When it comes to headphones, I am constantly looking for a single “jack of all trades” device that I can use at work, at home, on the bus, in the gym or for running.
When I discovered these phones using bone conduction technology, I was really hoping to have found the “one pair of head phones to rule them all”. Well – spoiler alert – I hadn’t. Here’s why:
Retrospectively, my expectations were probably naïve but this is what I expected bone conduction headphones to do:
- Let me listen to music / podcasts when running or riding my bike while not blocking out traffic noise.
- Listen to music / podcasts while working out in the gym.
- Listen to music / podcasts at work while being able to follow conversations in the office.
- Listen to music / podcasts on the bus.
Here’s the most important thing I learned after using them for a short while.
Bone conduction headphones are not silent to your environment! People around you can very clearly hear what you are listening to and might be disturbed by it!
Given that important fact, these scenarios work really well:
- Running / Cycling: This is the perfect use case for bone conduction headphones. The sound quality for music is good enough for me (of course, your mileage may vary) and for podcasts this should not be a problem at all. You get all the benefits of listening to your favorite tunes / programs while not shutting out traffic completely, which keeps you safe.
Also I lived in constant fear of ear infection while running (and therefore sweating) when using ear buds. Since bone conduction phones only connect to your temples, this is no longer an issue for me.
- Podcasts / Gym: This combination works very well for me since at my gym there is constant (and rather loud and annoying) music playing. When listening to podcasts I hear this music acoustically though, but I can totally shut it out mentally and focus on a podcast I am listening too. Also other people at the gym do not get disturbed by the sounds of my headphones because of the loud music in the first place. Win, win.
These scenarios did not work out:
- Music / Gym: As mentioned before, there’s permanent loud music at my gym. To be able to listen to my own music I have to set the volume level to a very high level. This can be both painful for me and annoying for other people at the gym. Also, it still intermixes with the background music. So, a definite no.
- Bus / Office: Bone conduction headphones are simply not suited for these scenarios because of the initially mentioned limitation. People around you can very clearly hear what you are listening too! So unless you want to as obnoxious and annoying as possible, do not use them in these environments.
Like before, I still have to work with multiple devices. I still use earbuds or earphones on the bus or at work but while running, cycling or working out I have fully switched to the bone conduction phones. Also the battery is really good and I get 8 – 10 hours of listening out of them. After using these for about 3 months now, I can definitely recommend this technology.