When buying a pair of earbuds for your workout, you might have seen “IPX7” written on the box. It does make you wonders what this is and why it is written in such a bold manner on the packaging. What is the importance of this value and how it impacts the performance that your earbuds have? If you are curious about what the answer to that question is, then this article is quite important for you.
Knowing what you are buying is important in every case, regardless of what the item is. It is even more important when you are buying something that costs a lot of money and is going to be in your everyday use. That is exactly the criteria that earbuds also qualify for and the IPX7 rating may be extremely important, as you will find out.
Understanding The IP Rating System
To start things off, let us first take a look at what the IPX7 terminology means and where it comes from. There are two components to the IPX7 term, IP being the first one and X7 being the second. The IP stands for “ingress protection” and as the name suggests, it is about how well-sealed device is. The X7 portion can also be broken down further to X and 7. The first part which is the X is a rating that you use for showing the level of protection against dust. This rating is typically between 0 and 6 and using X, in this case, means that no rating for dust is available. The 7 is a value for the level of protection against water. The scale is between 0 and 9 for water protection.
Since the focus is on water protection, we will be sticking to that only in this article. When it comes to earbuds, the IPX7 rating is quite popular. Keep in mind that creating each level of resistance against water requires better technology and is, therefore, more expensive. In the 0 to 9 scale, the 0 represents no protection, and 9 represents the highest possible protection. In the case of IPX7, it is popular simply because, for most people, it really hits the sweet spot in terms of protection against price.
What IPX7 Rating Means for You?
As we mentioned earlier, the X in the rating means you will not know what kind of dust protection your earphone offers. While this is not too concerning, it is best to assume that you should try to avoid exposing them to too much dust. Everyday dust that lingers in the air everywhere is not potent enough to harm any device as we can find it present on a lot of things that work fine even without any rating. This is more to do with things where a lot of dust particles may be present like in a playground, field, etc.
Moving to the 7, this is the rating that you should know the most about. As per the rating scale (given in the next section), the 7 represents a level of resistance that can protect your earbuds from water even if they get submerged in 1 meter of water for as long as half an hour. Keep in mind that this means your device is also waterproof. There are a lot of people who do not understand what the difference is between waterproof and water-resistant either. Knowing this can help you to not only appreciate the IPX7 rating but also save many other devices from getting damaged.
Waterproof vs Water-Resistant
Water-resistant, as the word implies, indicates that a product can stop water from entering it for quite some time. However, it does not mean water cannot get in at all. Typically, water-resistant products come with a thick layer of fabric on them which is extremely dense, making it difficult for water to pass through. However, their own nature and limitations mean water does eventually get through if left like that for even slightly longer time.
Waterproof on the other hand means that water simply cannot pass through a certain object because there is some layer of protection preventing that from happening. This is mostly done for things like electronics (your earbuds) that have some sort of electronic component that needs protection from water. We all know that electricity and water do not mix well.
There are two more ratings as well that you do not often see on devices but they still come up once in a while so knowing about them benefits you greatly. The first one is the water repellant rating. This means that the product it is for has a special coating on it that allows it to stop water from staying on it. If you put water on a water-repellant surface, it should not get absorbed and slide right off if at an angle.
A more advanced version of that is the hydrophobic rating. The concept behind hydrophobic is exactly the same as the water-repellant rating. However, it has noticeably better performance as compared to the water-repellant rating.
Complete List of IPX Ratings
For the sake of comparison, we are providing you with a complete list of water resistance ratings. You can see what kind of protection each of them provides and how it would affect the usage you get from your earbuds.
- IPXO: This one is quite self-explanatory as the zero means there is no water resistance whatsoever. While no manufacturer really provides earbuds with this rating, it could turn out to be the case for some cheap earbuds. They may get damaged from slight exposure to sweat or water.
- IPX1: Not much better than its predecessor, the IPX1 rating means the earbuds can take on some water droplets. However, it really does mean a few drops because anything more and the water will reach the audio drivers and damage them.
- IPX2: This is pretty much where most cheap earbuds lie. This rating means the earbuds can take some water coming at an angle of 15 degrees and equivalent to 3mm of rain. In simple words that is still barely anything and any more could be a problem. While you could wear these for a casual walk, workouts leading to profuse sweating could easily damage them.
- IPX3: As far as non-workout ratings are concerned this is the best one you get. Earphones with this rating can handle a water spray for up to 5 minutes with a volume of 700ml per minute. Sweating will still damage these earbuds.
- IPX4: This is the starting point for decent earbuds as this rating means they can handle sweating properly. Most decently made earbuds that you can buy without spending too much money have this rating. With water flowing over them for as long as 10 minutes at a rate of 10 liters every minute, these should continue to work fine.
- IPX5: Earbuds with the IPX5 rating are quite capable and can handle water flow as you would see during heavy rain. You should be able to use them if you are working out in the rain as water from all angles will be unable to get in.
- IPX6: The earbuds with this rating can take on powerful water jets with ease and will continue to work flawlessly. The most typical example of this is the shower since a lot of people want to enjoy music while taking a shower. Do keep in mind that while they can work fine in a shower, if they fall into a water-filled bathtub or a Jacuzzi, they will get damaged.
- IPX7: As mentioned earlier, this is pretty much the sweet spot for value and water protection. This rating means you can have your earbuds submerged in 1-meter water for as long as 30 minutes. This makes it ideal for showers and even bathtubs and Jacuzzis as accidentally falling into the water would not mean your earphones will work. This kind of protection requires a nano-coating of materials that can keep water out from the grills.
- IPX8: So far, the top level of protection available to consumers, this protection allows you to use your earphones in up to 3-meter-deep water. However, the protection you get is still limited in terms of time so be careful about that. It should still be enough to let you enjoy a few laps around the swimming pool without having to worry about damaging your earbuds. The time is still limited though so make sure you consult the product manual before getting into the water.
Using Your IPX7 Earbuds Properly
While you can use IPX7 earbuds in pretty much any situation, perhaps even take it for a swim, we highly recommend that you not do so. The truth is, for most earbuds, you should be careful about the way you treat them. Keeping things a notch below the max level is always a good idea so whatever your rating is, try to avoid pushing the limits.
We hope you were able to learn a few important things about IPX7 standard here and are now ready to buy a good pair of earbuds for your use as well.