IPX Ratings for Headphones Explained – What Each Rating Means

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Are you interested in buying sweat or waterproof headphones, but aren’t sure what all the different IPX ratings mean? They are a way of classifying headphones based on how much protection against moisture you’ll receive.

Paying attention to the IPX rating is a good idea if you plan on using the headphones for working out or using outdoors during wet weather conditions. The marketplace is flooded with sweatproof headphones, but you need to understand what the different ratings means to end up with headphones that match your requirements.

Read this IPX ratings guide to the very end to understand how to buy the right sweatproof headphones and what you should be considering. We hope you’ll learn a lot and improve your ability to select the headphones that you’ll be most happy with.

IPX Ratings

  • IPX0: there is no water resistance.
  • IPX1: these headphones can handle a few drops of water, but anything more and the audio drivers will get damaged. Therefore, headphones with this rating are not suitable for working out.
  • IPX2: small amounts of water at a 15 degrees angle can be handled for 10 minutes at a time and equal to 3mm of rainfall per minute. These headphones are not ideal for working out as intense sweating will be problematic.
  • IPX3: this is the highest sweatproof rating that’s still not ideal for working out. They can handle spray at 60 degrees with a water volume of 0.7 litres per minute for 5 minutes.
  • IPX4: this ratings means your headphones are sweatproof and it is the industry benchmark rating. Water that splashes against all sides of the enclosure has no effect on the headphones. A successful test was run for 10 minutes where water flowed at a rate of 10 litres per minute.
  • IPX5: headphones with these ratings can handle light water sprays from all angles. Therefore, headphones with this rating are ideal when there is heavy rain.
  • IPX6: this rating indicates that headphones can handle strong water jets without the audio drivers breaking down. They are ideal for enjoying music in the shower without worrying that the spray will damage the headphones.
  • IPX7: this rating indicates that the headphones are protected against 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Nano-coated components are typically used to provide this protection and it’s reliable.
  • IPX8: this is the best IPX rating you’ll find in the consumer grade marketplace. It means the headphones can handle upwards of 1 meter of water and usually you can enjoy depths of 3m. These type of headphones are suitable for swimming, but the duration you can keep them in the water is typically limited. Take a look at the instruction manual for further information to avoid damaging your headphones.

Sweatproof vs waterproof

The biggest mistake that buyers make is to confuse IPX4 headphones for waterproof ones. Some brands use misleading descriptions to give the impression that they are waterproof when in reality that’s not accurate. Therefore, you need to make a habit of taking a closer look at the specific IPX rating instead of the claims that are made in the headphone description.

The ratings are published by the International Electrotechnical Commission and they are applicable worldwide. It’s a trusted standard that can be used to quickly figure out how much durability can be expected without having to do much research.

The IPX0-IPX3 ratings are not suitable for working out, but IPX4+ is ideal for sports and working out in rainy weather conditions. IPX5-6 is ideal for buyers that want to use the headphones in the shower, but aren’t going to be using them in the pool. Finally, buyers looking to use headphones in the swimming pool should consider IPX7 at a minimum and ideally IPX8.