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Understanding IP Ratings: What They Mean and How to Protect Your Headphones

If you're looking for IP ratings to understand how well your device is protected from the elements, then you've come to the right place. IP or 'Ingress Protection’’ ratings measure a product's resi...

By: Aleksey Makohon Date: 11 / 16, 2021
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If you're looking for IP ratings to understand how well your device is protected from the elements, then you've come to the right place. IP or 'Ingress Protection’’ ratings measure a product's resistance against solids and liquids. IP ratings are often found printed on devices such as headphones and laptops and can be anywhere from IPX0 (no protection) all the way up to IPX9 (protection against almost everything). 

A rating of IPX3 means that your headphones will resist water sprays but not immersion in liquid; an IPX4 rating means they're waterproof; an IPX8 rating means they can withstand high-pressure jets of water.

While we don't currently test these ratings and only reveal what the maker has promised, this article goes through what IP ratings are and how to understand and interpret them in detail.

What is an IP rating?

An Ingress Protection (IP) rating is a widely used standard for defining the environmental protection levels of enclosures around electronic devices. IP codes are developed and published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

IP Codes denote how resistant the enclosure is to dust and water. IP codes start with two digits, the first digit identifies how resistant it is against solid objects like large amounts of debris (dust) or humans (tools dropped on device), while the second number represents resistance against liquids (water).

IP Rating Protection
IPX0 Not water-resistant. Use headphones at home or in a controlled environment. IPX0 devices are not designed to be water-resistant and can be damaged if exposed to liquids or solids.
IPX1 Resistance to vertically falling drops of water or condensation, which includes condensation and light rain.
IPX2 Resistance to direct sprays of water from any direction. Protection against light rain. 
IPX3 Protection against rain or water spray from any direction.
IPX4  Omnidirectional splashes; water-resistant. Provides protection against splashes of water, such as those from a car driving through a puddle. For example Treblab X5, Z2, Z7-Pro.
IPX5 Water-resistant, protection from water jets. Protection from water, for example rain or water from kitchen faucets, that comes into direct contact with your device. For example, Treblab N8.
IPX6 Protection from strong water jets; water-resistant. Protection against direct contact with water like water guns. Generally suitable for outdoor use.
IPX7 Complete submersion. Protects against immersion in water to a depth of 3,3 feet (1 meter) for no more than 30 minutes. For example Treblab X3 Pro, XR700, XR500.
IPX8 Complete submersion; waterproof. Water protection for submersion up to 10 feet.
IPX9K Protection against long periods of immersion under pressure, wash-downs, steam cleaning. This is extremely unusual for domestic electronics.

Why should you be concerned about IP ratings?

When you buy a device, IP rating standards can help you understand if the headphones are safe in wet environments like rain or snow, but it does not factor in things like pressure (depth) that's important when considering scuba diving with your earbuds or hitting them hard against something accidentally because of poor protection design.


IP ratings are an important factor to consider when you purchase a new device. IPX0 is the least protected and IPX9K offers the highest protection.

We recommend choosing wireless headphones with at least an IPX4 rating. You may work out without worrying that the expensive equipment will be damaged by your sweat or water droplets from the bottle.

If you want to listen to music while swimming, choose headphones with an IPX7 rating or higher.

This article has provided some great information on what IP ratings mean and how to protect yourself in wet environments with devices that have low IP ratings like IPX3 earbuds that resist water sprays but not immersion in liquid.

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