Best Waterproof Earbuds of 2021
For the athletically-inclined, the Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds are hard to beat. These earbuds are lightweight and designed to perfectly seat in the contours of your outer ear. They fit securely once properly fitted thanks to a well-designed ear fin, available in three sizes, so you can go on any workout or adventure with ease. They also feature active noise cancellation for distraction-free work or workouts. The Vista 2 is supported with the Jaybird app, and it is in using the app that these earbuds really shine. A sound test allows you to adjust your personalized EQ, bringing forth the true brilliance and fullness of the sound, and fully customizable push-button controls give you the functions and features you want. The IP 68 rating means they can be dunked in up to 1.5 meters of water for thirty minutes or less, as well as blocking out sand, dust, and dirt.
Our concerns for the Vista 2 are really few and far between. They're pricey, but we are happy to see that the app includes a "Find My Buds" feature to help you protect your investment. The case has an IP54 rating, and it would be cool if it shared the same rating as the earbuds themselves. But with such minor concerns, the Vista 2 buds are an easy choice. If you'd like a second opinion, you can be confident in your purchase knowing they also top the list of our Best Bluetooth Earbuds review.
Read review: Jaybird Vista 2
Most folks will appreciate the brilliant sound quality of the Jabra Elite Active 75t. Very similar to our top contender, these are designed to be used in conjunction with the Jabra Sound+ app. Once connected, you unlock the power and potential of these 'smart' earbuds — you can tweak just about everything on these fully customizable headphones. Most importantly for overall sound quality, a few simple (but seriously sensitive) hearing tests allow you to set both personalized EQ and active noise cancellation (ANC) settings. Commuters will certainly appreciate the HearThrough technology, which allows you to hear outside noise through your music, and on-the-go business professionals will love the Sidetone technology, which allows you to hear your voice on a call so that you don't end up talking too loudly. And all of this technology doesn't come at any expense of waterproofing. These buds carry an impressive IP57 rating, making them both water-resistant and dust-protected.
But the incredible tech packed into the Elite Active 75t means that these earbuds carry a high price tag. While they are well-protected from the elements, a bulky profile makes them fairly easy to knock out of your ear accidentally. More of a comment than a complaint, it is also important to acknowledge that the ANC technology severely limits playback time. So while you can enjoy an impressive seven hours of sound with ANC turned off, with the noise cancellation technology engaged, that time is cut down to a much more modest five hours. But regardless of the extent, you can rest assured knowing that these buds will provide top-quality listening time.
Read review: Jabra Elite Active 75t
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) offer an array of features found on more expensive models, including a charging case, Amazon Alexa support, and a useful "find my buds" feature, plus audio quality that had us double-checking the price before believing it. These are a great choice for folks looking to get pumped up for their workouts with bass-heavy tracks, as the Echo Buds pump out a pretty impressive low-end for a pair of earbuds. They easily transition from working out to plain old work thanks to their active noise cancelation, which can be operated in pass-through mode or disabled completely.
Though somewhat subjective, we found these earbud's touch-sensitive controls a bit cumbersome, as we generally prefer buttons with a more tactile response. They also require you to set up Alexa to operate, which some folks wary of the "always listening" digital assistant won't appreciate. They have a water resistance rating of IPX4, so they resist sweat, but should not be submerged. Still, these buds are a great choice for folks looking to save a little money, while still enjoying above-average sound quality.
Read review: Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
For an impressive command of versatility at a low price, we can easily recommend the Anker Soundcore Life P2. Our testers are impressed by how well these earbuds transition from taking phone calls to sweating it out on a trail run. These earbuds comfortably rest just on the edge of the ear canal and yet are still impressively stable. Unlike others we tested, they have microphones on the top and bottom of both earbuds, resulting in excellent call clarity on both ends of the line. With an EQ that is adjusted towards the higher end of the spectrum, we thoroughly enjoyed the quality of sound for listening to podcasts. The sound quality is adequate for providing tunes as you go throughout the day, but don't expect much by way of kick if you are a lover of hip-hop, despite Anker's claims that their BassUp technology "enhances bass by up to 43%." And while its battery life isn't totally best in class, we were surprised how seldom we needed to plug in the charging case to boost its battery juices. The onboard buttons reduce the number of times we needed to pull out our phones to pause or skip tracks.
The Clear Voice Capture (CVC) technology works great for picking up our voice clearly, but it didn't do so well at filtering out background noise. We found that the dual microphones were uber-sensitive — while we were washing dishes, the running water drew the attention of the person on the other end of the line. Similarly, we are a bit confused by the claims surrounding the waterproof rating on these. Even though the Soundcore Life P2 earbuds sport an IPX7 rating — which means that they should be fine to immerse in water up to three feet — the safety manual explicitly states, "[do] not submerge in water," and that "the product shall not be exposed to dripping or splash…" That said, this pair survived our water tests without an issue, and we recommend them as impressively well-rounded earbuds at a price that's tough to beat.
