The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024

While bone conduction sounds both futuristic and a bit intimidating, it’s actually a realistic and comfortable alternative to earbuds or over-ear headphones.

By moving the vibration of the sound into the cheekbones, bone conduction headphones leave your ears open and able to hear what’s going on around you. Now you can add a soundtrack to your life without drowning it out.

We have tested nearly two dozen bone conduction headphones since 2021, choosing the best the market has to offer and comparing them side-by-side to assemble a list of the 14 most worthy pairs available today. Our testing isn’t skin-deep either, as we weighed important differences in audio quality, connectivity, battery life, weight, and durability. Our experts have run, swam, and even lifted weights in these headsets, and we’re confident that our choices represent the best bone conduction headphones available.

For some solid advice on how to choose the right model, check out our buyer’s guide and comparison chart. We’ve also compiled a list of frequently asked questions that’ll help you get straight to the point when it comes to bone conduction headphones. 

Editor’s Note: We updated our Bone Conduction Headphones guide on March 14, 2024, to add our new Best Overall award winner, the Mojawa Run Plus, as well as the Suunto Wing — a battery-life king — and the Philips Go A7607, a set with integrated visibility LEDs.

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


Best Overall Bone Conduction Headphones

  • Battery
    8 hours
  • Weight
    32 grams
  • Water resistance
    IP68
  • Microphone
    Yes (noise-canceling)
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.2

Product Badge
The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Great fit

  • Quality sound

  • Easy use

  • Waterproofing


  • Potentially too tight for some

Best Budget Headphones

  • Battery
    6 hours running
  • Weight
    25 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IP54
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.0

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Outstanding price-to-performance

  • Easy to navigate buttons and menu sets

  • Quite lightweight at 25 g. compared to others we’ve tested


  • Band is a bit stiff around the ears

  • IP54 rating isn’t waterproof, only splash resistant

Best Running Headphones

  • Battery
    8 hours running, 10 days of standby, 2 hours to full charge
  • Weight
    26 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IP67
  • Microphone
    Yes (dual noise-canceling)
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.1

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Lightweight at 26 g. avoids ear fatigue

  • 8-hours of run time leads the field

  • Rated IP67, which is good enough to dunk these headphones


  • One the more expensive side of the spectrum

  • Proprietary charger is one more thing to lose

Best Battery Life

  • Battery
    10 hours; 30 hours with charging bank
  • Weight
    1.16 oz.
  • Water-resistance
    IP67
  • Microphone
    Dual microphones and clear voice call noise reduction
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Phenomenal comfort

  • High quality

  • Exceptionally long battery life

  • Easy-to-use app

  • Red LED flashing lights for visibility in low light

  • Portable charging dock


  • It doesn’t fit everyone the same

  • Not great in loud settings

  • Expensive

Best Value

  • Battery
    6 hours running, 10 days standby, 2 hours to full charge
  • Weight
    36 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IP55
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.0

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Easy to palate price

  • Titanium and ABS build makes for tough durability

  • Similar tech to other brands


  • Sound quality, certainly in the bass spectrum, is a bit lacking

  • No protective carrying case included

  • Short warranty

Best Waterproof Headphones for Swimming

  • Battery
    4-6 hours of play time
  • Weight
    32 g
  • Water resistance rating
    Waterproof IPX8
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Fully waterproof at IPX8 means swimming is no problem

  • Bluetooth-enabled plus internal storage of streaming services with the new Playlist+ tech

  • Multi-sport capable makes them ideal for triathlons or endurance races


  • Three small buttons make for a more difficult to control device

  • Battery life is on the shorter side for comparable models

Best Rugged Headphones

  • Battery
    2-3 hours running, 10 days standby, 4 hours to full charge
  • Weight
    39 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IPX6
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 4.1

