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H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones review
9:02 pm | November 16, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Headphones Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Editor's note

  • Original review date: November 2022
  • Original price $149.99 (£128.00, AU$225.00)
  • Price now $99.00 / £84.99 / AU$127.99

Update: February 2024. The H20 Audio Tri Multi-Sport headphones are still a great buy over a year on, even with the advent of a Pro model. Onboard storage and streaming options, a cheaper price from launch and bone-conduction tech, which hasn't really advanced much, means it's standing the test of time very well. The rest of the review remains as previously published.

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: One-minute review

The H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones are a contender for our best waterproof headphones guide. Thanks to their dual Bluetooth/flash memory, these headphones are so versatile you’ll only need the one set for all your workouts, whether underwater or not. 

Fully waterproof, they have surprisingly good sound in most Bluetooth conditions and from the onboard 8GB flash drive for uninterrupted play while swimming. Bluetooth’s limitations in water mean you need both modes if you never want to be without sound. While you could jerry-rig a smartwatch to your swim cap or goggles, keep in mind you’ll need the two devices within three to four inches of each other.

As with most bone conduction headphones, they’re worn on the cheekbones – an improvement over the H2O Audio Sonar (one of our waterproof headphone picks) which need to be attached to swim goggles. 

Our main quibble is that the control buttons sometimes need a couple of attempts to perform how we want rather than working on the first try. Of the three function buttons, the main button controls a lot, so you need to be very precise with how you hit it and how long you hold it. This should improve after the button design change in the next production run. 

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $149.99 (£128.00, AU$225.00)
  • Where is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: SPECS

Interface: Bluetooth and onboard media player
Battery life: 8-9 hours play time
Storage: 8GB
Audio formats: MP3, WMA, and Apple iTunes’ M4A
Weight: 1.16 oz / 33g

Both on H2O Audio’s website and on Amazon, these versatile headphones are currently on sale at the time of writing. However, they retail at $149.99 (£128.00, AU$225.00). They’re manufactured in China and designed in San Diego, California. They ship internationally, though additional taxes and shipping fees vary by country. 

It’s rare to find waterproof headphones, especially at this price, with both Bluetooth and onboard memory so you can have uninterrupted sound regardless of the conditions. For example, Shokz OpenSwim headphones have only an MP3 player (no Bluetooth) at a cost of $149.95. On sale for $89 (from $129) are the Bluetooth-only YouthWhisper SuperQ3 bone conduction headphones. While Zygo Solo headphones allow you to stream flawlessly from your phone underwater via an FM radio transmitter, it’ll cost you $299 and you need to bring extra gear to the pool.

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Design

  • IPX8 waterproof rating means you can swim without worry
  • Stream via Bluetooth or from the onboard flash drive 
  • 8MB of storage of MP3, WMA and M4A files 

The H2O Audio Tri Multi-sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones have the maximum waterproofing rating – IPX8. That means they can withstand immersion in 12 feet (3.6 m) of water for an unlimited time (so you’ve lost one more excuse for cutting your workout short).

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Fairly typical for bone conduction headphones, these have two round transducers that sit below your temple, hooks that go over the top of each ear, and two rectangles that sit behind your ears with the controls and battery. The device is mostly black, though you have your choice of Caribbean blue, hot pink, or black for the band that wraps behind your neck. No need to worry if you expect to be tossed around in the waves, they come with a little rubber leash to secure them to swim goggles or a wetsuit zipper. For regular wear, you likely won’t need it – they stayed comfortably in place for us during a jog and while swimming laps. 

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Charging the headphones and downloading files to the 8GB flash drive is through a compact proprietary cable that pairs four metal circles on each device via a magnet. While you can’t sub one of your dozens of other cords in, you don’t have to worry if water will seep into the charging port. 

Once the cable connects your headphones to your computer, a window instantly pops up to transfer files. Our headphones arrived with two dozen songs already loaded, and we can attest that Janis Joplin belting out “Me and Bobby McGee” energizes for several extra laps in the pool. It’s easy to drag and drop whatever MP3, WMA, or M4A (iTunes) files you like into folders and organize them by type, workout, or however you like. Note that you can’t download files from subscription services like Spotify or Apple Music because they’re copyright protected (but you can stream them via Bluetooth). 

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Three buttons manage the controls. With a click, two buttons raise or lower the volume; holding one skips to the next or previous track (or forward or back a few seconds on podcasts). In memory mode, a double click of a volume button skips to the next or previous folder. The main button turns power on and off, pauses and restarts play, and toggles between Bluetooth and memory. In memory mode, the main button also controls shuffle play and, in Bluetooth mode, answers calls as well as activates voice assistants. 

