I love music. And as I’m sure audiophiles like me can attest, when you love music and want to listen to something during a variety of activities others are perfectly happy to do in silence, it can be quite annoying for everyone else. My wife would be the first to tell you how frustrating it is that I take a few extra minutes to find the perfect song on my phone for the shower every morning and that even after I do, I listen to it at an inappropriate level. I politely disagree, but that’s neither here nor there.
Still, as much as I love music, I revel in activities that must be done with no other soundtrack than that of nature. Surfing is one of those things. And not for lack of trying to integrate music into the lineup. In 2011, our own Alex Haro reviewed an MP3 player sleeve designed to keep your audio player dry in the water. As of yet, though, no single device has managed to stick. Probably because, well, we surfers are obsessed with being cool and unless there’s a professional endorsement of some kind besides that of Laird, good luck getting surfers to bite (see also: front traction).
But MP3 players are so 2011. Today is all about what they call “wearable technology,” and a company called Underwater Audio out of Corvallis, Oregon just launched a Kickstarter for a waterproof audio player product they call Delphin that’s a little more sophisticated than a protective case. Like other wearables (think an Apple or Android watch), Delphin gives the user access to a handful of their favorite apps, including Spotify, Pandora, Audible, Soundcloud, Google Music, and Netflix, and it’s waterproof. It also comes with waterproof headphones.
Delphin was designed with the lap swimmer in mind, which totally makes sense. But could this also be the device that single-handedly alters the social fabric of lineups around the world? Probably not. You see, just as Alex points out in his review for the other product, the headphones for the Delphin would likely be blown out of your ears in waves larger than a few feet. Unless, of course, you wear a hooded suit that would keep the buds in your ear holes.
I don’t profess to be some kind of surf purist. In New York, I used to think that riding the subway with headphones in was antisocial. That was before my first experience being herded onto an overcrowded train like a cow. Then I understood – sometimes you just need to be in your own world for a while.
I suspect surfing is a similar experience for people. In lineups where you can get waves to yourself, the sounds around you are enough. But on the Gold Coast or the overcrowded beaches of Southern California, I can think of a few friends who wouldn’t think twice about escaping into their own playlist so they wouldn’t have to listen to one guy accost another, or so they could cling to the “I didn’t hear you behind me,” excuse.
I can definitely see how this product would be super useful for a range of ocean enthusiasts, from fisherman to ocean kayakers to SUPers. And even if this doesn’t work its way into local lineups, it’s likely the first of many future products to try. And as always, some are bound to be angry about it, and others will probably pick up on it from the start. That is until someone snaps a few photos of John John vibing to something out at Pipe between sets. Then everybody’s gonna want one.
Learn more about the Delphin on their Kickstarter page.