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Lower price point

  • Durable build won’t be crunched easily


  • 4-hour charge time is a bit long, and the runtime a bit short

  • Lower quality sound than comparable headphones

Best of the Rest

  • Battery
    Up to 8 hours with additional 20 hours of charge off dock
  • Weight
    32 g
  • Water resistance rating
    IP55
  • Microphone
    Yes, Dual noise-canceling microphones
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.2

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Wireless charging dock adds 20 hours of extended battery life

  • Top-quality sound rivals the Shokz OpenRun

  • Touch-enabled controls keep down button-bloat


  • Requires dock to charge, with no quick USB to plug in on-the-go

  • Battery
    9 hours
  • Weight
    35 grams
  • Water resistance
    IP67
  • Microphone
    Yes (two)
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.2

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • LED band for added visibility while running

  • 9 hour battery life

  • Philips app offers audio tuning capabilities

  • Decent value

  • Battery
    8 hours, 80 minutes to full charge
  • Weight
    26 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    Waterproof at IP67
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.2

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Titanium and silicone band is very lightweight and pliable

  • Intuitive touchpad controls limit on-board buttons

  • Quick charges to 1.5 hours of run time in just 10 mins.

  • Fully waterproof at IP67


  • Proprietary charging cable

  • Battery
    6 hours running
  • Weight
    36 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IP55
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.1

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • More reasonable price tag as compared to the Shokz OpenRun

  • Sweatproof at IP55

  • High-quality titanium band

  • Familiar USB-C charging


  • Slightly heavier weight means ear fatigue will come on faster

  • Multiple sizes means it takes some trial and error to find right size

  • Battery
    8 hrs. of play time, 150 hrs. standby
  • Weight
    30 g
  • Water resistance rating
    IPX5
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.0

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • 30 g weight lands about middle of the pack

  • 8 hrs. of battery life puts it near the top

  • Impressive price point


  • One-button functionality is a bit clunky

  • Sound quality wasn’t the best

  • Bulkier transducers

  • Battery
    8 hours running
  • Weight
    30 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IP68
  • Microphone
    No
  • Connectivity type
    None

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Highest rated water and dust proofing in our review

  • 8 hours of battery life is near the top performer

  • Highly durable full titanium build


  • Only 4GB internal storage, no Bluetooth or streaming capabilities

  • No internal music folders to choose from, only shuffle

  • Battery
    5-6 hours running
  • Weight
    29 g.
  • Water resistance rating
    IPX5
  • Microphone
    Yes
  • Connectivity type
    Bluetooth 5.0

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2024


  • Affordable at sub-$50

  • Designed to be compatible with glasses


  • Tickles the ear at high volume, missing bass as well

  • Not waterproof, only water and dust resistant at IPX5

Bone Conduction Headphones Comparison Chart

Pairing your headphones to a watch with music onboard makes for a super-light music system; (photo/Matthew Tangeman)

How We Tested Bone Conduction Headphones

Bone conduction headphones may not be the most prominent choice in the audio space for those hitting the trail or the gym, but at GearJunkie we’ve been tracking the progress of the relatively new segment of headphones for years. 

Our guide uses the expertise of a range of GearJunkie staffers and contributors, featuring running coach Cory Smith — who has nearly 25 years of elite running and training with USA Track & Field Level 1 and 2 Endurance Certification — and Tim Newcomb, a prominent national journalist who has covered sports gear for over two decades for the likes of Sports Illustrated, TIME, Wired, Popular Mechanics and Forbes. 

For every pair of bone conduction headphones we tested, we reviewed them in multiple scenarios, whether on the running trail, mountain biking single track, or in the gym, and made sure we hit varying weather patterns — Newcomb living in the Pacific Northwest ensures there’s ample time to test gear in the rain. 

To start, we look at the ease of use and setup. Then comes the quality of the materials and fit, both from a feel and a performance standpoint, even before we start an activity. We have a range of songs recommended by Spotify for testing sound on headphones that we put every headphone through to ensure the audio discussion comes from the same starting point. 

