The H20 Audio Stream waterproof MP3 player lives up to its billing, providing true waterproofing and underwater listening. Not only that, but it’s a fantastic device for those of us who prefer to stay on solid ground and use squat racks and benches. Even if it loses some of its “oomph” while underwater, the Stream’s powerful bass pumps out some great sound from its 8GB of storage. We were impressed after a week of sweaty workouts, showers, and underwater excursions, though we were a little hesitant due to the high price.
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Design: Light as a feather
The H20 Audio Stream is a small device that weighs only 3.5 ounces and is about the same size as an Airpods case. The outer shell has a tactical, matte finish that feels similar to phone case plastic but is never unpleasant to the touch. The device’s waterproof rating of IPX8 allows it to be submerged up to 12 feet, which is good because it’s meant to be dunked.
The buttons on the device’s front have a pleasant, clicky feel to them, indicating whether you’ve pressed a button or not. When you don’t have time to look at the device, this is especially useful. The buttons do become a little clumsy, though, because the forward and backward skips also serve as volume sliders, requiring them to be held down to increase or decrease the volume. I appreciate the effort to simplify the interface, but I would have preferred separate volume buttons.
Comfort: Whenever, wherever
The Stream’s versatility stems from its 360-degree serrated clip, which allows it to be securely attached to hats, goggles, shirt collars, and other items. We even discovered that it easily clipped onto our glasses, never weighing us down or getting in the way. The Stream clipped to the back of our shirt came in handy during squats and overhead press workouts because it was never in the way.
We’ve tried a lot of earbuds, and these are by far the most comfortable.
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Setup Process: Lots of storage, annoying dongle
The Stream’s 8GB of internal storage is clearly H20’s biggest selling point, as it’s mentioned in all of the device’s literature as having more storage than the now-defunct iPod Shuffle waterproof model. The Stream supports MP3, WMA, FLAC, and APE formats for those who want to transfer their own music. The extra room is useful, especially since Bluetooth isn’t available underwater. The real pity is that it comes with a proprietary charging cable, which is an auxiliary plug connected to a USB connector in this case.
This is most likely due to the device’s need to be waterproof, but it’s yet another cable to manage. It’s a shame H20 couldn’t come up with a color that wasn’t the same black as the rest of the cable.
Accessories: H20 Audio Surge S+ Waterproof headphones
The H20 Stream came in a package with the Surge S+ waterproof earbuds, which is worth mentioning. These teeny-tiny plugs are pricey, but they’re surprisingly comfortable and effective at keeping water out. In the world of waterproof devices, it’s a pricey bundle, but the earbuds are excellent at what they do. They’re also comfortable during long workout sessions, which is crucial.
Sound Quality: Underwater bass, low volume
The secret to the Stream’s underwater audio success, according to H20, is a patented low-frequency bass that keeps audio from sounding tinny. We can attest to the fact that the Stream sounds fantastic when used in or near water, but that quality appears to come at the expense of volume. We were never able to get the sound to be as loud as we desired, especially when submerged. When we tweaked the EQ settings on our phone, the volume improved slightly, but it was still a little on the low side.
Sounds fantastic when you’re near or in the water.
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Wireless: No strings attached
The Stream easily connected to our phone via Bluetooth, requiring only one button press. Before connection distortion, the range was about 25 feet indoors and 30 feet outdoors. Of course, once the Stream is submerged, Bluetooth stops working, but the gym’s wireless capabilities are still useful.
Battery Life: Long lasting
The Stream’s product sheet claims 10 hours of playtime before requiring a charge, but we found it took around 11 and a half hours before it required charging. Recharging took a little over an hour, so if you’re in a hurry, you can get a good, quick charge.
Price: High tide, high price
Whether you get the Surge S+ headphones as part of the $100 bundle () or just the standalone player, this is a pricey product. The Stream outperforms its closest rival, the SYRN MP3 player. However, it is still less expensive to purchase than its predecessor, the iPod Shuffle, which cost $250 back in the day.
Competition: A three-way dance
When it comes to the H20 Stream competition, it all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and how important the extras are to you. Swimbuds’ SYRYN Waterproof MP3 Player comes with a variety of useful extras, including goggles, headphones, a hair guard, and FitGoo. According to Amazon customers, this bundle is reasonably priced and well-reviewed.
The other more ominous specter is the now-defunct iPod Shuffle 4th Generation model, which carries the Apple seal of approval and a hefty price tag. You’ll have to look hard to find a new Shuffle for less than $200.
The Final Word
We had no issues or failures with the H20 Stream during our testing period, and we found it to be a worthy device on both land and water. The Surge S+ headphones are some of the most comfortable earbuds we’ve ever worn, and the onboard storage and Bluetooth connectivity keep you away from your phone during workouts.