Let me guess – you have just seen a nice pair of earbuds you want to use for workouts or whatever, and they are IPX2-certified. But you have no idea what an IPX2 rating means. You’ve come to the right place!
Keep reading and you will find out what to expect from an IPX2 device, and what you can and cannot do with it.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is an IPX Rating?
An IPX rating is a confirmation of a device’s water resistance. To receive an IPX rating, a device has to pass rigorous tests.
Every aspect of the IPX tests is predefined, including water quantity, water pressure, water depth, test duration, etc.
Based on the received IPX rating, you will know exactly how water-resistant or waterproof a device is and what you can do with it.
Do I Need to Look for IPX-Certified Audio Equipment?
If you’re only going to use your equipment indoors and there’s no risk of getting in contact with water, you don’t need to look for an IPX rating. For indoor equipment, IPX ratings are not that important.
Passive speakers, AV receivers, power amps, high-end headphones, and other high-end audio equipment are almost never tested for dust and water resistance. That’s not a priority for these devices.
On the other hand, if you are looking for audio equipment that you want to use outdoors (Bluetooth speakers, earbuds, headphones), some kind of dust and water protection is highly desirable.
While you can use a regular portable Bluetooth speaker with no IPX rating outdoors, you have to be extra careful with it as even a tiny amount of water could damage it.
So, why risk it when you can get a nice IPX-certified speaker. Sure, they might be slightly pricier, but that additional layer of protection against dust/water ingress has to cost something.
Headphones and earbuds for workouts should also have some IPX rating. Even though IPX ratings don’t guarantee sweat resistance, they do provide better protection than regular non-IPX headphones and earbuds.
Furthermore, if you’re one of those people who like listening to their favorite tunes in the shower, and you’re looking for a shower speaker, you definitely have to look for an IPX-certified speaker. More precisely, for this purpose, you need at least an IPX4 speaker.
Finally, if you want a pair of headphones for swimming or any other electronic device that can be used in the pool, you should definitely look for some serious protection. I would recommend IP67 or IP68 for swimming.
How Does an IP/IPX Rating Look?
The form of an IP rating is defined by the international standard – IEC 60529. IEC is an abbreviation for International Electrotechnical Commission.
Besides IEC 60529, there’s another international standard that defines IP ratings. The standard is known as ISO 20653. This one is defined by the International Standardization Organization.
IP Ratings Explained
Both international standards define the same basic levels of ingress protection, but the ISO standard recognizes three additional levels of protection (IPX4K, IPX6K, and IPX9K). IPX9K in ISO 20653 is equivalent to IEC’s IPX9. The IPX4K and IPX6K ratings are not recognized by the IEC standard.
Both international standards define the same basic form of an IP rating. You can see it in the image below.
So, each IP rating starts with two letters – IP. This stands for ingress protection. The letters are usually followed by two digits.
The first digit describes protection against the ingress of solid objects and dust. The scale ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (dust-tight). If a device was not tested for ingress of solid objects or dust, instead of a digit ranging from 0 to 6, you will see the letter X. Note that the letter X doesn’t mean the same thing as no protection (X≠0).
The second digit describes protection against the ingress of water. There are 10 levels of protection (from 0 to 9). IPX0 doesn’t offer any protection. IPX7 and IPX8 ratings are given to waterproof devices (submersible in water), while IPX9 devices are resistant to high-temperature and high-pressure water jets.
Same as before, if you see the letter X instead of a water ingress protection rating, it means that a device was not tested for water ingress.
Occasionally, an IP rating may include one additional letter following the second digit. This letter is used to describe circumstances in which the test was conducted (like weather conditions) or resistance to other materials (like oil).
Fake IPX Ratings
The form of an IP or IPX rating is always the same. You usually have two letters (IP) and two digits (or an X and a digit). Sometimes, there’s a third letter. But there are no spaces between them, there are no commas, and there are no hyphens.
If you see anything separating the letters and digits, whether it’s a hyphen, comma, or space, it means that the rating is fake. On rare occasions, it could also be a typo. Still, you shouldn’t assume it’s just an honest mistake.
IP ratings are one of the biggest selling points when it comes to audio equipment for outdoor use, and sellers will try all kinds of stuff to trick you into buying their products.
What Does IPX2 Mean?
IPX2 rating is one of the lowest levels of protection against the ingress of water. It is given to devices resistant to water dripping onto their enclosures at a 15° angle.
