What Is the IPX Rating, and Does It Matter?

When you are looking to buy a new set of waterproof speakers or outdoor headphones or earphones, chances are you may have encountered the IPX rating. It doesn’t mean anything to you, right? But now, it’s time for you to know about IPX ratings because they will definitely influence your decision in buying the right devices, especially if you are looking for the ones that are waterproof.

What is IPX Rating and Why Is It Important?

The IPX Standard (or IPX Rating) provides you a clearer idea of how waterproof (or how water resistant) the item will be.

The “IP” stands for “Ingress Protection” rating, or sometimes “International Protection” rating. The IP code consists of the “IPX” letters followed by one digit (or two digits) and sometimes a letter. The digits indicate the device’s level of protection against the ingress of solid objects (which include body parts like hands and fingers), solid particles (such as dust and soot) and water. The code’s first digit/symbol is the number “0” and the last digit is the number “8.”

If the device isn’t yet tested, there is no information regarding its level of protection against these above-mentioned intrusions. Therefore, the item is marked with an “X” instead of “0” as the starting digit of the code. 

The IPX rating should be a very useful guide for you whenever you are going to buy waterproof speakers, outdoor headphones, outdoor earphones or any other electronic equipment that claim themselves as “waterproof.”

IPX0 – Not water-resistant at all.
IPX1 – Protected against small drops of water falling vertically.
IPX2 – Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 15 degrees.
IPX3 – Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 60 degrees.
IPX4 – Protected against sprays or splashes at any direction.
IPX5 – Protected against pressurized water stream or small water jets at any direction.
IPX6 – Protected against high pressureized water stream or strong water jets at any direction.
IPX7 – Protected against immersion at a depth of up to 1 meter (3 feet) in a certain period (usually 30 minutes)
IPX8 – Protected against continual immersion at depths of over 1 meter (over 3 feet)

When your speaker has an IPX7 or an IPX8 rating, you can call that as truly waterproof (and water resistant). Needless to say, the IPX8 should be your best bet if you are planning to buy something like pool speakers for your pool party. Even if it gets knocked over, falls down to the bottom of the swimming pool and stays there even for an hour, when you fish the speaker out of the water it will still function properly as it did then (provided that there are no manufacturing flaws in the product).

When your speaker has an IPX5 or IPX6 rating, it is still good for outdoor use if you’re going to take it out to the beach, to the poolside or to the riverbanks when you go camping. If it has an IPX5 rating, your speaker is also dust-protected. This means that it cannot protect itself from the intrusion of dust, but even if the dust enters your speaker, the quantity won’t be sufficient to damage it. Your speaker will still work as perfectly as before. If your speaker has an IPX-6 rating, it means your speaker is compltely dust-tight and dust-proof.

Most of the outdoor speakers, headphones and earphones on the market are labeled with IPX4, IPX5, IPX6, IPX7 and IPX8 ratings. You can also find watches and protective phone cases with an IPX rating.

Now that you are aware of the IPX rating, it makes it easier for you what to look for. For instance, if you want a pair of outdoor earphones, they should have at least an IPX4 rating which provides enough protection from minimal splashes and sweat. However, you cannot use them when you’re in the pool.

Some more important reminders:

1. When a device has an IPX7 or IPX8 rating, it does not automatically mean that it also has an IPX5 or IPX6 rating. An IPX7 or IPX8 device still has to undergo product testing to become IPX5 or IPX6 certified. If a device is tested for both, it may bear two IPX ratings (such as “IPX6/IPX8”).

2. Beware of fakes! If you see a device with an IPX rating with a hyphen, such as “IPX-6,” avoid it at all costs. While it may be some typographical error on the label, you should still be cautious. It’s still better not to waste your money on a dubious product that cannot guarantee protection from water and dust.

For the best buy, consider trusted brands such as Bose, Sony, Philips, Harman International, Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins, Pioneer, Yamaha and Dolby, among many others.