Bone conduction technology in headphones offers users the possibility to hear their audio materials (music, podcasts, audiobooks) without losing contact with the surrounding reality.
For instance, the best bone conduction headphones can help you improve morning runs with music while also paying attention to traffic and other warning sounds. The same type of headphones is extremely useful during commutes when you don’t want to miss verbal instructions regarding your route.
But what exactly are these headphones and how do they work?
Well, the headphones follow the same principle as regular earbuds but use bone conduction technology to deliver the sound. As such, users experience sound as vibrations sent through the bones of the face (jaw and cheeks) directly to the inner ear. This results in a “hearing the sound in your head” effect which can be a bit confusing at first.
It may sound a bit out of this world, but the technology is not that new. It is used as a form of military communications and in helping people suffering from hearing loss. They’re also great for scuba diving communications and many athletes use this type of headphones for running or cycling activities.
Overall, bone conduction headphones are great for a wide range of activities, but their most common use is with activities that require an open ear design. Now, there are lots of products and designs on the market, but not all of them deliver. As such, we put together a how-to guide and reviewed some of the best products available.
How To Choose The Best Bone Conduction Headphones
Usually, sound quality is a deal-breaker when you’re selecting headphones. However, bone conduction headphones are not designed to deliver pristine audio experiences.
Their job is to keep your ears free in order to hear what’s happening around. As such, the sound quality is not going to be the same as with earbuds or over-the-ear headphones.
Some bone conduction headphones come with earplugs (which you can also purchase separately). Earplugs create a form of passive noise cancelation, so the sound quality will improve significantly.
Still, you shouldn’t use earplugs unless you are sure of your surroundings (you’re at home and not engaged in any strenuous activities).
Fit & Comfort
Given that most people who use this type of headphones are athletes or people who work outdoors, fit and comfort are crucial features.
Most of the products we reviewed have a wraparound that lets users adjust the band around their heads. They also use materials that feel nice against the skin and have hooks that go over the ear for a secure fit. However, the hooks may not be that comfortable for someone who needs to wear glasses.
Battery Life & Connectivity
While there are wired bone conduction headphones, we focused our attention on wireless designs. These are a better fit for athletes and outdoor workers and reduce the risk of an accidental entanglement with the wires.
As such, wireless designs should have good battery life (at least 4h+ of playtime) and should support Bluetooth connectivity with a wide array of devices and a good range. It’s best to choose a model with BT 4.0 and above since most modern devices implement more performant Bluetooth modules.
Some users think that, because the music is sent using vibrations, there won’t be any sound leakage. This is wrong since the headphones do produce sounds that can be heard by people around (especially at loud volumes).
Sound leakage is not as strong as with open-back over-the-ear headphones, but it does happen (more in some models than in others). Check to make sure you are comfortable with this.
If you purchase these for a sportive activity like running, fitness at the gym, or hiking, make sure they are sweat and water-proof (IPX5 or more). You should also select highly durable materials like silicone and titanium instead of plastic, to reduce the risks of the band braking during high-intensity activities.
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The Best Bone Conduction Headphones for Adventure
Who doesn’t enjoy slipping in their own world when they are out and about in public or at the gym? However, you still need to pay attention to your surroundings (to avoid accidents and for orientation purposes). As such, a pair of headphones like the Aeropex can become the perfect companion.
They are lightweight (26g), sweat, and waterproof (IP67), and the included sports belt makes them perfect for a wide range of activities. The headphones use Bluetooth technology to remain completely wireless and deliver booming sound quality due to PremiumPitch 2 technology (better volume and wider dynamic stereo sound).
So, whether you’re looking for your next workout headphones or you’re just looking for a more comfortable method to listen to audiobooks and podcasts while out and about, the Aeropex model is a nice choice.
- Lightweight and comfortable even after a long time
- Good sound quality
- Total awareness of surroundings
- 8h battery life
- Moisture detection for safe charging
- A built-in mic for conference calls
- Proprietary charger wire (not USB C)
- The bass is not that great
Bone Headphones That Are Versatile & Fun to Wear
The open ear design is perfect for the outside world where you must pay attention to activities happening around. Also, these headphones are durable (IP55 durability rating) and connect via Bluetooth (v4.1) regardless of device (Android, PC, Mac, or iOS).
Their design is built around durability for intensive workouts but it’s also lightweight (for long time sessions) and have a 6h battery life. In addition, the Titanium model comes with PremiumPitch technology (for a wide dynamic range) and LeakSlayer technology (for a reduced natural sound leakage). This means you get to enjoy a wonderful audio experience without bothering anyone standing next to you.
