How Do Bone Conduction Earphones Work and What Are Their Disadvantages?
Feb 14,2023 | David
In recent years, you may find that more and more people around you are wearing a kind of earphone clipped to the edge of the temple. Most of these headphones are bone conduction headphones.
So, what are bone conduction earphones?
They are sound transmission devices that transmits sound through the vibration of the skull so that people can perceive speech.
In physics, sound can be transmitted through solids, air, and liquids as media. Traditional earphones transmit sound through the air, while bone conduction earphones transmit sound through the solid of the skull.
Bone conduction device include conduction speaker and bone conduction microphone:
(1) Bone conduction speakers are used to listen to the sound. It converts the electromagnetic signal into sound waves (also called vibration signals) directly through the bone to the auditory nerve and makes the brain center feel the sound.
(2) The bone conduction microphone is used to collect sound. It uses the slight vibration of the head and neck bones caused by human speech to collect sound signals and convert them into electromagnetic signals.
Bone conduction technology is very mature and widely used. In the early days, it was mainly used in hearing aids, emergency rescue, military, and other professional fields. In recent years, it has gradually been applied in the field of consumer electronics.
How do bone conduction earphones work
Before explaining how bone conduction earphones work, let me briefly explain how humans hear sound.
The most common way we hear sound in our daily life is that sound reaches our ears in the form of vibrations in the air. This vibration travels through the ear canal, vibrates the eardrum, and reaches the cochlea to help us to perceive sound. The cochlea is shaped like a snail and is responsible for transmitting sound information to the brain. But humans can also hear the sound without using the ear canal. For example, when we chew nuts, we can hear the sound without passing through the air, that is, the sound is transmitted through bone conduction.
Bone conduction technology is a mechanism that transmits sound without passing through the ear canal or eardrum, instead the bone around the ear vibrates to transmit the sound signal to the cochlea. It should be noted that we hear sound with the cochlea instead of the eardrum, which is just an intermediate step in the process of air-conducting sound. When people hear sound, whether it is air conduction or bone conduction, if the appropriate vibration reaches the cochlea, they can hear the sound.
Bone conduction earphones are sound-receiving devices made of bone conduction technology. During the sound transmission process, they directly bypass the ear canal and eardrum and reach the cochlea. Compared with air-conduction headphones, there are fewer steps for sound transmission when using them. Just because they take a shortcut, they also reduce the damage to the ear canal and eardrum, making them the healthiest headphones.
What are the disadvantages of bone conduction earphones?
1. The sound quality is slightly worse than traditional headphones
To be honest, the sound quality of bone conduction earphones is slightly worse than that of traditional noise-canceling headphones, and it is not noise-canceling headphones. With the continuous improvement of technology, although it cannot be said that the sound quality is already excellent, at least it can be heard that it has improved from generation to generation. Whether it is human voices or musical instruments, all are very clear. It is more than needs for listening to music while running. Especially in the past year, the sound quality of the products has improved rapidly. Some leading brands, such as wissonly and aftershokz, have sound quality very close to traditional headphones.
2. Sound leakage
Because the sounding principle of bone conduction earphones is that the vibration unit emits mechanical vibrations, which cause bone vibrations and transmit them to the cochlea. When the sound unit vibrates the bones, it also inevitably vibrates the air, resulting in sound leakage. The sound leakage problem of them is a common phenomenon. Almost all of them have sound leakage problems. It’s just that some good bone conduction earphones have been optimized in structure and algorithm, which has greatly improved the problem of sound leakage.
3. It is uncomfortable to wear for a long time
As mentioned above, the bone conduction earphones emit sound through the vibration unit. When you wear it, the vibration unit is close to the temple, and there will inevitably be a little vibration sense. Wearing it for a long time may make the area around the temple uncomfortable. Therefore, it is generally not recommended to wear it continuously for more than 4 hours. It should be noted that listening to music for a long time is not very good for the ears, no matter what headphones you wear.
4. The price is slightly higher
Qualified bone conduction earphones must solve problems such as sound leakage, sound quality, and wearing comfort. A lot of costs will be invested in technology, materials, and manufacturing processes, which also makes the price of them a little more expensive than ordinary earphones. But this year, with the rapid popularity of bone conduction earphones, after a substantial increase in production, prices have also dropped significantly.
