Best bone-conduction headphones in 2024

If you're looking to find the best bone-conduction headphones, we've carried out extensive testing to help you find the right model for your activity and budget. Whether for ear health or awareness in situations where it’s important to hear what’s happening around you, bone conduction technology is becoming a viable alternative to headphones that blast sound directly into your ears.

All the models in this list deliver an open-ear listening experience and are the best bone-conduction headphones we've tested. They come with strong features for active lifestyles, as well as great styling and high comfort levels. During our review process, we evaluate everything from design and fit to audio quality and features that help you customize the listening experience. We also test each pair of bone-conduction headphones for battery life to see if the claimed endurance lives up to everyday usage.

As with buying any pair of headphones, it can be helpful to think about where you want to wear them. Whether you're looking for a pair of noise-canceling headphones to take calls, going for a run, or commuting to work and need to stay connected to the world around you with an open-ear design, we've tested the bone-conduction headphones available.

Read on for my best bone-conduction headphones picks for all kinds of budgets and lifestyles to undergo our rigorous tests with all kinds of activities.

Recent updates

Updated January 17: We saw some of the best audio gear announced at CES 2024 earlier this month. Mojawa's HaptiFit Terra caught our attention for its ability to shift fitness tracking from post-workout to real-time. It straddles the line between audio, fitness and AI verticals as an integrated smart sports device that combines haptic technology, bone conduction audio and AI Sports Trainer. So, if you're someone who likes a motivational playlist while training, the Mojawa could help to further your fitness goals. The Mojawa HaptiFit Terra will be available in March for $299. Look out for our full review coming soon.

The quick list

Already know what type of bone-conduction headphone you’re looking for? Here’s a quick list of our winners, so you can save time and jump right into the reviews. Still not sure? Just scroll on to see all our full list of recommendations.

The best bone-conduction headphones you can buy right now

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Best bone-conduction headphones overall

Shokz OpenRun Pro reviewEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The ultimate bone-conduction headphones for active lifestsyles

Specifications

Weight: 1.0 ounces
Batter life (rated) : 10 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Storage: None
Durability: IP55

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and lightweight
+
Good sound for bone conduction
+
Good call quality
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t adjust fit
-
No auto-off function

The Shokz OpenRun Pro were the first new launch after the company rebrand from AfterShokz and introduced stronger bass performance, improved microphone quality, larger buttons, and longer battery life. Despite their status as the champion of bone conduction technology, our original review mentioned that the headphones didn't automatically turn off when still wearing them but not listening to music, which causes the battery to run down unnecessarily. Luckily, a 5-minute quick charge gives around 1.5 hours of listening time should you find the battery depleted. Also, the case is protective, but it doesn’t have built-in charging. 

The Shokz OpenRun Pro come the closest of any bone conduction headphones we’ve tested to delivering all-encompassing sound. They excelled with electronic synth riffs, maintaining precision and sophistication throughout Van Halen’s “Jump.” Rihanna’s “We Found Love” sounded sexy, yet still punchy. During our test we found that vocals weren’t as pronounced as we'd usually like, though the witty verses of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us” held their own against the soaring piano line. 

Read the full Shokz OpenRun Pro review.

Best value bone-conduction headphones

Shokz OpenRunbest value awards badge

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Practical workout-friendly design with great comfort

Specifications

Weight: 0.9 ounces
Battery life (rated): 8 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Storage: None
Durability: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, secure fit
+
Long battery life
+
Fully waterproof
+
Respectable sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit isn't adjustable

The Shokz OpenRun were originally called AfterShokz Aeropex, and make a great introduction to the Shokz range of bone conduction headphones. Unlike the Shokz OpenRun Pro, these come in four dual-color options, including blue eclipse, cosmic black, lunar grey, and solar red. They're fraction lighter than the OpenRun Pro, and the barely-there weight lands perfectly between comfort and the kind of secure fit you want from a set of sports headphones. 

At the time of testing, our reviewer found they could wear these bone conduction headphones for hours without complaint. It’s worth noting, though, that you can’t adjust the OpenRun in any way but you can get a smaller “Mini” version for the same price if the distance between the backs of your ears is less than 9.3 inches.

In terms of sound quality, the OpenRun exceeded our expectations. Electronic music seems particularly compatible with this type of headphone; the main synth riff in The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” wasn’t diminished at all, and La Roux’s “Bulletproof” was pleasantly punchy. Vocals are usually nice and clear too, and delivered with enough detail that it’s possible to pick out all the layers of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Certain effects can sound scratchy, though, and the bass never goes truly, powerfully deep.

Read the full Shokz OpenRun review.

