*NEW* Garmin Vivoactive 3 MUSIC (Vivoactive 3M) – Opinion, not a review

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review Buy Price Sale
vivoactive 3 shown

Garmin is about to release a variant of the Vivoactive 3, this time adding Music. Here is the announcement: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

Here is some detailed speculation based mostly on the 645 Music and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 review

Heads Up: This post was published before the formal announcement – the info is correct but the MUSIC version has a new all-balck shell

What Music Will go on the Vivoactive 3 Music?

It’s likely that Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 Music will support storage of 600 songs, the VA3M will likely have total storage of around 4Gib (with 3.5Gb available for non-system usage). The special MTP connection introduced on the 645M will allow a new charging cable to copy music to the VA3M relatively quickly.

The Vivoactive 3 Music will support Deezer (‘soon’ at these locations) and iHeartRadio (USA, CA, NZ, AU) in ‘link and sync’ mode. Ie when you have connectivity to those services via your smartphone/wifi then you can copy tracks to your watch to playback later. When released, Deezer should link and sync over WiFi and I would hope it also supports dynamic playlists. I’ve been using Deezer over the last month while preparing the Fitbit Versa review , Fitbit does not seem to have smoothly integrated Deezer into their ecosystem so let’s see if Garmin can do better.

It’s reasonably likely that there will be a joint announcement soon for the Deezer support on the VA3. #Speculation

Garmin also supports iHeartRadio but….

iHeartRadio CIQ app on Garmin Connect ouch (Rating: 1/5, 250mb limit in April 2018).

The other option offered by Garmin will be to copy parts of your personal, computer-based library to the Vivoactive 3 Music.

On public availability, the vast majority of those of you who are reading this will have to manually copy files to the Vivoactive 3 Music as you won’t be using either iHeartRadio or, soon after, Deezer. #RealityCheck

And those music files MUST be on your computer. Not a network, not a memory stick, not a mapped network drive. Believe me, I tried with the 645 Music to get files from those locations. You can’t.

Do you have losslessly compressed, high-definition audio files in the relatively common .FLAC format? Well, you can’t use those either. But you will be able to use all of these; mp3, m4a, aac, adts, wav, m3u, m3u8, wpl, zpl and pls. That’s not too bad I suppose. You can play a pre-loaded playlist but you can’t create one on the watch or in Garmin Express.

645 Garmin Express music
645 Music info shown

The iHeartRadio CIQ app CAN be downloaded anywhere. It will only work in the correct regions. ie not for me in the UK, I tried.

You can try to store your logon credentials via the app on GARMIN EXPRESS. And they will be stored…

645 Music info shown


One final cheery musical note: iHeartRadio files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (Mar2018)

Get Some Decent Headphones

It’s also worth noting that some Forerunner 645 Music owners found that wearing the watch on the same side as the controls from your headphone reduces dropouts. Personally I didn’t have those problems.

From a personal perspective, I would suggest that a decent pair of headphones will work best. Although having said that there will reported issues with the Apple headphones on the 645M. My personal favourite would be JABRA who have spent many years addressing the issue of dropouts and whilst also introducing in-ear based heart rate monitoring, using a special Valencell HR module for generally good readings in models after the Pulse Special Edition.

These are all top-notch (aka expensive) headphones with the exception of the Sennheiser. If you get any one of these from Amazon and you have pairing issues or dropout issues…send them back within a month. Sorted.

More Music Commentary

The modern offline music offering which supports a cloud-based streaming service is somewhat ‘up in the air’ right now from Garmin.  Their approach seems to allow the future integration of additional online music service via CIQ apps rather than tying themselves to one music service (eg Apple, although that may change)

Garmin’s screen is not high-resolution. This means that there are no pretty album cover graphics on the screen when you are playing music – and MANY other music playing watches will have that. That’s not a problem to me but it would have looked nice.

However, the legacy mode of copying files to your watch works well enough. BUT BUT the most practical thing of all is that the button-based interface on the 645 for controlling music is BY FAR THE BEST of any of the running watches that I tested to control music. You try skipping a track on Google Play Music on your LG Watch when you’re hot and sweaty and it’s raining. Garmin’s buttons are, well, buttontastic. Because they work.

Which brings us to the thorny issue of the pesky single button and touchscreen on the Vivoactive 3 Music. I haven’t used it yet but that touchscreen is going to cause problems, I reckon.


