XSories Aqua Note Waterproof Headphones with MP3 Player Review

Steve Withers gets physical with XSories' Aqua Note waterproof headphones

Hi-Fi Review

2

XSories Aqua Note Waterproof Headphones with MP3 Player Review
SRP: £55.00

It would be fair to say that reviewing AV equipment is a fairly sedentary activity. The majority of the time you’re sat down watching displays or listening to audio products. When you’re not doing that, you’re running tests or writing reviews at your computer. In fact, the only real exercise comes from moving around TVs, amps and projectors, especially when some 65” monster turns up at your front door. So it was with some trepidation that we set out to review the XSories’ Aqua Note waterproof headphones with built-in MP3 player, because at some point we were going to have to do some physical exercise. Right, where are our swimming trunks and running shoes?

Design and Setup

The Aqua Note headphones are very reminiscent - in terms of appearance - to those Bluetooth headsets that people often use with mobile phones, except there’s two, obviously, with one in each ear. The two earpieces each measure 4cm long, 2cm wide and 1cm deep and are made of gloss black plastic. The earpieces are joined by a supporting plastic tube that provides some rigidity to the headphones, whilst a cables runs along the centre of the tube to connect one earpiece to the other. Where each earpiece is attached to the tube there is slider to adjust their height and they can also be swiveled to ensure comfort when wearing them.

XSories Aqua Note

The right hand earpiece has the built-in MP3 player, along with all the controls and connections, whilst the left hand side is just the left earpiece of the headphones, although the weight felt balanced between the two sides. In fact in terms of weight, the Aqua Note’s are very light, with the entire headphones only weighing 23g. On the right-hand side there is a waterproof button that turns the MP3 player on and off. You just hold the button down until the earpiece lights up to turn it on and then hold the button down again until the light goes out to turn it off. At the top of the earpiece, there is a waterproof plug that can be opened to access the micro-USB connector. Also on the right earpiece are some basic controls, with the skip forward and backwards buttons on one side and the volume up and down buttons on the other.

The Aqua Note headphones come with a micro-USB to USB cable for connecting them to your computer, thus allowing you to add and delete files to the MP3 player and to charge the battery. To connect the Aqua Note, you just remove the plug and attach the micro-USB end of the cable to the headphone while attaching the other end to your computer. The Aqua Note headphones include a 190mAh rechargeable Lithium battery and when fully charged it has a life of about 10 hours. Once connected to your computer it’s easy to add or delete music files to the Aqua Note’s built-in MP3 player and the USB 2.0 connection allows for high speed transmission. The player has a capacity of 4Gb and supports MP3 and WMA file formats.

The headphones themselves are in-ear buds and the Aqua Note comes with two sets of soft rubber attachments, one set with different sizes for use in the water and another with different sizes for use on land. These different sets of earbuds are easy to attach and remove but, as always, with the soft rubber versions, care needs to be taken not to damage them. The headphones are specially designed to be used for water sports and swimming and as such they are rated waterproof down to 3 metres but they can of course be used on land as well. Regardless of the actual environment you are using them in, they have an operating temperature range of -5C to 40C.

Audio Performance

Since the Aqua Note headphones can be used either on land or in the water, we decided to conduct the testing in two parts. First we would take to the country lanes for some jogging and then we would visit the local swimming pool to see how they performed in the water. Before doing all this however, we charged up the battery, transferred some of our favourite songs to the MP3 player and selected the most comfortable attachments for wearing the buds in our ears on land and in the water.

We found that wearing the Aqua Note headphones on land was reasonably comfortable but we did find the tube that connects the two sides of the headphones to be a bit annoying. It fits over the ears and then around the back of the head and whilst not actually uncomfortable we were often aware of it. The earbuds fitted comfortably into our years, which is important because we find many in-ear headphones to be uncomfortable and often painful even after short periods of time. This was, however, never an issue with the Aqua Note headphones thanks to the use of soft rubber attachments. In terms of audio performance the Aqua Note headphones had a slightly thin and brittle quality to their sound. Female vocal in particular could sound a little shrill and there was no real bass to speak of. So, although the Aqua Note headphones are perfectly adequate for listening to music whilst exercising, you would never use them for any kind of critical listening.

