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The best bone conduction headphones you can buy: Expert tested

We tested the best bone conduction headphones to keep you aware while running, swimming, or hiking.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Kayla Solino
Shokz OpenRun Pro | Best bone conduction headphones overall
Shokz OpenRun Pro
Shokz OpenRun Pro
Best bone conduction headphones overall
View now View at Amazon
Philips Go A7607 | Best bone conduction headphones for outdoor listening
Philips Go A7607 bone conduction headphones being held up in an outdoor setting
Philips Go A7607
Best bone conduction headphones for outdoor listening
View now View at Amazon
Shokz OpenSwim | Best bone conduction headphones for swimming
Shokz OpenSwim headphones against pool backdrop
Shokz OpenSwim
Best bone conduction headphones for swimming
View now View at B&H Photo-Video
Mojawa Run Plus bone conduction headphones | Best Shokz OpenRun Pro dupe
The Mojawa Run Plus bone-conducting headphones.
Mojawa Run Plus bone conduction headphones
Best Shokz OpenRun Pro dupe
View now View at Amazon
Bose Ultra Open Earbuds | Best splurge bone conduction headphones
Bose Ultra Open earbud on an ear
Bose Ultra Open Earbuds
Best splurge bone conduction headphones
View now View at Bose
Baseus Eli Sport 1 | Best open-ear alternative
The Baseus Eli Sport 1 open-ear headphones.
Baseus Eli Sport 1
Best open-ear alternative
View now View at Amazon
Show more (1 item)

Now is the best time to get outdoors and into the natural elements. Go on a run, take a hike, or swim in a lake, and if you want to listen to music as you do any of those activities, I'd recommend bone conduction headphones for those very tasks. Bone conduction headphones are a runner's favorite for their comfortable design and ability to keep the runner aware of their surroundings. But bone conduction headphones' use cases don't end with running -- they're great for intense workouts, outdoor walks, and even swimming. 

Also: The best headphones for working out

Many outdoor runners attribute the open-ear design to increased environmental awareness and safety from cars. You'll still feel every beat and hear every detail of your music, podcast, or audiobook. If you're going all-in on your fitness goals this year, training for that marathon, or want to listen to music as you swim laps in the pool or hike up a mountain, bone conduction headphones could be your fitness companion. 

Also: Running a race? These 5 tech must-haves got me across the finish line

The best bone conduction headphones right now 

ZDNET has done hands-on testing and research to round up the best bone conduction headphones on the market. Our tested pick for the best bone conduction headphones overall is the Shokz OpenRun Pro, thanks to their fantastic audio quality, lightweight fit, and generous battery life. Read on to learn more about the best bone conduction headphones you can buy.

Best bone conduction headphones of 2024

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

Unlike earlier iterations of bone conduction headphones, the Shokz OpenRun Pro skip the in-ear buds design without jeopardizing audio quality and clarity, digging into a premium headphone at a not-too-shabby pricepoint. Thanks to Shokz TurboPitch engineering and Shokz ninth bone conduction technology, our testing concluded that safer running no longer has an ample sound tradeoff with these headphones. 

ZDNET contributor Matthew Miller tried out the OpenRun Pro headset, and lauded the "lightweight, comfortable, and durable" design, and noted how little discomfort or pressure he felt while wearing and exercising with the headset. And users agree: As one Best Buy customer and OpenRun Pro owner put it, "This headphone is a unique audio marvel that superbly combines technology, design, and comfort."

Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro

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

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

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

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 editor Jada Jones switched 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 also deliver groove-able audio that gets "plenty loud." Amazon reviewers also complimented the headphones' waterproof rating and long battery life. 

Review: Philips Go A7607

These headphones are made for athletes and fitness junkies, with a few subtle features that make them a match for any outdoor exercise obsessive. The neckband integrates a bright red LED light that helps you stay visible to cars and people if you prefer to exercise at night.

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

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Rated for swimming
  • Great clarity
  • Amplified sound in water
Cons
  • No Bluetooth
  • Oddly heavy bass
More Details

I bought my mom, an avid swimmer who spends most mornings at the recreation center, these Shokz OpenSwim bone conduction headphones for Christmas, and she told me that the headphones have made her morning laps less monotonous. The music sounds "pleasant" when listening around the house or at the office, but when you use the OpenSwims at the pool as intended, the sound is amplified and more powerful -- if a bit heavy on the bass. Other users agree, complimenting the near-instant sound change once the headphones are submerged underwater. 