Best Running Watch 2021 | Top 10 Garmin, Apple, Fitbit, Polar Comparison




Running With Your Chosen Music Service

But what if you already use Spotify?

Q: Will Garmin support Spotify?

A: Maybe. But not right now.

So you have a quandry; if you need to match the running watch you buy with the music service you already use then you are never going to change your music service in a million years, are you?

This list starts with the music service and then tells you which hardware you could buy that would support it for your music-powered sport. Beware, geographic coverage is limited (Accurate April 2018)

  • Spotify (*): Samsung (Maybe Apple, late 2018)
  • Deezer (*): Garmin, Fitbit
  • iHeartRadio (USA, CA, NZ, AU): Garmin, WearOS
  • Apple Music (*): Apple
  • Pandora (USA): Fitbit, WearOS
  • Google Play Music (*): WearOS

* Links to show geographic availability by country

Summary & Opinion

Garmin has a sensible approach to integrating music services on their watches. On the whole, it works well with the 645M and will work well with the Vivoactive 3 Music.

I’ve spent a lot of time with various devices that playback music for runners and the 5-button interface with the 645M was the most practical (aka ‘best’, IMHO). It’s a shame that having delivered the ‘best’ approach to music for a runner that Garmin then goes and spoil it with the pesky single button of the Vivoactive 3!. Many of you may well disagree and may well get on well with touchscreens on running watches…in which case totally ignore me and go and buy one 🙂

In my opinion, you will do better going for the 645 if it’s music you want.

If you want to buy the Vivoactive 3 Music because it also supports contactless payments via Garmin Pay then do your research as it is likely that your current bank will not be supported. Actually, I’ve done your research for you… link to garmin.com.

Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices approx £235/$270/Eu250 and likely to fall slightly in late 2018.


Garmin 645 Bible ⌚ Garmin 645 Review Forerunner Music


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13 thoughts on “*NEW* Garmin Vivoactive 3 MUSIC (Vivoactive 3M) – Opinion, not a review

  1. Does built-in music make sense without an eSIM? Ok I think I’ve answered that 😉 I know Garmin are working on that but until they come up with something I’m not upgrading my FR935!

    1. did an ipod shuffle ever make any sense?

      but, yes. I agree with where you are coming from. The ultiamte ‘correct’, flexible,open and extensible music solution for runners is nowhere in sight. it’s years away. yes even for the mighty apple mired by the necessity of multiple commerical tie-ups in multiple legal juristictions

      if i listened to music, which i dont too much when running, then i REALLY wouldnt’ want to carry a smartphone. so i would go for a watch based solution or an ipod shuffle like solution. maybe music storage in the earphones themselves makes more sense with the control happening from the watch?

      the OTA solution can only ever rely on a cellular conenction of some sort. clearly it’s possible on apple and some of the wearOS watches.

  2. “4Gb (with 3.5Gb ” should actually read “4GiB (with 3.5GB ”
    I know it’s nerdy, but Gb GiB and GB are all different things 4Gb would actually mean 477MB available for users, AKA not enough music for a long run 🙂

      1. No, some are powers of 10, which is where the difference between 4 and 3.6 lies. 4^1000^1000^1000 is the storage included. 4000000000/1024/1024/1024 is the number presented in Windows. They are the same number of bits, but people always assume that some storage has been used “by the system” or “formatting losses”. In reality this is akin to assuming 5 miles is shorter than 8km because you’ve already walked 3km. For the record I got the GiB and GB the wrong way around. GB is decimal, GiB is binary (1024 powers). Basically Kilo, Mega and Giga are SI decimals in thousands while Kibi Mebi and Gibi are units for binary. The small b is bits while the big B is Bytes (8 bits). A nibble is 4 bits but rarely used these days despite being a fun fact.

  3. Hi
    Having just returned the 646m due to no Garmin pay or music streaming services live in the uk at present.
    Will this be launched with every thing in place or will we still be buying a half finished product?

      1. It will be this week or next, 100%. FCC short term confidentiality is up on 6/3 for the V3+Music and they will launch all at once. My current take is V3M, F5+, F5S+ and a new Chronos. But who knows man.

  4. Any news about this? Wondering if I should go for normal vivoactive 3 or wait for music version, but seams like no news about it.

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