The above are some disadvantages of bone conduction earphones, some are common to all headphones, and some are unique to them. Although some shortcomings cannot be concealed,but they are some advantages of them such as less damage to hearing, safer outdoor use, and the ability to keep the ear canal clean and reduce bacterial growth, have made bone conduction headphones more and more popular.
The following are recommendations for several excellent bone conduction earphones. Some of these earphones have good sound quality and sound leak reduction, and some are low-cost entry-level products.
1. Wissonly Hi Runner bone conduction headphones
Wissonly bone conduction headphones is the first brand I came into contact with. I first found it on the crowdfunding website. Later, I bought it after seeing many people's recommendations in some online running forums. After my long-term comparative test, the overall function of this Hi Runner model product is very powerful, which greatly exceeds my expectations.
Their team is one of the best talents in the field of bone conduction. The product director was once the core engineer of a first-line brand, and has accumulated 10 years' experience in the field of bone conduction technology. Wissonly Hi Runner increases the vibration area of the sound source vibrator by 35% through excellent structural design, which makes the music feel more spatial and immersive. It is also excellent in sound leakage reduction. The fully wrapped design reduces the vibration of the shell, and the structural optimization makes the sound leakage wave be offset, thus avoiding 90% sound leakage, which is much better than the bone conduction headphones of the same price on the market.
The fully-enclosed design of Wissonly Hi Runner bone conduction headphones makes its waterproof grade to IPX8, which means that you can wear it for bathing, swimming and even diving within 20 meters. Even better, the Hi Runner headphones has a built-in storage of 32GB, which can store 5,000 songs. It can still be used without the mobile phone. It supports both MP3 mode and Bluetooth mode. It is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 chip, which makes it superior to most bone conduction headphones in transmission distance, connection stability and power consumption.
2. Philips A6606 bone conduction headphones
Philips A6606 adopts the latest generation of exterior design, which strengthens water resistance and slip resistance during sports for a more stable fit. The surface of its body uses skin-friendly materials, which will be more comfortable to wear. The body is also relatively light, and there is no sense of weight when wearing. It also has a night running indicator to ensure that the cyclist or vehicle behind you can see you during night running, thus you can avoid danger. From a configuration point of view, the configuration of this product may not be very high, but Philips' quality is trustworthy. The price may be slightly expensive.
3.AfterShokz OPENRUN PRO bone conduction headphones
Openrun Pro bone conduction headphones are worn in an ear-hanging structure with both ears. The body frame is made of titanium alloy, which makes the weight of the headphones very light, only 26g, and there is no sense of weight when wearing them. The body is made of soft and skin-friendly silicone material, which also makes it more comfortable to wear. As the body is integrated, this also makes Openrun Pro inherently has a good waterproof performance. Its waterproof rating reaches IP67, and there is no problem in sweating and getting wet in the rain. However, it is not professional waterproof after all. Therefore, it can't be used when swimming.
4.Earsopen SS900 bone conduction headphones
The SS900 headphones are equipped with a bone conduction miniature vibration unit inside the body, which reduces the weight of the body and improves the performance of low frequencies, allowing a wide range of sound. With the help of PreciseAir 3.0 integrated technology, the internal parts of the body are simplified and the sound leakage is reduced. It has IPX7 level waterproof,can be use while rainning but cannot be used underwater for long time. Its 5.2 Bluetooth version makes the connection more stable. It also supports Type-C charging mode, there is also a fast charging mode.
The overall performance is good, but there are obvious shortcomings at high frequencies, and there will be harsh sound phenomena.
5. vidonn F3 bone conduction headphones
The weight of this bone conduction headphone is only 29g, and there is comfortable when it is used, whether it is hanging on the neck or hanging on the ear for a long time. The charging port of F3 headphones is a universal standard MICRO-USB interface. The charging port is waterproof with a soft rubber plug, which is not connected to the body, so there is a risk of loss. The disadvantage is that the sound quality is average, and the sound leakage is serious.
Among the above five earphones, Wissonly and Aftershokz have the strongest comprehensive strength. Both brands have strong technical accumulation in the field of bone conduction, which ensures the quality of products.If you pay more attention to product parameters and cost performance, Wissonly will be a good choice.