sent a return authorization. They said they would attempt to repair and if unable they would send a new one. I got my 2nd at the beginning of this year and haven’t had any problems so far. I just can’t speak to turn-around time because my package opened in transit and was returned by the USPS. The 2nd time I shipped it we had those huge snow storms (and the USPS contracts for space on commercial flights, so en route from Massachusetts to California there were some rough delays, plus it was mid-holidays).

      Sounds like you had a pretty crummy experience. I’m wondering if I fared better because I was shipping and receiving within the US. In sum, I’m happy with the unit and the company.

  52. Kathryn

    Thanks so much for your extensive review. I recently decided to add music to my work outs. I will be shopping with your recommendations today. Its wonderful to have people like you in our world who give back to society by writing a review like this. You undoubtably saved me a lot of grief and money with your research. Thanks and bless you; Kathryn

  53. Mike M

    I personally have been using the Finis SwiMP3 player since 2006 and it still works great after 7 yrs straight. I had the the usb cap start to loosen up after many uses and emailed Finis about it. They immediately sent me about a dozen small replacement o-rings (just below the usb connection) for free. Customer service = awesome. Although the cap feels snug, I still wrap a couple inches of gaffer (or duct) tape (1/4″ wide) around the whole usb cap just for added assurance. It only takes a few seconds and its leaves me worry-free.

    I also make a point to thoroughly rinse with tap water (shower) once out of the pool (along with everything else).

    The sound you get is amazing considering it vibrates thru the jawbone. Everyone gives me weird looks at my local Golds gym – but I like letting them try it to see for themselves.

    I only swim 1000-2000m so i find I only need a playlist of 8 -10 songs. And just for laughs, I have to share this…. typically I listen to good ol rock n roll when I run. However, I cannot listen to rock when i swim – it really screws up my breathing and stroke. For me I find listening to slow, depressing alternative rock (i.e. Sigur Ros, M83) is PERFECT. The tempo matches my stroke and breathing. The brain is a funny thing. :)

    Thanks Ray again for all you do!

  54. Randy

    Wish there was an Ipod shuffle with jawbone sound output!
    I bought the blue & white Finis player a few years ago and it ultimately died a slow death with functionality decreasing gradually, lasting only about 6 months. Simplicity is key for me, and when it worked the lack of earbuds was wonderful and I was very satisfied in the water while in use. Everything else was a hassle.
    I’m all Mac/all I-everything, and it was really annoying that files had to be in MP3 format in order to upload music. Charging while not difficult, required removing and attaching parts. I rarely updated my playlist since it was a hassle.
    I now have the Audio Flood Ipod which is absolutely wonderful specifically in regards to the unit itself (as I think anyone would expect from an Ipod). Its flawless. My regular Ipod Nano I use for running and at the gym died (I think from too much moisture/sweat) and now I use the waterproof Ipod Shuffle both for swimming and on land, so despite the higher price, something of a dual purpose bargain as its completely waterproof and small and can be attached to oneself pretty much any way you want. I just use different ear pods for running. Audio Flood customer service is excellent I’d like to add.
    The only issue is the earbuds. The sound quality is fair, but I’ve had to ask for replacements several times as sound output seems to fade over time in one side or the other. Their “coiled” cable is really nice since you don’t need any tethering device for the cords. But I do flip turns and push off fairly hard and always having to re-insert the earbuds several times during each and every swim session. I might look into the H2O Audio surge headphones mentioned as a replacement. I love the Audio Flood Ipod shuffle, but miss the Finis sound conducting system a lot. While the Finis would at times curl up during a flip turn or hard push off, not having any earbuds at all was much more preferable. With earbuds I have to remove them whenever someone wants to chat it up where unnecessary with the Finis (and the sound is much lower out of the water as well). It also takes awhile before you figure out the best earbud size since you really can’t tell until you use it in the water.
    Until a superior product is made available, the no-brainer, always working Ipod is just a much better device, and willing to sacrifice the ear interface, but really wished there was a jawbone style sound output for the Ipod.

    • Randy

      Not sure if anyone cares or not, but I’m still happily using my Audio Flood Ipod 2-3 times/week now for about a year and its working great, zero issues. Finally bought the X-1 Surge Mini waterproof in-ear headphones and quite impressed at the sound. I didn’t think their style of ear inserts would stay in very well, but they haven’t fallen out, not even once! The very small profile allows for pulling my swim cap partially over my ears, but they basically stay in even with my ears completely exposed. While the long cord had me initially scratching my head on how to tether it neatly, I now just shove everything in my swim cap. Not particularly neat, but completely out of the way, functional, and easy. I don’t miss the Finis jawbone conduction system very much anymore.