The battery lasts eight to nine hours though playing at higher volumes will drain it more quickly. You’ll know your headphones are fully charged when their light turns from red to blue. A polite British lady announces the battery status when you turn the headphones on and she gives you an hour’s worth of periodic warnings when the battery level is low. She also confirms when you’ve toggled successfully between Bluetooth and memory modes. 

  • Design: 5 / 5

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Performance

  • Easy to download to the 8GB memory and organize files how you want
  • Great sound, though a bit bass-y underwater
  • Button controls can be a bit finicky 

Because the H2O Audio Tri Multi-sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones stream sound two ways, you only need this one set for all your sports needs. Overall, sound quality is quite good, especially for music and podcasts, though a bit echo-y for phone calls. In the air, both music and podcasts sounded great and were surprisingly rich, whether streaming by Bluetooth or from the flash drive. Underwater, podcasts’ sound quality was just as good as in the air. For music underwater, we would have liked more treble and less bass, but it wasn’t a deal breaker (and we were happy that the bass wasn’t so strong that our cheekbones vibrated, as with some other bone conduction headphones). 

Because water blocks Bluetooth signals, sound did go in and out while swimming in Bluetooth mode when our head was even just a couple of inches below the surface. The headphones performed better at the end of the pool nearest where our phone was sitting and less well 60 feet away at the pool’s other end. Keep in mind that the headphones must be in Bluetooth mode to receive phone calls. 

Swimming is why you want headphones with a built-in MP3 player. In memory mode, the sound was great and didn’t cut out at all whether we swam on the surface or dived to the bottom of our four-and-a-half-foot-deep lap pool. 

Our biggest complaint is that the control buttons of the H2O Audio Tri Multi-sport are a bit finicky, especially the main button which controls play, pause, toggling between Bluetooth and memory modes, and a few other functions. Sometimes it took a few tries to get the device to do what we wanted; occasionally we gave up and just pulled out our phone to get the sound to restart rather than continue to try to hold the button for the exact right number of milliseconds. Now, most people won’t do the extent of toggling and control adjustments that we do during testing, but keep this in mind if you frequently want to skip ads, pause and restart play, or switch back and forth from Bluetooth to memory mode. In circumstances when your hands aren’t free (or dry) to use the controls on your phone, make sure you’ve downloaded enough podcasts or music to the flash drive so you don’t need to toggle and then don’t touch the controls once it’s playing how you like it. 

We’re told that H2O Audio is updating the design for the next production run to make the control buttons bigger so that they’re easier to press. This is likely to reduce the problem significantly.  

As with all bone conduction headphones, you’ll need to turn the sound up in noisy environments because, unless you also wear the supplied earplugs, nothing blocks your ears. The open-ear design is a safety advantage – you want to hear the cyclist or car zooming up behind you or if another swimmer is trying to pass. Unlike with other bone conduction headphones we’ve tried, there was very minimal sound bleed (and, phew, no complaints from the noise-sensitive person we share home and office space with). 

The 8GB storage is a fairly standard size and generally means you can store 1500 to 2000 songs. Downloading files onto the headphones was drag-and-drop easy – our biggest challenge was finding MP3 podcasts and songs in a Bluetooth world. 

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

Should I buy the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport?

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

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H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Report card

  • First reviewed November 2022

How we test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

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Zygo Solo review
7:04 pm | July 21, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Headphones Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's note

  • Original review date: July 2021
  • Original price $229 (£218.00, around AU$400.00)
  • Prices holding steady

Update: February 2024. Zygo is still unopposed three years on as the best premium option for in-pool workouts. The Zygo Solo vs H20 Audio Tri versus feature we did last year has a lot of points that remain relevant one year on: the FM radio transmitter means if you want to stream, Zygo Solo is the best option, especially if you want to stream guided workouts. The continued limited availability in the UK and AU is a big frustration, but otherwise for US swimmers, Zygo is the premium headphone set for you. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Two-minute review

Is this the Peloton of the pool? With the success of that workout streaming service clearly in its sights comes Zygo Solo, a unique audio gadget for swimmers.

We’ve seen waterproof headphones and bone conduction headphones before, but not like this. Since Bluetooth can't penetrate water, all other swim headphones are little more than waterproof MP3 players (pretty much that music file format’s last stand). The Zygo Solo is different, and is able to stream content from a smartphone through water using an FM transmitter that can penetrate water.