Running them through a series of different audio files gauges their clarity, bass response, and general audio quality. While bone conduction headphones aren’t known for their audiophile-pleasing sound, leaps and bounds have been made to better close the gap and improve overall tone. Then there’s the experience. From the ease of use to the materials and the sound quality to the fit, none of it matters if it can’t perform in the arenas we need it to (and the ones the manufacturer claims it can handle). 

In terms of additional features, we paid attention to integrated microphones, ease of button use, and the water resistance of each headphone. These features often can make a difference when comparing models against one another, and while many options are similar, some headphones are more premium than others.

Bone Conduction Headphones Group
With a pretty standard design, small differences become big when comparing bone conduction headphones; (photo/Tim Newcomb)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Bone Conduction Headphones

Bone conduction headphones are less common than standard headphones, so most people don’t know much about them. However, the benefits of bone conduction are invaluable for all kinds of active use because they allow you to still hear your surroundings.

This article is focused solely on bone conduction headphones. If you’re looking for other styles, check out our Best Workout Headphones and Earbuds.

Runners, skiers, mountain bikers, swimmers, and many others appreciate that bone conduction headphones offer the ability to listen to music or podcasts without drowning out the surrounding world. For this reason, bone conduction headphones offer superior safety and general awareness.

Once you’ve decided to purchase a pair of bone conduction headphones, the next step is deciding which ones to buy. Fortunately, the market is relatively small, and selecting the right pair doesn’t have to feel like sorting through an overly crowded field. Shokz, formally known as AfterShokz, is largely considered the market leader. 

Still, not all of the best bone conduction headphones are created equal. In this handy how-to-choose guide, we thoroughly explain all of the features to consider when shopping for your next pair of headphones.

Bone Conduction Headphones User Profiles

Bone Conduction Headphones Running
(Photo/Tim Newcomb)

Bone conduction headphones offer a unique option for a variety of outdoor activities. The most obvious — and the one marketed the strongest — is for the adventurer who wants to keep their ears clear to hear sounds other than what comes from the headphones. This comes especially handy in busy areas where runners want to be sure they hear vehicles and those on the trail want to stay aware of all the sounds surrounding them. But having a clear way to hear what’s going on around you isn’t the only reason to choose bone conduction headphones.

The Runner: If running is your game, then bone conduction headphones are a no-brainer. Staying alert to your surroundings will not only make for a safer run, but also keep you tuned into the landscape you’re passing through. Aim for a pair of headphones with a titanium build which will keep them light and prevent ear fatigue in the long run, as well as enough runtime to go as long as your typical runs go.

It’s hard to argue against the Shokz OpenRun for runners, as Shokz has not only put a great deal of effort into improving overall sound quality, but also in keeping the weight down to sub-30 grams. The Mojawa Run Plus is also a strong choice, as it sports almost near identical specs to the OpenRun, but with slightly better waterproofing.

The Swimmer: Whether it’s endless laps or just paddling for fun, taking your tunes into the pool can add a new dimension to your workout. Obviously, you’ll want to aim for the most waterproof headphones out there for swimming, but also pay mind to how you’ll be porting around your music. Many bone conduction headphones meant for swimming will incorporate onboard storage for device-free play, but some also incorporate Bluetooth to connect to a music-enabled watch, or even record your streaming service music for later play.

The Shokz OpenSwim headphones were made for the water at a rated IP68, and bring along 4GB of storage space for your next session in the pool. And for totally tetherless swimming, the H2O Audio TRI Pro Multi-Sports headphones incorporate Playlist+ tech to download music from your favorite streaming service, avoiding the computer altogether.

(Photo/Matthew Tangeman)

The Triathlon Athlete: When a full Olympic tri can last as long as 3 hours, having a set of headphones that can go the distance means something. You’ll also want to reach for a pair that boasts a fully waterproof design for the swim leg, and are generally burly enough to put up with going through a full endurance event.

Our top pick for swimming was the H2O Audio TRI Pro Multi-Sports, but in truth, there’s little that these headphones don’t excel at, and with TRI in the name you know they’re up for the long haul. Also consider the Pyle Bone Conduction Headphones, which won’t run for quite as long, but are tough enough to be dropped without worry.

