These headphones are amazingly secure in the water and have good sound quality and bass, but they come with a bit of a learning curve and might have a few too many options for loading music
Lots of memory
Good sound quality on dry land
Waterproof and decent sound quality in water
Controls a bit fiddly
A bit complicated to use and to load music
Battery life could be better
Slight tickling from heavy bass
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H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport Headphones with Playlist+: first impressions
These running headphones have gone all in on versatility for people who want to take their tunes on various activities. Designed to be used for just about every sport from wild swimming to trail running and even fitting under a bike or ski helmet, you can wear these bone conduction headphones across just about every activity you’d want to do with music. The open ear experience delivers great sound when you’re above water, and decent sound underwater, while the bass is sometimes so strong it tickles your ears if you don’t turn the volume down. These are reasonably lightweight and comfortable when we’ve worn them for an hour on the trail, and they have no problems staying secure under water.
• List price: £151
• Weight: 30 grams / 1 oz
• Battery length: Up to 5 hours
• Colors: Black
• Active noise cancellation: No
• Best use: Running, swimming
Like any bluetooth headphones, you can pair these with your phone and stream your tunes, but if you’re swimming or want to leave your phone at home, they have a Playlist function which essentially means you can record up to 8 GB of music and playlists onto the headphones themselves. Getting the music onto the headphones requires either playing it from your device via bluetooth or using the H20 Audio app, so it’s a little time consuming but a pleasant enough experience if you want to listen to some tunes while you work. Once they’re loaded up, you control everything via three small buttons just behind your right ear. It takes a little practice to figure out the controls, but you can probably figure most of it out without reading the instruction manual and it’s all reasonably intuitive.
Overall, we’re impressed with the sound quality and in theory, we like the versatility of these headphones, but in reality there might be too many options to get music onto them and it can all feel a bit complicated at first. The battery life doesn’t make for really long days on the trail, but works for daily runs and swims.
H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport Headphones with Playlist+: in the field
I don’t typically listen to music when I run, though on the rare occasion that I’m forced to road run I do like some tunes or a podcast and I’ve slowly made my way from wired headphones to non-wired headphones in the form of my AirPods. However, every time I wear them out I worry about the possibility of hundreds of dollars worth of tech bouncing out of my ear and down a drain.
When I was offered the chance to test out these headphones, I was intrigued. I’m generally in favor of over ear headphones that don’t completely block the noise of traffic, and I’ve always fancied listening to music while I swim. I’ve had these out now on five runs and one half mile swim.
Here’s how they performed:
Comfort and fit
It's not as though I can't feel these headphones when they're on, but I love not having anything inside my ears, which starts to ache after a while and they’re not uncomfortable, at least up to an hour which is as long as I’ve worn them. They’re pretty lightweight at just one ounce and sit over my ears with the speaker just in front of my ears. They don’t feel tight but when I shake my head they don’t move at all, and they didn't budge when I was swimming either (I wore them over my cap).
I wouldn’t ever listen to music on my bike or skiing, but just for testing purposes I’ve tried these on while wearing my bike helmet and I’m surprised to see they work with a helmet.
For running, the sound quality is great. I’m actually barely aware of ambient noise compared to my other bone conduction headphones. The only time I realize that they’re actually bone conduction is when I wear them in the subway – the sound of the train almost totally blocks out my podcast, but that’s to be expected with these headphones. If anything, the bass can be a little too much and I’ve had to turn them down to stop the vibrating in my ears.
When I wore them swimming, the sound quality was naturally diminished, but it wasn’t awful and it still made me swim for longer than I usually would. It was more disrupted doing breaststroke, when my ears were going in and out of the water, than doing the crawl.
Ease of use
These aren’t the easiest headphones to use. Because the manufacturers had loaded up some music for me, I was able to just put them on and hit play and figure out the control dials mostly on the first go without reading the instruction manual, but towards the end of my swim I did find myself listening to what seemed to be an advert for H20 or an audio instruction manual and I couldn’t seem to escape that menu. Once I read the manual, it all became a little easier, though the controls are a bit fiddly and if a song comes on too loud and I’m in a hurry to turn it down, I end up skipping back a track.
As far as I can tell, there are at least two and possibly three ways to load music onto them, which actually means recording audio rather than transferring it. I tried playing music from my phone whilst the two were connected via Bluetooth, and that went well although it records at the volume you play it at, so my first song is really loud. I thought this seemed like a total pain, since you have to sit through every song, but actually it was easy enough to do while I was working. That said, I can’t really see the point in playing a whole podcast just so I can play it again on the trail. Though you can do the job with the headphones off, you’ll need to place them carefully on a pillow otherwise they vibrate, which is distracting.
The other way I tried was to download the H20 Audio app, which ultimately seemed to involve the exact same process, except you’re controlling it via the app, and this is how you can manage music and delete songs you no longer want.
I believe you can also drag and drop songs you already own (not from streaming services) onto the device on your computer, however it’s been a while since I owned a laptop full of music files so I wasn’t able to test this function, though it sounds easiest. I did plug it into my MacBook which had no problem recognizing the headphones.
Overall, if I was only going to wear these running I think I’d decide that loading music was too much effort and just use Bluetooth, but of course Bluetooth isn’t so easy under water. For dry land activities, a drawback of using Bluetooth is that you can’t skip forward when using streaming services like you can with preloaded music.
Out of the box, these lasted for about two hours and 40 minutes of running and a half hour swim before needing to be charged, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t fully charged upon arrival. Either way, they last me a few uses each charge though I can’t see them being great for someone who’s looking to spend a long day out on the trail.
H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport Headphones: the bottom line
These headphones come with a lot of options and functionality, but in doing so, they might be too complicated for users who just want to listen to music. That said, the sound quality is good and if you’re seeking a pair of headphones that you can wear in the water as well as on dry land without totally blocking your ears, you might want to look into these.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.