When it comes to workouts there are few essentials you need: a water bottle, towel, active wear including sneakers, yoga mats, and the perfect pair of earbuds. Music can keep you motivated during a good sweat session. With all the streaming services available it is easy to lose yourself in a playlist or podcast while building endurance. Whether you exercise at a gym, outside, or at home, you do not want your earbuds to get any damage. You may take comfort and style into account when searching for a great pair of sports earbuds, but have you ever checked the IP rating?
What is an IP rating? IP stands for Ingress Progression, which means the durability of a product against dust, water, and salt. It is originally set by the Electrotechnical Commission as the IEC Standard 60529, but as you can see that is a mouthful, so it was shortened to IP rating or IP code.
The rating is labeled alongside a set of numbers. Although every IP rating literally starts with the letters “IP”, the two digits after it are the most important. The first number represents the dust durability. If there is an “X” in place of the number (ex: IPX6), then there is zero protection against dust. The dust resistance is ranked from 0-6, with 6 meaning your earbuds will be fine if you they collect dust under the bed because you assumed you misplaced them somewhere else.
Water resistance is defined by the second digit. Before I get into this, let's clarify the difference between water resistant and waterproof. Water resistanant material means there is a certain degree of protection before any liquid can get through. When the material is impenetrable despite the amount of time the product as been in the water and has no damage, then it is considered waterproof.
Now back to the IP rating. The range goes from 0-7. 4 is a good number to begin with for water resistance, as this is the point where the earbuds can be sweat and splash proof like the Strauss & Wagner SW301. The higher the second number, the more it is against droplets. 7 is the best range if you want to take a few laps in the pool or shower with your earbuds. I do not recommend taking a shower with your earbuds. If you enjoy music during a good scrub, there are great options in bluetooth speakers.
If you pick up a brand of earbuds and see there is no IP rating, it doesn't necessarily mean the company is trying to fool you. The product either did not go through the testing needed for an IP rating, or the brand was in the process of switching to a new standard. There are water resistance rankings higher than 7, but are rare to find.
Now you will no longer have a confused look on your face when you see the IP code on the packaging. Sync or plug those earbuds to your playlist, lace up your sneakers and enjoy your workout!