Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

Garmin have just announced the Vivoactive 3 Music version.

What’s New

Music – Deezer, iHeartRadio and your own music files. All music is copied onto the Vivoactive 3 MUSIC for offline playback via bluetooth headphones.

That’s it and there is effectively a $50 premium for the MUSIC version. Oh and a very much prettier all-black case…gone is the cheaper-looking brushed steel bezel of the original Vivoactive 3.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review Buy Price Sale
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Rear View of Elevate oHR Sensor (non-Music VA3 Version, same OHR sensor)


What’s Included

For a detailed look at the Vivoactive 3’s functionality then check out the detailed VA3 review below which also comapres to the Apple Watch and Fitbit.

The vivoactive 3 music superficially looks similar to the Forerunner 645 Music. Note that the Vivoactive 3 Music has a one-button touchscreen whereas the 645 is not touchscreen and has 5 buttons.

Here are some highlights of the Vivoactive 3 Music

  • Garmin Pay  with supported banks
  • Customised structured workout support
  • Pre-canned sports profiles and workouts
  • Automatic Rep Counting for some gym workouts
  • Firstbeat metrics: VO2max, Stress & Recovery, Calories burned, Fitness Age
  • Garmin Elevate Optical HR sensor: with 247 HR
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Battery life: a reasonable 5 hours in GPS mode with music or 13 hours GPS without music.
  • Connect IQ 3 support
  • Waterproofed to 50 meters: Pretty much the norm these days
  • Re-broadcasts optical HR: You can select to re-broadcast your heart rate from the optical HR sensor over ANT+
  • Connects to ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART sensors

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review – Detailed | Apple Watch Competitor


First up: there’s no speaker. Quite a few running watches do have inbuilt speakers #DoNotSwimWithThese. So you are dependent on your headphones having a decent battery charge with the 645.

If you want to live-stream music over the internet…dream on, rather than play on. The Vivoactive 3 Music hasn’t got any kind of inbuilt cellular connectivity. You’d only technically be able to do that via a smartphone…yet another thing for you to carry and charge. And that’s pretty pointless as we already know that MANY watches can act as a remote control for the music on your phone. So you would be better of doing that if you want to live-stream music OTA.

What Garmin present in their music offering is flawed. But the same is true of nearly all of the other competitive Running-With-Music options. There’s a Looong way to go before the perfect running+music device exists, much of that will be inhibited by music licensing restrictions.

What Music Will go on My Vivoactive 3 Music?

Garmin claim 500 songs can be stored on the Vivoactive 3 Music.

The Vivoactive 3 Music supports 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.

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

So, let’s face it, that means the vast majority of those of you who are reading this will have to manually copy files to the 645. #Technology.

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.

Do you have losslessly compressed, high-definition audio files in the relatively common .FLAC format? Well, you can’t use those either. But you can 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 musiciHeartRadio app CAN be downloaded anywhere. It will only work in the correct regions. ie not for me, I tried. You store your logon credentials via the app on GARMIN EXPRESS.

It’s also worth noting that other users have found that wearing your Vivoactive 3 Music  on the right wrist ie the side as the controls from your headphone, significantly reduces dropouts.

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.

We’ve already seen that 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.

However the legacy mode of copying files to your watch works well enough.

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

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


What about the running headphones?

What about them! Hopefully you already have some 🙂 If not hear (sic) are some pointers. If you want to see all the links (below) for your research, you’ll have to disable any adblocking.

I’m a bit of a Jabra fan and have 3 sets: Sport ROX; Elite SPORT (built in HRM); and the Pulse Sport (Built in HRM, not SE). Jabra are the only vendor who have a quality HRM alternative built-in to the earphones (with extensive Firstbeat support on their app). a headphone-based HRM can save you some battery by turning off the optical HR on your wrist watch.

Some of the earphones have great feature sets on their own including guidance, Alexa Support, smartphone connectivity; variable fit; and more.

Jabra seemed to mostly resolve the issue of dropouts (at least in my experience) a couple of years back once they introduced the SE version of the Pulse SPORT.

These are all top-notch (aka expensive) headphones with the exceptions of the Sennheiser & NuForce BE Sports3. If you get any one of these from Amazon and you have pairing issues or dropout issues…send them back within a month. Sorted.

Optoma NuForce BE Sport 3
Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. $64/Eu/£58 and might fall in 2018.

Price, Availabilty & Discounts


Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review Buy Price Sale
Non-music version – side view of slider


I will include the Amazon links as stock arrives there.


Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices approx £220/$250/Eu230 and likely to fall slightly in late 2018.

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6 thoughts on “Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

  1. Didn’t expect an announcement and deployment on the same date. Is there a reason for that? Curious if the Plus line couldn’t get the same treatment? The suunto 9 is supposed to start selling on the 26th right?

  2. I really wish Spotify would work harder to get Spotify support in more of these devices (and into a pair of wireless headphones for offline syncing). Isn’t Spotify the #1 or close #2 music service (Apple, but who cares about them)?

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