Best bone-conduction headphones for swimmers

Shokz OpenSwim / Best waterproof headphones shown poolside

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best headphones for swimmers

Specifications

Weight: 1.05 ounces
Battery life (rated): 8 hours
Connectivity: N/A
Storage: 4GB
Durability: IP68

Reasons to buy

+
Slim and lightweight design
+
Clear, enjoyable sound in the water
+
Straightforward to store music

Reasons to avoid

-
No Bluetooth connectivity
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Battery prompts inaccurate
-
High price compared to rival bone conduction models

The Shokz OpenSwim are primarily designed for swimmers who want to zone out and listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks while going for a dip and getting some laps in. They rank at the top of the best waterproof headphones for swimming, and our fitness editor found they revolutionized workouts. Crucially though, they don't have Bluetooth connectivity and you only get sound by transferring audio files to the built-in music player, which stores up to 1,200 tracks. 

The OpenSwim design doesn't shy too far away from that of the OpenRun and OpenRun Pro headphones (listed above), with a slender wraparound titanium frame that slips effortlessly under a swim cap when using them in the water.

Playing back files and a bunch of podcasts with a mix of music and podcast chatter while introducing the earbuds into the water didn’t muddy the sound. They handled bass-heavy sounds well with an enjoyable amount of thump. A Swimming mode offered a boost for voice-based podcasts where the bump in volume and clarity felt most noticeable. The General mode was versatile enough to work for different types of audio both in and out of the water.

The Shokz OpenSwim are versatile enough whether you're simply walking around, going for a run, or want something that's reliably waterproof.

Read the full Shokz OpenSwim review.

Best bone-conduction headphones for aquathlons

Naenka Runner Driver 3 on a wall

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best dual-mode playback option with strong water resistance

Specifications

Weight: 1.23 ounces
Battery life (rated): 10 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3
Storage: 16GB
Durabaility: IPX8

Reasons to buy

+
Enjoyable bone conduction sound
+
Has Bluetooth and 16GB storage playback mode
+
Easy to access physical controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the slimmest bone conduction headphones
-
Shorter battery life in music player mode
-
Unsuitable for calls

The Naenka Runner Diver offer Bluetooth and music player streaming in one neat package that's even suitable to use underwater. They cost less than Shokz’ swim-friendly OpenSwim headphones and are built from a mix of titanium and silicone to keep them light and comfortable. Nevertheless, they weigh 1.20 ounces (around 35g) and are bulkiest at the point where the 16GB flash storage for the music player is located.  

The Runner Diver managed to handle bass-focused sounds without tearing into the treble and mid frequencies. Our reviewer enjoyed good detail and clarity with both Bluetooth and onboard playback that worked well when switching to more conversation-driven podcasts. The sound wasn’t as murky as our reviewer anticipated during swims, but with only one microphone, these aren't the best for making calls. The battery life and solid water resistance are major plus points, making the Naenka Runner Driver worthy of consideration for active lifestyles both in and out of the water.

Read the full Naenka Runner Diver review.  

Best bone-conduction headphones for calls

Haylou PurFree BC01 on a wall

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best for ease of use and taking calls

Specifications

Weight: 0.98 ounces
Battery life (rated): 8 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Storage: None
Durability: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Bright, punchy sound quality
+
Comfortable to wear for long periods
+
Good clarity for calls

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly scratchy sounding on some music
-
Needs better battery prompts

These Qualcomm-powered Haylou PurFree BC01 bone-conduction headphones have an IP67 waterproof rating, meaning they're built to handle seriously sweaty workouts, but won't rank among the best waterproof headphones for swimming. They have two microphones to battle background noise so calls come out nice and clear, and a fast charge mode gets you 2 hours of playback from just a 10-minute charge.

They weigh just 0.98 ounces (around 28g), so they’re up there with some of the lightest bone conduction headphones. The dual microphone array with a cVc noise canceling algorithm detects background sounds and reduces them when you need to make a call indoors or outdoors, and it works to impressive effect. If fact, they deliver enjoyable sound whether you choose to exercise with them or use them for taking calls, and are comfortable to wear for long periods.

Read the full Haylou PurFree BC01 review. 

Best budget hybrid bone-conduction headphones

Creative Outlier Free Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Versatile pool-friendly bone-conduction headphones for less

Specifications

Weight: 1.11 ounces
Battery life (rated): 10 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3
Storage: 8GB
Durability: IPX8

Reasons to buy

+
Light, comfortable design make them great for long-term use
+
Offers Bluetooth and music player streaming
+
Quick charge battery mode
+
Versatile design

Reasons to avoid

-
Not super clear bone conduction sound
-
Microphone protector a bit flimsy

The Creative Outlier Free Pro launched at $129, but has since dropped to $99, putting it much closer in price to the Outlier Free ($79.99). That also makes them a cheaper alternative to waterproof bone conduction headphones like the Shokz OpenSwim and Naenka Runner Diver.

This make the Creative Outlier Free Pro headphones an affordable route into bone-conduction designs. They are comfortable to wear for long periods, and versatile enough to work with Bluetooth streams on dry land as well as storage playback for pool swims. Sacrifices have been made where sound quality is concerned though, and you'll need to spend a bit more if you want best in class sound with a similar level of versatility.

