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These bone conduction headphones have a game-changing feature for swimmers

The H20 Audio Tri Pro are the only bone conduction headphones I've tested that don't require a smartphone to be nearby.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Reviewed by Amy Lieu
H2O Audio's new TRI PRO Multi-Sport bone condition headphones

H2O Audio's new Tri Pro Multi-Sport bone conduction headphones is displayed.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I love my Apple AirPods Pro, but I have to admit that I'm no fan of having a rubber grommet shoved into my ear for more than a couple of hours. My ear gets itchy and irritated.

This is why I like bone conduction headphones.

Also: Forget AirPods: These wireless earbuds offer clever features that Apple doesn't

Bone conduction headphones don't cover the ears or insert into the ear canal like traditional headphones or earbuds. Instead, bone conduction headphones place small transducers on the earpiece that rest on the bones in front of your ear. When these transducers vibrate, they transmit sound waves directly into your skull and inner ear, bypassing your outer and middle ear.

Recently, I tested H2O Audio's new TRI PRO Multi-Sport bone condition headphones, and I have to say that they are a winner.

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The advantage of bone conduction headphones is that they allow you to listen to music or take calls while still being able to hear your surroundings. This is particularly useful for outdoor activities or when you need to be aware of your surroundings for safety reasons, such as when jogging or cycling.

Also: How to use Spotify's built-in equalizer for better-sounding music

However, it is worth noting that bone conduction headphones may not provide the same level of audio quality as traditional headphones or earphones, as they do not seal the ear canal and therefore do not block out external noise as effectively (many bone conduction headphones come with earplugs).

H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport tech specs

  • Bluetooth bone conduction headphones with a built-in MP3 player
  • 5 hours of playtime
  • Headphones can withstand submersion to 12 feet (3.6 meters)
  • 8GB of built-in memory can hold hundreds of songs in most music formats 
  • Built-in microphone for making and receiving calls

Also: This rugged Android phone is fit for the outdoors and the office, too

The Tri Pro Multi-Sport features a wraparound flexible neckband that does a good job of staying in place no matter what you're doing -- running, cycling, hiking, or even swimming.

H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport headphones with water droplets

The H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport headphones are waterproof to IPX8 and can withstand submersion to 12 feet (3.6 meters).

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The all-new Playlist+ feature allows you to load music directly to the headphones and leave your phone at home. Transferring files is handled using the H2O Audio app (available for both iOS and Android), and Playlist+ is compatible with all streaming apps. You can load any audio that you can play over Bluetooth onto the headphones -- music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Man wearing H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport headphones

The bone conduction headphones also perfect for hiking.

H2O Audio

This is a super handy feature because Bluetooth just doesn't like water, and can only go through a few inches. This renders headphones -- even waterproof units -- totally useless.

Also: The best headphones you can buy

And it's all perfectly legal.

There are controls on the side of the headphones that make controlling audio easy once you've figured out where the buttons are. 

After a few weeks of use, here are my thoughts on these headphones:

  • They are super comfortable. I can happily wear them for the full 5 hours of battery life. I've used them when hiking and cycling (in the heat and rain), exercising, and chilling out.
  • The audio quality is good. It's not AirPods Pro good, but it's good. And it's nice to be able to take in the ambient sounds around me while at the same time listening to music and audiobooks.
  • The PLAYLIST+ app is super easy to use and being able to load up to 8 gigabytes of audio directly onto the headphones is a game-changer because I can leave my phone at home.
  • Battery life is between 4 to 5 hours, with higher volume settings causing a quicker discharge.
  • One downside: The charge cable is a bespoke magnetic charging cable, and if you lose it, you're in trouble!

For $160, these are amazing headphones.

The high level of waterproofing gives you confidence not only when swimming, but out in the rain or when exercising, and the built-in storage that allows you to break free of the smartphone is a super feature that allows you to take your favorite audio with you, but without the distraction that a smartphone brings. 

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