Have you heard of bone conduction headphones, but you aren’t exactly sure what they are? Or, perhaps you know what they are, but you aren’t sure whether or not they are the right choice for you? If so, this article will teach you everything you need to know about these innovative headphones so you can make an informed decision.
Bone conduction headphones are ideal for people with hearing loss, tinnitus, and those who regularly walk or exercise outdoors. Some versions are also great for swimmers. However, they are not ideal for people who want headphones with superior sound quality or a noise-canceling feature.
Next, we’ll discuss what bone conduction headphones are, how they work, and their pros and cons. Then, we’ll talk about whether or not you should invest in a pair today and some of the best bone conduction headphones on the market.
What Are Bone Conduction Headphones?
Bone-conduction headphones are a relatively new product to hit the market. They are incredibly innovative, providing a listening experience unlike any you’ve experienced before.
The thing that makes these headphones so unique is their design. Instead of going inside or covering your ears like other products, these rest on your cheekbones, leaving your ears open so you can pay attention to other noises. This feature allows you to listen to music, podcasts, and more while also remaining aware of your surroundings.
How Do Bone Conduction Headphones Work?
Standard headphones work by transmitting sound waves through the air to your eardrums. Bone conduction headphones, however, work differently. Instead of following this path, they transmit vibrations through your jaw and head bones. Doing this bypasses the eardrums, bringing sounds directly to your cochlea in your inner ear.
Once the sound waves reach your cochlea, it sends electrical impulses up to your brain through your auditory nerves. The impulses that reach your brain through this pathway are identical to those that get your brain through your ears.
While this sounds weird, this technology has actually been around for a while. In fact, people with bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) have been taking advantage of this sound transmission process for years to help them hear better!
Even famous composer Ludwig Van Beethoven used this technology to listen to his music when he went deaf. To do this, he put his composer’s wand against his piano and clenched the other end with his teeth. This permitted him to “hear” the music through his jawbones! Pretty cool, right?
7 Pros of Bone Conduction Headphones
Next, we’ll go over all of the perks of bone conduction headphones, including the factors that set them apart from traditional headphones.
They Are Helpful for People With Hearing Loss
If you suffer from hearing loss, bone conduction headphones can help you listen to sounds better because they bypass the external and middle ear. So, if your hearing problems are located in these regions, this design is very advantageous.
Additionally, these headphones are ideal if you wear hearing aids since some types of aids can be worn simultaneously with them due to their unique design. Specifically, if you wear in-the-ear (ITE) or invisible (IIC) hearing aids, you should be able to wear bone conduction headphones at the same time comfortably.
However, if you wear receiver-in-canal (RIC), behind-the-ear (BTE), or open-fit hearing aids, bone conduction headphones may not be ideal since they might contact the top part of your hearing apparatus. So, while these headphones may not be compatible with all hearing aids, they still give you and others with hearing loss the ability to listen to music without further compromising your hearing, which is pretty cool!
Bone conduction headphones are also advantageous if you are deaf in one ear since they create a stereo sound that gives you a sense of hearing which you can’t experience with traditional in-the-ear headphones.
Useful for People Who Suffer From Tinnitus
Bone conduction headphones can be a lifesaver if you suffer from tinnitus. If you aren’t familiar with this affliction, tinnitus is a condition in which people hear a ringing in their ears. It is caused by many different things, including age-related hearing loss, earwax build-up, middle ear infection, inner ear damage from exposure to loud noises, and more.
Generally, people with tinnitus have a hard time listening to music from traditional headphones since they block out all external sounds and ambient noises, which actually makes their tinnitus sound louder. However, bone conduction headphones allow wearers to hear outside noises and music simultaneously, which acts as a kind of distraction from their tinnitus.
So, if you suffer from this affliction, bone conduction headphones may be a great way to help you relax and mitigate your symptoms!
They Increase Your Situational Awareness
Like most people, you likely enjoy listening to your favorite songs or podcasts while you go on your daily walk or run. While doing this increases your enjoyment, it also increases your likelihood of getting into an accident if you are wearing traditional headphones.
However, with bone conduction headphones, you’ll stay safe and sound since you’ll still be able to hear what’s going around you. This feature is significant if you regularly exercise outdoors since you’ll be able to listen to sirens, people shouting at you, a car coming your way, and any other sounds that can alert you to potential dangers.
