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What Is Bone Conduction Earphones and What Are The Disadvantages and Advantages of Them?

Jan 16,2023 | Sylvia

When some people who love sports are running or cycling outside, you may see that they wear headphones on their ears but not tuck into the ear. In fact, the headphones are probably bone conduction headphones.

So what is bone conduction headphones?

Simply put, bone conduction headphones are headphones made based on bone conduction technology. The more complete statement of bone conduction technology should be bone conduction sound transmission technology. It directly uses human bones as a sound transmission medium, So sound waves do not need to pass through the external auditory canal and tympanic membrane,But pass directly to the inner ear.

Bone conduction headphones and traditional headphones are completely different in the use of method. They are an open structure of its body. when using them, we put the sound source of bone conduction headphones against the skull next to the ear. The sound source vibration will drive the skull to vibrate together. So the sound wave pass through the skull bypassing the external auditory canal and tympanic membrane and are directly transmitted to the ossicles. The ossicle then transmit the sound waves into the bone labyrinth, so that the sound information is transmitted to the cochlea and auditory nerve, etc.. And finally we hear the sound.

Bone conduction headphones has a lot of advantages and disadvantages,in order to help you better understand these,let’s first introduce the working principle of bone conduction headphones.

The working principles of bone conduction headphones?

Before understanding the working principles of bone conduction headphones, we need to review our middle school physics to understand the three mediums for sound transmit: air, solids, and liquids. Air conduction is what we know most about, such as ordinary conversation is the case that sound transmit through air. When your place ear to the railway, and when a train comes in the distance, you can hear the sound, which is the case of sound transmission by solid. When we dive, we can hear the sound of the engine of a ship in the distance, which is the case of sound transmission by liquid.

Bone conduction headphones are a device that transmits sound through solid (bone) conduction. It transmits sound by vibrating your skull. This is unlike the air conduction of traditional wired and wireless headphones. Bone conduction headphones do not transmit sound through the eardrum, so even if the volume is slightly louder, it will not easily damage the eardrum.

We can compare the sound transmission paths of bone conduction and air conduction

Bone conduction pathways: sound waves, skull, bone labyrinth, inner ear lymph, spiral organ, auditory nerve, auditory center of the cerebral cortex

Air conduction pathways: sound waves, auricle, external auditory canal, periosteum, ossicles, vestibular window, internal and external lymph, spiral organ, auditory nerve, cerebral cortex auditory center

We can see that bone conduction has a shorter sound transmission path than air conduction, and that it takes a shortcut. And this shortcut helps bone conduction headphones not to be stuffed into the ear or wrapped around the ear. So the headphones will not cover the ear canals and have no damage to the eardrums, and the damage to the auditory nerve is relatively low.

What are the disadvantages of bone conduction headphones?

1. The sound quality is slightly worse than traditional headphones

To be honest, the sound quality of bone conduction headphones 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 headphones 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 headphones 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 headphones 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 headphones, after a substantial increase in production, prices have also dropped significantly.

The above are some disadvantages of bone conduction headphones, 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.

Bone conduction headphone is an excellent headphones, which is worth buying. If you are also interested, I will recommend several best headphones for you below.

1. Wissonly Hi runner bone conduction headphones

Reason for recommendation:

The Wissonly team has always attached great importance to the opinions of customers. It is said that their Hi runner model invited thousands of users to participate in the test, and that they constantly adjusted the design based on customer feedback. It is said that because of this, the product launch time was delayed by 3 months compared to the original plan time. I was so moved by this story that I bought their products.

Wissonly Hi Runner attaches great importance to sound quality. Their sound source adopts a large-sized vibrator, and through the clever structural design, the vibration area is increased by 35%. So the sound range is wider and the sound is more powerful. They have also made a lot of efforts in the treatment of sound leakage. The headphones’ body is sealed and integrated to minimize sound leakage.

Hi Runner are also equipped with a new Bluetooth 5.0 chip. They have stronger anti-interference ability, and can easily cope with various complex outdoor scenes without disconnection. They support IPX8 waterproof grade higher than the industry standard, are equipped with 32G body memory. They have stable connection and low latency performance. In listening to songs, chasing dramas, or playing games, they can meet all daily needs for headphones.

The Wissonly Hi Runner weigh less than 30g, have no weight bearing when worn, are very comfortable, and are very suitable for long-term use during sports.

2. Philips A6606 bone conduction headphones

Reason for recommendation:

Philips A6606 has a good appearance, and its strange dark gray shape has a special sense of technology. The novel rear-hanging design is sporty. Its surface is made of silica gel, which is delicate and smooth to the touch, and its interface is also very flat. There is no doubt about Philips’ manufacturing process. The headphones’ body is made of waterproof silica gel and titanium alloy, so its weight is only 36g, and it feels very light to use. Its frame is made of memory titanium alloy, which can be stretched and bent repeatedly. It is specially designed for fun run mode and equipped with LED fun run warning lights.

Philips’ products are still trustworthy, but the price is a little expensive and the cost performance is average.

3.AfterShokz OPENRUN PRO bone conduction headphones

Reason for recommendation:

The tuning and wearing are good, a relatively mature bone conduction product.

Openrun PRO also pays great attention to comfort in wearing, and its body is made of skin-friendly silicone which makes it more comfortable, and it can be better enjoyed. In order to reduce the weight, titanium alloy is selected in its connection material, which is not easy to bend and deform, ensuring the service life. The bone conduction headphones are also equipped with Qualcomm QCC3024 chip and Bluetooth 5.0, and have stable connection and no disconnection in daily use.

4.Earsopen PEACE bone conduction headphones

Reason for recommendation:

Unlike other bone conduction headphones, this one has a charging case. The “T” shaped structure makes it stable as long as it is clamped on the ear. But due to the design of the clip ear, it may be a little uncomfortable after wearing it for a long time. It adopts the Bluetooth version of 5.0, can connect stably in a short distance and without obstacles. It reaches IPX7 level in waterproofing, can be immersed underwater for thirty minutes. In terms of sound quality, the sound quality of the human voice is clear, and the extension of the high tone is also good, but it will still appear turbid at the low frequencies.

5. Vidonn F3 bone conduction headphones

Reason for recommendation:

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.

My opinion is that when choosing bone conduction headphones, we must choose those brands with strong technology accumulation, such as Wissonly and Aftershokz. Compared with the two brands, Wissonly has a very high cost performance and is more worth buying.