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Sony waterproof walkman: for granny-style swimmers or for pros?

Sony's headphones stay in if you swim like a granny – that's what one of your users wrote in a rating. How does Sony’s waterproof walkman perform if we hand it to a professional swimmer from the Swiss national squad?

When we meet Svenja Stoffel at the indoor swimming pool in Uster, she’s already wearing the headphones. She’s a professional swimmer and a member of the Swiss National Swimming Team. Our photographer Thomas Kunz is also there. Svenja dives into the pool energetically and elegantly. Although Svenja covers three and a half metres in the air before sliding into the water, the headphones remain in the right place. This is our first hint that these headphones are not only suitable for seniors.

Sony's sports headphones are featured in our latest poster campaign. Advis_lba’s comment about them was: «I can't judge how well they perform when you're crawling, as I'm more of a granny-style swimmer.»

Granny-style swimming to me sounds like someone wearing a bathing cap and swimming slowly with their head over water, looking a bit like a duck. Svenja’s the complete opposite of this: she cuts through the water as fast as an arrow. Who’d be better suited to test the sports headphones than Svenja, whose goal is to participate in the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo?

  • NW-WS414 8GB (In-ear, Black)
  • NW-WS414 8GB (In-ear, Black)
CHF 108.–
Sony NW-WS414 8GB (In-ear, Black)
Salt water proof wireless sports walkman with enhanced comfort for active outdoor use. Even comes with attachments for swimming.


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Better fit than swim goggles

As Svenja tells us, the earbuds also stay in when she's crawling or doing dolphin stroke. «They fit even better than my swimming goggles,» she says and laughs. The headphones get in Svenja’s way and she finds them comfortable. This surprises me. After all, these headphones are huge, especially compared to regular in-ear headphones. The Sony NW-WS414 is an in-ear headphone that works like a walkman: it doesn’t have Bluetooth, but a local memory. And this memory needs space. But Svenja even manages to hide them away under her swim cap.

When she’s wearing the headphones, Svenja can't hear us.

There’s one thing Svenja doesn’t like: the cable that connects the two buds is too long. Sony supplies an adjustment band that lets you shorten the cable on the back of your head, but it’s a bit tricky to put on. Especially when the headphones are wet and your fingers puffy from the water.

Putting on the headphones turns out to be more complicated for Svenja than expected. She tells me that she had to consult the manual to find out where which part belongs. The cables go over the ears, which makes things slightly more complicated than with regular headphones. Once they're fitted, as Svenja explains, they're easy to use. The control buttons stick out and are easy to find.

Softer underwater music

The walkman comes with special attachments, which are necessary to make the headphones waterproof.

That’s not how (most) grannies swim.

When she’s wearing the headphones with these attachments, Svenja can’t hear a thing. Whenever we want to talk to her, Svenja has to take the headphones out of her ears: «That’s not exactly handy for training. I need to hear the instructions my coach gives me», she notes. So the headphones are tight-fitting.

Nevertheless, the music isn’t as loud underwater as it is out of water. As Svenja says, the music was only loud enough if she listened at maximum volume. «The music is covered up by the sound of the water. I can hear my hand splashing into the water», Svenja adds. Svenja is impressed with the sound quality as such.

They’re easy to use, but the cable is too long.

Great but not suitable for training

Svenja likes the Sony sports headphones, but she wouldn't use them for training. «I absolutely have to hear what my coach is saying to me.» And as Svenja rarely swims alone, she wouldn't want to keep the headphones either. But she says they're great for anyone who swims long distances alone and wants to listen to music.

The Sony NW-WS414 definitely passed our crawling and diving test. None of us was expecting the large earbuds to stay fit when diving into the water head first. Especially when it's a pro dive like Svenja's.

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Livia Gamper, Zurich

  • Junior Editor
Testing devices and gadgets is my thing. Some experiments lead to interesting insights, others to demolished phones. I’m hooked on series and can’t imagine life without Netflix. In summer, you’ll find me soaking up the sun by the lake or at a music festival.


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User Anonymous

«Es geht nicht, dass ich meinen Trainer nicht mehr höre» - aber dafür gibt es doch laut Produktbeschreibung einen "Modus für Umgebungsgeräusche" - ging der im Eifer des Gefechts vergessen?
("Der Modus für Umgebungsgeräusche nutzt die Mikrofone auf beiden Seiten des Walkman®, um die Geräusche um Sie herum auch während des Musikhörens für Sie hörbar zu machen. So können Sie Ihrem Trainer zuhören oder sich mit Freunden unterhalten, ohne die Musik ausschalten zu müssen")

User Livia Gamper

Der Modus für Umgebungsgeräusche funktioniert im Wasser nicht, da Svenja dort nur die Geräusche des Wassers hören würde. Wenn sie nicht im Wasser wäre, wäre der Modus natürlich hilfreich. :)

User Alex2600

Die Kopfhörer sind sehr wohl fürs Training geeignet. Brauche sie seit 3 Jahren mehrmals wöchentlich während dem Training. Gibt nichts besseres ;) Ich muss kein Handy rumschleppen wie bei Bluetooth Kopfhörern und habe die volle Bewegungsfreiheit während dem Training. Und wenn sie verschwitzt sind, wasche ich sie kurz ab, da sie ja wasserdicht sind. Für mich eines der besten Produkte von SONY :D

User Anonymous

Nur so eine Vermutung. Für's Training sind sie besonders für Trainings im Schwimmclub nicht geeignet, da, wie bereits gesagt, der Trainer nicht gehört wird. Alle anderen Trainings (besonders an Land) sind sicher absolut kein Problem.
Ganz cool wäre, wenn der Trainier in ein wireless mic sprechen könnte ;)
Bluetooth geht leider nicht durch Wasser... daher auch der lokale Speicher.

User Alex2600

Macht für mich so oder so keinen Sinn wenn man Kopfhörer trägt, obwohl ein Trainer anwesend ist, welcher mit dir redet.

User maslan

Just but a FINIS player with bone conductivity, its 10 classes better idea, music does not turn terrible when water gets in, and your ear are not stuffed with silicone plugs