For the test, a device is put on a stand. The stand is angled at 15° (measured from the horizontal axis). The test is divided into four 2.5min segments. For each segment, the device is rotated by 90°. The water dripping is equivalent to 3mm/min rainfall.
If the device remains functional after this 10min test, it receives an IPX2 rating.
IPX2 Water Ingress Protection Test
An IPX2 device is not resistant to water drops coming from all angles. It’s not resistant to water splashes or water jets, and it cannot be immersed or submerged in water.
What Can I Do with IPX2 Devices? Are They Sweatproof or Rain-Proof?
You can do lots of things. I think the better question here is what you cannot do with an IPX2 device. That list is significantly shorter.
Let’s first concentrate on the terms sweatproof, sweat-resistant, rain-proof, weather-proof, etc. All these terms are used just for marketing. They are not recognized by the IEC or ISO standards.
Fresh water is used for the IPX tests. IPX ratings give you info about water ingress protection. They don’t guarantee protection against the ingress of sweat. So, while most IPX2 earbuds and headphones are often advertised as sweat-proof, nothing can guarantee sweatproofnes. But that’s all theory.
In practice, I would say that IPX2 is usually good enough for workouts and everyday use. IPX4 or higher is what I would recommend, but it’s not like IPX 2 headphones/earbuds will break after the first use.
In the past, I’ve used all kinds of earbuds for my workouts. A number of those earbuds were non-IPX. Some were even wired (which was a hassle). Most of those earbuds were perfectly capable of surviving heavy-sweating gym sessions.
Some parts on cheap earbuds are maybe less resistant to sweat, like rubber ear tips, but you can easily replace those and keep using the earbuds.
IPX2 earbuds can also be used in the rain, but I do not recommend this as the IPX2 test simulates only light rain (3mm/min) and the water drops fall at a 15° angle (not resistant to water dripping from any angle).
IPX2 audio equipment is definitely not recommended for use in the shower or swimming. Also, if you have an IPX2 speaker, it’s probably not a good idea to keep it next to a pool. Water splashes could damage it. Falling in water will probably fry the circuits.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: Is IPX2 sweat-resistant?
- Answer: No, IPX2 is not sweat-resistant. Technically speaking… The thing is – none of the IPX ratings are sweat-resistant. IPX tests are done with fresh tap water.
- Nobody tests equipment for sweat resistance. At least, there’s no international standard defining the levels of sweat resistance.
- In practice, IPX2 headphones/earbuds should be able to withstand heavy sweating. However, I would recommend at least IPX4 for any activity that includes water, sweat, or rain.
- Question: What is a good IPX rating?
- Answer: It depends on what you want to do with your device. If you’re looking for gym earbuds, IPX4 is good enough. IPX5 and higher is even better. The same goes if you are looking for a shower speaker.
- Swimming and submersion in water require higher IPX ratings. IPX7 is the bare minimum, but I would recommend IPX8.
- I believe it’s good to emphasize here that an IPX7 or IPX8 device is not automatically compliant with IPX5 and IPX6 tests. So, waterproof devices (IPX7/IPX8) are not automatically resistant to water jets (IPX5/IPX6).
- If a device manufacturer wants to prove that its device is resistant to powerful water jets (IPX6) and submersible in water (IPX8), the device has to pass both IPX tests. If that device passes both tests, you will see two ratings – IPX6/IPX8.
- Question: What IPX rating can you swim with?
- Answer: IPX7 is the bare minimum, but IPX7 only guarantees resistance to temporary immersion in water. For swimming, I would recommend IPX8, or even better – IP68.
- Question: What is the recommended IPX rating for the shower?
- Answer: For the shower, you need at least IPX4. IPX5 or IPX6 would be even better. You don’t need to go for IPX7 or IPX8.
- Question: Is IPX2 suitable for bathrooms?
- Answer: If you want to put an IPX2 device (like a speaker) in the shower, then no. IPX2 is not good enough for that.
- If you want to keep it outside of the shower, like on a countertop, then maybe. Still, I can’t be sure if prolonged exposure to steam could cause some damage.
- Question: Can you work out with IPX2?
- Answer: While IPX2 is one of the lowest IPX ratings, I believe that iPX2 is good enough for workouts. I would still recommend going for IPX4 or higher.
I hope this short guide helped you understand the meaning of the IPX2 rating and IPX ratings in general.
To sum up, IPX2 should be good enough for workouts and casual everyday use. While IPX2 devices might survive light rain, I wouldn’t recommend using them in the rain. Also, do not use them in the shower or for swimming. You need higher IPX ratings for that.