It’s something of a 'hallelujah!' moment for swimmers, many of whom have by now experimented with the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 and then the Aftershokz Xtrainerz, both of which are good at what they do, but only play MP3s. Does anyone even have any MP3s anymore?

Zygo Solo equipment

The Zygo Solo kit consists of a headset, FM transmitter, stand and charging case, plus a pair of earplugs (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

A four-piece set consisting of headset, FM transmitter, stand and charging case, the Zygo Solo has a lot more hardware than your average pair of super-slim swimming headphones.

It works like this: your phone connects to the FM transmitter via Bluetooth and the transmitter to the headset via radio frequency. It’s easy to set up, though there’s definitely more physical equipment to deal with. It also means taking a lot of gear poolside. Fine in a private swimming pool, but not so great in a public pool where you’ll have to keep one eye on your stuff while you swim.

Nevertheless, committed swimmers with the right environment will adore the Zygo Solo. A long overdue audio upgrade for the pool, it’s surprisingly easy to use, offers great FM-quality sound and has hundreds of excellent on-demand workouts that can really change how you approach your swimming fitness. Or you can just listen to your own music, audiobooks or podcasts without having to drag-and-drop MP3 files prior to a swim.

How does Zygo Solo compare to its underwater MP3 player competitors? It blows them out of the water, of course – and it’s priced accordingly.

Zygo Solo price and availability

  • Out now
  • Costs $299 / £218 (about AU$400)

Available in the US, Canada and the UK in two sizes – standard and large – the Zygo Solo costs $299 / £218 (about AU$400) for the full package. A replacement headset costs $99 / £72 (about AU$150), while an external mic costs US$30/UK£22 (about AU$40), and is useful if a coach wants to use the FM transmitter as a hands-free walkie talkie.

If you want Peloton-inspired streaming swim workouts (comprising short and long audio workouts delivered by instructors and paired with music) then you also need to take out a Zygo All Access Monthly Plan, which costs $14.99 / £12.99 (about AU$20) per month after a 14-day trial.

In future Zygo tells us it’s planning metric tracking similar to that offered by the best running watches, leaderboards, and truly Peloton-style live classes. On Zygo’s website you can purchase an app gift certificate for an entire year for $149 / £108 (about AU$200), which gives you two months free.

Zygo Solo design

  • Headset weighs 66g
  • Waterproof to 2ft / 60cm
  • FM transmitter streams to 55yds / 50m

The Zygo Solo is, technically speaking, by far the most ambitious set of swimming headphones available. Predictably that means it comes with some baggage. The package consists of an IP68-rated waterproof headset, an IP67-rated (waterproof for 30 minutes) FM transmitter and stand, a pair of earplugs and a charging case.

While the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 and the Aftershokz Xtrainerz weigh 32g and 29g, respectively, the Zygo Solo headset weighs 66g. Why? It’s got a radio receiver as well as a battery inside that makes it possible to receive audio from the FM transmitter connected wirelessly to a smartphone.

The 101g FM transmitter itself is a figure of eight-shaped device that’s also waterproof, so it’s fine to leave it close to the water. Also included is a small 25g holder for the FM transmitter that keeps it upright, which extends its range.

Zygo Solo headset with transmitter

The Zygo Solo is considerably heavier than other swimming headphones due to its radio receiver (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Meanwhile, the charging case itself weighs 450g, and 623g with both the headset and the transmitter inside. Resembling the kind of case you might find housing a pair of the best noise cancelling headphones, it’s rounded and compact, and fairly easily fits inside a swim bag. The headset also has an accelerometer inside, so expect activity tracking soon.

Zygo Solo setup

  • Connects via FM transmitter
  • Streams any audio from a smartphone

Despite a slightly convoluted hardware arrangement compared to MP3 swim players, the Zygo Solo is always easy to set-up. It takes a bit of getting used to. If you’re used to entering the pool with just a pair of goggles, or even if you’re used to donning an MP3 swim player, the Zygo Solo seems a lot to get used to.

The headset feels reasonably solid and unwieldy at first – it is, after all, more substantial than a basic swim MP3 player – partly because it’s designed to stay firmly in place during underwater turns. It’s chunkier because it’s got more hardware inside.

Man wearing Zygo Solo headset

The robust, chunky design of the Zygo Solo helps it stay in place during underwater turns (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

What’s really different about the Zygo Solo compared to MP3 swim players is that you have to have the FM transmitter and your smartphone poolside. That FM transmitter works to a range of 50 meters – so the size of an Olympic swimming pool – which is generous enough (it can also transmit to an unlimited number of headsets). However, if you’re used to leaving your phone in a locker and entering a neighborhood pool deck with just a towel, having to take a smartphone and an FM transmitter is a bit of a change.

