The Thump Fin IPX8 is a waterproof, 8G MP3 player advertised for swimming. I add the qualifier “advertised for,” as the instructions indicate that this MP3 player can be used for both swimming and dry land activities.
The Thump Fin has “headlock design,” guaranteed not to fall off. It looks like this:
It is worn like a headband, but on the back of the head (like sunglasses in reverse). You can adjust it up or down on your head for comfort. Nothing would actually prevent it from being worn like a headband on the top of your head except it feels a little tight that way to me. For swimming, wear over the cap with the controls in the back. The fit is snug, but not tight. While swimming, I forgot it was on my head at all.
The Thump is a basic MP3 player, very easy to use. The design is clever, the back unsnaps from the band, showing a USB, in which you plug into your computer, and then you can easily drag and drop MP3 music files and sync to the Thump.
The front looks like this:
Here we see the power/play /pause button, volume up (+) and down (-), and arrows that skip forward to the next song, or back to the previous. Note that the smaller button is the reset button. The brain intuitively wants to use that button as the power on/off, but the unit is actually turned on by holding the play/pause button, which is the large circle in the middle. The blue indicator light blinks when the unit is on. Hold the + button, and the unit switches to FM radio. The green indicator button blinks. Use the arrows on either side of the play/pause button to scroll through radio stations. Hold the + button again to switch back to MP3. A full charge lasts up to 10 hours.
The Thump comes with 6 sets of earbuds.
The instructions say the spiral design buds are for waterproof activities, while the other buds are for dry land/sport activities. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be interchangeable, and the Thump website advertises 5 interchangeable buds (the box I received had 6) for the most flexible fit for swimming.
I first used the Thump at the pool, with the smaller of the two spiral (long) earbuds. I was highly impressed with the sound quality. Sound quality has been an issue in years past with waterproof MP3 players, although Finis has done a great job with the new Neptune (although Finis uses bone conduction instead of an earbud). The sound from the Thump was more clear, and richer than the older versions of the Finis Swimp3s that I have used. The Thump fits well and does not go anywhere, even during speed sets, drills, and flip turns.
My main issue was that the buds kept falling out of my ears. My solution to that issue was to keep putting them back in, trying each time to push them a little further so they would stay. Just when I thought I had it, one of the buds fell off the unit. While I was retrieving it, I realized that the other bud was jammed into my ear canal, and I was unable to get it out with my fingers. Fortunately I found a sympathetic woman in the locker room (who just happened to be a nurse!) who was willing to get her tweezers from her car and pull the bud out for me. Note: as with any ear bud, be very careful not to push it too far into your ear canal. I did change the buds to the larger spiral, and had the same issue, where the bud would not stay. I rigged them by pulling my swim cap down over my ears, which mostly got the buds to stay in place so I could enjoy the high quality sound, but I don’t see that as a solution to the issue. I had the same problem with the other interchangeable buds, both in the pool and on dry land.
Thump does have a wraparound waterproof Bluetooth headset, the Thump Xtreme.
It would be great to see this design (no earbuds) on the waterproof/non Bluetooth version. This would solve the issue of the earbuds popping out.
The Thump website has testimonials of swimmers who have successfully used the MP3 player in the water as the unit was intended, with the earbuds staying in place, while keeping the water out of their ears. I was disappointed not to be able to get the buds to stay in, as this product has great sound quality and a lot of promise. The design is smart, the device is light, and the USB stays covered and dry. I turned this on and off many times in succession, and it was never glitchy or refused to play like other waterproof MP3s I have used. If it weren’t for the earbud issue, I could see using this model for many different activities. Swimming, workout out on the spin bike, running, lifting weights or doing any other gym activity. It would also be great for working in the yard or taking a walk, listening to the FM radio function, without worrying about wires or having to carry a phone.
Degrees/Certifications: B.A., ITCA, NESTA Sports Injury Specialist and Lifestyle Weight management specialist, US Masters Swimming certified Level 1&2 Coach
Race Experience: Boston marathon 2010, 2011, 2012; Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 finisher; Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2014 finisher