Devices with an IPX8 waterproof rating can be fully submerged in water for quite some time and stay fully functional, similar to devices with an IPX7 waterproof rating. But what’s the difference between the two? How does an IPX8 waterproof rating compare against other IPX ratings, and what can you do with a piece of audio equipment featuring an IPX8 rating?
Keep reading, and you will get answers to all these questions. In this post, I will explain the meaning behind an IPX8 waterproof rating, discuss what you can or cannot do with IPX8-rated speakers and earbuds, and compare IPX8-rated devices against devices with other IPX ratings.
What Do IP and IPX Ratings Mean, and Why Do We Need Them?
IP stands for Ingress Protection. Different IP and IPX ratings tell us what to expect from a device in terms of protection against the ingress of solid particles and liquids.
Based on the numbers following the abbreviation IP or IPX, you will know whether a device can survive just a few drops of water, water splashes, strong jets, or submersion.
So, why is this IP/IPX rating important for our phones, Bluetooth speakers/earbuds, outdoor lights, and other devices?
Some devices, like phones, have become integral parts of our lives. We don’t use them just for calls and texts anymore. They contain our banking details and various personal information.
Losing or breaking a phone is a pretty big deal nowadays. You can replace it, but reinstalling and setting everything up from scratch can be a hassle. That’s why we need our phones to be more rugged and durable. IP and IPX ratings guarantee, to some extent, improved ruggedness and durability. That’s why we pay so much attention to these IP/IPX ratings.
IP ratings guarantee protection against the ingress of dust and water, while IPX ratings guarantee protection against the ingress of water.
IP Ratings Explained
Who Defines Levels of Water Ingress Protection – International IP Standards
There are two international standards that define levels of dust and water ingress protection – the IEC standard and the ISO standard. In many ways, these two standards are very similar, but there are some subtle differences. Some levels of protection are recognized by the ISO standard but not by the IEC standard.
The IEC standard recognizes 7 levels of protection against the ingress of solid particles or dust (IP0X to IP6X) and 10 levels of protection against the ingress of water (IPX0-IPX9).
The ISO standard recognizes all the same levels of dust and water ingress protection as the IEC standard. However, it also introduces one level of water ingress protection that doesn’t exist in the IEC standard – IPX6K (resistance to high-pressure water jets).
The ISO standard also recognizes the IPX9K rating, which doesn’t exist in the IEC standard. However, the level of water ingress protection provided by the IPX9 rating in the IEC nomenclature is exactly the same as the IPX9K in the ISO nomenclature. So, it’s the same IP rating with two different names.
What Does an IP/IPX Rating Look Like?
The form of an IP rating is strictly defined, and it’s the same for both standards defining the IP/IPX ratings.
The abbreviation IP is usually followed by two digits. The first digit after the IP defines the level of protection against the ingress of solids or dust. The second digit defines the level of water ingress protection.
If a device was not tested for ingress of solids or dust, the letter X will replace the first digit (e.g. IPX4 or IPX6). Similarly, if a device was not tested for ingress of water, the second digit will be replaced by the letter X (e.g. IP3X or IP6X).
Some specialized industrial equipment may have an IP rating consisting of two digits and a symbol, usually a letter describing some special testing conditions. For example, if a device is oil-resistant, there will be a letter F following the digits.
As discussed in the previous section, there are 7 levels of dust ingress protection and 10 levels of water ingress protection. Below, I have listed all the levels of dust and water ingress protection as defined by the IEC.
IPX8 Waterproof Rating
For every IPX rating, IEC and ISO define very specific testing conditions. However, an IPX8 waterproof test is more flexible than other IPX tests. The conditions have to be more extreme than for the IPX7 test, but the details are not so strict and are usually defined by the product manufacturer or the testing lab.
IPX8 VS IPX7
A device with an IPX8 rating is considered waterproof, just like an IPX7 device. The difference between the two is in the level of waterproofness. The IPX8 device is more waterproof than the IPX7 device.
|IPX7 and IPX8 Test Requirements||IPX7||IPX8|
|Test Duration||30min||Determined by the manufacturer|
So, if you are choosing between an IPX7 and IPX8, and you need the most durable waterproof device, go for IPX8.