Read the full Creative Outlier Free Pro review

How to choose the best bone-conduction headphones for you

Design: As with shopping for any headphones, you’ve already narrowed things down by deciding on a pair of bone-conduction headphones specifically. But there can still be variation in the design of individual pairs, so you should still look out for factors like the wraparound headband shape and size to judge how comfortable they might be. Don’t be afraid to pass on headphones you don’t like the aesthetics of, too.

Water resistance: One of the most important considerations for anyone choosing a pair of bone-conduction headphones is durability. Whether carrying out activities on land or swimming in water, headphones with the IPX7 grading offer 30 minutes of listening at one meter of depth, while the IPX8 grading provides one hour at two-meter depth. 

Audio performance: The very nature of the open-ear design of bone-conduction headphones means they're never going to match the sound quality of the best over-ear headphones, but sound quality is still important whether you're listening to music or podcasts or taking calls. You can read more about our performance tests below, but you should consider whether you’d prefer a balanced sound or one that favors a particular part of the frequency spectrum — electronic music fans might prefer heavy bass, for example.

Battery life: Think about how much battery life you’ll need as well. Bone-conduction headphones can deliver anywhere between 8 and 10 hours of playback between charges so you may need to recharge more regularly than other wireless headphone and earbud designs. Also, most designs don't have wireless charging.

Pricing considerations: Obviously, price is a big consideration when looking for the best bone-conduction headphones. Although there are always exceptions, big-name brands will typically command a bit extra, but generally speaking, the less you spend on a pair of headphones the greater the chance that sound and features will be compromised. Going for a budget option isn't always the best choice, as any money you save on your purchase won't do you much good if you're constantly needing to recharge your audio gear, or the sound quality is poor. 

As the saying goes: timing is everything; and right now many of our favorite models are being discounted by online retailers, meaning you can bag a bargain for even less. Bookmark our best headphone deals page to keep track on the latest discounts.

Frequently asked questions

What do durability IP-ratings mean? 

IP-ratings refer to the level of Ingress Protection (IP) from liquids and dirt that a device is protected from. This is part of a device's durability. 

IP-ratings explained: The first digit refers to the level of protection from solid particles, such as dust and sand. The scale ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (dust-tight) for full protection. For example, an IP6X rating ensures that the device is completely dust-tight, making it ideal for harsh outdoor conditions or industrial settings where fine dust particles are common. 

The second digit refers to a devices resistance to moisture, and the scale ranges from 0 (no protection) to 8 for the highest level of protection. For example, with an IPX4 rating, earbuds are protected from water splashes from any direction, while an IPX7 rating ensures that the device can be submerged in water up to 1 meter (around 3 feet) for 30 minutes without any damage.

Most common IP ratings explained

Swipe to scroll horizontally
RatingLevel of protection
IPX4This rating shows that the device has been tested and offers protection against splashes of water, making them suitable for workouts or light rain.
IPX6This rating indicates that the device can withstands power jets of water from any direction.
IPX8The device is waterproof and fully submersible up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 mins.

How we test best bone-conduction headphones

We thoroughly test every pair of bone-conduction headphones based on a variety of factors, and employ a consistent testing approach so any comparisons with other pairs are trustworthy and fair. 

In this case, every pair of bone-conduction headphones has been used over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. This allows the tester to both gauge the performance across a mix of audio material such as podcasts and music at different volumes, and to see how comfortable they are when worn for extended periods. 

Although the design of bone-conduction headphones transmit sound vibrations along your cheekbones instead of directing soundwaves into your ear canal to your cochlea, the listening process is similar. As with all the best headphones and best wireless earbuds our full reviews are backed by extensive listening tests covering hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical, pop and more to see how each pair handles a different mix of genres and sounds. Find out how we test and try out demo tracks for yourself in our guide to getting the best headphone sound for you

We test any water resistant models in real-life situations just as they would be worn by the user, and we make sure manufacturer claims about battery life and Bluetooth range are accurate. Build quality, the ease of setup and any control schemes — including those involving an app — will also be judged.

We rate over-ear headphones with a 5-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Products that excel in one or more particular fields that's rated 4 stars or above may also receive an Editor’s Choice award.

Find out how we test for more information on our reviewing procedures.

Contributions from: Kate Kozuch, James Archer, Michael Sawh.

More from Tom's Guide

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.

  • NairPrakash
    Naenka - REALLY? I purchased it and was not happy with the quality. When I asked to return it (within 10 days of purchase), they wanted me to ship the product to an address in China! After they receive, they would evaluate and offer refund only if there was a manufacturing defect. So much for a 'no questions asked' return policy they advertise! I literally threw the product in the trash where it belonged.
    So, when you rate their product as 'good', I have to take all your recommendations with a grain of salt.
    Reply