    • Kevin mercer

      Rand y,

      I had local electronics repair guy remove bone phones from my dead Neptune(same probs everybody has-evidence of water penitration was found) and connect a regular jack for use with Ipod Shuffle (pretty sure he waterproofed jack insides with glue or silicon). Works great. Cost me $10 to have this done.

  55. wayne

    Bought the SwiMP3 player and the battery stopped holding a charge after several months of use. Finis had a replacement program and the new replacement did the same. Nothing but frustration trying to get it to hold a charge. Now I just suck it up and swim with no music. I do miss the player, but not the frustration that came with it.

  56. Sayed Jalees

    Hi Ray,
    Thank you for this exhaustive review. But after using and eventually toasting 2 units so far, one question still stays unanswered. How do you replace the batteries that give up after a few charges. That has happened to me twice.
    Great work..

  57. Sayed Jalees

    I know. It was crazy and made me gun shy of picking up anoth unit thus far.

  58. Tracey

    Hi. I need to purchase a new mp3 for swimming but I like to listen to audiobooks and wanted to know which was easiest for downloading. Comes down to audioflood and waterfi, I think. Any feedback on which is better and if there is maybe a cheaper option that also works well for books? Thanks

  59. mike ords


  60. Antonio naranjo

    Do You have more information about the icharge?
    Which One would be the best buy? The finis neptune or the icharge?

  61. Luke

    I see that this review was from 2011. Would you recommend any new options out there that came out after this review happened? Thanks.

    • Hi Luke-

      Outside of the Sony option mentioned in the comments, the only other ‘new’ option lately is the FINIS Neptune, which I’ve reviewed as well. I like that one, as do most.

  62. Simon

    Great review! Ever consider working for Consumer Reports? You have what it takes. A couple questions for you. I’m new to the MP3 personal ITunes player devices.
    1. Most of the time I do water aerobics with an Aqua Jogger or similar device. I don’t own goggles. Which unit would be best suited for my needs?

    2. Have you used these devices indoors? I swim indoors during the non Summer months when there is no outdoor swimming in Baltimore.

    3. How come you didn’t test Speedo’s MP3 swim player?

    Than You (:

    • 1) Hmm, not sure there, you can likely put it under a swim cap (if you use one).
      2) Yes, no problems indoors. I simply shot some photos outdoors, but most were tested indoors.
      3) It came out after this review as published.

  63. Jules

    I’m just getting around to seeing this. Until I started swimming a few months ago I hadn’t even considered that waterproof mp3 players exist and this is a very exciting discovery. Just out of curiosity, have you used your swimp3 with earplugs? I find I have to use earplugs when swimming otherwise I hesitate to turn over far enough to breathe.
    Also to that end, do the rocket style earbuds (or any of them really) keep water out? The plugs I use are rocket style silicone earplugs and they seem to work out well enough for me.

  64. sergio

    ciao rainmaker :-)
    i have been using around 10 different types of mp3 ,many u have try them too ;-) but i nust say that all of mp3 are dead now :-(
    pls which one will u suggest me to buy
    thank u very much


  65. Karen Muller

    Thanks for doing these reviews. Very helpful.

  66. Water Bogan

    Thank you for this, awesome review. I have owned and used several of these players. Like you I found the Dolphin up and died after only a few months – and it wasnt water ingress as I always ensured the headphone seal was tight. The batteries in them are poor quality and thats why they die. Like you I found the “rocket” style headphone tips by far the best and and have used them with the headphones on all my other players

    I have had three Speedo Aquabeats. The first one ran for years before it dies. The second 2GB one is still going but is a bit ropey now. I bought the latest 4Gb version last year and it only lasted 16 months, disappointingly. A pity as otherwise its a great player

    Currently I am using a 16Gb version of the Diver, marketed here under a differnt name. Difficult buttons to use, and hard to turn off, but otherwise good – and LOUD! First time I have ever needed to turn Metallica down, I usually have it on 11!

    I cant get a Finis here but dont know how it would go playing metal, which needs to be loud

  67. Scott

    Strikes me that there is a huge gap in the market for a non-clunky device that actually works – Any budding entrepreneurs/inventors ready to take up the challenge? I’m always so tempted to get the iPod shuffle version as it’s the most discrete of the bunch, but it always has such terrible reviews in terms of lifespan! I’ll have to just hum for now until technology improves!