IPX8 VS IPX6
A higher number doesn’t always mean greater protection against water ingress. The most important thing to remember is that not all IPX ratings are backward-compliant. To be more specific, IPX7 and IPX8 ratings are not backward compliant with IPX5 and IPX6.
If a device is IPX8 waterproof, it’s not necessarily IPX6 water-resistant. It could be and it usually is, but it’s not a rule. If a manufacturer wants to advertise its IPX8 device as resistant to water jets, the device also has to pass the IPX6 test.
If a device is both IPX8 waterproof and IPX6 water-resistant, you will see two IPX ratings in the specs: IPX6/IPX8.
Do Waterproof Devices Always Have an IPX7 or IPX8 Rating?
Surprisingly, no. It all depends on whether the manufacturer wants to advertise its equipment as IPX-certified. A device can be completely waterproof even if it doesn’t have an IPX rating.
I like to use GoPro as an example. Some of the GoPro cameras are waterproof down to 30ft, even though they don’t have an IPX rating. GoPro simply decided to conduct its own tests instead of paying third-party certified labs.
The problem with this method is that you have to trust the manufacturer’s claims, which is not always a good idea, especially if the manufacturer is not a well-known brand.
GoPro is renowned for its waterproof cameras, so it’s easy to trust them when they say their new camera is waterproof, but you can’t trust some no-name brand when it makes such claims.
The truth is – IPX ratings make things much easier. The manufacturers are not allowed to certify their equipment for ingress protection. They have to send their gear to a certified lab. The lab will then perform standardized tests to determine the level of waterproofness or water resistance.
Are IPX8 Bluetooth Speakers and Earbuds Any Good?
So many Bluetooth speakers and earbuds are advertised as waterproof. Surprisingly, most of those waterproof Bluetooth speakers and earbuds are IPX7-rated or, in some cases, IP67-rated.
Before writing this article, I tried to find a few good IPX8-certified speakers. To my surprise, I wasn’t able to find speakers made by reputable brands. I found a few no-name generic brands and one Pyle speaker that looks really cheap.
To be honest, I find it very difficult to believe that these speakers can withstand continuous submersion in water, while more rugged and robust speakers made by reputable manufacturers like JBL, UE, or SONY cannot. Most waterproof speakers made by reputable brands are either IPX7 or IP67-rated.
If you ask me, I would stick to reputable names even though they have a lower IPX rating. It’s not impossible that some of these no-name speakers can actually pass the IPX8 test, but I know that no-name brands often make false claims.
So, while an IPX8 rating would be a great feature for a Bluetooth speaker, if you’re choosing between a no-name speaker that is supposedly IPX8-certified and an IPX7 speaker made by a renowned manufacturer, it’s probably safer to go for the IPX7 speaker.
The situation with IPX8 waterproof earbuds is somewhat better. There are at least a dozen Bluetooth earbuds made by reputable brands featuring an IPX8 waterproof rating.
These earbuds can withstand all kinds of stuff, including showering, hard workouts, and even swimming. However, I wouldn’t swim with IPX8 Bluetooth earbuds. Not because they are going to break but because of the limits of Bluetooth technology.
Can You Swim with IPX8 Bluetooth Earbuds?
Technically, yes. You can swim with Bluetooth Earbuds if they are IPX8 rated, and you won’t damage them. However, you will probably experience lots of cutouts and other issues. Bluetooth is not cut out for swimming and water use. Bluetooth signals travel well through the air, but when it comes to other mediums (like water), they are not so great.
You can still use IPX8 or IP68 earbuds and headphones for swimming, just not Bluetooth earbuds and headphones. You need a pair of IPX8 earbuds or headphones with built-in storage. With these earbuds and headphones, you can swim as much as you want.
The most popular IPX8-rated swimming earbuds and headphones with built-in storage are Shokz OpenSwim, Sony NW-WS413LM, FINIS Duo, H2O Audio Stream 2, and SYRYN Swimbuds.
Swimming Earphones Compared – Shokz, JBL, Sony
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: What is the difference between IPX7 and IPX8?
