Product Review: H2O Audio Interval
As a kid growing up swimming, I often daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to listen to music while I swam. At the time there were no personal devices available, but from time to time we would swim in a pool that also had a synchronized swimming program and therefore underwater speakers. You couldn’t hear the music while swimming because of all the bubbles, but on turns and breaks we could hear the music crystal clear. Fast forward to the mid 1990’s. Speedo came out with a small, waterproof radio. It was a simple device, FM only, with one button to tune in stations like a scan button. Not bad, but the reception was horrible, so you needed a really strong signal to get some music. I used it from time to time, but the frustration of a choppy signal eventually led me to toss it in the ‘ole junk drawer.
Now with the advent of mp3 players, I figured the waterproof version would start popping up, and I was right. A number of the versions I’ve tried have been waist belts, etc that you strap your iPod into. But as soon as you push off a wall or change strokes the thing would move all over the place. Then H20Audio came up with a case for the shuffle that’s small enough to clip to the goggle strap. This is much closer to what I was looking for, so I pulled the trigger.
The design is pretty simple. Plug the shuffle into the case and close it up. the external controls are lined up with the shuffle controls, so the navigation is identical. They provide a head clip that is intended to provide a stand alone unit (no clipping to goggles), but I found the angle of the earphones with the clip were less than ideal, so I scrapped the head clip. The earphones look like standard earphones with earplug like attachments. I found them a bit bulky. The sound is perfect. I could hear my songs crystal clear as long as water didn’t enter the earphones, and this became the key. After a handful of set ups, I found that clipping to my goggles underneath my swim cap worked the best. The cap kept everything, including the earphones, in place. I started getting the earphones good and set in dry conditions kept the phones in place the best. Trying to adjust the earphones in the pool usually led to water getting in and the sound quality dimishing. Once I was set though, I could hear my songs without interuption. It’s fantastic and just as I hoped it would be as a kid. Overall I give it a huge thumbs up!
Here are the only two issues: The earphones. Like I mentioned, they’re a little bulky, so a good stroke (free or back) that sweeps by the ear can knock a phone loose. Once an earphone gets loose, it’s very hard to resecure in the pool. Having said that, H2O Audio has recently come out new version (see photos) which comes with much smaller earphones. Looks like that problem has been addressed (I haven’t tried the new phones so I can’t comment on effectiveness)
Problem #2: Water noise. I need to say that this isn’t an H2O Audio problem, it’s just something that I learned. The deep noises of the bubbles, etc of swimming drown out deeper notes in songs. So Pearl Jam type songs with deep notes are very difficult to hear. 80’s rock music with high pitches and guitar solos are very easy to hear. I learn something new everyday.
At the end of the day, if you are looking to listen to music while you swim, this is an excellent choice, and I highly recommend it.