Gear Shed

Q:

Waterfi Waterproof iPod Shuffle and X-1 Surge Headphones

The pool bores me. But I swim a few days a week during the winter to stay fit. Is there any waterproof gear that can make it more interesting?

X-1 Surge Mini Waterproof Sport Waterfi Waterproof iPod Shuffle outside gear guy bob parks

X-1 Surge Mini Waterproof Sport Headphones and Waterfi Waterproof iPod Shuffle.     Photo: Bob Parks

A:FOR UNDERWATER AUDIOPHILES

It’s an iPod Shuffle in every way, except that it happens to be waterproofed to 100 feet. Waterfi buys up the players from Apple, pours special rubbery goo inside, then resells them to you with a two-year warranty. The latest version has two-step protection to keep out corrosive chemicals like pool treatments. I’ve been using this system as part of my routine, and have found that it’s small enough to attach to my goggles strap unobtrusively. And in contrast to pool-only audio players, if you buy this one for the $135 price tag, you get an iPod for use out of the pool (ordinary Shuffles are around $50.) Because of the waterproofing, I found the buttons disconcertingly stiff at first, but then got used to pressing a little harder. Apple’s VoiceOver navigation on the Shuffle is good for swimming. To hear what songs or albums you're playing, you press a button and a women’s voice tells you the album titles to pick from. All at the bottom of the pool.

The clarity on the X-1 Surge Headphones ($49) is so good you feel like your swim has its own soundtrack. A selection like Mariano’s Cristal, performed by Yo Yo Ma, elevates any lap with crisp piano runs and a texture to the cello that sounds live. The set has great intimacy, resolution, and can produce good volume in the pool. The only thing missing was the powerful low tones on Ma’s cello, as well as the punchy bass on a certain Ludacris tune I play when there are too many people hogging the lanes (you know the one). The set is waterproof to 12 feet and comes with five different silicone adapters to fit different ears. Once they were in, they stayed in, but it was hard to hold a conversation with anyone during the session. If I took them out, it became a hassle.

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