However, we conceded that holidaying divers often spend a fair proportion of their surface time snorkelling, so those who enjoy a musical soundtrack might find a use for them.
I would call these earphones rather than headphones, and the 3m limit is imposed because the buds should create a waterproof seal, which would create pressure problems below 2 bar. They come with four different tips (one of which, the Ergo for surface activities, is supplied in four sizes) to help you find the best at staying in and keeping water out, whatever the size and shape of your lugs.
I found that the tips called “Tree” (three overlapping cups of decreasing size) seemed to work best in water, and if the one in my right ear did tend to get displaced occasionally that probably says more about my aural symmetry than about the product.
The 40cm standard cord was fine if I clipped the music-player to my mask or suit-neck, but a useful 1m extension is standard.
I was sent a waterproof iPod Shuffle to use but Swimbuds should work with any waterproof music-player with a standard 3.5mm jack.
I tried the ‘phones in still and then slightly choppy water while snorkelling and they worked fine.
The sound quality was not earth-shattering (it seemed little different from that with the cheap pair that came with my smartphone, which I do find pretty good), but then you’re paying for robustness (Swimbuds have a one-year warranty) and the all-important ability to repel water.
My only problem was in anticipating the sort of music to program in. Enya is too obvious, and while The Ride of the Valkyries would be ideal if you suddenly found yourself jumping off a boat among a pod of dolphins, I found it frankly over the top pootling about among grazing goatfish.
Ambient music is hardly worth the effort and golden oldies are just irritating when you’re trying to be at one with nature.
I found cool jazz and blues OK, or you could try the Shadow Divers audio-book, I suppose. Suggestions welcome.
Steve Weinman

PRICE US$70, or $170 complete with waterproof iPod Shuffle.
CONTACT www.underwateraudio.com
DIVER GUIDE