You might be surprised to learn that the latest product in the world of wireless earbuds isn’t really an earbud at all. In fact, unlike every earbud or headphone you’ve ever owned, bone conduction headphones don’t go in, on or ever over your ears.
Rather, bone conduction headphones fit around the back of the ear and rest on the tragus, which is that little protrusion of cartilage between the temple and the ear. Then how do you hear the music? Bone conduction headphones transmit audio through the bones of your skull, essentially bypassing the cochlea.
If this sounds either gimmicky or terrifying, there are actually some pretty substantial implications to this technology. For one thing, it can be a big boon to the hearing impaired who still want to enjoy their favorite songs. Depending on the style of your hearing aid, you can listen using bone conduction headphones without interfering with the regular function of your aids.
Even if you’re not hearing impaired, bone conduction headphones are great options for working out. Whether you’re cycling through busy streets or getting your reps in at the gym, there are plenty of settings where you may want to be able to hear what’s going on around you. Plus, as you get sweatier, you won’t have to worry about buds slipping out of your ears since they sit securely around the top of your ear.
Naturally, there are some drawbacks. If you’re looking to pick up every note and nuance of your favorite classical song, then it’s best to stick to some traditional over-ear headphones. And since they don’t sit in your ears, others around you will be able to hear the sound, and it’ll be hard for you to hear the music if you’re somewhere very noisy. But if you want to get some BPMs going to get your heart rate up on a long bike ride or run, then a pair of bone conduction headphones can be a sound investment. These are the best bone conduction headphones to get.
1. AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones
Aftershokz is the brand that kicked off the trend, so if you’re looking for bone conduction headphones, this is a great place to start. They have a look that’s typical of sports headphones, save for the fact that they obviously don’t go in your ears. With multi-point pairing, you can connect to multiple devices at the same time for easy switching back and forth. The substantial six-hour battery life and IP55 water and dust resistance make these great for working out.
Pros: Substantial six-hour battery life, pair with different Bluetooth devices at the same time.
Cons: Can be used for phone calls, but the quality is not the best.
2. Vidonn F1 Sports Bone Conduction Headphones
For the same technology in a more affordable package, consider this option from Vidonn. It has a six-hour battery life, and it quickly pairs with your phone and maintains a stable connection at greater distances thanks to Bluetooth 5.0. They also have a lightweight and sturdy titanium build and are designed to be sweat and dust resistant.
Pros: Quick and stable Bluetooth connection. Lightweight build.
Cons: Button placement could be better.
3. AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
The Aeroprex is the upgraded version of earlier AfterShokz models. With the Aeroprex, Aftershokz has reduced sound leakage, making these less disruptive to those around you while also enhancing what you hear. Plus, the battery is improved as well, and now boasts up to eight hours compared with the six hours of Aeroprex’s predecessors and competitors. They’re also lighter, making for more comfortable wearing on the go. AfterShokz even throws in a sport sling bag as a bonus accessory.
Pros: Lightweight bone conduction headphones with IP67 water-resistance, eight-hour battery life and enhanced audio.
Cons: Substantially more expensive than other models.
4. Tayogo Bone Conduction Headphones
These headphones from Tayogo come in a couple colors, including this eye-catching red. They’re an affordable option if you’re looking to try bone conduction headphones but aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit. They’re lightweight and sweatproof, making them great for use while running, biking or wearing at the gym. The six-hour battery life will also get you through your workout or commute, and a built-in mic means you can take calls.
Pros: Affordable option with a sleek and stylish design. Solid six-hour battery life. Built-in mic for taking phone calls.
Cons: Louder bass can produce irritating vibration on your ears.