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The best bone conduction headphones you can buy

Keep your hearing health in check with the best bone-conduction headphones you can buy.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor and  Allison Murray, Staff Writer

Bone conduction headphones, compared to regular headphones and earbuds, offer a safer and healthier hearing experience for your exercise routine, podcast-listening session, or Zoom call. Even though we may want the highest quality sound to come out of our earbuds, we don't necessarily want that in every environment, especially when taking a nighttime jog or riding in a busy subway. 

Unlike in-ear buds or over-ear headphones, which seal in sounds and transmit noise that vibrates from the eardrum and to the cochlea (the part of your ear that responds to noise), bone conduction headphones work by emitting vibrations that avoid the eardrum and go straight to the cochlea explained SoundGuys writer Lily Katz in a recent article. It was Beethoven himself who pioneered this music-listening method. When his hearing was deteriorating, Beethoven would put the end of a stick on his piano and bite the other side of it to feel the music come through his jaw, and hear without his ears, according to ZME Science

This unique engineering of bone conduction headphones might reduce the inner-ear trauma of jamming out with earbuds. Additionally, many runners attribute the open-air design to increased environmental awareness and safety from cars. But don't worry, you'll still feel each note and every beat.

Also: The best headphones for working out

ZDNET has done hands-on testing and research to round up the best bone conduction headphones on the market. Thanks to their fantastic audio quality, lightweight fit, and generous battery life, the Shokz OpenRun Pro take ZDNET's top honors for best bone conduction headphones overall. Read on to learn more about the top bone conduction headphones.

The best bone conduction headphones of 2023

Pros & Cons
  • Immersive sound
  • Quick charge support
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Limited to IP55 water resistance
More Details

Shokz OpenRun Pro tech specs: Type: Open ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IP55 | Weight: 1.02 ounces | Battery life: 10 hours | Dimensions: 6.61 x 5.35 x 2.64 inches

Unlike earlier iterations of bone conduction headphones, the Shokz OpenRun Pro skip the in-ear buds design without jeopardizing audio quality and clarity. Thanks to Shokz TurboPitch engineering and Shokz ninth bone conduction technology, our testing concluded that with these headphones, safer running no longer has an ample sound tradeoff. 

When our tech writer Matthew Miller tried out the OpenRun Pro headset, he lauded the "lightweight, comfortable, and durable" design of the headset and noted how little discomfort or pressure he felt while wearing and exercising with the headset. 

Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro: Outstanding bone conduction headset for safe training

"These headphones have become my go-to for jogging and outdoor activities, and I've found it to be quite a game changer," says runner Kyle Roof. "[They] offer an excellent balance of sound quality, situational awareness, comfort, and durability." 

To help them stay in place during your workout, Shokz includes a headband with your bone conduction headphones, and the titanium frame simply wraps around your head for a lightweight fit that is easy to wear when you are most active.

Pros & Cons
  • LED indicator
  • Comfortable fit
  • Sweat-resistant
  • Mediocre audio output
More Details

Philips Go A7607 tech specs: Type: Open ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IP66 | Weight: 1.3 ounces | Battery life: 9 hours | Dimensions: 6.65 x 5.31 x 2.72 inches

Bring these bone conduction headphones to the office for your conference calls and then take them right to the gym for a weight-lifting session or on an outdoor run afterward -- they're that versatile. They have an IP66 rating, making them water-resistant and sweatproof, and their open-ear form factor makes them a great choice for someone who wants to be as aware of their surroundings as they are immersed in the content they're streaming. 

ZDNET's Jada Jones made the switch from AirPods to the Phillips Go A7607 while going on outdoor walks. She reports that they not only give her more peace of mind as a young woman walking alone, but deliver groove-able audio that gets "plenty loud." 

Review: Why these bone conduction headphones are my go-to for outdoor listening

Additionally, the neckband integrates a bright red LED light that helps you stay visible to cars and people if you prefer to exercise at night.

Pros & Cons
  • Comfortable and secure fit
  • IP67 rating
  • Decent battery life
  • Slow charging
More Details

Shokz OpenRun tech specs: Type: On-ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IP67 | Weight: 1.06 ounces | Battery life: 8 hours | Dimensions: 5 x 7.25 x 3 inches

There's no shame in sweating while you exercise, but it does get annoying when your earbuds begin to lose their grip in your ear or -- even worse -- get water logged during or after an intense workout. If you're looking for a more water-resistant yet no-frills bone conduction pair of headphones, you may want to opt for the Shokz OpenRun, as opposed to the Pro edition headset. 

