Bone conduction headphones from Shokz in the test. listening to music with clear ears

Headphones are usually over-the-ear or over-the-ear. All three are impractical when running and even in dangerous traffic. Keep your ears free with Shokz Bone Conduction Headphones. The concept is not new. We already tested the Trekz Air (test report) from Shokz in 2018. At that time, the company was still called Aftershokz. The Trekz Air is generally good, but we do criticize the sound, which sometimes causes feedback. They also rock with bass-heavy songs.

The musical Bose Frames Tempo glasses (test report) also use the principle of bone conduction, but they offer much better sound. However, their price is high – more than 200 euros.

Bone conduction headphones leave the ear canal free. This can be useful, for example, in traffic. But also when running or swimming. But they can also be interesting for hearing aid wearers who are unlikely to be able to use normal headphones properly. On the other hand, if you want to hide ambient noise, you can use active noise cancellation (ANC) models. We recommend the Bose QC Earbuds II (test report). There are hardly any headphones that hide your surroundings better than these.

Shokz Openrun, Openrun Pro and Openswim bone conduction headphones do not compress in the ear canal. This makes them more compatible with people who wear glasses and lighter than headphones. Ambient noise reaches the ear immediately. We took a closer look at the test models.

In addition to the headphones, a protective case, charging cable and quick start guide are included. This is also in German, but the detailed download instructions are only in English. The Openrun and Openrun Pro charging cable uses a magnetic contact. The Openswim charging cable mechanically clamps the charging contact.

The headphones weigh around 30 grams and are quite compact. Now there’s an even smaller version, the OpenRun Mini, which we didn’t have for this test. The regular Openrun is splashproof according to IP67, the Pro version only according to IP55. Both can establish a Bluetooth connection with two devices in parallel via Multipoint.

Openswim is IP68 waterproof and lacks Bluetooth connectivity. If you want to listen to your music with it, you need to connect it to the computer with a USB-A adapter and fill it with music files. Common functions (volume, start/pause/forward/reverse) are accessed via the multi-function button.

Bluetooth pairing is a no-brainer with the Openrun models, with up to eight hours of battery life with the normal version and ten hours with the Pro version, marathon distances can also be run. Shokz Openswim should last eight hours. All models charge in less than an hour.

The sound units of the models rest on the lower temples and are fixed there by a bracket passing over the ears. A control unit with small batteries is located directly behind it. The two parts of the ears are connected to each other by another bracket that runs across the back of the head. The Shokz don’t shrink even after several hours of wear. They also hold up surprisingly well. Running with them or even headbutting them is no problem. Even when swimming with Openswim, nothing slips.

Don’t expect a miracle of sound with bone conduction. In fact, the function is a mixture of air and bone conduction, which also means that the headphones “leak” a lot into the environment. As practical as open ears are in the office when you want or need to hear everything, open running won’t do here. Colleagues can hear you, especially at slightly louder voices.

On the other hand, in traffic, Openrun and Openrun Pro are in good hands; If you want to be accessible on the phone while cycling, you can take a risk with such headphones, while with ANC models you are more likely to find yourself at the front. from the radiator grille. Atmospheric headphone mode can’t keep up with bone conduction models in terms of “not missing anything important”, here it’s the optimal solution.

During Open Broadcast, the sound is more focused and loud, and therefore well-suited for speech, such as listening to news, audiobooks or podcasts, although you can still switch the volume between speech and music. Openrun Pro, on the other hand, focuses on bass. However, it seems unpleasant to us, especially at high volumes. Openrun Pro starts to noticeably vibrate and hit the temples. Some may find this appropriate. In our test, however, it creates an uncomfortable feeling.

Openrun Pro also has an app, but it doesn’t offer much added value. For example, here we skip the equalizer. Only the standard SBC codec is available as a Bluetooth codec, no AAC and certainly no aptX.

The sound of Openswim is comparable to that of Openrun. However, if you wear them while swimming in the water, you should keep your head above water. If you’re doing a front crawl or other swimming technique that sometimes puts your head under water, you won’t hear everything from the music. This is mainly due to the fact that the dip in and out itself is already very high. Swimmers who play Openswim should give it a shout here.

At the time of testing, open runs cost 110 euros. Openrun Pro costs around €160. If you have your eye on Openswim, you currently have to pay €150.

Shokz bone conduction headphones fill the niche. They are specifically aimed at athletes looking for sturdy yet comfortable headphones that leave the ear canal free while listening to music. Openrun and Openrun Pro are well suited for this. Even if the sound quality can’t match the in-ear, connected, or over-the-ear headphones. Anyone looking for headphones for swimming is unlikely to find an alternative to the Openswim, however.

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