The Commuter: Even just bumping around town can be enhanced with a pair of bone conduction headphones, as riding a bike in traffic requires all the attention you’ve got, and a good pair will keep your ears open when you need them to be. Pay special mind to the fit of the headphones as well if you’re aiming to use them with a helmet, as some utilize a more ductile titanium and silicone build that accommodates straps better than others.

For comfort, we keep coming back to the Mojawa Run Air, which has a supple feeling band that moves with you. And if squeezing as much audio quality out of your bone conduction headphones is your bag, then the Kaibo Flex provides a surprisingly good sound for your next commute.

Bone Conduction Technology

The bone just in front of the ear is highly sensitive to vibrations and relays sound with a high level of clarity; (photo/Matthew Tangeman)

While most sound is transmitted to the eardrum through the air, bone conduction technology transmits these vibrations through the bones of the jaw and into the cochlea. In this way, sound vibrations can bypass the ear canal and leave it open to ambient sound.

Using vibrations to conduct sound isn’t a new technology by any means. By the time he was by and large totally deaf, Ludwig van Beethoven would use his conductor’s wand to feel the notes from his piano by biting down on it. This is also the same technology that allows for Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA) to operate.

Today, bone conduction headphones use small transducers that are held just in front of the ear to transmit their sound, and are supported by a band that rests atop the ears and around the head.

Sound Quality

Sound quality on bone conduction headphones isn’t phenomenal, but it’s no slouch either; (photo/Cory Smith)

Generally, bone conduction headphones do not provide the same quality of sound that traditional headphones do. Audiophiles, DJs, and audio engineers who are seeking top-level fidelity should choose traditional headphones instead of bone conduction models.

Because bone conduction headphones do not transmit directly into your ear canal, they are not able to deliver the highest level of booming bass or clean sound.

With that said, the headphones we’ve selected on this list are made specifically with active use in mind. For that application, bone conduction headphones offer unparalleled benefits. The headphones with the best audio quality we’ve tested were the Shokz OpenRun. The Kaibo Flex offers a next-in-line answer to Shokz in terms of audio quality.

Also, most users report that a high-quality pair of bone conduction headphones can still generate relatively impactful bass and clear audio. Ultimately, bone conduction headphones aren’t made to fit our sound exactly like traditional headphones. 

Many new users of bone conduction headphones tend to turn up the volume to extreme levels in order to try and recreate the sound-canceling experience of traditional headphones. Remember that because bone conduction headphones do not cover your ear canal, they will never fully cancel out sounding noises.

Be careful when turning up bone conduction headphones to a high volume, as this can result in injury or hearing loss.

Wireless, Bluetooth, and Charging 

Some headphones, like the Suunto Wing, offer up apps to adjust audio quality, or even track your runs; (photo/Rebecca Ross)

For active users, wireless headphones are a common preference. When running, skiing, or biking, a cord may get in the way and become a nuisance. All of the bone conduction headphones on this list are wireless and feature a Bluetooth interface (except the fully waterproof Shokz OpenSwim which does not have Bluetooth connectivity because it uses internal storage). 

The type of Bluetooth connectivity is indicated by a version number. The higher the number the more current the technology is. For example, version 5.3 was released in 2021, whereas 4.0 was released in 2010. Before purchasing a pair of bone conduction headphones check the device you plan to connect them with to ensure they are supported.

The downside of wireless headphones is that they need to be regularly charged. Most of the headphones on this list charge via a Type C USB cable, or a proprietary magnetic induction cable. Generally, the battery life of a fully charged pair of bone conduction headphones ranges from 4 to 10 hours.

Waterproof & Dustproof Ratings

Most bone conduction headphones are water-resistant, but only some are waterproof enough to swim in; (photo/Rebecca Ross)

The International Electronics Commission developed a universal rating system for all electronics to grade the effectiveness of resisting the intrusion of dust or liquid. Known as the ingress protection (IP) rating, each electronic is rated for protection against dust and liquids. 

