Updated: Mar 21
There is a need to hear the outside world- sometimes!
Jeffrey Clos is a participant in the Amazon Associates LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. There are some links within this article to the described product.
I own a pair of Apple’s Airpod Pros, and I still marvel at the noise-canceling feature. It’s an excellent feature for plane travel, doing yard work (drowning out the sound of the lawnmower), or just shutting out the annoyances of daily life. There are times when they work too well. I wouldn’t say I get skittish, but some part of me gets a little paranoid while wearing these types of headphones. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be fully immersed in the experience, but some part of me wants to be prepared for the unexpected. I’m not too fond of surprises, at least not the shocking ones. For this reason, I was an early adopter of bone conduction technology.
OpenRun Pro (media by JC)
The idea is simple with standard headphones as they go into the ear and transmit the sound directly. Bone conduction headphones transmit the sound by vibrating through the cheekbone, leaving your ears open to experience your surroundings. When you take off the headphones, you can “feel the vibration.”
A few years back, I had purchased a pair of the Aftershokz offerings. Aftershokz was the company’s name before they shortened the company title to the now Shokz company. Earlier iterations of the technology were less than stellar. The volume always seemed inadequate, and the sound quality was barely acceptable (Perhaps I am too critical). I was anxious to see how far it had come in the several years since I last owned a set. I would still have them had I not left them in a gym locker. (That was a rough day!)
Now it was time to try the new OpenRun Pro set of headphones. Shokz has touted improvements, including improved bass, extended battery life, and improved IP55 water resistance. Coming from one of their earlier models, Shokz’s improvements in sound were very noticeable. As this was their 9th generation of bone conduction technology, it was understandable they would have made serious strides in this department. Volume was no longer an issue as I could hear the music or podcasts at various sound levels in multiple sound scenarios.
These are headphones for those who want to experience music/podcasts or phone calls, in addition to the outside world. They will not reproduce the highs and lows of standard in-ear headphones. While it was good to hear a “bass improvement,” it was certainly not a booming improvement (More subtle if anything). Again, they certainly have made improvements in the sound department, but I won’t be wearing these as my only source of listening entertainment.
I made and received calls with the headphones to see if their noise-canceling microphone truly worked. Most callers recognized I was not on my phone, but they were pleased with the overall sound quality.
I never had any problem with my past set of Aftershokz headphones regarding moisture, and I am sure they saw a fair share of sweat. I expect these will do as good if not better. Do not expect these can be used for swimming as they are “resistant,” not water-proof. I see they have an OpenSwim model available for this.
I can also describe how they feel surrounding my head. I would say after a few minutes; they become unnoticeable to the wearer. Their weight is negligible at roughly an ounce (28 grams). I haven’t tested them for many hours at a time, but I imagine they wouldn’t be too bad over time.
Proprietary Magnetic Cable (media by JC)
The battery is advertised at 10 hours, and I confirmed this. A short 5-minute charge adds at least an hour of usage time.
I was a little disappointed to see they included a proprietary cable in the box for charging. Heaven forbid they should offer a micro-USB or USB-C option! You certainly do not want to lose this little gem, as most people don’t have many of these in their sea of cables. I can see this as a problem in the future should I misplace this cable. Shokz must be anticipating this as their accessories page is easily accessible. (Expect to pay $12.99 plus shipping)
Closed case (media by JC)
It was nice to see they included a semi-hard case in the box. I consider this a must when traveling through TSA at the airport.
Open Case (Media by JC)
Make a note of the special holder for the cable. I will do my best to keep the cable in this case at all times.
Filled case (media by JC)
The case is just large enough to put a small battery in it. This may be an excellent way to ensure you always have charged headphones (Although the charging port on the headphones is covered when they are in this position)
Multi-Function Button (media by JC)
Conclusion: There is a place for these headphones in my gadget line-up. Shokz has made a viable piece of technology with valid improvements. I envision using these on my long bike trips and still hearing approaching traffic or other passerby’s. Ten hours of playing time should be enough to ensure I don’t run out of tunes or talk time. The little voice assistant will let me know if my battery is high, medium, or low. I can long-press the MF (Multi-function) button and pull up Siri on my phone if I need additional information.
Overall, color me impressed. I can only imagine what another nine generations will do with this technology!