Beyond keeping you safe, these headphones also increase your awareness of your environment, making them ideal for work settings. With bone conduction headphones, you can bump your favorite playlists at work without missing any important phone calls, your colleagues’ conversations, or your boss’s announcements. It sounds like the best of both worlds to me!
They Have an Incredibly Comfortable and Snug Fit
Do your ears always feel sore after wearing traditional headphones for too long? Or perhaps your earbuds constantly fall out because they are the wrong size? Or, maybe your padded headphones are too heavy, producing too much pressure on your ears?
If so, we feel your pain. It’s incredibly challenging to find headphones that are the perfect fit. Unless you’ve got perfectly shaped ears for your headphones, you’ll likely face some of these challenges regularly.
However, with bone conduction headphones, you’ll never have to deal with these difficulties again! Since they rest on your cheekbones, your ears and ear canals won’t be involved at all, saving you from all of that soreness and pain.
Additionally, this type of headphones was designed to fit snugly against your face, meaning they’ll stay put when you are moving around. This will save you from having to stop what you are doing every five seconds to pop your poorly fitting earbuds back into your ears! With bone conduction headphones, you can do your chores, workouts, and more without any interruptions.
They Are Completely Wireless
Are you tired of spending ten minutes untangling your tangled-up headphone cords? If so, bone conduction headphones are a great option since they are entirely wireless.
Simply put them on your head, and you are off and running! No “strings attached.”
They Don’t Cause Ear Infections or Ear-Wax Build-Up
Your current headphones are likely grosser than you think they are! In fact, earbuds compact frames can hold quite a bit of dirt and bacteria. When you put these bacteria-laden contraptions in your ears, it can be incredibly harmful, leading to rashes, allergic reactions, and even ear infections.
Other than causing ear infections, earbuds also increase your ear wax build-up. Ear wax is a natural phenomenon that helps clean our ears. Typically, it naturally comes out of your ears. However, when you wear earbuds, they can trap the wax within your ears, negatively impacting your hearing.
However, with bone conduction headphones, no part of the apparatus goes inside your ears, avoiding ear infections and gross ear wax build-up. These headphones will keep your ears healthier and cleaner than ever before!
Some Versions Are Completely Waterproof
Unlike traditional earbuds and headphones, some versions of bone conduction headphones, like Aftershokz XTRAINERZ, are fully waterproof! This means you can wear them during all of your aquatic activities, such as swimming, hanging out in the pool, or when you’re taking a shower!
5 Cons of Bone Conduction Headphones
While bone conduction headphones are fantastic, they do have a few downsides. We’ll go over these potential cons in detail below.
They Tend To Be on the Pricey Side
While these headphones are fantastic, they are also pretty new technology, meaning they aren’t cheap. They tend to be pretty pricey, ranging from $50 to $600 or more, depending on their quality. While the increased price is worth it for many users due to these headphones’ many advantages, they may not be an option if you’re on a tight budget.
They Have Lower Sound Quality
While one of the main advantages of bone conduction headphones is that they allow you to listen to what’s going on in your surroundings, this can also be a disadvantage if you are highly concerned with sound quality. By nature, these headphones have lower sound quality than traditional styles since you’ll be hearing your music along with several competing external noises, reducing the clarity of your audio.
Additionally, the sound quality of the headphones themselves just isn’t as good as traditional headphones. Since bone conduction headphones transmit noises through your skull via vibrations, they have difficulty replicating the entire frequency range (20 Hz to 20,000 Hz) that a human ear can hear. So, unless you get top-of-the-line headphones like those made by AfterShokz, you may not experience a full range of sound.
Even more, this method of conduction doesn’t capture all of the subtleties of music that in-the-ear or over-the-ear headphones do, such as deep bass and bright treble sounds.
Therefore, if you want really high sound quality, bone conduction headphones may not be the best option for you. While newer versions of bone conduction headphones, like those created by Aftershokz, have upgraded their sound technology to make the sound quality better than ever before, they still aren’t on par with traditional headphones.
They Can Still Cause Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
While bone conduction headphones bypass the eardrum, they can still cause hearing loss in the inner ear. One of the most common hearing loss types, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), occurs when the cochlea loses its stereocilia, which are tiny hairs that impact your brain’s ability to interpret sounds.
Since bone conduction headphones impact the cochlea, you can still develop NIHL if you listen to your music too loud. So, even though these headphones don’t go into your ears, you can still face severe consequences if you regularly use them on high volume.