The IP code is comprised of two numerals. The first number indicates protection against solid objects and is rated on a scale from 0 (no protection) to 6 (no ingress of dust). 

In contrast, the second number is protection against liquids and uses a scale from 0 (no protection) to 9 (high-pressure hot water from different angles). An “X” indicates no protection. Anything over 7 is considered protected against temporary immersion, and anything over 8 is fully waterproof protected.

As the bone conduction headphone marketplace grows, we’re seeing new entries into the waterproof game, such as the recent additions of the H2O Audio TRI Pro and Mojawa Run Air.

Design

Bone conduction headphones don’t match in-ear headphones for audio quality, but the trade-off is in overall awareness; (photo/Cory Smith)

Most bone conduction headphones have a few key design characters in common. All of the headphones on our list of recommendations are built with a curved frame that is designed to fit comfortably around the back of the neck. 

Some, such as the Shokz OpenRun will come in a standard and mini size to accommodate different size heads.  Because bone conduction headphones do not sit in the ear canal, they rely on the neckband for positioning and support.

Other important design traits to consider include the layout and location of buttons and weight. Control buttons will be located on the earbuds or the band that wraps around your head. 

We’ll add that it’s important to read the instructions on how to use the controls, as there were features like skipping songs that we would not have known how to do without reading the instructions. 

Comfort

Bone Conduction Headphones Profile
Overall weight has a good bit to do with comfort, and choosing a lighter pair will help stave off ear fatigue; (photo/Tim Newcomb)

Depending on your preferences, you may find that bone conduction headphones are more comfortable than traditional headphones. 

The lack of an ear pod or bud inside of your ear canal reduces the potential of in-ear soreness and aches. This boost in comfort is especially noticeable and appreciated during active use.

Durability

Bone conduction headphones that are geared toward active use should be reasonably durable. On this list, we have included various models that can handle the standard abuse of running, skiing, and biking in the outdoors.

In terms of impact and drop-related durability, the Pyle Bone Conduction headphones are our top recommendation.

The general durability of bone conduction headphones can be directly tied to the IP rating. If you plan to use your headphones underwater or in wet environments, be sure to buy a fully waterproof pair. The H2O Audio TRI Pro and Shokz OpenSwim are supremely waterproof and great for pool laps or as part of a triathlon training program.

Price

The $130 Mojawa Run Plus is about the going rate for a pair of worthy headphones; (photo/Matthew Tangeman)

Bone conduction headphones range in price from around $30-200. While the cheaper pairs that we recommend on this list are high quality relative to their price, it is important to realize that there is a reliable relationship between price and overall quality. If you are seeking long-lasting headphones with well-designed features and the ability to hold up to active use and the elements, we recommend investing in the best pair you can afford.

Our budget pick for the guide was the YouthWhisper Bone Conduction Headphones, and at $40 we were fairly blown away at how well they performed during workouts. The Tayogo Headphones also come in at the same price, and the Vidonn F1 Titanium is just $10 more.

These budget-minded sets often make do with lesser-quality transducers, earlier Bluetooth technology, and simpler charging solutions to keep the price low. The proliferation of cheap tech means that there are literally hundreds of ‘no-name’ bone conduction headphones on the market, but our testing has shown these sets cut through the noise.

Top-of-the-line bone conduction headphones like the Shokz OpenRun, Mojawa Run Plus, and Kaibo Flex all come in at around the $120-130 mark, and this is what you should expect to pay for full-functionality sets that don’t compromise on technology. Proprietary magnetic chargers, waterproof ratings of IPX7 (good enough to be dunked, not swam in), full 8-hour battery lives, and the latest Bluetooth tech are all commonplace. If you’re all in on the bone conduction tech, these are your headphones.