Don't be deceived by their appearance, the TOZO T6 earbuds are reinforced with a robust level of waterproofing. This is one of the few models on the market that offer a top-level IPX8 rating for the earbuds and the case. Though they do not boast the same overall sound quality when compared directly to other models in this review, the sound is consistent, with absolutely none of the "bouncing" that often plagues lighter-weight earbuds. Considering their relatively quick one-hour charge time and 190 foot measured Bluetooth range, there is no reason to NOT get up, out, and on your way, no matter what the day has in store.
Although the 6mm drivers of TOZO T6 provide a stable sound for activity, the quality is not particularly rich and even seems distant at points. We noticed a similar issue while making phone calls, with the receiving end sometimes remarking that we sounded like we were calling through a tunnel. Even though they are stable enough for most athletics, the ear-cups fit tightly in a way that makes us not want to wear them all day. But perhaps the greatest flaw is a relatively short playback time of only four hours. Fortunately, the sleek carrying case is stocked with nearly six additional charges, which should be plenty if you're planning to use these for travel.
Sound quality is paramount for any headphones, but it isn't often achieved, especially when it comes to earbud design. The EarFun Free earbuds make strides against this trend. These headphones offer a rich sound with a well-equalized, deep bass at a fair price. The noise-canceling qualities are enhanced by a suction-cup-like fit that secures them in place, providing full confidence to go for long trail runs in rough, mountainous terrain. A 10-minute, quick-charge feature will get you back in the game with an additional two hours of listening time.
Even though the waterproof rating is not quite as high as others we tested, an IPX7 rating allows for full immersion up to three feet. These are not touch-control earbuds, and it does take a fair amount of push to engage the controls — sometimes, we found it difficult to change tracks without pushing these uncomfortably far into the ear canal. The EarFun Free is also significantly bulkier than other earbuds we tested, sticking out farther than most, which slightly reduces breathability. The price of these affordable headphones is the most impressive point, to us.
The Kurdene Wireless Earbuds are a solid set of true wireless waterproof earbuds at a great price, all wrapped up in a case that is noticeably smaller and lighter than the competitors. The earbuds themselves are a fairly standard size and sit a bit further out from the ear than other models we tested, but they still stick to the theme of being remarkably lightweight. These headphones sport an IPX8 rating, and even the case is IPX6 rated — so you don't have to worry about leaving it poolside. The earbuds can be used independently, with nearly ubiquitous touch controls (except for volume and track navigation, which are side-specific), and have an impressive playback time of nearly seven hours. The earpieces are also worth mentioning: you don't have to push them in very far to achieve athletic stability, thanks to a stiffer rubber "spine" that increases in-ear support and security.
The Kurdene earbuds have a clean EQ that is good enough for acoustic tracks but is treble-heavy and lacks any full-range resonance or deep bass kick. The driver — a "moving-coil, horn loudspeaker" — rattles around when running or performing exercises like box jumps. This can be very distracting and certainly detracts from the overall sound quality. The other major sacrifice of these price-point headphones is their connection range, losing Bluetooth connection at 51 feet.
The JBuds Air Icon has an impressive connection range, measured at 102 feet. This capability, coupled with seven hours of playback time, makes them perfect for working out on the soccer pitch or in the gym. The case is thoughtfully designed with a built-in charging cord, and don't be thrown off by the cord's obscure appearance — simply plug directly into any standard USB type-A charging block to charge the case. The case carries three full charges, and you can enjoy 1.5 hours of playback from a 15-minute quick charge.
Unfortunately, their IP55 rating is only water-resistant, so make sure that you take these out before hitting the showers. The Air Icon comes with a variety of ear cups and fins to help you dial in that perfect fit. However, all but the foam ear cups are unnecessarily embossed with the JLab symbol, severely impacting both their stability and in-ear comfort. These earbuds distinctly offer the ability to cycle through three different EQ options, but all fall flat of a rich sound. We are also disappointed with how much the sound is affected by movement. Particularly when running, the sound bounces so badly that at points, it seems like there is a "wawa" effects pedal dubbed over the song.
The iLuv TB100 Bubble Gum earbuds have a fitting namesake. The case is about the size and weight of a pack of bubble gum, so you can easily slide them into your pocket before heading out the door. The earbuds, too, feel significantly smaller than many others, with the speakers comfortably covering the entrance to the ear canal — although it is important to mention that a smaller earbud does not make certain that they will fit a smaller ear. The tight, stable fit results in a surprisingly deep bass that is well-balanced with crisp highs. The fit also affords a decent level of passive noise canceling — we were able to listen to podcasts clearly while cruising downhill on our bike commute.
