Bone conduction headphones offer an interesting alternative to other types of earphones. In essence, they send sound directly through the bones in your head, which can work well and leaves your ear canals open to outside noise. That makes these headphones a popular choice for joggers, bikers, and anyone exercising or moving around in an environment where they want to be careful of others.
The first versions of these bone conduction models tended to be a little awkward and sometimes uncomfortably tight. Fortunately, later models improved the concept and worked out the kinks, making these headphones more viable than ever. If that sounds like your type of activewear, we’ve reviewed the options and chosen the best to choose from.
Aftershokz is one of the oldest names in the bone conduction business, and it’s used that time to perfect its variety of headphones and improve functionality as well as wearability. The Aeropex is its most advanced model and an excellent place to start when looking for open-ear headphones. They weigh less than an ounce and connect via Bluetooth to your preferred device, so you can just slip them on your ears and go. The battery supports up to eight hours of audio playback and charges within two hours.
Open-ear headphones are also an excellent option for water resistance. While you can’t actually swim with the Aeropex on, the IP67 waterproof rating means you won’t ever have to worry about sweat or rain, and if things do get hazardous, there’s a moisture detection alert that will let you know it’s time to dry out. Aftershokz even throws in a sport belt, just for the sake of convenience.
When it comes to bone conduction, Bose decided to take a more unique approach by pairing the tech with a pair of sunglasses. The result is a pair of discrete headphones that are made for outdoors and can pass as sunnies, rendering them ideal for everything from biking to golfing. You can choose between three distinct lens shades depending on what you prefer and how much light you want to block, and they offer eight hours of playback on a single charge.
You also get your choice of silicone nose pads — allowing for a better fit — and IPX4 protection, meaning you won’t have to worry about sweat or similar moisture becoming a problem. The Bluetooth sunglasses do need to charge via a USB-C connection, however, so make sure you’re prepared. Oh, and if you have a prescription, they are compatible with fitted prescription lenses with the right measurements. The only real downside is the price.
Pyle’s headphones may seem similar to the Aftershokz, but they cost about half as much, making them a good choice for those looking to save money. They’re IPX6 water-resistant for outdoor and sport use, too, and can connect with any mobile device using Bluetooth, which means you can use them to take phone calls with the included mic. However, you will take a hit on comparable battery life, and the battery takes an exhausting four hours to recharge, so there are some compromises made for the price.
If you’d prefer to stick with the Aftershokz brand but still want to save some money, the Titanium are the budget model you’re looking for. The water-resistance rating is only IP55, which is fine for sweat, but it’s not as resistant as other models on our list when it comes to various moisture conditions. Battery life also takes a hit — they offer a mere six hours of audio playback — though the noise-canceling mic is still present, and the sound technology is still surprisingly good. We also like that the Titanium come in a variety of colors, if you prefer that it match the gear you already have.
If the wings didn’t give it away, the Oaxis myFirst Headphones are made for kids (ages 4 and up). Bone conduction allows kids to listen to music and take in their surroundings, which is a boon for many parents. They also allow kids to listen to music if they are experiencing ear pain or related issues and are a good choice for parents who want to protect their youngster’s eardrums. Volume is limited to 85 decibels, and headphones come with little magnetic decorations for some added flair. Unlike our other picks, however, these are wired headphones that require a 3.5mm jack. The sound quality also won’t really compare with other models on our list, but given the low cost, these headphones are much easier to replace if something goes wrong in a boisterous moment.
This OpenComm model is made for more than just music. With its noise-canceling boom microphone, it allows for easier communication in noisy environments while also keeping your ears clear for safety and quick conversations with nearby teammates. That makes them ideal for truckers and others in the transportation industry as well as those working on a factory floor or in another industrial capacity. Office workers may also enjoy them as an alternative to chatting with a traditional headset on. The battery also offers 16 hours of talk time and eight hours of audio playback on a single charge.
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