In fairness, anyone buying the Aqua Note headphones is probably less concerned about sound quality and if that is a criteria, there are hundreds of other headphones available. The real reason for owning a pair of headphones like these is to use music as a way of minimising the boredom of exercise and in that sense they worked very well. The other major advantage of the Aqua Note headphones is that you can listen to music whilst running, cycling or exercising, without the need to be attached to your MP3 player or smartphone. The big problem we found was that whilst wearing them we couldn’t hear anything else. Whilst this is fine for exercising in the gym, it could be a problem when out on the road where you can't hear the traffic. So if you plan on using these headphones for jogging or cycling, you might be better off considering another XSories product called the Sonic Walk, which allows you to listen to your music but still being aware of the traffic around you.

However, the real reason for buying the Aqua Note headphones is to use in the water and here they proved very effective. Sound quality is hardly a major issue when you’re splashing around but given the circumstances, the Aqua Note headphones delivered reasonable audio quality. We did, however, find it difficult to get used to having the earbuds so far into our ears and whilst actually in the pool we did experience changes in ear pressure if we went under the water. This of course was a personal issue and we're sure that other people will find the sensation less off-putting. We also suspect that wearing in-ear headphones in the water probably just takes a bit of getting used to. However, for anyone who does spend a lot of time in the water and wants to use the Aqua Note headphones to listen to music whilst swimming lengths, they are ideal because you aren’t attached to an external MP3 player. You just pop the headphones in your ears, turn them on and off you go, simplicity itself.

Verdict

6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Built-in MP3 player
  • Waterproof to 3 metres
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Multiple sets of in-ear buds

The Bad

  • Mediocre sound quality
  • Connecting tube can be a bit annoying

XSories Aqua Note Waterproof Headphones with MP3 Player Review

The Aqua Note headphones consist of two earpieces made of gloss black plastic joined by a supporting plastic tube that provides some rigidity as well as containing the cable that connects one earpiece to the other. Where each earpiece is attached to the tube there is a slider to adjust their height and they can also be swiveled to ensure comfort when wearing them. The headphones are light but the build quality is decidedly plastic and at times they felt a little fragile.

The right hand earpiece has the built-in MP3 player, along with all the controls and connections. At the top of the earpiece, there is a waterproof plug that can be opened to access the micro-USB connector. The headphones come with a micro-USB to USB cable for connecting them to your computer, thus allowing you to add or delete files to the MP3 player and to charge the battery. The player has a capacity of 4Gb and supports MP3 and WMA file formats.

The headphones themselves are in-ear buds and the Aqua Note comes with two sets of soft rubber attachments, one set with different sizes for use in the water and another with different sizes for use on land. The headphones are specifically designed to be used for water sports and swimming and, as such, they are rated waterproof down to 3 metres but they can of course be used on land as well.

We found that wearing the Aqua Note headphones on land was reasonably comfortable but we did find the tube that connects the two sides of the headphones to be a bit annoying. The earbuds fitted comfortably into our years thanks to the use of soft rubber attachments but, in terms of audio performance, the Aqua Note headphones had a slightly thin and brittle quality to their sound. Of course, their real benefit is that you can listen to music whilst running, cycling or exercising, without the need to be attached to your MP3 player or smartphone and in that sense they were very successful.

The chances are that anyone buying the Aqua Note headphones wants to use them in the water and here they proved very effective. Sound quality is hardly a major issue when you’re splashing around in the water but, given the circumstances, the Aqua Note headphones delivered reasonable audio quality. However for anyone wanting to use the Aqua note headphones to listen to music whilst swimming lengths, they are ideal because you aren’t attached to an external MP3 player. You just pop the headphones in your ears, turn them on and off you go, simplicity itself.

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Ease of Use

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Design

.
.
.
.
6

Sensitivity

.
.
.
.
.
5

Verdict

.
.
.
.
6
6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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