The nice people over at FINIS sent me a big box full of awesome today. The first swim toy I got to try out was their waterproof MP3 player the SwiMP3. Once I got home from work I broke it out of the box, skimmed the directions, loaded it up with death metal, and made my way out to the pool to see how it held up to some swimming.

I have to admit I always thought the SwiMP3 was a little odd looking, probably because it’s an MP3 player that doesn’t have ear buds. It transmits tunes via bone conduction which turns out to be way more awesome than anticipated. The big downfall of most other aquatic MP3 players is that once the seal is broken between your ear and the ear bud the music on that side of your head is pretty much done for. Since this doesn’t need to be inside your ear you don’t have that problem which I really like.

The other thing that I thought would be a problem is keeping the device flat against my head. There’s a guy that I’ve seen at open water swims up north who wears one and it always looked like it would be prone to flopping around on the side of your head while you’re trying to swim… luckily it doesn’t! It manages to stick to your noggin pretty well, even while doing flip turns. Not having to constantly fidget with my music while swimming is a big plus. I want music to be a supplement to what I’m doing, not a distraction.

I swam a variety of stuff just to see how it held up. All four strokes, some underwater kicking, and a couple of sprints. The SwiMP3 does best with stokes where at least one side of your head in in the water at all times. I had zero problems with freestyle and backstroke. Breaststroke and Fly were a little odd just because the sound changes a bit between being submerged and being totally out of the water. It’s not really a problem so much as a quirk. Through all my swimming the unit managed to stay in place without any problem. I give it an “A” in swimmability.

When you get down to sound quality I think it’s totally adequate. If you’re a big audiophile you won’t be happy… with any waterproof MP3 player… ever. Water mixed with electronics is generally a recipe for disaster so I’m willing to take some loss of audio quality to get my music in the water without electrocuting myself or short circuiting an MP3 player.

The only major thing that I am not totally happy with is iTunes compatibility. If you don’t use iTunes or have an iPod feel free to ignore this paragraph… Basically iTunes does this not so cool thing where it converts your music files to a proprietary format that only Apple products can use. If you want to use a non Apple product and all your songs are in the iTunes format you have to go through the hassle of converting files to MP3. FINIS has a walk through on how to do this in both Windows and on a Mac on their website. Once you get past this step it’s pretty easy to load up music on to the SwiMP3.

Overall first impressions are good and I dig the SwiMP3. It’s not perfect, but compared to my other waterproof MP3 player (H2O Audio Interval) it is way easier to swim with because you don’t have to worry about ear buds flooding or falling out. Of the two waterproof MP3 players I have right now, this one is the one I like better.

The SwiMP3 currently retails for $149.99, but RobAquatics readers get a 20% discount on purchases made from FINISinc.com with the coupon code robaquatics09!


The SwiMP3 in the package


all the controls are on one of the “speakers”


the computer business end of the SwiMP3



side view of rocking out in a waterproof fashion

5 Responses to “FINIS SwiMP3 Review”

  1. Pat says:

    I love my SwiMP3!

    Look for an AAC to MP3 converter online like NoteBurner and convert your favorite tunes. OR, change the import settings on your iTunes to mp3 and import your CDs with that setting.

    It is a pain, but definitely worth it to use this player!

  2. Rob D says:

    Once I got a handle on how to convert things with iTunes it was easy… the initial figuring that part out wasn't so much fun. When I get some more time I'll have to do a screen cap file conversion tutorial to help people figure it out.

  3. [...] the plan was lots of freestyle with no major breaks I grabbed my SwiMP3 to distract me a little as we swam. Normally I think it’s rude to tune out musically like [...]

  4. IronMike says:

    Rob,
    Putting the swimp3 in front of your ears, did you find any problems with water seeping into your goggles? Would the swimp3 work if you put it under the strap behind your ears? Did you try it that way?
    I really want one of these, and my first foray into music and swimming was an ‘epic fail’ (as my teens would say). I’ll be putting on the yardage soon getting ready for a 10K sometime next year, so music certainly would help.
    Cheers,
    Mike

  5. Rob D says:

    With some goggles I do have to adjust the strap to get everything to fit right. I’ve never tried to put it behind the ears, but it’s meant to vibrate the music in through the bones further forward on your head so I’m not sure that would necessarily work right.

    I’ve had mixed successes with underwater music. My first player (in like the mid 90′s) was most definitely an epic fail. Much later on, my H20 Audio case was functional but not perfect. The Finis SwiMP3 has been very good to me although I haven’t used it much recently.