A bone conduction earphone transmits sound through the bones of the skull, instead of the eardrums. Its use is very specific, but its technology has come a long way lately. Check out the best bone conduction headphones here.
Bone conduction headphones (also called bone conduction headphones) are primarily intended for athletes. The technology itself is quite old. The principle is not to send the sound directly to the eardrum (as in the case of conventional headphones), but to the jawbone, through vibrations. These vibrations are then conducted from the jaw to the inner ear and are therefore perceived by the user. Therefore, a bone conduction headset is not placed on the pinna of the ear, but just in front.
The philosophy behind bone conduction headphones is the opposite of noise canceling headphones. Your ears are free: suddenly, you are not cut off from the rest of the world. That is why this type of helmet is particularly used by athletes. This allows a runner or cyclist to practice his sport, listening to music, while remaining attentive to what is happening around him. In addition to sports and other outdoor activities, this type of helmet can be useful in a professional environment, for example in a open space be available while you listen to their music. Some people with hearing problems can also greatly benefit from this technology, which does not go through the eardrum.
The audio quality offered by bone conduction headphones is necessarily worse than conventional headphones. The fact is that you do not buy this product to listen to music in its best quality and immerse yourself in it, but to be alert. It is a complementary device to headphones or earphones, which is not intended to supplant them.
Very few manufacturers are interested in this technology. The best current manufacturer of bone conduction headphones is Shokz (previously called AfterShokz, until 2021). There are other brands, such as Tayogo and Vidonn. However, we have chosen to focus here on the best models available, which we believe are produced by Shokz.
Whether you’re athletic and want to work out to music, or just curious, here’s the manufacturer’s range and the best bone conduction headphones available.
Do you play sports frequently? Discover our guides on technological products for athletes:
OpenRun Pro: the best in bone conduction
L’Open Run Pro is the newest and most premium helmet from Shokz. This model is clearly intended for lovers of running and other outdoor sports. It comes to take the place of the Aeropex model.
Like the other models, this helmet is made of titanium, which makes it particularly strong, even in the event of a fall. It is completely covered in a soft and pleasant silicone against the skin.
To effectively resist sweat, the helmet is IP55 certified. The brand has also worked on the quality of the sound delivered, in particular on the transmission of bass, which has improved a lot. Autonomy has also been improved, up to 10 hours, a good performance. A quick charge is also required: 5 minutes is enough for 1 hour and 30 minutes of use, and an hour is needed for a full charge. A magnetic (and proprietary) charging cable comes with the headset. However, you will need to provide an additional power source, and this applies to all Shokz models.
The headset works via Bluetooth 5.1 and benefits from multipoint. It is equipped with a noise-cancelling dual microphone for making and receiving calls, which is particularly effective, even in noisy environments.
As is often the case with Shokz, there are several colors available: pink, blue, black, and white.
Why choose Shokz OpenRun Pro?
- The latest in bone conduction technology
- Noise canceling microphone
- good autonomy
OpenSwim: for swimmers and water lovers
As a waterproof helmet, theopen swimming from Shokz is IP68 certified. It is resistant first to dust, but above all to total immersion up to 2 meters, for 1 hour. It is simply the highest level of protection. Being of course designed for swimming, you can wear a swimming cap, earplugs or swimming goggles without worry.
If OpenSwim has great qualities, especially in terms of the comfort of the object and its reliability in the water, it also has a major flaw: it doesn’t work on Bluetooth. You have to load your music into it, like an old MP3 player, a time that seems so long ago. It has a small storage capacity of 4 GB, which is equivalent to about 1200 songs. It supports MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC and FLAC formats. We forget about fast charging here, reserved for the top of the range that are OpenRun Pro and OpenComm. The announced autonomy is about 8 hours.
We regret that Shokz did not offer both possibilities of use, that is, being able to load music in the helmet of course, but also connect it via Bluetooth with your phone. In fact, any swimmer may want to use their bone conduction helmet in an environment other than water, for example for running: in this case, you will not be able to connect your smartphone to OpenSwim, which is a good harm. It’s also not equipped with a microphone, so you can say goodbye to hands-free calls. As you may have understood, Shokz designed this helmet for, and only for, swimming and other water sports.
A bit more though, it comes with swim-friendly earplugs, which will come in handy for better hearing your music amid splashing noises and crying children. Please note that it can be used without problems at sea.
Why choose the Shokz OpenSwim?
- If you are a swimmer or an avid swimmer
- Comfortable to wear under a bathing cap.