  68. DC Kicker

    I noticed the comment about no new recent products. The glaring one missed is the FX-Sport VRX headphones. Their methodology is different in that they take a water resistant set of headphones [mp3 player integrated] and for swimming [to make them fully waterproof] they are inserted into a silicone “skin” case. Sponge earplugs are also worn which provide a medium through which sound can travel [they also enhance the bass]. The whole thing is then worn under a swim cap which comes with it [it’s a little larger and is actually pretty good].

    The fact that the headphones are only water resistant means that there is no need for fully waterproof speakers [which always produce worse sound] and the music quality is far better than any other waterproof mp3/headphones. It is compromised a little when in the silicone case, but the earplugs improve things again. In a comparison with the swimp3, the main difference was the audio quality was much better [especially the bass] as was the volume.

    On top of that, you can upload custom workouts directly to the headphones – either pre-prepared ones or create your own. The training messages play independently of your music, so you can change tracks etc and the messages play at specific times.

    Too many companies have just waterproofed the device without researching things properly. For me the VRX is by far the best. http://www.fx-sport.co.uk

  69. DC Kicker

    …I have just noticed my user name “DC Kicker” sounds like I am having a go at Mr Rainmaker! Not at all – just a coincidence! :)

  70. Jim

    Hi DCR

    Thanks for all the reviews. Just thought I’d drop in my 2cents worth…

    I broke a leg in 2009 and for rehab, bought a waterproof iPod Shuffle from a site: Swimman.com – with their default earbuds. It is now 2015 and the same unit is still going strong. Swimming about twice a week, this one is (for me) a winner.

    I have had to do a ‘reset’ once or twice (which may have been due to an iTunes sync issue), and almost never use the On/Off slider button, or the Shuffle slider button.

    I leave the buds attached to my goggles, and they are very clear. Their design helps them stay in place, but I also find inserting them into a dry ear canal minimises the likelihood of them falling out.

  71. Alan

    Finis Swimp3 finally gave out after 6 years. In trying to diagnose my recent SWIMP3 death I just read your Neptune review and the pro/con comments over the SWIMP. Seems as though I cannot complain that this baby has accompanied me, and my relatively ancient music, through hundreds of miles of pool and open swimming. Agree with the positives — no fuss, no more earbuds falling out. Unfortunately, there is no Water World substitute to podcasts for cutting boredom. There is just too much ambient sloshing to keep the words intelligible. And, yes, there is this brain thing about familiarity — once you get your head fully under for a phrase, so that you know the song, the balance of the track sounds better.

    Based on what I have read, I may try cleaning the metal tabs in the still-well-sealed white nib. But I suspect that the battery just gave out. Still charges, according to the familiar green glow. Just doesn’t play.

    Anyway, will probably just buy the new Neptune. After all, 6 years’ use works out pretty cheap on a per-lap basis.

    Thanks for the great reviews!

  72. Tony B

    Really BAD experience with swimp3 Neptune

    I have been using swimp3 products for about as long as the company has been in existence. I used the clunky originals that came attached to a silly looking pair of goggles (1gig of space) to the 3g to the new Neptune. Unfortunately, my experience with the Neptune has been less than mediocre.

    I would like to premise this by stating that the FINIS company has EXCELLENT customer service. I have been working with them on a number of issues I have had through the years, and they always were very accommodating (when in the warranty).

    I purchased a Neptune when I thought I had lost my other Swimp3 player. It worked for about 4-5 months, until my computer did not read it anymore. I contacted Finis, mailed the player back, and received a new one in less than two weeks. Unfortunately, that one only worked for a month. I sat on that one for a while, and found my old swimp3 which was beginning to not work, so I contacted Finis again, mailed back the Neptune, and was mailed a new one. Unfortunately, once set up, it only worked for 3 practices, and died. My computer does not recognize it, and it will not even charge on my computer. In all, I may have gotten a total of 6months use out of the product. When it works, it works great! Unfortunately, mine only worked 1/2 the time, I spent over $40 mailing back and forth. I would not recommend the product.

    Finis=Great Customer service, but the Neptune is a bad product, at best.

