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IPX Ratings and Waterproof Speakers: Is Your Speaker Truly Waterproof?

IPX Ratings and Waterproof Speakers: Is Your Speaker Truly Waterproof?

All your plans to spend a wonderful day with your friends by the pool or at the beach, listening to some great music on your Bluetooth speaker, can be ruined with one splash onto the speaker left at the shore or by the pool. Have you ever been in such a situation?

Maybe you haven’t experienced this so far, but there are definitely people who have experienced getting their Bluetooth speakers wet, either from sudden splashes, rain or just from dropping them into the pool or water. And this is exactly the moment where the party ends.

It’s a fact that water is the worst enemy of your electronic device and according to that we ask ourselves is it worth investing into waterproof electronic devices? 

Let’s take a closer look at the so called IPX ratings that tell us how waterproof a specific device is and is the waterproof speaker we have just purchased truly waterproof?

What is IPX?

IPX is the short for Ingress protection or International Protection. It is a worldwide standard used to show us how well certain devices are protected from liquids and solid particles. The X here is usually replaced with two digits that express the levels of protection from liquids and solid particles. All the protection levels are defined by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).

In this article we are interested in protection from liquids and therefore we won’t be discussing the first digit that expresses the level of protection from solid materials. We will mark that as X. However, it is good to know that if your device really has an X instead of the first digit it means that it hasn’t been tested for protection from solid particles. 

On the other hand, the second digit goes from 0 to 8 where the higher number represents a better level of protection.

  • IPX0: No protection from water and other liquids.
  • IPX1: Minimal protection if the liquid is dripping vertically to it.
  • IPX2: Protected from vertically dripping liquid when the device is tilted up to 15 degrees.
  • IPX3: Protected from sprays of water when the device is tilted up to 60 degrees.
  • IPX4: Protected from sprays and splashes coming from all directions.
  • IPX5: Protected from low-pressure water.
  • IPX6: Protected from strong sprays of water.
  • IPX7: Can be immersed to water up to 1 meter deep and for up to 30 minutes.
  • IPX8: Can be immersed to water more than 1 meter deep and for up to 30 minutes

When it comes to the last two levels you need to be careful. Fresh and salt water interact differently with the device once they evaporate. Also, atmosphere pressure is another problem if the device gets submerged into water. Of course, you won’t be taking your smartphone to deep diving sessions but even taking underwater photos in the shallows can represent a certain risk.

IPX and Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers

Generally speaking, there is a huge difference between the speaker designed to be used indoors and the one you can take to the beach or by the pool and use it without any worries of whether it is going to be splashed, and even dropped into water. 

Each speaker consists of three main elements – the housing, the drivers and the crossovers. The difference between indoor and outdoor speakers is no in the production process. In the case of indoor speakers, the framing will be primarily made from steel and some other materials, but when making waterproof speakers the manufacturers will use materials that don’t rust and corrode like brass, aluminum or stainless steel. 

The membranes of an indoor speaker are usually made of paper, where the same membrane of a waterproof speaker will be made from rubber or mylar. 

The waterproof case or housing is generally built from plastic covered with polypropylene finish and everything is sealed in a way to prevent leakage. Basically, when building a waterproof speaker, the manufacturer will use durable waterproof components that will completely isolate the inside electronics from the outside world.

OK, now we know what it takes to make a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. But the real question now is – does it affect the sound quality? Do all the materials we have mentioned make the sound worse or we can expect a great sound from such speakers?

Generally, the answer depends on the quality of the speaker and the way you use it. If you opt for a good -quality speaker, build with high-quality materials we are almost certain you won’t notice any difference. The main reason for this is in the production process of both indoor and waterproof speakers that is very similar. However, if you decide to buy a cheaper model you can expect worse sound quality. The same applies to indoor speakers as well, where the sound quality is closely connected to the price of the speakers. However, when it comes to waterproof speakers, cheap models can have not so good sound quality, but at the same time they may not be so waterproof. 

Also, most waterproof speakers are using primarily Bluetooth connection and this can affect the sound quality. The only solution here is to choose a speaker that supports aptX or aptX HD, a codec that guarantees CD-like sound quality and even better over a Bluetooth connection.

Waterproof devices and speakers have evolved drastically during the recent years. Of course, we can’t expect to swim with our headsets anytime soon, but buying a waterproof speaker for the next summer and beach parties is something you can easily do because the market is flooded with waterproof speakers of all sizes and colors. 

At the same time, it is worth checking the IP rating of the speaker you want to buy. There is an excellent explanation of the IP rating that you can read at audioreputation.com that will make you understand the IP rating levels better. This is important because this will make you aware of what you can expect from your waterproof speaker and whether there are any situations that may cause damage to it.

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