For our latest review I have been getting hands on with the Aquapac 518 MP3 Case and the Aquapac 919 100% Waterproof Headphones and what a perfect combination they make. Paired with each other, they have changed my solo Paddleboarding experiences forever and this is now a piece of kit I will be taking with me every time I go near the water.
I will break the review down into three sections. Firstly I will talk about the MP3 Case itself, then we will take a look at the Waterproof Headphones, before leading on to how they perform together in and on the water.
As with many other Aquapac products, the MP3 Case is made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), which is oil and grease resistant, transparent and as well as being extremely tough, also has fantastic elastic properties. The upshot of this, is the case is flexible, see through and ridiculously tough.
The case is supplied with a brightly coloured lanyard but more importantly a thick and extremely strong Velcro armband, allowing you to carry your music source safely and easily whilst also tucked out of the way.
On the Aquapac website, they say the MP3 Case is perfect for the iPod Touch, the iPod Classic and the iPod Nano but the case will accommodate any media player up to 125mm tall (5 inches) and 155mm (6 inches) in circumference.
In keeping with other Aquapac products, the TPU case means the media player (in my case an iPod and an iPhone 5) can still be easily operated and the all the buttons, controls and click wheel functioned perfectly well. I must mention however that if planning to use this case in conjunction with a phone, you will not be able to make or receive calls, as the headphone jack is an audio only jack and will not allow the microphone to work.
The case has a short headphone jack and lead sealed into the bottom of it and this acts as the conduit between the music source and the headphones. The lead is extremely well sealed although with my sausage like fingers I did find connecting to the iPod a little tricky and wished it might have been a little longer (not for the first time in my life have I wished for that!)
Using the same locking system as the Aquapac Keymaster, the MP3 Case will not only protect your equipment from water to a depth of 5 metres it will also keep it free from dirt, dust and sand, meaning you really can take it anywhere. The Case is also certificated to IPX8, which is the highest achievable standard and has been subjected to 1.0 bar of pressure in a pressure chamber test.
The elasticated Velcro strap is plenty big enough to fit around the largest of “guns” and was easy to fit and remained tight and in position during my paddling. It was comfy to wear and to be honest I didn’t even notice it was there once I had set off.
So on to the 100% Waterproof Headphones. The headphones arrived in a simple plastic box and really didn’t look overly robust or particularly eye catching, after all how can you really make headphones look appealing? I immediately had concerns over how thin the wires looked and wondered if the headphones were more of a gimmick than a serious bit of waterproof kit.
Included with the headphones are 3 different sizes of silicone earbuds, meaning the user can ensure a tight and snug fit to the ear canal and these are very easy to swap over and are incredibly soft to the touch, making them a very comfy fit.
Having never used headphones with earloops before, I was a little unsure how to actually fit the headphones, but it is hardly rocket science and after a bit of experimenting was able to fit them comfortably with the middle sized earbuds. It must be said that once the earloops were fitted around the ear, I instantly forget they were there and found them lightweight, comfortable and well fitting.
The earloops have quite a bit of flex to them and will sit around any size or shape ear and the shape means they sit tightly behind the Pinna (outer ear). The lead to the earphones is plenty long enough, and hung down out of the way whilst I was paddling. I ended up passing the lead over my shoulder and back to the case under my arm.
The audio jack is a 3.5mm nickel coated stereo jack and the headphones have a 32-ohm impedance level with a frequency response of 19Hz-20KHz. I don’t really know what any of that means, but can honestly say that they work well both above and below the water and the sound quality is very good! I was able to turn the iPhone 5 up to full volume and didn’t loose any sound quality, the sounds remained pure and rich and there was no distortion to the bass.
Having the headphones separate from the MP3 case and not permanently attached means that you can take the headphones with you anywhere and use at anytime. As well as paddling with them both at sea and on a river I also wore them out walking the dog in bright dry conditions.
You are probably left wondering how they MP3 Case and 100% Percent Waterproof Headphones performed out in the real world? Well, after first checking that my iPhone insurance covered me for water damage I made my way down the to the local beach. It was with a certain amount of nervousness I kitted up and fitted the Case to my bicep. I eventually manned up and headed for the sea.
It made a pleasant change walking down to the ocean and trudging across the deep sand with my Paddleboard and the music playing in the background took my mind off the arduous slog! I thought I would feel self-conscious with headphones fitted and the Case strapped to my arm but no one paid me any attention, the earloops are really quite discreet. It would have been a different story with a bright pair of Dr Dre Beats on!
In a mellow kind of mood I had selected “The Monkeys In The Zoo Have More Fun Than Me” by Jape, to accompany me on my paddle and with their soft sounds ringing in my ears, I set off. It was great. I set the volume so I could just make out the lapping of the water on the board but could still hear the music clearly and lost my self for about half hour as I worked my way the coast in my own little bubble.
Eventually I decided I had to try the Case and Headphones underwater and was in two minds whether to gently ease myself under water or just throw myself in? I decided that a real test had to involve a quick entry so just chucked myself headfirst into the sea. As I entered the water, I managed to pull the headphones out of the external jack on the case and instantly lost all sound. Once I realised what I had done, I was then struck with the fear that I had now ruined the set up by getting water in the jack.
I frantically pieced the headphones and case back together and was met with the sound of Jape in my ears once again and in the same great quality as before. Even more pleasing was the fact that my iPhone was still dry and working perfectly. I even held myself under the board for as long as my breath would hold out and there was no difference in sound from the earbuds, compared to when I was above water.
So yet again Aquapac have delivered and have impressed me with the quality of their products and have designed a Waterproof case and Headphones that will fit in so many situations. The initial concerns I had over the robustness in appearance of the Headphones were unfounded and they are a quality piece of equipment that have surpassed my expectations.
The MP3 case is strong and foolproof to use (providing you pay attention to the locking mechanism) and the headphones provide a clear and pure sound both in and out of water. Paddleboarding and this set up have been designed for each other and the experience of paddling off into the sunset with my own tunes surrounding me was fantastic and something I will be doing a lot more of.
Both the Headphones and the MP3 Case are available to buy directly from Aquapac and both retail at £30, which in my opinion is an investment that will pay for itself in no time at all. As with all Aquapac gear they are covered by a 5-year warranty will be replaced if any defects in materials or workmanship become apparent.
Over the last few months we have been testing out a few different products and these by far have been the highlight of our journey so far. Being able to take music with you anywhere is one thing, but also having the ability to capture pictures at anytime as well as the security of having the phone with you is a real plus. Aquapac have done a great job with both of these products and have changed my Paddleboarding and water activities forever.