6 Min

A Deep Dive into Bone Conduction Headphones

While bone conduction headphones sound strange, they're actually a comfortable alternative to earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. Read more!

Nicole Brener
Nicole Brener
A Deep Dive into Bone Conduction Headphones

Headphones that sit outside your ears? While bone conduction headphones sound strange, they're actually a comfortable alternative to earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. 

The open-ear design lets you enjoy your favorite music while staying aware of your surroundings.

So what are bone conduction headphones, and how do they work?

Sound can be transmitted through solids, air, and liquids. 

Traditional earphones transmit sound through the air as they sit inside the ear canal. In contrast, bone conduction headphones sit against your cheekbones rather than fitting inside your ears and transmit sound vibrations through your bones (solids) directly to your inner ear. 

In doing so, your ear canal remains open and can pick up external sounds, helping you stay aware of your surroundings.

If you're interested in trying these out, Shokz is the leading brand in bone conduction headphones. Let's take a closer look at how they perform. 

A woman jogging in the street wearing bone-conduction headphones
A woman jogging in the street wearing bone-conduction headphones

Are Shokz bone-conduction headphones comfortable?

Shokz bone conduction headphones are flexible and easy to put on and take off. They are worn similarly to headbands or sunglasses and offer a classic style with an individual fit. 

An optional headband is included for a more secure fit during workouts or outdoor runs. And even if they do happen to move a little, you never feel like they're at risk of coming off. 

Users across the board have reported how light and comfortable they feel, so much so that the moment you put them on, you forget they're there. 

Features and design

A man wearing Shokz bone conduction technology headphones and a woman wearing Shokz DirectPitch technology headphones.
A man wearing Shokz bone conduction technology headphones and a woman wearing Shokz DirectPitch technology headphones. 

Shokz bone conduction headphones are available in several colors and use two ground-breaking technologies, Bone Conduction Technology and Air Conduction (DirectPitch) Technology, to transmit sound to your ears without obstructing them. 

Open-ear design

The benefits of the unique open-ear design include:

  • Ear Hygiene 

Traditional earplugs rest inside the ear canal, potentially leading to earwax buildup, blockages, or infections. The open-ear design helps your ears stay clean and moisture-free without blocking your ear canal. 

  • Situational Awareness

With open-ear headphones, you’ll experience increased awareness as you can enjoy audio without being isolated from your surroundings.

  • Comfort

Shokz headphones are made for long-term comfort. Their flexible design leaves the ear canal open, alleviating the pressure that can build up in in-ear headphones.

Battery life

Shokz bone-conduction headphones have a battery life of about eight hours and take about two hours for a full charge. 

Shokz bone-conduction headphones include a charging cable. The unique cable is specifically designed for Shokz headphones, limiting compatibility with universal chargers. It’s important to keep the charging cable safe and not lose it, as others won’t work.

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Sound quality

Sound quality is a critical factor for many users when choosing headphones. Shokz bone-conduction headphones deliver good sound quality; however, since they have an open-ear design, they won’t work nearly as well as traditional over-the-ear or noise-canceling headphones. They work great for making phone calls or listening to podcasts. 

For those looking to immerse themselves completely in the sound experience, using these headphones may take some time to get used to, as the environmental sound may sometimes interfere with your listening experience. The outside volume can easily overcome the headphones since nothing is blocking your ear.  

If you prefer to block out noise, try wearing earplugs to reduce ambient noise. 

Buttons and Controls

The headphones feature a large multifunction button to easily control volume, change tracks, pause music, and answer or hang up calls. 

Water resistance capabilities

With an IP67 rating, these headphones are water-resistant, which means they're safe to wear during rain and a sweaty workout but not meant for swimming. 

A woman in activewear wearing Shokz bone-conduction headphones
A woman in activewear wearing Shokz bone-conduction headphones

Bone Conduction Technology vs. DirectPitch Technology

Bone Conduction Technology and Air Conduction (DirectPitch) Technology are based on an open-ear design. While bone conduction technology, with its water resistance, is optimal for sports performance, the DirectPitch technology used in the Shokz OpenFit design addresses vibration and neckband issues, making it ideal for everyday scenarios. 

Choosing one design over the other is a personal choice based on comfort preference, activity level and lifestyle. 

Are bone-conduction headphones safe?

Bone conduction technology is considered safe when used with sensible listening, such as keeping the volume at 50-60% and wearing earplugs in noisy environments. 

Even though bone conduction headphones bypass the eardrum, the cochlea is still involved in the hearing process. Listening at excessively high volumes for extended periods can strain the cochlea, leading to potential hearing issues over time.

It’s important to note that for those who experience noise sensitivity, open-ear headphone designs may not be ideal, as they still allow outer noise to enter your ear canal.

What are the drawbacks of bone-conduction headphones?

The most common side effect is some people's discomfort with the vibrating sensation directly on the skull. For some, this experience can feel unusual, especially when the volume is turned on high.

As with any wearable device, proper fitting is key to avoid overtightening and skin irritation, especially for people with sensitive skin.

Are bone-conduction headphones better for people with hearing loss?

Bone-conduction headphones may benefit people with hearing loss, particularly those with conductive hearing loss, where the issue lies in conducting sound waves through the outer and middle ear. 

Can you wear bone-conduction headphones with hearing aids?

Individuals who use in-the-ear (TE) or invisible (IIC) hearing aids should be able to comfortably wear bone-conduction headphones. Alternatively, they may pose some discomfort if worn with behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), or open-fit hearing aids because they make contact with the device.


Bone-conduction headphones are an exciting innovation emphasizing situational awareness and ear safety. With an open-ear design, users can safely enjoy a listening experience while remaining vigilant of their surroundings. At the same time, they are an alternative for those who find in-ear designs uncomfortable and seek a minimalist design instead of over-the-ear headphones.

Nicole Brener
Nicole Brener

Copywriter based in Miami, FL. Leads copywriting workshops and mentors women entrepreneurs at the Idea Center of Miami Dade College.

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