The 50m limit applies only to swimming pools, with a half-mile range promised in the great outdoors. So you could get away with wearing a Zygo Solo while open water swimming, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and even sailing.

Zygo Solo sound

  • Bone conduction works well
  • Sounds best with earplugs
  • Only the FM transmitter has playback buttons

Make no mistake about what Zygo is trying to do here; streaming live audio underwater is not easy. In fact, the tech it took two years to perfect. The Zygo Solo’s sound is good. Out of the pool it sounds a little tinny, but in the water it suddenly gets a lot of bass.

Let’s not overdo it; this is not audiophile quality, and overall the impression is (not surprisingly) of FM radio-like sound, with a little crackle and hiss now and again. However, at all times it sounds much better than any waterproof MP3 player. That is, if you remember to use the earplugs.

Close-up of Zygo Solo earpiece

The Zygo Solo uses bone conduction to send vibrations to your auditory nerve (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Like the Aftershokz Xtrainerz the Zygo Solo are bone conduction headphones, using a technology that employs an open-ear design and transmits audio through vibrations in the cheekbones directly into the inner ear.

You don’t need to use the included earplugs, but if you don’t you’ll find that every time your ears are not immersed the quality of sound drastically changes. So for a more consistent experience it’s best to use the earplugs.

It’s possible to tweak the volume using + and - buttons on the headset’s right temple, and the FM transmitter has some too. It just about goes loud enough, but only the FM transmitter has skip track and play/pause controls, which is a shame. It means you have to make sure you have lots of songs/podcasts/content queued up, or keep the FM transmitter accessible by the side of the pool.

Man's hand holding Zygo Solo transmitter

Play, pause and skip controls are all on the FM transmitter, not on the headset itself (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

We found the headset to be reasonably comfortable when worn for long periods, largely because the bone conduction design leaves your ears alone, though it did begin to feel slightly tight after about half an hour. The advice is to put the headset on, followed by a swim hat, goggles and then earplugs.

As a nice bonus the transmitter doubles as a walkie talkie, so a coach can speak to a swimmer directly as they swim in the pool. What the headset doesn’t have is a microphone, so you can’t answer back … or make hands-free calls from the pool.

Zygo Solo companion app

  • Huge choice of pre-recorded workouts 
  • Excellent instructors and lots of music
  • Live classes and activity tracking promised

The Zygo app for iOS  and Android has had a lot of investment in it and is arguably the best reason to invest in Zygo Solo. It’s not free, but there’s a huge choice of classes and activities inside. As a few random examples we found a 20-minute beginner-level tutorial in learning backstroke, an intermediate 30-minute HIIT workout and a ‘fun’-grade 25 minute DJ drill set to music.

Each one has excellent instructors and a lot of music, the latter the result of various licensing deals struck between Zygo and the music industry.

We counted over 50 drills, which seems good value, which can be browsed on a timeline but also by specific genres, such as ‘strengthen and lengthen’, ‘5 days of fitness’ and ‘your first sprint triathlon’. It’s best to download them on WiFi within the app before hitting the pool.

Zygo Solo app screenshots

The Zygo Solo mobile app includes instructor-led workouts, with licensed music (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

However, the app does need a queue so that lessons and drills can follow-on from each other. Since some are only a few minutes long you can easily find yourself completing a drill and then swimming in silence.

In future Zygo tells us it’s planning to go full-Peloton and add live classes and leaderboards, with new software incoming that will use the built-in accelerometer to track your activity in the pool.

The app works independently of the device, so in theory you could just subscribe to the app and use all the workouts … though the Zygo Solo is so far the only way to stream content underwater.

Zygo Solo battery and charging case

  • Headset lasts for three hours
  • Charging case uses micro USB not USB-C
  • Charging case doesn’t hold a charge

Inside the Zygo Solo headset is a battery that lasts for three hours, and the transmitter lasts for around six hours. Sadly the hard-sided charging case itself doesn’t hold a charge, but if you snap both gadgets into place in its molded interior, both nestle up against precisely-placed connectors and begin charging automatically if the case is hooked up to power via a micro-USB cable.

Zygo Solo headset and transmitter in charging case

The headset and transmitter are charged by placing them inside the case, which is powered by a micro-USB cable (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

It’s a shame the case doesn’t contain a battery of some kind, and micro-USB also feels slightly outdated given the popularity of USB-C.

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