Wednesday, May 10, 2023

H2O Audio Sonar Pro with Playlist + Waterproof Headphones Review-long swims will never be the same.

Article by Jeremy MARIE

H2O Audio Sonar Pro ($160/148€)


  • Easy of use

  • Efficient hold, won’t ruin goggle fit

  • Playlist+ feature is brilliant

  • Apple watch clip is really nice

  • Solid battery life


  • Sound quality is so-so, yet adequate for the in water use

  • Sound is audible by others

  • Best sound is achieved underwater, or  when using ear plugs.


H2O audio is a company focusing, as the name hints, on audio solutions for water sports, with an extension to triathlon.

They kindly offer us to test their tech and, as the dedicated “tri-man” in the RTR team, I’ve instantly chosen their most swimming dedicated device: the Sonar Pro.

The Sonar sits at the top of the lineup with the the other “Pro” devices and  offers a rather unique feature: Playlist+.

The idea is simple and comes from a clear direction. These days  music is listened to using streaming services, and by a large margin. But those require an Internet connection, a phone and all those things that are not really easy to bring to the pool. MP3 devices already exist, and H2O has some in their lineup, but they require…MP3 files, which streaming services do not offer.

No here comes the Playlist+ feature: connect the earphones to your device (phone..ctc), play the music you want with the Sonar Pro in a specific record mode before your swim and voila: you have the music recorded to your headphones so that now you can play them like a standard MP3 directly on the earphones, 

Brilliantly simple, isn’t it? And that’s just one of the aces the Sonar Pro has up its sleeve. 

H2O offers a dedicated Apple Watch clip that can be tightly clipped…just behind the head. 

The limited BT connectivity underwater is no longer an issue as the Sonar Pro will just be inches away from the source. Once again, a simple and efficient solution.

The Sonar line focuses on pool swimming and cannot be used without goggles, as the strap serves to hold the speakers just in front of the ears. 

Shokz users already appreciate the bone conduction tech, allowing you to hear the music without blocking the ear canal so you’re still aware of your environment. That’s similar tech H2O audio used in the Sonar Pro.

In Use

The packaging is elegant and minimal. I like that ! 

The Sonar Pro has a 7h battery life, comes with ear plugs, as you might prefer a bit more isolation during the swim (and it also serves another purpose that I’ll describe in the review). The magnetic charging cable, USB-A format is rather hefty - you won’t lose it.

Internal memory is 8GB, enough to put in some long hours of MP3 songs or record a decent amount of your streaming-powered music using Playlist+ feature.

The speaker can look gigantic, especially for those with prior experience with this kind of product. But this allows for easy operation during the swim as the rubberized buttons are nicely sized, with the large speaker working even if not perfectly positioned, and the strap retention mechanism. Considering the usage of the Sonar Pro, and the way it is positioned, size is not really an important factor. 

Commands are quite simple: the left speaker is volume control, and the right one has play/pause and M button allowing to switch between Memory mode (MP3 or Playlist+) and streaming. 

The included manual is crystal clear and operations are pretty straightforward. Personally I won’t bother too much with skipping music/playlists…etc during the swim, I tend to choose an EP or a playlist and just let it play.

Using the Playlist+ feature is straightforward. I’ve just left my phone playing my favorite playlists next to the Sonar Pro charging during a whole night, and…that’s all: the Sonar’s internal memory was full of my favorite tunes, ready for hours of swim sessions.

In the Pool

Putting the Sonar Pro in place can be a bit tedious the first time. Don’t rush this step, take your time to correctly place the speakers as it can easily ruin the experience.

Those are my first pool headphones, but I’ve always been curious about those devices when I see other swimmers using them. 

I’ve been quite astonished by the audibility of the sound by other swimmers. It can really sound like little speakers to others when resting at the wall, and your music can be heard. I’ve asked other swimmers if it annoyed them, and they all said that it was OK. As long as they swim, they can’t hear it.

Audio quality is…on par with classical bone conduction devices usually used for running. I consider this as “Ok during sports”, but generally speaking, I’d be more tepid. 

Something quite funny happens with the SOnar Pro, which proves how H2O Audio has emphasized on pool usage for the Sonar Pro: the sound becomes way better once the speakers are immersed in  water. It creates a strange sensation as usually during the swim the head alternates over/under the surface. The “water noise” can be quite disturbing also.

That’s where the provided ear plugs come into play: they annihilate most of the water noise and minimize the over/under phenomenon.

The Apple Watch clip makes you look even more…robotic than the speakers alone, but it offers a really nice and easy solution might you not use the Playlist+ feature. 

Sound quality is also better when streaming music than when using Playlist+.

Battery life is solid and aligned with H2O claims. I had a solid 7h (6 swim sessions) of battery life before hearing the speakers asking for a charge.

Important commands get voice feedback, which is a nice touch and makes things easier.


I was a bit skeptical before using the Sonar Pro, and the very first impressions did not help: the speakers are big, you need to fuss a bit in order to correctly positioned them with the goggles, you need to fill them in to use the PlayList+ feature…But those hiccups rapidly look like tiny details. They are not things you need to repeat each time, sound quality is astonishing considering the environment, operations are simple and intuitive, and most of all, once in the pool, you just forget them and swim with music ! 

I don't use them every workout. Some workouts where I need to focus more on my technique, which I can’t do with music. But for all those long aerobic swims, or long  interval sessions, they’ve been a game changer for me.

Score: 8.9/10

Ease of use: 9

Sound quality : 7.5

Packaging: 9

Tech: 9

Usefulness: 9

H20 Audio Sonar Pro Waterproof Headphones with MP3 Player are available at



Thanks to H2O Audio for providing this free sample for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links here. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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