Music with a difference: Stiftung Warentest took a look at so-called bone conduction headphones in the latest issue. They direct the sound to the inner ear without sitting in or on the ear. The testers found that this was great for athletes in particular.
The trend is clearly towards in-ear headphones such as AirPods Pro, Pixel Buds Pro or Galaxy Buds with active noise cancellation. If you want more music and even more silence, you can use earphones such as a Bose Quietcomfort 45 or Sony WH-1000XM5. However, for outdoor sports activities, especially where there is a lot of traffic, hiding the environment can be a disadvantage. This is also why, according to Stiftung Warentest, bone conduction headphones are an interesting alternative.
Music as the most beautiful thing
With this type of headphones, the ear remains completely free. The bone conduction headphones sit slightly in front of the ear and – like a headset – are placed on the head with a bracket. The headphones conduct the sound via skin and bones to the inner ear, so metaphorically speaking, they take a small detour. However, the selection of these very special devices is manageable, which is why Warentest only tested three models.
According to Stiftung Warentest, the bone conduction headphones are particularly useful for people who “want to be aware of their surroundings or want to be approachable, even when listening to music.” The testers found that the special transmission also had an effect on the sound. The sound sounds more natural, but the bass in particular only comes through very weakly. All in all, the testers did not attest any model to have a good sound, even the test winner in this category only achieved the grade “sufficient” (3.7).
Nevertheless, there are other good reasons for the devices, according to Warentest. Bone conduction headphones therefore do not generate any pressure in the ear, acoustic isolation is impossible, there is no build-up of heat during sporting activity and it is helpful with hearing deficits, since the technology does not require an outer or middle ear and helps people who have problems in these areas normally hard to hear.
Since the correct fit is crucial for the transmission, Stiftung Warentest mentions possible problems for people who wear glasses, who may have difficulties adjusting the headphones optimally and thus struggle with poorer sound.
One manufacturer occupies the two best places
The Shokz company took the first two places in the test with the models “Openrun Pro” for 189 euros (“satisfactory”, 3.1) and “Openmove” for 89 euros (“satisfactory”, 3.4). When it comes to sound, both models do not go beyond “sufficient”, the wearing comfort of both models is “satisfactory”. In both cases, the testers rated the wearing comfort positively and attested the two models long battery life, whereby the inexpensive model lasted around three hours longer than the test winner at 13 hours.
The third participant in the test, the TAA6606 model from Philips for 108 euros, is ahead of the Shokz devices in just one discipline. Instead of only being protected against water jets (IP55), the headphones from Philips can even be submerged for a short time (IP67), which theoretically makes the model even suitable for swimming. Shokz offers its own model called “Openswim” for around 130 euros, which is not included in the test.
You can find the complete test for a fee at test.de.
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