While it doesn't have the enhanced bass of the Pro model, user and outdoor runner Brandon Fowler says that this base model still provides excellent sound.

Along with easy one-button control, you can also employ voice assistant to listen to music for eight continuous hours off a single charge. Plus, the charger alerts you if it detects any moisture while charging. 

Pros & Cons
  • Noise-canceling boom microphone
  • Long battery life
  • Bluetooth 5.1 technology
  • Some pairing issues
  • Pricey
More Details

Shokz OpenComm UC tech specs: Type: Open ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IP55 | Weight: 1.16 ounces | Battery life: 16 hours | Dimensions: 5.31 x 2.7 x 6.65 inches

For remote workers on calls all day, these bone conduction headphones from Shokz are a lightweight option that promises minimal pressure build-up and a top-quality microphone to block out unwanted noise when you're speaking. 

Sonia Madaan of Earth Eclipse, uses her pair throughout the workday and loves the lightweight feel, saying she often forgets she is wearing them. "It's like a whisper on your ear - you know it's there, but it doesn't intrude. You can imagine how ideal it is for someone like me, who can be on calls for several hours a day." 

These headphones also use Bluetooth 5.1 technology, meaning you can stay connected up to 328 feet away. The Shokz OpenComm UC can also charge quickly if needed: A five-minute charge can last up to two hours of talk time. In comparison, a full charge will take you a full hour. 

Pros & Cons
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Rated for swimming
  • Great clarity
  • No Bluetooth
  • Feature suite comes at a cost
More Details

Shokz OpenSwim tech specs: Type: Open ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IP68 | Weight: 1.06 ounces | Battery life: 8 hours | Dimensions: 6.65 x 5.31 x 2.72 inches

You can still listen to your favorite tunes -- even while underwater -- with these headphones. Shokz offers yet another wonderful bone conduction option with its waterproof OpenSwim headphones. These open-ear headphones incorporate excellent IP68 waterproofing, so these are ideal for swimming and other water activities. 

Another standout feature of the OpenSwim headphones is its inclusion of internal MP3 storage with room for up to 1,200 songs, so you can have all your favorite tunes during your swim. And with accessible touch controls, it's easy to skip a song or hit the pause button straight from the headphones themselves. 

Pros & Cons
  • Extremely affordable
  • 360-degree design
  • Long battery life
  • Decent sound quality
  • Non-adjustable headband
More Details

Tayogo S2 tech specs: Type: Over-ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IPX5 | Weight: 5.6 ounces | Battery life: 8 hours | Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 1 inches

If you are on a budget, the Tayogo S2 headphones are the best bone conduction headphones you can buy. At under $50, these lightweight wireless headphones are made for runners, cyclers, and fitness junkies. Enjoy premium sound, complete with a built-in microphone and simple controls that allow you to easily switch from music to phone calls with zero hassle. 

Integrated is Bluetooth 5.0 technology, plus there is easy compatibility with iOS and Android systems. With a 200 mAH battery, these headphones will give you up to eight hours of talk time or a whopping 360 hours of standby time.

"The [Taygo S2 bone conduction headphones] are a cost-effective way to get started in the world of bone-conduction headphones," says runner and user Graham McCormack. 

What are the best bone conduction headphones?

The best bone-conduction headphones are the Shokz OpenRun Pro, an IP55 water-resistant set with built-in Bluetooth 5.1 technology and the longest battery life on this list. With their traditional over-the-ear design and lightweight build, they earn our vote for the best bone conduction headphones. 

To see how they stack up, here is an overview of the other top picks on this list. 

Best bone conduction headphonesCostTypeWaterproofing
Shokz OpenRun Pro$14010 hoursIP55
Philips Go A760$1709 hoursIP66
Shokz OpenRun$1008 hoursIP67
Shokz OpenComm UC$1608 hoursIP55
Shokz OpenSwim$1208 hoursIP68
Tayogo S2$308 hoursIPX5

*MSRP at the time of writing. Please note that actual prices may vary depending on available sales, deals, discounts, and coupons.

Which bone conduction headphones are right for you?

Want to make sure you choose the pair of bone conduction headphones that best suit your needs and ears? This chart further breaks down our favorite features.