- Perfectly waterproof
OpenMove: headphones at a low price
If you don’t feel like spending so much on a sports helmet, or you only have occasional use, then you can opt for the model OpenMovewhich is one of Shokz’s best-selling references.
The OpenMove is Shokz’s basic helmet. Here, therefore, there is no fast charging or long battery life. It still benefits from Shokz’s exclusive bone conduction technology. Noise reduction dual microphone is also included.
It benefits from an IP55 certification and is therefore resistant to sweat. Therefore, it was designed for sports, but not only. In fact, it has two EQ modes: one for outdoor use and one for boosting vocals, making the headphones perfect for podcasts, audiobooks, or radio. Good surprise, its Bluetooth is also multipoint. Like the rest of the models, it incorporates the control buttons (volume, headphones on and off, etc.) on the branches.
On the battery side, we are at least 6 hours of autonomy and a USB-C recharge.
This is a great option if you just want to try this technology out and see if it works for you. We highly recommend it for people who are cycling around the city and need to hear what is going on around them for safety reasons.
Why choose Shokz OpenMove?
- A more affordable price
- a good microphone
- IP55 approval
OpenComm: an ideal headset for work
L’OpenComm It can be a very interesting option if you spend your days on the phone. This headset is specifically designed for phone calls and long-term use.
At a time when teleworking has become commonplace and, therefore, also phone calls and video conferences, these headphones make all their sense. It will be perfect for those who can’t stand spending the day with headphones stuck in their ears or with headphones that keep them warm.
It benefits from the same fast charging as OpenRun Pro, with a good 16 hours of talk time. This is the only boom microphone headset, with a DSP noise reduction system that works very well. However, we regret that this microphone, which is also made of titanium, is not removable. Small specificity, the helmet can be paired very quickly via NFC with a smartphone.
Small black dot, the price of 160 euros, a little high for the product.
Why choose Shokz OpenComm?
- Particularly effective noise canceling microphone
- Comfortable and very light.
- NFC Pairing
The cheap alternative: Vidonn F1
Don’t want to spend too much money on bone conduction tests? There are many other manufacturers in the field, less well known than Shokz, such as Vidonn, a Chinese brand. The latter produces low-cost helmets clearly geared towards the entry level. Models like the Vidón F1 (but also other Chinese brands) have the merit of existing, if you want to stay around 40 – 50 euros.
The Vidom F1, in shape, is very similar to Shokz helmets. However, it is a bit heavier and will hardly suit small heads. It benefits from a microphone, as well as an IP55 (against sweat) certification, just like Shokz’s OpenMove.
Why choose this model instead of the ones mentioned above? Just for its price.
You will see that there are many cheap models of bone conduction headphones on the e-commerce sites. In our opinion, it is better to go directly to more qualitative brands like Shokz to get the most out of this technology. Of course, it depends on your budget…
About bone conduction headphones
How exactly do bone conduction headphones work?
To understand exactly how bone conduction headphones work, you need to understand the principles of acoustics, sound being a wave that propagates differently depending on the environment you are in. In the case of traditional headphones, the sound travels through the air; In the case of bone conduction, the sound travels through the bones, more precisely through the zygomatic arch of the temporal bone, located just below the temple. It is over this bone that the helmet transmitter is placed. In this way, the sound is sent directly to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrum. This is why they are very relevant for people whose eardrums have a deficiency.
Who is Shokz?
Shokz, which was called AfterShokz until the end of 2021, is an American company founded in 2004. Its first bone conduction headphones launched in 2012, making it ten years since the brand perfected its technology and filed patent after patent. Recently, Shokz is the official supplier of the French Athletics Federation.
Will the people around me hear what I am hearing?
Yes, it is possible, but of course it depends on the volume and the environment you are in. If you are in a quiet indoor place, such as an office, your colleagues can hear the vibrations.
Can I wear glasses with bone conduction hearing aids?
There is no problem in wearing glasses, eyeglasses or sunglasses, with bone conduction headphones. They are designed not to obstruct the passage of branches. On the other hand, if you have long hair, we recommend tying it up almost systematically, as the hair can quickly get caught in the bow, making the experience quite painful.
Is it possible to wear a bone conduction helmet while cycling?
The question appears many times in specialized forums. In fact, many consider that this device, which does not cover the ear, can even be used on an electric bicycle. The reality is quite different since a decree of the State Council of February 7, 2017 prohibits the use of bone conduction headphones, the device being a source of distraction for users.
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