- Answer: The difference is in the testing conditions. A device with an IPX8 rating can withstand greater depths for longer periods of time than an IPX7 device. In other words, an IPX8 device is more waterproof than an IPX7 device.
- Question: How long is IPX8 waterproof?
- Answer: An IPX8 device is submersible in water deeper than 1m for more than half an hour. The exact duration is determined in cooperation between the testing lab and the manufacturer.
- Question: Can I shower with IPX8 waterproof?
- Answer: Yes, you can. Devices with ratings IPX4 and higher can be used in the shower.
- Question: Is IPX8 steam-proof?
- Answer: All the IPX tests are done with fresh water at room temperature. Devices are not tested for the ingress of salt water and other liquids. Also, certified labs don’t test equipment for the ingress of steam. So, an IPX rating will only tell you the level of protection against the ingress of fresh water and nothing else. You can’t know how steam-proof a device is based on its IPX rating.
- Question: Is IP68 the same as IPX8?
- Answer: No, they are not the same. A device with an IPX8 rating is fully waterproof but wasn’t tested for dust ingress. An IP68 device is fully waterproof and dustproof.
- An IPX8 device usually offers some level of protection against the ingress of solid particles (usually levels 4-6) but since it wasn’t tested, there’s no way to tell how dustproof that device is.
- Question: What is the highest waterproof rating?
- Answer: That’s a tricky question. Technically speaking, the highest IPX rating is IPX9 (or IPX9K in ISO nomenclature), but this rating is given to devices that can withstand powerful high-temperature water jets.
- If you are looking for a device that can survive submersion in water, the best ratings are IPX7 and IPX8.
- However, devices that can survive submersion are not necessarily resistant to water jets used for IPX5 and IPX6 tests.
- Ideally, you should be looking for a device with dual IPX ratings – something with IPX6/IPX8 rating.
- In my experience, Bluetooth speakers and earbuds with ratings IPX6 and IPX7, especially those made by reputable manufacturers, can be used in almost any scenario you can think of. The only thing they are not great for is swimming. For swimming, I would use IPX8 or IP68.
- Question: Can I swim with IPX8 earbuds?
- Answer: Yes, you can. But IPX rating should not be your only concern if you want to use your earbuds for swimming. The thing is – you can’t use Bluetooth earbuds for swimming because Bluetooth signals don’t travel well through water. That’s why you need IPX8 earbuds or headphones with built-in storage.
- Question: What is a good waterproof rating?
- Answer: IPX4 and higher ratings offer protection against the ingress of water hitting the device at any angle. So, all these ratings can be considered good. However, they are not all good enough for all use scenarios.
- IPX4 is more than enough for workouts or shower use, although I would recommend IPX5 or IPX6 for shower use.
- If you’re going to use your speaker around the pool, higher ratings like IPX7 and IPX8 are better options.
- For swimming, you need an IPX8 or IP68 device.
- Question: How deep is IP69K waterproof?
- Answer: A device with an IP69K rating is dustproof and resistant to high-temperature, high-pressure water jets. An IP69K test doesn’t entail submersion in water, so I can’t tell how deep IP69K is.
- I assume this kind of device can survive temporary immersion in water, but I can’t tell how deep or for how long.
- Question: What IPX rating is completely waterproof?
- Answer: Ratings IPX7 and IPX8 are usually considered waterproof. Devices with these ratings are submersible in water.
- Question: Can IP68 go in salt water?
- Answer: Fresh water is used for all IP and IPX tests. So, there’s no way to tell how an IP68 device will behave in salt water.
- In my experience, most IP68 earbuds can be used for swimming in salt water. They won’t get damaged immediately, but long-term exposure to salt water will certainly have some effect.
- For example, long-term exposure to salt could cause corrosion of the metal charging contacts on IPX8 earbuds, making the earbuds unusable. It could also damage the rubber or silicone coating on your earbuds.
I hope this article helped you understand the meaning of an IPX8 waterproof rating and learn what an IPX8 device can and cannot be used for. I did my best to clarify what IPX8-rated Bluetooth speakers and earbuds are good for and what IPX8 earbuds you should use for swimming.
If you have additional questions or want to share your experience with IPX8 speakers and earbuds, leave a comment below.