You will rarely see an IPX1 rating on a pair of headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. Or even a smartphone. Speaker and headphone manufacturers usually try to achieve a higher level of water ingress protection.
But, to understand how waterproof some device is, it’s good to start with the most basic level of protection. When it comes to waterproofness, that’s IPX1.
A device with an IPX1 rating doesn’t offer high protection against water ingress, and it’s not meant to be used near water or outdoors. Still, some protection is better than no protection.
So, what kind of protection does an IPX1 rating offer? Keep reading to find out.
IPX Ratings – Why Do We Need Them?
If you’re going to use a device or a piece of audio equipment indoors and there’s no chance of any contact with water, there’s no need to look for something with an IPX rating.
On the other hand, if there’s even the slightest chance of getting in contact with water, some kind of IPX rating is desirable.
Sure, most devices will handle a few drops of water, even if they are not IPX-certified. I have spilled water over my phone’s screen two or three times, and it survived my clumsiness every time even though it doesn’t have an IPX rating.
However, having a piece of equipment with an actual IPX rating is a bit more reassuring.
What’s the Meaning of Each Letter and Number in an IPX Rating?
Every letter and number in an IP or IPX rating has its unique meaning, as defined by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).
First of all, IP stands for Ingress Protection. Each IP/IPX rating describes the level of protection against the ingress of solid particles or water.
The abbreviation IP is followed by two numbers. The first number represents protection against the ingress of solid particles or dust. The second number represents protection against the ingress of water.
The protection against the ingress of solids is rated on a scale from 0 to 6. Zero means no protection, while 6 means dust-proof or dust-tight. If a device was not tested for ingress of solids, you will see the letter X instead of a number.
The protection against water ingress is rated on a scale from 0 to 8. Zero means no protection against water ingress, while 8 means fully waterproof (submersible in water). You may also see the number 9 followed by the letter K. I will discuss all these ratings in one of the following sections.
Sometimes, dust and ingress protection ratings are followed by an additional letter. This letter gives us some additional information about testing conditions or resistance to ingress of other materials.
What Kind of Protection Should You Expect from a Device with an IPX1 Rating?
IPX1 doesn’t offer much protection. It’s the lowest level of protection against water ingress. It basically means that a device will stay functional after being exposed to dripping water for 10mins.
The test for IPX1 rating is done in a chamber or on a horizontal stand. The water drops are falling vertically on a device for 10 minutes, and the amount of water is equivalent to 1mm of rainfall (which is a very small amount of rain).
So, a device will survive if the drops are falling vertically, but there’s no guarantee it can survive drops falling at an angle.
If the device was capable of surviving water drops falling at an angle, it would probably have an IPX2 rating.
What Is an IPX1 Rating Good For?
After knowing the level of protection that an IPX1 rating provides, it is somewhat easier to understand what you can do with a device with an IPX1 rating. The answer is not much.
A device with an IPX1 rating is not designed to survive a shower or heavy rain. It cannot be submerged in water and may not survive if you spill a glass of water over it.
In reality, a device with this rating may survive a smaller amount of spilled water, even if it’s not spilled vertically, but only if you’re lucky.
If you search Amazon for IPX1 devices, as I did a few moments ago, you will see that only some charging adapters and batteries offer this level of protection. No phones, speakers, headphones, earbuds, etc. have such a low IPX rating.
Speaker and headphone manufacturers will aim for IPX3 at least. Most will go for IPX4 and higher.
To sum things up, the IPX1 rating offers basic protection against the ingress of water. Just a few drops of water, and that’s it. It wouldn’t be smart to use such a device outdoors regularly as it will probably get damaged by heavier rain.
What Are Other Levels of Water Ingress Protection?
As discussed earlier, most devices that are advertised as splash-proof, water-resistant, or waterproof, will have an IPX rating higher than IPX1. It will usually be between IPX3 and IPX8.
IPX2 rating is very similar to IPX1. The difference is that a device is tilted at a 15° angle, and the test is done in 4 different positions.
The test duration time is 10min (2.5min per position). The amount of water is somewhat higher than for the IPX1 rating – 3mm rainfall instead of 1mm rainfall.
IPX3 rating is the first one that offers some real-life protection. An IPX3-rated device will survive a spraying water test.
For the IPX3 test, a nozzle or an oscillating tube is used. The device is sprayed at any angle up to 60° from the vertical axis.
When a nozzle is used, the test duration is at least 5mins (or at least 1min/m2). The water pressure ranges between 50 and 150 kPa, while the water volume equals 10l/min.
When an oscillating tube is used, the test duration is 10mins. It’s done in two phases (5min each). After the first 5 minutes, the device is rotated horizontally by 90°. The volume of water sprayed through each hole on an oscillating tube is 0.07l/min.
IPX4 devices are often called splash-proof because they have to withstand a splashing water test. The same equipment is used for the IPX3 and IPX4 tests, but the testing conditions are slightly different.
Most importantly, this is the first rating that guarantees ingress protection against water coming from any angle. So, there are no angle limitations – the device is sprayed at all angles.
The water pressure and volume are the same as for IPX3 tests. If a nozzle is used, the shield is removed from it. The test lasts for 10 minutes.
IPX5 rating guarantees protection against water jets coming from all directions. The device is sprayed with a 6.3mm nozzle for at least 3mins.
The volume of water is 12.5l/min, while the pressure is 30kPa.