Unsurprisingly, the OpenSwim are waterproof and boast about eight hours of solid battery life. To listen in the water, you will load music that you own onto the MP3, which can store up to 1,200 songs on the device. This means you don't have access to streaming services, so these headphones may not be for you if all your music is stored on Spotify or Apple Music. In the water, my mom said she had no issues with the responsive and intuitive touch controls for playing or pausing the music or turning the volume up or down. 

Because of the design of these headphones, you can't wear them and also cover your ears with a swim cap, which is something to keep in mind if you are trying to avoid water getting into your ears as you swim. But besides that, these are highly recommendable waterproof headphones that will please any swimmer looking to spice up their rote laps. 

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

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Truly sweat-proof
  • Big, responsive touch controls
  • Sound on par with Shokz OpenRun Pros
Cons
  • First run with headphones offered bad sound quality, but improved upon consecutive runs
More Details

ZDNET contributor Jack Wallen replaced his $180 pair of Shokz OpenRun Pros with these $160 bone conduction headphones, and he's pretty pleased with them. They offer great user experience and similar sound quality to the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones. Plus, they can withstand sweaty workouts, which Wallen found difficult for other bone conduction headphones to achieve. You can run with these, but you can also swim with them, given their IP68 waterproof rating. 

Review: Mojawa Run Plus

The touch controls are intuitive (and far larger than the buttons on the Shokz headphones), and the sound is great. "If you regularly exercise and produce considerable sweat (and aren't concerned about the best sound possible), these are for you. Also, if you find the Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones challenging to control, the Mojawa gear will make you very happy," Wallen writes in his review. 

A few Amazon buyers also compared the Run Plus to the OpenRun Pro and concluded that the Run Plus is a winner in most categories, like comfort, battery, and sound quality. Plus, these will suit swimmers and outdoor runners with a more robust waterproof rating than the OpenRun Pro. 

Mojawa Run Plus tech specs: Type: Open ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IP68 | Weight: 0.07 pounds | Battery life: 8 hours | Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.1 x 1.2 inches

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Great, aware sound
  • The most comfortable earbuds I've tried
  • Great alternative to bone conduction
Cons
  • Tend to randomly disconnect from Bluetooth
  • Pricey
  • Doesn't fit every ear
More Details

At $300, these Bose Ultra Open earbuds won't work for everybody. But if you're a runner who prioritizes awareness and fantastic sound, these earbuds are about to become your favorite running accessory. The Ultra Open utilizes bone and air conduction to deliver music that doesn't take you out of your environment while offering fantastic sound. The design is unique, too: the earbuds cuff to your ear like a clip-on earring, and through this design, they stay put. You can move and shake your head all you want -- they won't budge. 

Review: Bose Ultra Open 

They're the first earbuds I could wear everywhere, whether playing music or off. The design and sound make it so easy to manage environmental awareness that I kept them in while grocery shopping in a busy Trader Joe's, on the subway, and while walking home. Usually, if a pair of earbuds isn't playing, I'll remove them from my ears because they take me out of my environment. These don't. They're also pleasant to wear on long runs and can handle dust and water. 

However, one downside to these earbuds is how the connection tends to go in and out on certain occasions. People on Reddit agree and have complained about the earbuds' tendency to disconnect randomly. 

If you're interested in aware sound, want an alternative to bone conduction headphones, and are willing to pay a premium price, these are certainly worth it. 

Bose Ultra Open earbuds specs: Type: Open ear/ear cuff | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IPX4 | Weight: .01 pounds | Battery life: 7.5 hours 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit
  • Great sound with no EQ adjustments
  • Great price for quality
Cons
  • Sweat easily collects with the form factor
  • Not as aware as bone conduction headphones
  • Controls can be tricky
More Details

When ZDNET contributing writer Jack Wallen reviewed the Baseus Eli Sport 1 headphones, he called them "a mega bargain." For $80, you get clear, rich sound, a comfortable, stable fit, and a seven-hour battery life. Wallen has taken the headphones on ten and seven-mile runs and had no problem with comfort. "There's no fatigue, even after a couple of pavement-pounding hours. That's a big plus for me," Wallen writes. 

Review: Baseus Eli Sport 1

Open-ear headphones are a little different than a bone conduction headphone in that they hang on your ear instead of wrapping around your head. These open-ear headphones offered better sound than bone conduction headphones Wallen had tried. Still, he notes that you aren't getting as aware of a listening experience with these compared to a bone conduction headset. "Even with the open-ear design, the Sport 1 produce rich bass, clear highs, and the right amount of mids to create a clean, smooth sound," Wallen writes. The Sport 1 headset uses 4 ENC mics for AI noise cancellation, so you can dim down some external noise as you work indoors or run outdoors. 

