In some ways, bone conduction headphones are better than “traditional” headphones. They are generally more durable, they don’t prevent you from hearing outside noises, you can use some of them underwater, and in some cases, they can also be used by people with hearing damage as well (Depending on the kind of hearing damage that you have).
The only problem is that they are very different than conventional headphones. This makes it tough to tell what’s good or not unless you know a thing or two about them – which is why we’re here. Let’s check some bone conduction headphones!
Things to Keep in Mind
As we mentioned above, knowing a thing or two about bone conduction headphones will make the buying process much easier. You can go ahead and skip this section if you want to – but consider reading it as it’s going to make things easier for yourself.
- Comfort: Clamping force and ear tip material are two main things that you should look out for in bone conduction headphones. Silicon tends to feel softer than plastic. Just keep in mind that clamping force can greatly differ depending on the size of your head
- Audio quality: Some bone conduction headphones obviously sound better than others. Just don’t expect to get the same kind of sound that you’d get from “normal” headphones
- Build quality: Due to their design, these kinds of headphones can usually withstand quite a lot of abuse. But, build quality is still something to look out for
- Waterproofing: If you plan on using your headphones for working out, water resistance or waterproofing are essential features. Generally speaking, the higher the IP rating, the higher the water-resistance level – more on that later
- Connectivity: Both options have their own pros and cons. Wireless may be more convenient, but it also increases the price while making you worry about things like battery life and range
- Extra features: Some headphones may offer extra features like onboard controls or microphones. Keep an eye out for things like that if you think you need them
Our 5 Best Bone Conduction Headphones
These are some of the most important things to keep in mind when looking for bone conduction headphones. Look for them in our reviews and that’s going to help you pick something that’s more suitable for you.
With that out of the way, let us move on!
Best for Swimming
Headphones and swimming usually don’t play out well together. Even the most waterproof earbuds can get out of range. Not to mention that there is always the possibility of water making its way inside your ear canal and ruining everything.
Thankfully, that’s not an issue at all with bone conduction headphones as they don’t need your ear canal in order to push sound. Range can still be an issue – but not with the Xtrainerz as they use built-in storage to play music. You basically don’t need to have a phone or any other media player with you in the first place.
- Connectivity: USB (Only for transferring files and charging)
- Features: IP68 waterproof rating, 4GB of storage, and onboard controls
Obviously, 4 gigabytes of storage isn’t that much by 2020 standards. But you’re only going to be storing music in it. And as long as we’re not talking about lossless FLAC files or anything like that, 4 gigabytes should be plenty (It’s not like you can spot lossless details on bone conduction audio anyway).
These headphones are IP68-rated which is one of the highest IP ratings. According to AfterShockz, you should be able to take them a couple of meters underwater for up to 2 hours.
One thing to keep in mind here is that the sound of these is mostly optimized for underwater usage. There is a button that can change the kind of audio output from underwater to normal. But, you’ll still get the best results when underwater.
Also, there is no way to connect these with your phone and use them as normal headphones. That’s to be expected from swimming headphones, but, at the same time, it also means that you’re losing access to streaming platforms such as Spotify.
- Best option for swimming
- Very comfortable considering how tight they can be
- Onboard controls are always a welcome addition (And a necessity in this case)
- Good battery life
- No way to stream music from your phone straight to the headphones
As far as bone conduction headphones are concerned, the AfterShockz Aeropex is quite possibly the best overall pick. It offers great value, a great build, water resistance, and is generally more comfortable than most of its kind.
- Connectivity: Wireless
- Features: IP67 waterproof rating, sport belt, built-in microphone, and two onboard buttons
And, yes, this is another AfterShockz pick. And it shouldn’t surprise you since these guys are basically dominating the bone conduction market.
This particular pair offers IP67 waterproofing which is not good enough for swimming, but it should get you through pretty much any other situation without any issues.
Battery life is estimated to be at about 8 hours and that’s pretty great. But, keep in mind that it uses a proprietary port for charging. That’s one of the few downsides of these headphones and maybe it’s a necessary sacrifice for them to achieve that level of water resistance.
As far as sound are concerned, these are known for being the best that you can get in their field. Obviously, you can’t expect bone conduction to sound as good as, well, air sound. But that’s about as good as bone conduction gets in terms of sound quality.
They are a bit more expensive than most of our other picks. But, that’s to be expected. After all, what you pay is what you get.
And when it comes to downsides, apart from the proprietary charging port, the onboard buttons are a bit too close together. Pressing the wrong button while running can be rather easy.
- Great battery life
- Good sound as far as bone conduction is concerned
- Pretty comfortable
- High level of water resistance
- Onboard buttons are a bit too close
Our Pick for Smaller Heads
Over-ear headphones will fit almost everyone out there. If they are too big they still rest on your head and if they are too small they usually just clamp a bit tighter.
That’s not the case with bone conduction headphones, though. They need to have a bit of clamping force both for the audio to work properly and also due to the fact that they rest near your ears.