Choose these bone conduction headphones...If you want...
Shokz OpenRun ProBone conduction headphones with Bluetooth 5.1 and a 10-hour battery life. These are the best bone conduction headphones on the list for audio quality and it's ninth-generation bone conduction technology. 
Philips Go A7607A versatile pair of bone conduction headphones that can be used for outdoor listening.
Shokz OpenRunA premium pair of bone conduction headphones that provides excellent sound quality while keeping you aware of your surroundings.
Shokz OpenComm UCBone conduction headphones for those who spend a lot of time on work calls with a noise-canceling boom microphone, ensuring that you can hear and be heard clearly.
Shokz OpenSwimA pair of bone conduction headphones for swimming with an IP68 rating that can be submerged in up to 10 feet of water.
Tayogo S2A budget-friendly pair of bone conduction headphones with a sweatproof open-ear design and Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

How did I choose these bone conduction headphones?

To find the best bone conduction headphones, I collected ZDNET's hands-on testing and research into these products and considered the following factors: 

  • Type: There are many different types of bone conduction headphones, such as over-the-ear or in-ear bone conduction headphones. Everyone has a preference, so it all depends on the style of headphones you want and how you intend to use them. 

  • Battery life: It is important to consider the battery life of bone conduction headphones, so you know how long to expect each set to last before requiring a charge.

  • Sweat and waterproof rating: If you are a swimmer, you may want to consider a pair of bone conduction headphones that are rated for water resistance or waterproofing, so you do not risk damaging them.

  • Cost: We chose bone conduction headphones that meet a variety of different budgets to help ensure that there is something for everyone.  

What are bone conduction headphones and how do they work?

How Bone Conduction Headphones Work

Bone conduction headphones use vibrations to transmit sound waves directly to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrum. This technology was first developed for military and medical use but has since been adapted for consumer use. 

These headphones typically sit on the cheekbones and use a small transducer to send vibrations through the bones of the face to the inner ear. This allows users to hear the audio clearly, while still being able to hear their surroundings. This can be useful for people who work in noisy environments or for those who are hard of hearing. They also can be used for people who are unable to wear traditional headphones due to physical conditions.

Are bone conduction headphones waterproof?

Not all bone conduction headphones are waterproof, so it is important to check the waterproof or water-resistant rating on a set before making a purchase.

How much do bone conduction headphones cost?

Bone conduction headphones can vary significantly in price, depending on the manufacturer and model that you choose. Our picks for the best bone conduction headphones range in cost from $40 to $200 each.

Are bone conduction headphones worth it?

Due to their design, they aren't the premium headphone option for audio quality. But chances are you aren't seeking them out for audio quality purposes. Bone conduction headphones, thanks to an open design, can help overall hearing health and increase environmental awareness. 

For example, Dr. Kelvin Fernandez, a physician and healthcare educator at Ace Med Boards, calls them a real game-changer in the medical realm and cites a time they helped his patient, an up-and-coming musician suffering from hearing loss. "They let him keep doing what he loved. It was a real emotional win and a perfect example of how tech can make life better," Fernandez said. 

Did Aftershokz rebrand?

Aftershokz products are still around and thriving, but today, they are known as Shokz after a December 2021 rebranding. One of Aftershokz's top products and our best bone conduction headphones for beginners, the Aftershokz Aeropex, is now known as the Shokz OpenRun.

Are there alternative bone conduction headphones worth considering?

Outside of these six bone conduction headphones, there are also a handful of others that caught our attention. Brands like AfterShokz and Pyle Bone make great alternative choices. 

H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport headphones with water droplets

Best alternative for swimmers

H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi Sport

When ZDNET contributor Adrian Kingsley-Hughes tested the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi Sport headphones out, he enjoyed that he could load music onto his headphones and use them while swimming, given that Bluetooth doesn't work particularly well underwater. 

View at Amazon
The Oladance OWS2 headphones in their charging case.

Best open-ear alternative

Oladance OWS2 Open Ear Headphones

Open-ear headphones are kinda like bone conduction headphones' cousin. These Oladance open-ear headphones deliver amazing sound (better than many bone conduction headphones' sound quality, according to Jack Wallen who reviewed the pair). 

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The Mojawa Run Plus bone-conducting headphones.

Best budget alternative

Mojawa Run Plus bone conduction headphones

ZDNET contributor Jack Wallen replaced his $140 pair of Shokz Open Run Pros with these $80 bone conduction headphones, and he's quite happy with them. They offer great UX and similar sound quality to the Shokz bone conduction headphones. 

View at Amazon
myFirst Headphones BC Wireless Lite

Best bone conduction headphones for kids

myFirst Headphones BC Wireless Lite

These fun pink or blue sets are the best bone conduction headphones for kids, thanks to a comfortable on-ear fit with a built-in microphone that is perfect for school or play.

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