  73. Mary Ann

    I got the Finis Neptune for the first time on Halloween (an omen apparently). I have already had to return it twice for a replacement and am working on my getting authorization for a third! I agree with earlier comments about the complicated way of putting music on it and the limit in formats it will accept. Once you have the music on it, the sound quality while swimming is great, and i like that you don’t have to stick earbuds in your ears and can even use swim earplugs if you want. The problem is, each one i have had has failed to turn on, turned itself off, failed to take a charge etc. And Finis makes you go through the hoops to get it replaced: a bunch of emails about have you tried this and that, and then you pay to ship it, wait to get it back, and then you have to transfer the music all over again to the new one. I fully expect to be replacing units up until the warranty runs out and then have it break after warranty expiration. I see the Neptune was made in China. Is that the problem?! Has anyone found something more satisfactory?

  74. Kevin Mercer

    I havd found all forms of ezr plugs to be totally useless. I have pretty good results withe the Finis Neptune Bonephone system . I find they work best when I position them right over my ears instead of on my temple/jawbone. They are really just watertight speakers. My best results to date have been to have a local electronics repair guy remove the Bonephone “speakers” from my defunct Finis Neptune (water penitration killed it) and install a regular ear phone jack on them so I could plug into any regular MP3 Player. My “Underwateraudio” player does not have enough power to get enough volume out of them, however my withwaterproof Ipod Shuffle works great with the Bonephone. So save your dead Finis MP3 Player a be have the Bonephone salvaged. My electronic tech did encounter a nonstandard amplification circuit while doing the surgery, but nothing he couldn’t deal with. Also make sure you you keep enough speaker wire on as could create unwanted tension if not enough slack between Ipod and ear speakers. Cost me $10 to get this done.

  75. Mary Ann


    Thanks for your detailed and helpful advice!

    Mary Ann

  76. Guy

    Thank you for a comprehensive and usefull review.
    I bought the diver mp3 and the earbuds/ tipps doesn’t fit to my ear.
    Can u please send me a link to a recomended earbuds/ tipps ?

  77. Laurel Beard

    Hi! Your site is THE most impressive review of athletic gadgets that I’ve found! I’m feeling gabby so bear w/ me … my friend at work (runner) just bought a garmin (? model) and it once again peaked my interest in finding a fitness watch for the gym, pool, bike, with a heart rate monitor. Voila! After much reading it looks like the TomTom Spark HR, music is the watch for me. I will purchase through your site on AmazonThank you, thank you!

    Background: At 61 I work FT, swim, bike and walk. I had a Fitbit but unfortunately it was laundered. Thrilled to have found a replacement! BTY, are their swimming headphones that’ll be able to be synced w/ the watch?

  78. liz

    After reading several blogs/reviews I bought the Diver. FYI The new Diver is a waterproof flash drive, lasted only one month and still comes with very low quality earbuds. The new Diver is not iTunes compatible but from the Amazon reviews it seems like the old models used to be. I appreciate the time and work it takes to review technology, but an update is needed, at least for the Diver. Brad’s comment says that Finis is now also junky. Lesson learned, read the date the reviewer updated their blog.

  79. Pete Williams

    I have also used the FX-Sport VRX headphone system. No question, the best audio and volume. It is also the most secure fit I have tried. I can actually focus on the training session rather than messing around with the fit every few minutes. The only downside is putting it into the silicone case, but the fact that this takes 2 minutes, to provide a system that WORKS, is a “no brainer” for me.
    If you want a system that actually delivers, this is the one.

  80. Hi, I hope you checkout the new Beker MP3 Player Waterproof Sports Swimming Headset Bone Conduction Technology.
    I’ve used the update Finis Duo and the Beker and as you wrote above found the Finis to mess with my goggle seal, The Beker uses the bone conduction technology but is a single unit so no wires, no ear buds. Just attached through your goggle stap at the rear of your head. is a single unit
    Beker has 4meg storage (1000songs) and 8hr play time. I pool swim a couple of times a week and The Beker has good sound quality and being a single unit is no fuss, just push on and start swimming.

  81. myron wolfe

    the main question we pool swimmers want to know how it works underwater. I have tried several and the one common character is that the music breaks up when under water. Maybe I was ina hurry reading the reviews but I didn’t read any mention of this. Did u test for this?
    Myron wolfe W9409@yahoo.com

  82. joseph

    wondering if you can talk to manufacture about doing a review on these link to indiegogo.com

  83. Ed Ryan

    Thanks for the review bu what about Swimbuds MP3 Wearable Audio Player?
    Those are the MP3 which I would like to buy…
    Any comments?

  84. Alex

    Ray, is there any chance you could make time to write a fresh shootout? I’m trying to decide between Delphin and Zygote swim headphones, and DC Rainmaker is always my go-to for sports tech reviews and general knowledge.