Wednesday, November 24, 2010

H2O Audio Review, or I Have Really Small Earholes

I was pretty excited to try out my new toy, the H2O Audio Interval:
Think it will make me swim like Micheal and Natalie?
See, it is no secret to my blog readers that I find swimming in a pool staring at that blue line pure tedious drudgery.  I am bored to tears after about 15 minutes, you will see me stopping and fiddling with my goggles every 100 yards or so just for something else to do.

I know, it is all in your attitude and how you approach things.  I have tried to think about it differently and have really tried very hard to get excited about going to the pool.

The pool isn't fun for me.  Stuff is floating in there, and I don't know what it is.  For me, the pool is a necessary chlorine soaked evil with other people's spit and pee floating around.  I would much rather be swimming in a clean clear lake where the fish screw and the loons poop.

Ah, yes, but I live in Maine, and it is November, and the lake is skimmed over with a nice sheet of thin ice and snowflakes are falling as I type.  If I want to get into swim shape for Ironman Lake Placid (only 241 days away), I have to go to the pool.

So I bought the H2O Audio Interval - I had an iPod Shuffle 3rd generation (this is key for you to use the H2O Audio Interval), and I thought, "Gee, this gadget might make swimming less hellish for me."  So I dropped the cash (currently $79.99 HERE).

I wanted that thing RIGHT NOW. And it came pretty quickly, I was happy happy happy to try it out.

What did I think?
Aside from a few issues I had (keep reading) I loved the system.  It made my swim better, no doubt.  Nothing can keep me from being grossed out by mystery floaties, or change my abhorrence of choline, but this made it so I swam for an hour straight with out being bored.  I was actually surprised when I looked at my trusty counter and saw I was at my 2400 yards.  Sweet.

So bottom line, I recommend this baby. But if you have small ear holes you should keep reading.  I actually think you should keep reading anyway, because I am on a roll today.

About the System
Since my pictures didn't come out so great, I am using pictures from H2O Audio's website.  I am saying mostly great things about their product, so I figure they won't mind.

The headphone system was easy to set up. Open up the little compartment, plug the iPod into the jack, then close the compartment and attach the thing to your goggles.  I like simple, and this is it.  There are three buttons that are easy to find that adjust volume, change tracks, and select a playlist.

The construction seems simple and solid: rigid plastic with a hinged door, a gasket sealing the iPod off from the water.  I don't know much about this stuff, but I can say that after my swim, my iPod wasn't wet and still functioned, so I would say that it works very well at keeping the water out.

My Issue:

I have very small ear holes.  My boyfriend would probably argue that my ear holes are often closed, but I digress.  At work when we are given those foam ear plugs to walk around loud stuff, my ears spit them out with a nice, soft sounding poohp.

That is what it sounds like to me when my ears spit things out.  I can actually get some distance with this, and I am sure I would win an ear spitting contest if there were such a thing.

Anyway, I was happy to see that the H2O Audio Interval comes with an enormous number of earplug inserts, in varying sizes.  I figured I was all set, no poohp, no ear rejection, just sweet sweet music.  Check out how many options come with the system:
I grabbed the set marked "XS," knowing that I have "XS" ear holes.  I pulled the top of my ear back (old logger trick) and pushed the ear piece in my left ear.  It stuck. Sweet.

I tried the same thing with my right ear. Rejection. I couldn't even get it in (yes, I was using the same sized ear pieces).  It was like a wind was pushing the thing out, I swear.  I pushed and pushed and twisted and pushed and pulled on my ears and pushed and that darn thing didn't want to go in.  Finally, I stuffed it in there.  Shook my head. OK, we are in.

I turned on the music, finally, I was ready to swim.

28 yards.   

Poohp (that would be right ear rejection)

REALLY?  Cram cram cram.

52 yards.


ARGH.  I tried swimming with the thing just in my left ear, but the piece that was supposed to be in my right ear was just flopping around driving me crazy.  I fooled with it and fooled with it, because the thing was, I liked the music being there.  I could tell if I could make this work, the music was going to be KEY to making me happy in the pool.  I hadn't even had 5 minutes of it, it wasn't even fully in both ears, and I was in love.

The furthest I got without fooling with my right ear or hearing the dreaded poohp was 232 yards.  Or something between 225 and 250.  But it did stay in longer as time went on, and like I said before, I didn't want to give up on it because I really liked having the music and it worked great except for my freakishly deformed right ear.

I found some alternate ear covers that I am going to try that work for me running and are made out of similar stuff, I am not sure it is a solution, but I am going to give it a go.

Sound Quality
I thought the quality was really good for listening to music underwater.  I would say the sound is slightly less sharp than regular earphones are, but I am not a very technical person when it comes to this stuff.  I could hear it, it wasn't muffled, and I was happy.

Bottom Line
I like this product and would recommend it to anyone who spends a lot of time in the pool. It makes swimming better, no doubt.

My only complaint is the ear issue, and apparently I have abnormally small ear holes, because they really do provide plenty of options in sizing for the earpiece.   I am going to keep fiddling with the earpiece until I get it to work for me.

Disclosure: I bought this product all on my own and this review reflects my personal opinions affected only by my small ear holes.