On that same note, bone conduction headphones can also cause tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears) if you play your music too loud. So, please listen responsibly to help prevent these health issues from arising!
They Have To Be Charged Regularly
Like any wireless headphones, bone conduction headphones have to be charged regularly. While charging your headphones may be a slight annoyance, it’s less annoying than untangling your headphone’s wires when they are in a huge bundled mess!
Other People May Be Able To Hear What You Are Listening To
Since these headphones rest on your cheekbones instead of going inside of your ears, they generally aren’t entirely leakproof. Other people will be able to hear some sounds coming from your headphones, especially if they are close to you or you’re playing your audio very loud.
While passersby generally won’t be able to make out the exact songs or podcasts you’re playing (unless you have your headphones on full blast), they will likely be able to hear some sound leaks. So, if you’re embarrassed that you listen to Britney Spears on replay, then you may want to get headphones that are a little more…discreet.
Should You Get Bone Conduction Headphones?
Bone conduction headphones are an excellent choice for many people, but they aren’t for everyone. We’ll go over the people they are ideal for and those who may want to look elsewhere for a new pair of headphones.
When You Should Get Bone Conduction Headphones
If you have hearing loss or tinnitus or you’re a swimmer, cyclist, runner, or walker, or you like to listen to music at work, then bone conduction headphones are a brilliant purchase.
If You Have Hearing Loss or Tinnitus
Bone conduction headphones are a fantastic invention for people who struggle with hearing loss or tinnitus; if you suffer from either of these affiliations, congratulations! There are finally headphones available to accommodate you and your needs. These headphones will open up a whole new world of sound that you may have thought would never be possible for you.
If You’re a Swimmer
If you are a regular swimmer, then bone conduction headphones may be an excellent option for you. As we mentioned earlier, some versions are fully submersible, permitting you to wear them on your daily swim. Additionally, some can be worn in both fresh and saltwater, enabling you to swim with them anytime, anywhere.
Even better, certain waterproof bone-conduction headphones like the Aftershokz XTRAINERZ allow you to download your favorite songs and podcasts right onto the headphones, so you won’t have to worry about a spotty Bluetooth connection while you are on your swim.
Additionally, some bone conduction headphones permit you to change the song and adjust the volume on the headphones themselves, so you won’t have to get out of the pool to make any adjustments.
If You’re a Cyclist, Walker, or Runner
If you listen to music while you’re walking, running, or cycling outdoors, then these headphones are a must-have since they’ll make your outdoor activities so much safer. You’ll never miss the sound of a car, bike, or person headed your way again. These headphones will allow you to get in the zone with your music without becoming a safety hazard. Trust us, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If You Enjoy Listening to Music at Work (or While Working From Home)
If you like to listen to music at work to help you get into your zone, then bone conduction headphones are perfect for you. Some bosses don’t like when their employees wear headphones because it prevents them from hearing announcements and other things that are going on in the office. However, with bone conduction headphones, you won’t have this problem, making you and your boss happy as a clam!
Additionally, if you are working from home, bone conduction headphones may be a great option because you’ll still be able to hear your pets, spouse, or kids calling you from the next room. This way, you’ll be able to listen to your favorite tunes without missing anything important going on in your household.
When You Shouldn’t Get Bone Conduction Headphones
If you’re an audiophile or want headphones with a noise-canceling feature, then bone conduction headphones just simply aren’t for you.
If You’re an Audiophile
If you’re all about that bass and treble, then bone conduction headphones may not be suitable for you. They simply don’t offer the same listening experience that traditional in-the-ear or over-the-ear headphones provide.
So, if you consider yourself to be a total audiophile who can’t stand not hearing every single note and subtle sound in your music, then you should get headphones with higher sound quality.
If You Want Headphones With a Noise-Cancelling Feature
Bone conduction headphones allow you to hear what’s going on in your surroundings. While this is ideal for some people, for others, it’s undesirable. If you are one of those people that wants your headphones to tune out everything except what you are listening to, then bone conduction headphones definitely aren’t the right choice.
Best Bone Conduction Headphones
If you’ve come this far, perhaps we’ve convinced you that bone conduction headphones are super fabulous, and you’re ready to get some for yourself! If that’s the case, keep reading to learn about the best bone conduction headphones on the market so that you can select the perfect pair for you and your needs.
