They’re the ultimate in headphone technology, bone conduction speakers let you listen to sound with superb quality and keep an ear out for the world around you.
You can use them easily at work or when out for a run or cycling around town.
They use a transducer (or more than one transducer) to vibrate your cheekbone and jaw and this passes on to the inner ear.
Your brain turns the vibrations into the sounds that you hear but without drowning the world out and no, before you ask, it’s not at all uncomfortable to hear music like this.
How We Chose Our Best Bone Conduction Headphones
It’s important to realize that this is a new development in headphone technology and, as such, there just aren’t as many options out there as there are for standard headphones but we aimed to satisfy the following:
- Were they comfortable? Given that these sit on your neck and against your ears, you don’t want them to feel “noticeable” all of the time. There’s a bit of an advantage when it comes to comfort if you opt for silicon over plastic too.
- Are they built to last? They’re not as expensive as you might expect but you do want them to last and if you wear them for sports an IPX5 rating or higher is handy to keep water/sweat at bay.
- Wireless or wired? This is, of course, something of a matter of personal preference but we wanted to ensure that wireless models had a decent range on them.
- Good sound quality. This is subjective, particularly, when you consider that they don’t sound the same as traditional headphones. And mostly, to be fair, the quality of these devices is “good enough” but rarely “great”.
- Do they leak sound? Most bone conduction headphones have much less sound leakage than traditional headphones but they’re rarely perfect.
The Best Bone Conduction Headphones
You’ll see a few AfterShokz options on this list and the Aeropex are, generally, considered the cream of the crop as they’re the smallest and lightest with an IP67 water resistance rating.
1. Very little sound leakage and the vibration is barely noticeable when in use
2. Excellent battery life with eight hours of non-stop playback time
1. The control system is very close together thanks to the space saving design
2. These are not your cheapest option when it comes to bone conduction headphones
MilanSo Bone Conduction Headphones
These reasonably priced headphones produce surprisingly good sound quality and, in particular, their bass is much better than your average bone conduction headphone set.
They’re also IP56 rated which is handy.
1. They don’t slip at all once you’ve situated them which is really good
2. The bass is top notch for this style of headphones and music sounds great
1. Not great for audiobooks though as the middle tends to sound a bit muddy
2. Sometimes not loud enough for the noisiest of environments
AfterShokz Trekz Air Open Ear
We were surprised to find that the Trekz Air are the most comfortable AfterShokz bone conduction headphones and they’re much cheaper than the Aeropex range too.
However, the battery life’s not the longest and you will need to charge them once during the course of a working day.
1. The design is really attractive and they fit really well to your face which is good
2. The IP55 rating is enough unless you want to go running in the rain
1. Not always the loudest of bone conduction headphones and they may struggle in some environments
2. The bass levels are a bit weaker than on other similarly priced options
myFirst Headphone BC
If you want your children to enjoy bone conduction headphones then look no farther than these which have been designed with delicate little ears in mind (4 years and up, please, no younger).
They’ve been volume limited and won’t hurt their hearing. They can also be custom decorated to give them some personality.
1. Nice customizable aesthetic that kids are going to love
2. They’re designed to ensure the safety of your child’s hearing
1. Can easily be drowned out in very noisy environments
2. Not so comfortable for wear when the child is laying down
Vidonn F3 Bone Conduction Headphones
If you love to workout and need some lightweight headphones then you might want to consider Vidonn’s F3 option, they’re cheaper than the Aftershokz and deliver a decent experience.
They are water-resistant but we warn you, don’t lose the cap that covers the charging port, or they won’t be water resistant for long.
1. Very good value for money and have a solid sound profile
2. They don’t weigh very much and are great for use on a workout
1. You can easily lose the cap for the charging port and that’s a pain
2. They really leak sound, so don’t buy these for the office or people will scowl at you
Bone Conduction Headphones Bluetooth 5.0 Vidonn F1
The Vidonn F1 was a pretty good experience too, we would prefer a better battery – 2 hours of charge for 6 hours of use is a bit onerous – but the noise cancelling is very good to compensate.
That means if you want a pair of headphones that can also shut the world out at times, the F1 might be the perfect choice.
1. The best noise cancelling we’ve tested on bone conduction headphones
2. Excellent CSR Bluetooth performance that gives clarity of sound up to 10 meters from the device
1. The battery really isn’t great and we wish it lasted longer
2. Not so comfy when you lay on something when wearing them
Aftershokz New Xtrainerz
If you want a pair of headphones for swimming then the Xtrainerz are 100% waterproof and they contain their own MP3 player to ensure audio quality.
However, that means design compromises and you can’t use these for streaming music or take phone calls on them.
1. The best and, perhaps only, choice for swimmers who want to work out to music
2. They are very lightweight and the design is excellent
1. Not that great for anything other than swimming
2. They’re very expensive for such limited use
Pyle Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones
We’d recommend you try somebody else’s Pyle headphones before you buy them and that’s because you cannot adjust the fit at all.
That’s a shame because otherwise, these are waterproof, lightweight, easy to use and the sound quality is OK too.
1. The controls are very simple to use
2. We liked the LED indicators to tell us if devices were properly paired or not
1. Can’t adjust to the shape of your head at all, they either fit or they don’t
2. Longer hair may trigger the touch controls which can be annoying
Tayogo Bone Conduction Headphones
If you want to keep costs down these are very cheap entry-level bone conduction headphones from China and because of the low price, they’re pretty heavy.
They’re also for dry conditions, don’t get them wet, they really won’t like it. However, the sound is surprisingly oomphy for something in this price bracket.
1. Really powerful sound for cheap headphones
2. You can’t go wrong at this price, a good way to see if bone conduction is for you
1. They weigh a lot more than other bone conduction headphones
2. They become a little irritating at maximum volume with a sort of “tickle” in your ear
Zulu Exero Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
These Zulu Exero headphones aren’t bad at all but they can’t be reduced in size and they’re on the larger side, so if you’ve got a small hat size, you should avoid them.
Otherwise, the controls are easy to use, the phone call quality on them is excellent and we found that they connected reliably to our devices.
1. The battery life is very good for the price
2. The set up was very easy
1. We found that sometimes the sound seems to fade in and out without explanation
2. Not for small heads
Final Thoughts On The Best Bone Conduction Headphones
So, there you have it, the best bone conduction headphones out there today, they’re not perfect but if you need to be able to hear other things while you listen to podcasts, audiobooks and tunes, they’re very good.
In a static situation, however, you might want to swap headphones for speakers like these awesome bluetooth bookshelf speakers.
If you’re looking for something to listen to with your new headphones may we recommend these excellent tunes to listen to when you’re high or these free music apps to help you discover something exciting?