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Have you ever heard about the IPX7 rating? Have you ever found it on the back of your headphone or speaker box but you didn’t know what it stands for? Well, if this is the case, we advise you to read this article and find out why it’s so important. Even if you have some basic knowledge about IP ratings, stay with us and you might be able to find some interesting information you haven’t heard before.
Many products today have some kind of IP protection and the level of that protection depends on the item’s purpose. However, this article focuses only on the IP protection of electronic devices in order to explain to the users why it’s so important and how to handle IPX7 devices properly. So, let’s get started.
What Does IP Stand For and Do We Really Need It?
If you’ve been reading your device’s specs list and noticed IP rating, you have probably been wondering what it stands for, even if you bought that specific device because of its IP protection.
Well, IP actually stands for International Protection or Ingress Protection and it describes the level of protection of your device from intrusion of any solids or liquids that might cause any kind of malfunction.
The IP rating system includes two rating scales – dust and water protection rating scales. This is expressed by two letters/numbers standing after this well-known abbreviation and the first number/letter shows the level of dust protection while the second number/letter shows the level of protection against fluid intrusion.
Occasionally, there’s the third letter (in this case it’s just a letter), H, M, S, F or W, which shows us other kinds of device protection that haven’t become so common yet. For example, H means that your device was tested in high voltage conditions, M means that the device passed some kind of “moving through water” test, S shows that your device can stand in water, W implies that it was tested in different weather condition, while F stands for oil resistance.
Now that we have explained the most important terms related to IP protection, let’s see why do we need it.
IP protection should be one of the elementary requests when buying a new electronic device. Truth to be told, many devices already have it but we think that people are still not completely aware of its importance. Devices like smartwatches, smartphones, headphones or speakers are quite fragile when exposed to real-life conditions.
Watches and smartphones are constantly exposed to different impacts, especially weather conditions, raindrops, etc. but you must not forget about your headphones or Bluetooth portable speaker that are often used outdoors. If you tend to use them in the woods, by a pool, at the beach, or even in the shower, you should pay more attention to IP protection. We are saying this because these numbers and letters show you how and where to use your device and how to protect it from the unwanted breakdown.
As the greatest number of these devices are usually more endangered by water than by dust, we have decided to dedicate this article to the IPX7 level of protection.
What Does IPX7 Rating Represent?
Whenever you see the letter X in these situations, you should know it means that there is no information about the level of that kind of protection. In this case, X implies that we don’t have any information about the level of protection against dust, so we won’t pay any attention to that anymore. However, we have a more important thing to explain and that’s number 7.
IPX7 rating is extremely popular and we assume that you have already heard about it. It is popular because it implies that your device is waterproof and that it can be fully submerged into 1-meter deep water for up to 30 minutes and still be able to work properly after that. However, people usually misunderstand this information, so let’s reveal some hidden information that will extend your device’s lifetime.
When you read about different kinds of water protection, you will encounter different terms used in different articles. The authors of those articles often confuse us with terms such as water-resistant, water repellent or waterproof.
Water-resistant, water repellent and hydrophobic are terms that should be used mostly with products made from some kind of fabric such as clothes. When a piece of clothing is water-resistant, it means that the fabric is so dense that it will take quite some time before you get wet (although you eventually will).
Water repellent, on the other hand, implies that the piece of clothing has some kind of coating that prevents it from getting soaked.
Being hydrophobic is similar, with a small difference in quality. Hydrophobic products are more successful at repelling liquids.
Finally, waterproof means full product’s protection against water intrusion. It’s also achieved by coating and it’s commonly used to define the level of protection of electronic devices more than other products.
How Should You Use Devices with IPX7 Rating Properly?
All the headphones, earbuds, speakers, phones or watches that have this level of protection were tested in specific conditions in order to see if they can really handle being in such deep water for such a long time. The scientists immerse test devices into the water and leave them there for a specific period of time in order to define the maximum protection value. These tests are run only for the devices that are supposed to have IPX7 and IPX8 ratings.
The devices that survive the test get their label and are classified as waterproof, which means you can leave them next to a pool or at the beach while you’re swimming. If you suddenly drop it into the water, it will survive, as long as the water isn’t deeper than 1 meter and if you take it out in less than 30 minutes.
However, this doesn’t mean that a device with the IPX7 rating is tested for all the other IPX ratings. To be more specific, having the IPX7 rating doesn’t imply having IPX4, 5 or 6 ratings. Subsequently, this means that being waterproof and submersible into water doesn’t imply that your device can survive powerful water jets or splashes coming at it from any angle. It may sound strange but a waterproof device can be damaged if hit by a water jet, or even by pouring rain.
In addition, you should be very careful about taking your waterproof speaker or headphones in the shower or to the beach. This usually relates to headphones because many people like to swim while listening to music. However, headphones with an IPX7 rating are usually not tested in these conditions (moving so fast through the water) and this kind of contact with the water can severely damage the electronic parts.
Sadly, none of the additional data is listed in the specs, so you will have to contact the manufacturer in case you want a thorough explanation.
To conclude, in case you need an outdoor Bluetooth speaker, you should first define what do you need it for. For example, if you want to listen to music while swimming in a pool or the sea, you should go for a device with IPX7 or even IPX8 rating.
However, if you need it for hiking or a picnic in the woods and your biggest fear is rain destroying your device, you should look for IPX4, IPX5 or IPX6 – rated devices because they are resistant to water splashes and water jets hitting the device at different angles.
Things to Be Aware Of
As you probably know, the market is flooded with so many types and models of electronic devices and many of them have fake specifications because some of the manufacturers care only about fooling people and getting more money.
So, as we have already said, you should read and analyze the specs carefully before buying the device that suits your needs and is worth your money. You should be even more careful when buying an outdoor device because it has to be made for specific conditions.
In case you have any doubts, you should contact the manufacturer and request a detailed explanation. For example, most of the waterproof devices are rated only as IPX7 without emphasizing if the device has any other level of protection.
Some of the manufacturers are fair and if their product is protected against both splashes and submersions, they will write that it has the IPX6/IPX7 rating. However, this is usually not the case, because most of the devices either don’t have double protection or it is not specified. This means that if you need more than one level of protection, you should get in touch with the manufacturer and try to get all the information.
Also, don’t ever trust the manufacturers who label their products as IPX-7 or IP-67. The minute you see this, run away from it because IP ratings are never written with hyphens or any other way apart from the way that was already presented in this article.
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.