AfterShokz totally dominates the bone conduction headphone market. And, we can see why. All of their headphones are incredibly high quality, ensuring you’ll get the best experience.
They offer five different types of bone conduction headphones, all either waterproof or water-resistant, making them ideal for wearing while exercising outdoors. Additionally, their headphones’ unique design prevents sound leaks, so you won’t have to worry about passersby hearing what you’re listening to.
Since AFTERSHOKZ’s bone conduction headphones are top of the line, you’ll have to pay top-of-the-line prices to get a set. All of their headphones cost between $80 to $200, give or take a little.
Next, let’s take a closer look at the different bone conduction headphone models AFTERSHOKZ offers:
- OPENMOVE headphones are ideal for everyday use. These effective headphones are lightweight and water-resistant. They have up to six hours of battery life, permitting you to wear them during all of your daily activities.
- AEROPEX headphones offer state-of-the-art sound and battery life. These headphones are AFTERSHOKZ most advanced product yet. Their sound quality surpasses all of their predecessors. Additionally, they offer 8 hours of battery life, and they are waterproof (but they are not meant for swimming).
- AIR headphones are ideal for athletes. These headphones are comfortable and lightweight, allowing for extended wear. They have a battery life of 6 hours and are water-resistant, so nothing will stand in the way of finishing your workout!
- XTRAINERZ headphones are ideal for swimmers. They have 8 hours of battery life and allow for internal music storage. You can comfortably wear them beneath a swimming cap.
- OPENCOMM headphones come with an attached Bluetooth headset. These headphones allow for up to 16 hours of talk time. They are water-resistant and have a noise-canceling microphone, so the people you call won’t hear much unnecessary background noise.
Vidonn only sells one pair of bone conduction headphones at the moment, called the Vidonn F1 Sports. While they only offer one product, they are pretty high ranking. Plus, they are cheap, making them a great option if you’re on a budget.
Their headphones have a battery life of six hours, which is on par with some of the AFTERSHOKZ products. Additionally, they are sweat proof and offer a secure, comfortable fit, making them ideal for athletes. These headphones have a simple one-button design, permitting you to switch your tunes, pause your music, or answer and reject phone calls with just the click of a button.
If something goes wrong with your headphones after you purchase them, don’t sweat it. Vidonn offers a 12-month warranty to ensure that you remain satisfied with your purchase.
The Pyle Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones are a little pricier than the Vidonn’s. However, they may be worth the extra price for their increased durability. The Pyle Bone Conduction headphones are rugged, making them ideal if you tend to be a little hard on your electronics.
Additionally, they are ergonomic, ensuring a comfortable fit. Their water-resistant design is perfect for sweaty outdoor activities, such as cycling, running, hiking, and sports. They have buttons on their side panels that are easy to adjust, allowing you to skip and play audio tracks without taking out your phone.
On the downside, these headphones have a short battery life, lasting only two to three hours, but they take around four hours to charge.
If you’re looking for a different take on bone conduction headphones, the Bose Frames Tempo has definitely got you covered. These sunglasses incorporate bone conduction technology into your frames, giving you access to music and eye protection at the same time.
These glasses have a light, aerodynamic frame, making them super comfortable to wear. The lenses are polarized, protecting you from all of those harmful rays. They are also scratch and shatter-resistant, making them perfect for all of your outdoor adventures.
Inside the frame, you’ll find two of Bose’s world-famous speakers, providing you with a great listening experience. This incredible product also has an advanced dual-microphone, allowing you to make phone calls with ease. All of these features are water-resistant, ensuring that a bit of rain or sweat won’t stop your fun.
The Bose Frames Tempo is more expensive than the other products on our list, priced at $249.95 on the Bose website. However, their unique sunglass design may just make the added price worth it!
Bone conduction headphones are an exciting new way to listen to music. Some of their main advantages are:
- A great option if you have hearing loss
- Increases your awareness of your surroundings
- Have a comfortable fit
- They’re wireless
- Don’t cause ear-infections or earwax build-up
- Some versions are submersible
However, even the best of products still have some disadvantages. These include:
- Tend to be expensive
- Lower sound quality than traditional headphones
- They can still cause hearing loss and tinnitus
- Have to be charged regularly
- They aren’t entirely leakproof, allowing others to hear your music
We hope this article taught you everything you wanted to know about bone conduction headphones!