Unfortunately, the sound quality does not extend to voice calls. The feedback and background noise was so bad for the receiver that it made it impossible to carry on a conversation longer than a minute or two (and this was tested while standing still). The tight, suction cup-like fit also contributes to the sound "bouncing" when running. The manufacturer claims that the touch controls are "intelligent" and able to adapt to individual touch patterns. We found the touch interface to be both overly sensitive — it was repeatedly triggered by the strap of our bike helmet — and often impossible to restart playback without pulling our phone out.
For those with particularly small conchas (the inset space around your ear canal), the OKG TWS Earbuds may just be the perfect fit. Their lightweight, low-profile design rests comfortably just outside the ear canal and seems to do the trick when many other models simply won't match the shape of a smaller ear. Even for larger ears, they seem to float just on the edge of the inner ear, making them fairly comfortable for all-day use.
But that same characteristic of the fit makes them feel incredibly unstable as if they just might pop out of your ear at any moment. We were hesitant to run or work out in these headphones. This "floating" fit, combined with small, 6mm drivers, unfortunately, also results in music, podcasts, and voice calls all sounding distant, and even turning up the volume won't help achieve a rich sound. These earbuds also only have three hours of playback time, no quick-charge feature, and no audible, low-battery warning — only an external LED light that will flash red when the battery is low (but you obviously cannot see this while wearing them.) So make sure to time your listening wisely, or risk having your music cut out halfway through a song.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our sound-connoisseur and lead-tester for this review is Aaron Rice. As an athlete and a musician, he knows a thing or two about the intersection of sound and athletic performance. Whether out in the mountains on a long trail run or hard at work, Aaron fills his days with music and always seems to have something playing in the fore or background.
This comprehensive review is the result of over 100 hours of side-by-side comparison of some of the top waterproof wireless earbuds on the market. Our eclectic musical interests mean that we listened to a wide variety of music, not to mention the hours of knowledge gleaned from new and interesting podcasts. We wore these while working all day from our home offices, listening to music, and conducting business calls. After the workday was through, we took them on long trail runs, mountain bike rides, or wore them through sweaty, at-home workouts. And when we finished up our daily routines, we hopped right in the shower — of course, still while wearing our earbuds — to put their waterproof ratings to the ultimate test.
While some models have impressive water resistance ratings, there are no Bluetooth models currently suited for swimming. The Bluetooth connection doesn't work underwater, defeating the purpose of wearing headphones, and even the IPX8 rated models are only waterproof up to a meter for 30 minutes. For now, swimmers are restricted to the beckoning silence of the deep, or children screaming at the pool. Keep in mind that these earbuds are still great for other water-centric sports like paddle boarding or kayaking provided you can keep them from getting washed down the river.
Analysis and Test Results
To accurately assess all of these waterproof earbuds, our team of experts devised a test plan that covers six comprehensive and mutually exclusive metrics: sound quality, athletic performance, comfort, waterproof rating, battery life, and ease of use. We apply a weight to each of these metrics appropriate to their importance in contributing to a truly great pair of headphones. For example, all of the headphones we tested include some level of waterproof rating, so this was not weighted quite as heavily in our consideration as sound quality or comfort. Our side-by-side testing allows us to compare each set of earbuds relative to one another — even if a pair of headphones ranks lower than others, it is worth considering that it may include just the right features to fit your particular wants and needs.
The waterproof rating is an important consideration for those of us looking to buy a new pair of earbuds with athletic endeavors in mind. But what good is waterproofing, or athletic performance, if your new headphones aren't able to produce quality sound? We listened to a wide variety of music — from bass-heavy dubstep and hip-hop to acoustic folk tracks to long-form podcast interviews — to gauge how deeply the bass kicks, how crisp the treble rings, and how a well-balanced equalization contributes to overall rich tones. We also put the internal microphones to the test and used our friends on the other end of the line to judge call clarity and quality.
The Jaybird Vista 2 are a rockin' pair of buds that delivers a crisp and balanced sound, and they can be tweaked to your preference via Jaybird's app. The EQ pre-sets are many in the Jaybird app, and simple enough for nearly anyone to use them immediately. You can even establish custom EQ settings very easily. The Jabra Elite Active 75t also provides an excellent, well-balanced sonic palette, while also having a more robust waterproof rating. Looking for bumping bass at an affordable price? The Amazon Echo Buds are our favorite model for bass-heavy tunes to get us psyched for our workouts.
Of course, you want to listen to your favorite tunes while engaging in your favorite physical activity — why else would you be interested in the freedom of the truly wireless experience? Earbuds are convenient, and when combined with a waterproof rating, serve as the perfect companion to any athletic endeavor. We spent hours wearing these earbuds while out on long trail runs, working out with dynamic body-weight exercises, and riding our bikes. We judged fit and stability, considered sweat resistance, and made notes on how movement affects sound quality.