Due to the wraparound headband and easy to reach controls, the Aftershokz Titanium headphones are amazing for outdoor activities (cycling, running, hiking), enjoying an audiobook while driving or even working in an office. The built-in dual noise-canceling mics provide users with a hands-free set that works anywhere.
The controls are easy to understand as there are one multi-function button and two buttons for volume. Lastly, they come in a wide range of colors, so anyone can have their pick!
- Surprisingly good sound delivery for this model
- Lightweight and durable
- Delivered with earplugs (for when you want privacy)
- Built-in mics for calls
- Easy to reach controls
- IP55 durability rating
- The volume can get loud without really noticing (due to the open ear design)
- It takes a bit to get used to them
AfterShokz Trekz Air
The Headphones You Need to Overcome Your Limits
AfterShokz promotes its Trekz Air headphones as the right design for adventurers. The open ear design and flexible but durable build (due to the wraparound titanium) make them perfect for high-intensity workouts or other activities.
The Trekz Air build is 20% lighter than other models from AfterShokz and can be paired with two devices at the same time (using BT v4.2). The Trekz Air headphones are best in your quest for greatness because they repel sweat, dust, and moisture.
At a bit over $100, these headphones are affordable for many outdoor adventurers (for more options, please visit our best headphones under $200 reviews). They also come with a series of features that are highly appreciated, such as good sound quality, easy to reach controls, and built-in mics for phone calls.
The 6h battery life and built-in dual noise-canceling mics highlight the fact that these headphones were designed for long-term wear. Sound quality is decent due to EQ settings that let you set up bass and reduce vibrations on-the-go and PremiumPitch+ technology.
Overall, Trekz Air is a very well-priced product for the features it provides!
- Lighter than other similar products
- Titanium wraparound for increased durability
- 6h battery life
- Dual noise-canceling mics
- Can be paired with two BT devices simultaneously
- Good sound quality & controls
- Great value for the money
- They only have the Skip to Next Song control
- It takes a bit to find the perfect position
Pyle Bone Conduction Headphones
Comfortable & Versatile Design
The Pyle Bone Conduction Headphones are IPX6 water-resistant, lightweight, and durable. They work with Bluetooth v4.1 technology and can pair with any BT-enabled device (Android, PC, iOS, or Mac) on a range of 35ft.
The wraparound is comfortable for long-time wear and the built-in mic allows for crystal-clear phone conversations without even touching your phone. The band is fitted with controls for volume and song order and the headphones are powered by a 3.7V Li-ion 200mAh rechargeable battery with up to 240h standby time.
Overall, these are the perfect headphones for intense workouts and other outdoor activities that require you to listen to the environment.
- Decent audio quality
- Good mics for phone calls
- Bluetooth v4.1 with 35ft range
- 240h standby time
- LED indicator for battery status
- The wraparound is a bit rigid
Genso Bone Conduction Headphones
The Best Budget Jawbone Headphones
For those of you who don’t want to spend too much on a pair of workout headphones, here’s the Genso model!
They are lightweight, flexible, durable (IP55 durability rating), and deliver decent audio quality via the bones of your scalp leaving the ear canal open. This means you can stay alert to your surroundings and still listen to your favorite tunes, podcast, or audiobook.
Even more, you can use them in light rain and can even wear them while swimming. However, BT-enabled headphones are not the best for this activity (for more on this, check our articles on the headphones for swimmers).
Equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, these headphones will quickly pair with most BT-enabled devices. The pairing is quick and the connection remains stable within 33ft of range without lags or delays.
The 200mAh lithium battery provides the Genso headphones with 5h playtime and about 10 days standby time. Also, they are designed with an LED battery status indicator that keeps users up to date and various controls for ease of use.
Overall, these headphones are lightweight and durable (a combination of ABS and titanium alloy), with plenty of applications in today’s busy world.
- Durable design with lightweight materials
- Decent sound quality
- Bluetooth 5.0 pairing
- Good battery life & standby time
- LED battery status indicator
- Easily-reachable controls
- Great value for the price
- Not glasses-friendly (the over-ear band interferes with the glasses)
- No means of adjusting the headband’s length
As you can see from our reviews, the best bone conduction headphones are quite affordable and pack a wide range of impressive features. So, if you’re not looking for pristine audio delivery, you may want to give this technology a try. You will be surprised by the comfort and freedom they provide!