H2O Audio TRI Pro Multi-Sport Headphones
High-end sets like the H2O Audio TRI Pros can manage all-day swimming; (photo/Tim Newcomb)

If you’re looking for a set to swim in, you’ll need to shell out a bit more for the H2O Audio TRI Pro or Shokz OpenSwim, which are both fully waterproof at a rated IPX8. These command the highest dollar amount of any sets on the market — expect to pay north of $150 for the privilege.

The rest of the headphones, including the Shokz OpenMove and Pyle Bone Conduction Headphones, land in the $70-80 zone. These are excellent deals for anyone who wants most of the high-end materials and technologies, but is also willing to have a slightly heavier pair or not-quite-perfect audio profile. In our opinion, the Shokz OpenMove is one of the best deals going currently for those who want to try bone conduction technology, but aren’t ready to go all in on a full-fledged model.

What About Open-Ear Headphones?

Shozk OpenFit earbud review
Open-ear headphones are similar to bone conduction headphones, but not quite the same; (photo/Sean McCoy)

The main feature of the bone conduction headphone is that they open the ear canal to capture other noises, such as passing motorists or those sharing the trail. A bone conduction headphone isn’t the only device with this in mind. The open-ear headphones concept aims to attract a similar customer. 

In this design, made popular by devices such as Sony LinkBuds, Bose Sport Open Buds, and Apple’s AirPods, the earbud doesn’t fully close off the ear canal. Differing design choices offer up a mix of options for the open ear set, whether an earbud without a silicone tip that doesn’t fully seal (think Apple) to a bud that sits just above the ear canal (Bose Sport Open Buds) even to an earbud that opens in the center to allow additional noise to travel into the canal (Sony LinkBuds). 

While the open-ear headphones provide a similar concept to the bone conduction design, they don’t apply the bone conduction method of transferring sound to the brain, instead remaining on air conduction. Before you make the choice of which design is best for you, investigate what fit you want, if you want to employ bone conduction or air conduction, and which style meets your activity needs best. 

The main benefit of going for an open earbud versus a bone conduction option is for runners eager to open the ear canal, but still gain the sound quality garnered from air conduction. Everyone will also have a different fit choice based on running style or additional activities (some open earbuds still have a clip around the ear to hold it in place), preference for where the headphone sits (near or in the ear versus on cheekbone) and any other technical specifications or brand preferences. 

(Photo/Matthew Tangeman)

FAQ

Bone conduction headphones take advantage of the fact that sound is simply vibrations, directing them into the bones in your head.

These headphones use plates that sit against the cheekbones to deliver sound vibrations through the jaw and skull bone directly into the cochlea. They leave the ear canal open, which allows outside sound to still get in.

Unlike traditional headphones, bone conduction headphones allow the user to hear what’s happening in their surroundings. This makes this style of headphones a great choice for outside activities where hearing oncoming vehicles or bikes can save lives. They’re also a great option for underwater swimming or for people with in-ear hearing aids.

Basically, it’s like being in a room with music playing, but you’re able to choose the playlist.

Unfortunately, any type of headphones will lead to hearing loss if they are used at an irresponsible volume. Bone conduction headphones still vibrate the cochlea and can damage it just as much as traditional headphones can.

Bone conduction headphones will not deliver the same quality audio as in-ear headphones. For the sharpest, loudest audio quality, headphones or earbuds are better.

But, bone conduction headphones are great for certain applications. They provide a lot of options to still listen to music without sacrificing your situational awareness. And this is extremely valuable while hiking, biking, or even working from home.

Some bone conduction headphones are fully waterproof. On this list, models such as the Shokz OpenSwim or H2O Audio TRI Pro are designed to work in wet environments — and you can absolutely swim (or snorkel!) while wearing them.

The Best Fitness Watches of 2024

We tested the best fitness watches of 2024 with options for every budget. Our top picks include Garmin, Fitbit, and more!

The Best Workout Headphones of 2024

We tested the best workout headphones of 2024 with options for every budget and athlete. Top picks include Jaybird, Bose, and more!

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *