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The H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport are a unique pair of headphones from a pretty unique company. Only a few manufacturers out there offer waterproof headphones for swimming and even fewer focus on bone conduction options for the water. Well, H2O Audio is one of them and the Tri Multi-Sport are bone conduction headphones that can spend as much time in the water as on land as they’re fully waterproof. In fact, as the name suggests, these headphones are meant for the activities involved in a triathlon, meaning you can run and bike with them and then take them into the water.

As we’ll see, the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport are pretty great for their purpose, even if you only want to use them for one of those activities. However, they are pretty niche. Plenty of workout earbuds are just as capable with more features if you’re looking for something to go for a jog in. But, triathletes will be hard-pressed to find something better for their needs than these, notwithstanding newer options from H2O Audio.

Not many earbuds make equally compelling companions for swimming, biking, and running. After all, it’s in the name. That’s because these waterproof bone-conduction headphones are lightweight and comfortable, have an 8GB MP3 player for when its Bluetooth connectivity won’t work (as Bluetooth doesn’t work in water), and sound pretty decent for their form factor. Of course, they’re not perfect as the on-unit controls have issues registering certain presses, the call quality is subpar, and you’ll need to re-pair their Bluetooth connection every time. That said, triathletes won’t find much better out there for their needs.

  • Connectivity Technology: Bluetooth
  • Power Source: USB
  • Special Feature: Built-in 8GB MP3 player
  • Speaker Technology: Bone-Conduction
  • Waterproof Rating: IPX8
  • Music Source: Bluetooth, MP3 player
  • Battery Life: 6 hours
  • Item Weight: 32 grams(1.13 oz)
  • Color: black and blue
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Included 8GB MP3 player and earplugs for the water
  • Decent sound quality for bone conduction headphones
  • Controls are difficult to use
  • Need to pair Bluetooth every time
  • Call quality is lackluster
Buy This Product
H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport

Price and availability

While the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport usually retail for $150, available directly through H2O Audio’s website and Amazon, there’s a newer version called the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+, released in late March 2023, that retails for just a little more at $180. The Tri Multi-Sport reviewed here are discounted to $100 at the time of writing and may continue to see either a lower price or regular sales.

Design and fit

Source: H2O Audio

Since the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport uses bone conduction transducers, wearing these black and baby blue headphones is a unique experience. To start, they’re very lightweight, clocking in at just 32 grams / 1.13 oz. While earbuds are generally light as well, putting these on is more akin to putting on a pair of sunglasses instead of stuffing something in your ears as they don’t go in the ears. Instead, the transducers sit in front of the ears sending vibrations through the bones that are situated there (essentially the back of the cheekbones).

Since the headphones are so light, they’re also pretty comfortable to wear. I’ve already compared them to sunglasses, but anyone who’s tried on different pairs knows that some can be a bit too tight or a bit too loose. Well, the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport seem to sit just right.

The Tri Multi-Sport loop over the ears and around the back of the head and are tight enough so as to stay firmly in place when moving the head, even violently. This might seem strange as these are one-size-fits-all, but they’re made to sit away from the back of the head to adjust for different sizes. This comfort and weight, not to mention that bone conduction technology, make the Tri Multi-Sport pretty ideal for their stated goal.

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport closeup buttons

To that end, these are 100% waterproof with an IPX8 rating as they’re meant to be used just as much in the water as on a bike or while running. In fact, you can submerge them up to 12 feet underwater. Of course, the sound quality changes when underwater so H2O has included a pair of tri-tipped earplugs to use when in the water. Also included is a rubber leash to connect the headphones to sunglasses, wetsuit, or other places, so you don’t lose them.

The controls on the headphones offer a lot of functionality through the use of three buttons all situated side-by-side on the right side of the unit. But, they are hard to use — literally. Maybe it’s to keep the headphones waterproof, but I have to apply a lot of pressure to register a press, and sometimes I have to try a few times to get the Tri Multi-Sport to do what I want.

This is particularly true when doing something that requires multiple presses, such as switching between Bluetooth and Memory Mode (aka the headphones' built-in MP3 player). Also, the volume down button requires extra pressure and sometimes a stabilizing finger behind it to register as it’s situated on a part of the headphones that are no longer flush with my head. Imagine having to deal with that while in the middle of a marathon.


Because the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport are meant for use in water, they not only come with Bluetooth, but an onboard MP3 player with 8GB of storage. That’s about 2,000 songs. There’s a very good reason for that: Bluetooth works abysmally in water. You essentially have to keep your Bluetooth source within a couple inches of any headphones when in water, making using most true wireless headphones impossible regardless of how waterproof they are. So, that MP3 player, which also supports .M4A, comes in handy.

As far as adding MP3s to the Tri Multi-Sport, it’s actually pretty easy. You do have to use the proprietary cable the company includes for charging, but outside of that, it’s essentially like moving files to an external hard drive. You can even separate music by folders, which can be navigated through the on-unit controls.

One note regarding Bluetooth mode: I did have to re-pair the Tri Multi-Sport more than once when I put it into Bluetooth mode, which is somewhat frustrating.

Performance and audio quality

H2O Tri Multi-Sport with background

Sound quality in bone conduction headphones, at least at the moment, doesn’t really reach the same heights as good quality earbuds, so it’s important to adjust expectations. These are, after all, meant to give you access to music while running, biking, and swimming. And they’re meant to keep your ears free, whether that’s to hear your surroundings or because wearing earbuds while running a marathon will get pretty gross pretty quickly.

With that in mind, the sound quality on the H2O Tri Multi-Sport is pretty good. Again, you don’t get the immersion you would from earbuds, but, there’s a decent amount of bass and a mid-range that is full enough to keep audio enjoyable while not getting muddy. These are not very bright or detailed headphones since you’re hearing their sound as vibrations traveling through your bones, but they’re bright enough. That’s the best way to describe the Tri Multi-Sport: good enough for their purpose.

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport closeup left side

The H2O Tri Multi-Sport work well in the water. They may not sound audiophile-level, but when using the included earplugs, the sound quality is good enough to keep you motivated. When not using the earplugs, they sound like you would imagine – blown out and muffled, the way something sounds in a movie when the main character falls underwater.

But, when using the earplugs, the sound gets much tighter. The low end, while still a bit indistinct, is nice and full, and the mid-range is surprisingly clear. The high-end sounds a tiny bit veiled, but is still plenty present to enjoy whatever you’re listening to. Songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s sounded mostly the same, for instance, while more modern music seemed to sound a bit more like those older tracks. Using the earplugs also helps swimmers from massive sound changes when going in and out of water, though you’ll still experience some changes.

Lastly, you can take calls on the H2O Tri Multi-Sport, though you probably won’t want to. When I tested this, my voice did not come through that clearly. I sounded far away and not very crisp. Now imagine how one would sound in the middle of a run. These are better not used for taking calls.


H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport charging port

When testing the battery, I ran the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport at 80% volume playing music from its “Memory Mode,” aka MP3 player. H2O Audio advertises a battery life of between four to six hours based on usage. It lasted a solid 6 hours and 20 minutes. That’s comparable with very good true wireless earbuds (without a charging case for extra battery, of course).

Just be aware that you won’t enjoy the last half hour of usage if you’re listening to music, as the headphones will remind you every minute or so that the battery is low though it won’t tell you specifically how low.


While you’re not going to find many other headphones targeting triathletes, there are plenty of bone conduction headphones out there that can go in the water. The Shokz OpenSwim, for instance, is completely waterproof and also comes with a built-in MP3 player (4GB in this instance) and also goes for $150. Of course, they’re just meant for the water. Shokz’ options for runners like the OpenRun and the OpenRun Pro, $130 and $180 respectively, are both capable options for runners but have an IP55 rating so are not suited for triathlon-type events.

Should You Buy It?

At $150, the H2O Tri Multi-Sport are reasonable if not cheap for their intended purpose. So, if you want something multifunctional that can go in the water as well as be used on long runs, then they’re more than worth it, especially with the included MP3 player. The Tri Multi-Sport (and its newer, pricier brother) are probably the best option for triathletes and anyone who needs one pair for both water and non-water use.

There’s really little to fault if you’re comfortable with the bone conduction form factor, outside of the wonky controls. While that can be a fairly annoying issue as you probably don’t want to fiddle with the headphones in the middle of an activity, it’s the only real drawback.