Robin said...

I've seen people with those and always wondered how well they worked. I think I would have the same earbud problem though. I almost always swim with a group, so I don't think I would use them much. Best way for me to stay motivated through 4,000 yards is a well-written workout and a bunch of people to do it with! But those long endurance workouts for IM distance, the headphones would be sweet!

KovasP said...

"Think it will make me swim like Micheal and Natalie?" Maybe Michael Jackson, but he's dead. Come to think of it, so is Natalie Wood. Maybe you don't want to swim like Michael or Natalie.

Kris said...

If you figure out a solution, please post! I have the same problem with the ear pieces. The smallest ones just aren't quite small enough for one ear.

Jon said...

Bummer that they are not fitting properly!

Hope you figure it out soon, if only to save your sanity in the pool.

Too bad we can't swim together. I'd keep ya busy in the pool! Boredom doesn't exist with me in the pool!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I wonder if that thing would work, thanks for the review, I might need to put it on moms... i mean Santas list

Unknown said...

Sounds awesome. Anything to make the pool yards go by more quickly!

Dana Swanson said...

Hi there, thanks for such a comprehensive review of our product!! Wanted to let you know, that we sell an addition to this case, just for small ear hole people like you! It's called the Pro Fit Kit and has 9 different types, shapes and sizes of ear tips. I'm a swimmer myself and really like the tiny tree tips...we have yet to find a small ear they won't work with. So check that out, and you should be swimming through winter with perfect sound. I would post a link to the pro fit kit, but don't want it to get flagged as spam, so I'll just say that if you go to our website, h2oaudio dot com, you can find it under Products/Accessories.

Great blog and happy swimming!
H2O Audio

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

ha-ha! And i have some seriously big ear holes. i started with the xs and went up from there. never knew my ear holes were that big but love my music while swimming!

JohnP said...

Nothing that a little duct tape won't fix.

What about 'water in the ear'. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum with giant grand canyon-like orfices.
Did you get 'extra' water in your ear by chance? I hate that. I can't even wear my swim cap over my ears because it pulls on my dumbo elephant ears in such a way that the canal opens up. You could pilot a boat from in one ear through out the other.

misszippy said...

I've often thought about getting one of's my question, though--does it make you lose track of laps? I think that's what would happen to me!

Jason said...

Can you just send your swimming products as a list to Santa for me? I am like you with the boredom and find I don't push myself b/c I'm just well.....BORED.

RockStarTri said...

H2Audio always fall out of my ear too. My wife is trying the Swimp3 challenger.

Unknown said...

I have a SwiMP3 which obviously is very different - I must say that I lovelovelove swimming with music when I have a long straight swim. It makes the time go so fast! Hope you get the little earbud thing worked out! :)

DRog said...

I found that with my old H2O and this new one for the 3rd gen shuffle that each took about 5 times to get it in a groove where I could use decently. Even then the sound is not always super great. But I am willing for okay enough sound to make it worthwhile.
keep at it - fiddle around
its best to get that suction before submersion
youll get it - swim swim swim


Happy Thanksgiving


Aimee said...

What a great review! Now that I'll be training for an IM too (woohoo!) I may be looking into getting one of these!

TDK said...

Hi, I am the CEO of H2O Audio. Thanks for the great, honest, real review on our Interval. We have lots of other ear pieces available. Send me your contact info to and I'll have the support guys set you up. Tom Kampfer

PS... I too have a 9 year old Berner, Sierra. Berners are the most amazing dogs!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bryan Payne said...

M, I wish I could say the same. I tried a pair, still have them, they kept falling out. Then the sound wouldn't come out of one ear, then the other. I then called they gave me some tips, didn't work. Thing sucked. Oh and they kept falling out of my ears and I couldn't hear the music and I kept having to stop and got frustrated.

Either I have bad ears, or got a lemon if your's is working. I'd love nothing more than swimming with music.

Oh, by the way FOR SALE H2O system, rarely used. haha. Contact


Bryan Payne said...

Oh, almost forgot, as is. haha


P.S. my comment word was "slyme", did I say something wrong. haha

Jill said...

I hear duck tape works well in water!! :)

Can you do flip-turns ok with that thing? Just wondered how the water pressure worked against the device.

Black Knight said...

Thank you for this post. Trust me, I often ask to myself: "when will I be able to find an item to listen music while swimming"? Now I have the answer.

Quinton J said...

"My boyfriend would probably argue that my ear holes are often closed, but I digress" Bahahahaha...that's funny. you were were on a roll with this one...

jnatteri said...

Hi How are you? I dont want to be a bad ass but I just lost an ipod because a bad armband.

I used my armband for the last year with out any problem but yestarday my ipod just stoped because it was full of water.

and the company has a very bad customer support system I had to write on their facebook to have their attention.

and the problem is that one mistake costs one ipod!!!

i´m still wondering how i´m gonna solve my problem. but at the end i´m not that happy with the product.

Luca Lanzara said...

Me, as jnatteri, lost an ipod nano with their amphibx armband for iphone.
And i was absolutely disappointed by their customer service, really treated me like a dumb.


H2O Audio - Beat The Boredom