So, if you find the rest of our picks to be a bit too large or if you need something for a younger person, check out the AfterShockz Treks Mini!
- Connectivity: Wireless
- Features: IP55 sweatproof rating, built-in microphone, and two onboard buttons
These are obviously slightly inferior in terms of audio quality. At least when compared to our other two top picks – which is visible just by looking at the much smaller price tag.
The IP55 rating means that these headphones can withstand sweat and maybe small water splashes. But, that’s about it. We wouldn’t recommend using them in the rain.
We don’t have a lot to report in terms of downsides. Sure, the sound isn’t the best and the lack of waterproofing is a bit of a bummer. But, for about half the price of our top picks, you get something that’s decent-sounding with a built-in mic, onboard controls, decent battery life, and even a bit of water resistance.
So, when everything is said and done, it’s hard to complain.
- Good value
- Relatively cheap
- Good for smaller heads (But probably way too tight for bigger ones)
- The microphone and onboard buttons are a great addition at this price point
- Only comes with water resistance. Not ideal for rainy weather
Our Budget Pick
As you probably already noticed, bone conduction technology isn’t cheap. Even a mid-range option can easily cost you about a hundred dollars. Finding good headphones isn’t too much of a tough task. Finding good headphones that are also cheap, though, is a different story.
From all the cheap bone conduction headphones that we’ve seen, Genso’s offering is the best so far!
- Connectivity: Wireless
- Features: Three onboard buttons and IP55 sweatproof rating
And while there are even cheaper options, we can hardly recommend them as we found issues ranging from poor connectivity to poor audio quality and build quality as well. Genso’s headphones, on the other hand, are definitely worth the purchase.
You only get IP55 water/sweat resistance, which is to be expected at this price point. But, other than that, they feel sturdy and the sound is not too bad for the money.
Additionally, you’ll find two buttons for adjusting the volume or switching tracks along with a multi-function button. That’s something that you can take advantage of for answering calls, pausing music, or even skipping forward.
The battery life is the worst of the bunch so far. But, still, about 5 hours of playback should be plenty enough for most people.
In terms of downsides, one thing we noticed is that there is no mention of a built-in microphone anywhere. That’s strange considering the fact that there is an onboard button for answering calls. But, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind if you want handsfree calls.
- Very cheap
- Superb value
- Lots of onboard controls with an LED indicator as well
- Lack of waterproofing (Not the same with water resistance)
- No mention of a built-in microphone
5: Bose Frames
Our Two-in-One Pick
Sunglasses are a necessary accessory for tons of people. And in many cases, headphones help a lot. Unfortunately, most headphones, especially bone conduction ones, don’t play all that well with glasses and they can make portability a nightmare.
Thankfully, there are also sunglasses and bone conduction headphones in one package. And while most of the products we’ve seen are frankly bad, Bose’s offering is pretty impressive and we recommend them if you have the budget for them.
- Connectivity: Wireless
- Features: Two in one design and volume control
This is also the only major audio brand that we’ve included as far as bone-conduction headphones are concerned. In case you don’t know about them, Bose is known for making some of the best wireless headphones that the world has ever seen – such as the QuietComfort 35!
Now, these may not be the best-looking sunglasses you’ll ever see. They are admittedly a little bit bulky due to the built-in headphones. But, that’s the price you have to pay for having a two-in-one design – and also quite a lot of money compared to our other picks.
At the very least they feel very sturdy and you can easily carry them anywhere you want. Sound is just what you’d expect from mid to high-end bone conduction headphones.
Of course, one big plus is that the glasses can block UV rays which is good for your eyes. So, these are actual sunglasses and not just an accessory for show.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no mention of water resistance. Chances are that you’re not going to wear sunglasses on a rainy day anyway. But, we’re obliged to mention such details.
- Two-in-one package
- Decent sound
- Actual sunglasses and not just for show
- Bad battery life (2-3 hours)
These are our top picks for now. Here is all you need to know about them in a nutshell:
- AfterShokz Xtrainerz: The ideal choice for swimmers. You can use them underwater no problem – just keep in mind that they can not be used with an external player. All tracks are stored locally
- AfterShockz Aeropex: Our best overall pic. It offers a little bit of everything with good sound quality and water resistance. Just keep in mind that it’s a bit expensive
- AfterShokz Trekz Mini: Great if you have a relatively small head and it’s also slightly cheaper than our other picks. But don’t forget that it can be a bit too tight for people with normal to large heads
- Genso Bone Conduction Headphones: Our budget pick. It’s objectively slightly worse than our other picks – which is to be expected at this price point. But, it also offers a value that’s very hard to beat
- Bose Frames: Sunglasses and headphones in one package. Can’t go wrong with those if that’s what you want. But, obviously, you get zero water resistance
That’s all for now. All you have to do is weigh the pros and cons then choose whatever fits you best.
If there’s something that you don’t understand or if you want to drop a recommendation, feel free to let us know about it in the comments section!