Sony Walkman NW-WS413: Key Specifications
Waterproof Standard: IPX68
Battery life: 12 hours
Storage: 4GB or 8GB
Audio formats: MP3, AAC, WMA and Linear PCM
The Sony Walkman NW-WS413 is among the best waterproof headphones options when it comes to serious swimming. We all know swimming is one of the best exercises you can do – it builds muscle, burns fat, increases our lung capacity and is joint-friendly – but long sessions in the pool are monotonous.
If you’re the type of person who needs entertainment while working out, or if you like the opportunity to catch up on your favorite podcast while swimming, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 is for you.
A one-piece Bluetooth-free Walkman-one-a-wire – which doesn’t work well underwater – for drag-and-drop MP3s into its 4GB storage, it’s a unique, good-value product that’s only challenged by some bone conduction rivals.
The lack of a Bluetooth option seriously limits its versatility, but we think it trumps the Shokz OpenSwimNaenka Runner Diver, and Zygo Solo in key areas.
Sony Walkman NW-WS413 Waterproof Earphones: price and release date
- $98 (UK £79/AU$209)
- Available now
As its strange design can attest, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 has been around for about 10 years. For a long time it was the only option for swimmers after some aquatic auditory action.
It’s always been two headphones on either end of a heavy-duty cable neckband, but this latest improved version uses plastic with a more textured finish. It makes the play buttons a little easier to reach, which should only be done by touch due to the design.
Sony Walkman NW-WS413 Waterproof Earphones: Design
- All in one design
- Multiple play buttons
- Stores 4GB audio files
Project score: 4/5
The Sony Walkman NW-WS413 fits great, but it’s not exactly stylish. They’re a little messy when they’re in a gym bag, although they’re a lot sturdier than they seem at first glance. You can be quite rude to them, although we wonder if they need a small bag or perhaps a battery case, which is now pretty standard for headphones.
The entire wearable unit weighs 32g, which is approximately the same as the waterproof bone conduction headphones. With the slightly heavy earcups tucked into the ears, the neckband sits snugly in place at the back of the head. You can swap out the ear tips for a choice of three in the box, but once that’s done, they form a barrier to the outside world – and water – and the neckband holds everything in place.
There’s a pretty extensive choice of buttons on the headphones. It’s a little scary at first, although all the buttons are well placed and it doesn’t take long to know where they are just by the touch. That’s probably a lot of buttons for such a small product, but it’s more preferable than having to learn long lists of double, triple, and quad presses to complete simple actions, which is what you get in some rival products.
Sony Walkman NW-WS413 Waterproof Earphones: Performance
- Fairly high volume
- balanced sound stage
- MP3, AAC, WMA and Linear PCM files
Performance Score: 4/5
The Sony Walkman NW-WS413 are the best sounding waterproof headphones you can buy. Like their rival bone conduction headphones, the sound improves the moment you step into the water. However, they have three clear advantages over waterproof bone conduction headphones; they’re louder, the sound quality is much more detailed, and you also don’t need to insert additional earplugs (like you do with waterproof bone conduction headphones).
While the bone conduction headphones provide a cheeky but slightly muffled sound that is often very quiet in the pool, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 is louder and the headphone’s soundstage is much more detailed. We’re talking significantly improved highs and more expensive mids, despite there being a super-thin membrane on the swim-specific earcups () to keep out water. All of this makes a huge difference for music, though not so much for podcasts and audiobooks.
That said, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 isn’t the best sounding set of headphones you’ve ever used. Pools are unforgiving places when it comes to ears, and while you’re swimming, they’ll handle the water slamming and splashing in your ears well. Well, but not perfectly. If you want to listen to an audiobook and not miss a single word or phrase, a swimming pool is not the place to hear it.
There’s an “ambient sound” mode, which allows for more outside sound – though not much – and drastically affects battery life. With it off you get about 12 hours from the Sony Walkman NW-WS413, which is impressive. With that kind of battery, you’ll probably forget about charging them altogether, but the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 has a trick; a fast charging option means just three minutes on that annoying charger cable will get you 60 minutes of use. It takes 90 minutes to fully charge.
Of course, there is a problem with the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 and that is the lack of versatility. Sure, you can make the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 your gym and pool headphones and easily use them while on a treadmill or doing weights, but they don’t have a Bluetooth option. Without the ability to connect to a smartphone, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 remains a one-trick gadget. This is no different from its biggest rival, the Shokz OpenSwim bone conduction headphones, though not so much the newly arrived bone conduction headphones Naenka Runner Diver, which offer a Bluetooth mode when on land and an MP3 mode for water.
Sony Walkman NW-WS413 Waterproof Earphones: Features
- 4GB storage (8GB also available)
- 12 hours of battery life
- IP65/IP68 waterproof
Resource score: 3/5
Does the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 have Bluetooth? No, it doesn’t. It’s essentially a Walkman with 4GB of storage (for 8GB head for the slightly more expensive NW-WS414). Yes, this is irritating. After all, who still has a vast collection of MP3s? In practice, the most likely source of audio downloads is podcasts.
Meeting the IP65/IP68 waterproof and dustproof standard, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 is designed for use in swimming pools, but will also work for 30 minutes in sea water. So you can use the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 for just about any outdoor activity, from a gentle dip in a lake to a triathlon. Except you probably can’t use them for competitions because of the way they work. like any pair of best running headphones, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 uses headphones that block the ear canals from external sound. This is not considered safe by some race organizers, hence the boom bone conduction headphones.
Something we didn’t like about the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 is its charging base. Dedicated headphone chargers are becoming worryingly common, despite being annoying to use and difficult to travel with. While we hate them all, we can see why a waterproof device like the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 needs one; the charger plugs into five gold connectors, which obviously makes more sense for waterproofing than a USB-C slot.
This stand works as the only way to get content into the Sony Walkman NW-WS413’s 4GB innards, so it’s best not to miss it. Connected to a PC or Mac via USB 2.0, the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 appears as a drive and it’s easy to drag and drop MP3, AAC, WMA and Linear PCM files.
Sony Walkman NW-WS413 Waterproof Earphones: Value for money
- midsize choice
- Largest brand of waterproof headphones
Value for money score: 4/5
The Sony Walkman NW-WS413 isn’t exactly low-end, but it’s a good value when compared to other good quality waterproof headphones available for swimming.
For example, the Shokz OpenSwim bone conduction headphones retail for $149.95/£139.95/$219.95AU while the Zygo Solo costs $299 / £218 (about AU$400). The other competitors of the Sony Walkman NW-WS413 are small brands that sell more basic products at very low prices.