Baseus Eli Sport 1 tech specs: Type: Open ear | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Waterproof rating: IPX4  | Battery life: 7.5 hours 

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 headphonesCostBattery lifeWaterproofing
Shokz OpenRun Pro$18010 hoursIP55
Philips Go A760$1309 hoursIP66
Shokz OpenSwim$1508 hoursIP68
Mojawa Run Plus$1608 hours IP68
Bose Ultra Open $3007.5 hoursIPX4
Baseus Eli Sport 1$807.5 hoursIPX4

*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 OpenSwimA pair of bone conduction headphones for swimming with an IP68 rating that can be submerged in up to 10 feet of water.
Mojawa Run PlusAn OpenRun Pro dupe with an IP68 rating for those high intensity, sweaty workouts or swimming sessions. Many reviews say that these work even better than the OpenRun Pro, for $20 less.
Bose Ultra OpenThe most expensive bone conduction headphones on this list. The Bose Ultra Open earbuds offer up a unique design that stays fit in your ear and delivers amazing sound while keeping you aware of your environment. The earbuds offer all-day comfort and a form factor that makes it easy to clip in your ears even when music is turned off. 
Baseus Eli Sport 1A budget-friendly pair of open-ear headphones that offer amazing sound, a long battery life, and a price point that's half the cost of the other bone conduction headphones on this list. 

Factors to consider when choosing a bone conduction headphone:

There are a few essential factors to keep in mind as you shop around for a pair of bone conduction headphones. Here are the most important ones to consider. 

  • Type: There are many different types of bone conduction headphones, such as over-the-ear or in-ear bone conduction headphones. Do you want these headphones for swimming underwater, running outdoors in rain, or doing a little bit of both, plus some conference calls and casual listening? Everyone has a preference, and some bone conduction headphones will work wonderfully for swimming but fail at casual outdoor listening. Knowing your intended use is the first and most critical factor to consider.

  • Sound quality: This comes as no surprise, but if you are spending $100 to $200 on a pair of headphones, they should have decent sound that isn't tinny, warbled, or muffled. Bone conduction headphones and great sound quality don't always go together, but we have tested and selected headphones that do indeed offer amazing sound quality while keeping you aware of your surroundings. 

  • Battery life: The bone conduction headphones on this list have average battery lives of 8.5 hours. If you are going to spend more than $100 on a pair of headphones, its battery life should last you more than two or three exercise sessions. 

  • Sweat and waterproof rating: If you are a swimmer, consider a waterproof rating of IP68. If you are an outdoors runner who exercises in inclement weather (or just sweats a lot) look for a waterproof rating of at least IP55. 

  • Cost: From $30 to $200, the bone conduction headphones on this list range in price. But you are getting what you pay for. As mentioned in the listicles above, a cheaper pair of headphones will have shorter battery life and longevity, while a more expensive pair will last you longer and be more durable. 

How did we choose these bone conduction headphones?

ZDNET went hands-on with most of the picks on this list, and we are constantly testing the newest and hottest tech to update these recommendations accordingly. When we test a product, we typically spend a few weeks if not longer trying it out in multiple environments before writing up a review and adding it to this list. When we don't like a product, we won't include it on this list (because who wants to read a review of a faulty headphone?). For these headphones, our contributors have gone on runs and swam in them, putting them to the test in varying conditions to see just how well they can perform. 

We know that investing in technology can be expensive, so we keep in mind price, performance, user experience, customer reviews, longevity, and battery life, and only recommend products we would actually use ourselves. 

What are bone conduction headphones and how do they work?

How Bone Conduction Headphones Work
Panasonic/ZDNET

Bone conduction headphones use vibrations to transmit sound waves directly to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrum. 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, SoundGuys writer Lily Katz explained 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

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.

This unique engineering of bone conduction headphones might reduce the inner-ear trauma of jamming out with earbuds.

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. If you want a pair of waterproof bone conduction headphones that you can swim in, look for a rating of IP68.

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 $30 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.

Other bone conduction headphones we tested

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. We've gone hands on with these bone conduction headphones as well if the ones above don't suit your fancy. 

View at AmazonView at Amazon

Meet the experts

ZDNET sourced external industry experts for this article. Here is more information about them:

  • Dr. Kelvin Fernandez: A physician and healthcare educator at Ace Med Boards, which helps test prep and and tutor medical students. 
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