IPX6 rating guarantees protection against powerful water jets coming from all directions. The device is sprayed with a 12.5mm nozzle for at least 3mins. The volume of water is 100l/min, while the pressure is 100kPa.
IPX7 rating is given to devices that can survive temporary immersion in water. They are not good enough for permanent immersion or depths greater than 1 meter (3ft).
To receive an IPX7 rating, a device has to stay fully functional after being immersed in water for 30mins. The lowest point of a device has to be at least 1m below the water surface, while the highest point must be at least 15cm (5.9 inches) below the water surface.
If a device has an IPX7 rating, it’s considered waterproof.
IPX8 rating is given to devices that can survive prolonged or continuous immersion in water. The test duration is longer than for the IPX7 rating (longer than 30mins).
The depth is usually greater than for the IPX7 rating. It often goes up to 3m (9.8ft). The exact depth is specified by the manufacturer.
IPX8 devices are also considered waterproof.
Besides these standard IPX ratings, there are two more ratings I need to mention – IPX6K and IPX9K. The letter K in these ratings stands for increased pressure, while the number 9 indicates high temperature.
For an IPX6K test, a 6.3mm nozzle is used. The device is blasted with water jets for 3mins from a 3m distance. The pressure of the water is 1000 kPa, while the water volume equals 75 l/min.
IPX6K rating, unlike previous ratings, is not specified by the IEC – it’s specified by the ISO 20653 standard.
IPX9K rating is given to devices that can withstand extremely powerful, high-pressure (8-10 MPa) and high-temperature (80°C) water jets. The distance between the nozzle and the object is 10-15cm (3.9-5.9 inches).
IPX9K is specified by the ISO 20653 standard, but it’s also recognized by the IEC. In the IEC nomenclature, the rating is known as IPX9 (without K).
Is IPX1 Good Rating for Audio Equipment?
Nope. IPX1 is not good enough for audio equipment, especially if you’re going to use it outdoors.
While you can use an IPX1 device outdoors when the weather is nice, I simply don’t think this kind of protection is good enough for outdoor audio equipment.
That’s one of the reasons manufacturers only use IPX ratings as selling points if their devices can receive at least an IPX3 rating. You may find some Bluetooth earbuds with an IPX2 rating, but most manufacturers will not even publish IPX ratings if they are so low.
That being said, if a pair of earbuds or headphones don’t have any kind of IPX rating, they can still be used for workouts and outdoor activities like jogging or hiking. They will not die after one use unless you’re extremely unlucky. The same goes for audio equipment with an IPX1 rating.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: What is the best IPX rating?
- Answer: While IPX7 and IPX8 are considered fully waterproof (temporarily or continuously submersible in water), you may not have to look for these ratings if you’re not going to use them in water or around the pool. For activities like jogging or workouts, anything higher than IPX4 is perfectly fine. Sure, it’s even better if a device is rated IPX5 or IPX6. If you want to use a Bluetooth speaker in the shower, it should be at least IPX4-rated. Ideally, a shower speaker would have an IPX9K rating, but they don’t make such speakers.
- Question: What IPX rating is considered sweatproof?
- Answer: None. IPX tests are done with fresh water, not sweat. In theory, IPX ratings don’t guarantee protection against sweat. Sweatproof is just a marketing term used by manufacturers and sellers.In practice, a device with an IPX4 rating or higher should be able to survive heavy sweating over the long term.
- Question: What IPX rating is fully waterproof?
- Answer: Only two IPX ratings (IPX7 and IPX8) guarantee protection against the ingress of water when a device is fully immersed in water. Devices with an IPX7 rating can be temporarily immersed in water (up to 30min), while devices with an IPX8 rating can withstand continuous immersion in water.
- Question: Can IPX4 be used underwater?
- Answer: No, IPX4 devices are only splash-proof. They are not designed for underwater use.
- Question: Which IPX rating is good for rain?
- Answer: Anything higher than IPX3 should be good enough for rain.
- Question: What is a good IPX rating for the gym?
- Answer: While IPX ratings are not a measure of sweatproofness, a pair of earbuds or headphones with an IPX4 rating or higher will be a good choice for the gym.
- Question: Is IPX1 good for sweat?
- Answer: While IPX ratings don’t guarantee sweat protection, even regular wired earbuds will offer some basic protection against sweat. IPX1 should offer some protection as well.I’ve been using the same brand of cheap Bluetooth earbuds for workouts for years. These earbuds don’t even have an IPX rating. I use them just because they provide a nice fit and are fairly comfortable. Sure, they usually start acting up after a year or so, but for a pair of cheap non-IPX earbuds, they are fairly sweat-resistant.
- Question: Which IP rating is best for swimming?
- Answer: Ideally, you should go for IP67 or even better IP68. If you’re looking for swimming headphones or earbuds, you should also keep in mind that you won’t get a satisfying experience with Bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth signals can’t travel well through water. So, the best option would be a pair of battery-powered headphones with built-in storage and an IP68 rating. According to numerous online reviews, bone-conduction headphones, like SHOKZ OpenSwim, are perfect for swimming.
- Question: Is IPX1 good for the shower?
- Answer: No, IPX1 is not good for the shower. For this purpose, you need at least IPX4, preferably IPX5 or IPX6.
Hopefully, this article helped you learn what kind of protection an IPX1 rating offers and realize what you can and cannot do with a device with an IPX1 rating.
For additional information, read through the FAQ section below. If you want to share your opinion on the subject or have a question for us, there’s a comment section at the bottom.