Bone conduction headphones offer an interesting alternative to other types of headphones. In essence, they send sound directly through the bones in your head, which can work well and leaves your ear canals open to outside sounds. 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 types of 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.
Shockz OpenRun Pro
Best overall bone conduction headphones
- High-quality titanium design
- Good sound quality
- Great fit
- Battery life isn't as good as many headphones
Back when Shockz was Aeropex and their headphones were called Aftershockz, they were the best bone conduction option in town. Fortunately, nothing has changed since their rebrand. In fact, their bone conduction technology is better than ever, and these premium OpenRun Pro headphones are your best bet for bone conduction technology.
The design has been updated for a more comfortable fit — something that’s always important with bone conduction headphones, which need a firm grip that doesn’t become uncomfortable over time — and improved sound quality. The titanium frame is both slim and durable, and they're able to deal with the daily grind of activities like jogging and biking. Plus, they can take a pounding at the bottom of your workout bag. The battery isn’t the best in the world at 10 hours, but the fast-charge mechanism is more than welcome if you forget to recharge before a run and want to be ready.
Haylou Purfree BC01
Best budget bone conduction headphones
- Voice assistant support
- Call noise reduction
- Battery life isn't great
Bone conduction technology can be expensive, which is why many of these extra-slim headphones aren’t so slim when it comes to pricing. If you’re looking for a model under $100 or so, we were impressed by this version from Haylou. Like the OpenRun models, they are designed to be waterproof for rain and sweat while still offering strong audio quality through bone conduction.
In addition to traditional on-board controls, the headphones also offer a multifunction button to take calls (enhanced with noise-canceling features for calls) or turn on Siri or Google Assistant, making this an excellent option for those who use voice assistants on the go. Battery life, however, falls short at eight hours compared to the 10 hours offered by the OpenRun Pro, and while quick charge is here, it’s not quite as good. The design uses titanium for a more flexible approach, but you may also want to be more careful to avoid damaging these headphones.
Best bone conduction headphones for swimming
- Swimming design with earplugs and nose clip
- MP3 player for built-in songs
- Durable and waterproof
- No fast charge for limited battery life
Bone conduction headphones have another important forte — they are excellent for swimmers. Their unique design means it’s a bit easier to adapt them to be waterproof, and they don’t have the same danger of falling out as earbuds do. But you still get to listen to the tunes you want while in the water, no matter what you’re doing.
Shokz has fit these headphones with several important extras for swimming, too. That includes an included nose clip and earplug (which help improve audio quality, too) and, notably, a built-in MP3 player. That means you can pre-download your playlists on the headphones and play them without worrying about a Bluetooth connection, which can often get lost when doing laps in a swimming pool. Battery life is still a bit limited at eight hours, so make sure you charge up before hitting the pool. If this pair doesn't quite match your needs, we have a full roundup of the best headphones for swimming, too.
Best bone conduction headphones for business
- Great for business with its noise-canceling microphone
- Better battery life for longer shifts
- Great for truckers and factory workers
- Not as advanced as newer Shockz models
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 these headphones ideal for truckers and others in the transportation industry as well as those working on a factory floor or in other industrial capacities. 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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