The Jaybird Vista 2 is lightweight but locks into your ear by using an extended ear hook to secure itself tightly to your outer ear. While some earbuds, like the Earfun Free, have a stable, suction cup-like fit, the sound bounces with each impact of a footstep, making them very annoying to run with. The Jabra Elite Active 75t are perfect for some ears, and easily ejective from others, so make sure you can return them if necessary. We were also surprised by the athletic performance of the Soundcore Life P2, a model that is particularly enticing for those who like to walk and talk.
All-day comfort help earbuds integrate into our lives, whether you're on the go or working from home. We wore each pair for an entire workday to directly compare their ease of extended wear. Since we all have ears of different sizes and shapes, we then adjusted scores based on available sizing options for ear cups and fins.
A well-designed ear-fin comfortably supports the weight of the earbud on the edge of the antitragus (the lower portion of the middle ridge of your ear) so that the job of holding the earbud in your ear doesn't rest solely with the ear-cup. We love any earbud that includes an ear-fin for this reason in particular. The fins/hooks on the Jaybird Vista 2 hold the earbuds securely in place for any athletic endeavor.
Without the use of an ear-fin, the Soundcore Life P2 manage to achieve an impressive fit, thanks in large part to their lightweight design. Despite their bulky appearance, the Jabra Elite Active 75t are well designed and offer all-day comfort — they also have a sensor that will automatically pause music if you need to remove the earbud to adjust its fit.
Waterproof ratings, commonly referred to as IP ratings, are clearly defined according to the International Protection Rating. However, manufacturers seem to include specific recommendations in their user manuals regardless of the IP rating advertised. We tested these claims — appropriate to their stated waterproof rating — by either showering or subjecting ourselves to a dunk-test. Various online resources quickly spell out the meaning of each IP rating. In short, higher numbers provide more protection. The first number (or "X" if not tested) represents solid matter (dust, dirt, and sand) ingress that is blocked, and the second number is the level of water ingress protection.
We ranked each pair of earbuds according to their IP rating and then adjusted those scores according to specific manufacturer recommendations. For example, our favorite for waterproofing — the TOZO T6 — has an IPX8 rating and is one of the few options on the market that also extends the same waterproof rating to its case. It is important to note that a Bluetooth connection will quickly be interrupted if you dive underwater — our testing corroborates that you will lose connection after submersion. But our testing revealed no significant issues related to waterproofing with any of the IPX7 or IPX8-rated headphones by dipping just below the surface. All models held up to their published IP ratings.
As with many modern conveniences, there are tradeoffs. With true wireless earbuds, you may no longer be tied down by cords, but you are restrained by battery life. We tested the battery life of each of these while playing music at approximately 30% volume — a lower volume than the manufacturer tested-claims for playback time and a more realistic volume for the majority of earbud users. We then adjusted scores based on the number of extra charges carried by the case and awarded bonus points if those cases include a quick-charge feature.
The Jaybird Vista 2 impressed us again, with a 9 hour run time, a full hour more than the manufacturer stated 8 hours, plus you can juice them back up with the charging case. The Jabra Elite Active also makes a strong standing here with a 7 hour playback time.
It's standard on most wireless earbuds on today's market, but we heartily recommend only considering models that come with a charging case. Having such a case further removes you from being tethered to an outlet, often providing multiple re-charges of your earbuds before you'd have to plug the case back into an outlet.
Ease of Use
One of the greatest advantages of true wireless headphones is the ability to put them in and then walk away from your phone to go about your business. With a few notable exceptions, the interface features and controls are fairly ubiquitous across the board — the main difference is that the EarFun Free, Soundcore Life P2, Jaybird Vista 2, and Jabra Elite Active 75t are all button-controlled, rather than touch-sensitive. This is a nice feature to opt for with waterproof buds, considering that many of the touchpads are so sensitive that splashing water can affect the controls, pausing music, or changing tracks.
In terms of Bluetooth range, the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Jaybird Vista 2 both maintain a solid connection at 265 and 290 feet, respectively — well exceeding their claims of 33 feet (10 meters.) On the other end of the spectrum, the OKG and iLuv earbuds have more limited ranges of 50 and 41 feet, respectively — although to their credit, this still exceeds their similar claims of 33 feet (10 meters.) To maintain objectivity, we tested this without the interference of barriers.
Wireless headphones are a fantastic new technology that helps separate us at least a little bit from our phones. Particularly from the perspective of athletes and those of us who commute via bike or live in rainy climates, that technology is made even better by adding a water-resistant design. Not all of these wireless waterproof earbuds are created equal, and we hope that this comprehensive review has helped you plug into the pair that best suits your needs.
— Aaron Rice