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Think of headphones, and the image that's conjured up is big, huge things that fit over your head, Doctor Who "Cyberman" style. Think of earphones, and you'll probably think of tiny buds that you twist deep into your ear canal.
But there's a headphone technology that you might not have heard of that allows you to keep your ear canals totally free to listen to the normal sounds around you, yet still, allow you to listen to music and audio on the go.
That technology is called bone conduction. And one of the top companies manufacturing bone conduction headphones is Shokz (previously called Aftershokz).
I'm a big fan of Shokz bone conduction headphones, having owned several different models, so I was excited to try out the new OpenRun Pro.
Shokz OpenRun Pro tech specs
9th generation bone conduction technology
10-hour battery life with quick charge features allowing a 5-minute charge to offer 1.5-hours of runtime
Magnetic induction charging
Up/down volume controls and play/pause button
Dual noise-canceling microphone
Titanium wraparound frame
33-foot wireless range
Carry case included
Weighing in at 29g
In many ways, the OpenRun Pro is much like any other set of Bluetooth headphones. You pair them (there's an app available for customizations and firmware updates), pop the ear clips over your ears and away you go.
Popping them on and taking them off is easy since there's nothing to cram into your ears and the OpenRun Pro has a reasonable size to it. Initially, you might need to take a few seconds, but I can now pop them on and take them off single-handed in seconds.
Bone conduction can initially feel a bit weird. Your ears are open and can take in ambient sounds, but you're also getting the sound from the headphones via your skull. At first, I found this a little disconcerting (and you might feel a slight buzz if the headphones aren't properly fitted), but I quickly got used to them.
If you're in a noisy environment, then Shokz has supplied earplugs to allow you to blot out the world and immerse yourself in the audio coming in through your skull.
It's a nice touch.
Size-wise, I have quite a big head, and they fit me fine (although they feel just a little smaller than previous models), but if you have a particularly big or small head then fitment could be an issue (if you buy from Shokz, you get 45 days of "stress-free" returns). Also, as with anything else you put around your head, comfort is something to consider.
For me and my head/ears, I can wear the OpenRun Pro for many, many hours. They are far more comfortable than my AirPods Pro, and I don't feel like my ear holes are getting sweaty.
The audio is also acceptable. I'm no audio engineer, so I can't give you anything specific here, but having used them to listen to music, audiobooks and to make and receive calls, I've had no problems with them. The volume is adequate, the range excellent, and the volume and play/pause controls are easy to find and use.
And talking about making and receiving calls, the OpenRun Pro's microphones do an amazing job of noise-cancelling the environment and picking up the voice out of the hustle and bustle of the world.
Battery life comes in at the rated 10-hours, a full charge takes about an hour, and a 5-minute charge will give you 90 minutes of playback time. Charging is via a bespoke cable with a USB-A connector at one end and a magnetic connector on the other. This is the same as supplied with other Shokz/Aftershokz headsets.
I've also extensively tested the water- and sweat resistance and the Shokz OpenRun Pro seem totally immune to moisture.
The bottom line is they're great, and I highly recommend them!