Here’s the thing, some people will say that you can just use one pair of headphones for everything. Those people are wrong. The headphones you use to block out background noise while sitting on a train probably won’t be as good for running or cycling outside when you need full awareness (unless your ears have a vice-like grip on Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, in which case you have my persistent jealousy). But I am here to tell you about headphones that you absolutely need for exercise and almost no other purpose: Shokz.
Shokz is a company that you might know best as AfterShokz, back when it was primarily in the bone conduction headphones business. But, for the company’s 10th anniversary it rebranded to Shokz and renamed its products to names you might actually remember/realise what they were from the name, rather than sounding like some kind of avant garde art piece.
The benefit of going for Shokz headphones, like OpenFit or OpenRun is that your ears remain open and you can hear the world around you. This is absolutely vital if you run or ride outside, so you can hear when a car is about to hit you because the infrastructure sucks. I also really like the OpenFit headphones for taking calls handsfree, because the microphone is surprisingly good (even when riding a bike under 20kmph), and I am too lazy to hold my phone to my ear on long calls.
Shokz OpenRun uses bone conduction technology, so it vibrates the music through your skull/jaw, leaving your ears free to process what’s going on around them. I’ve been using them (and their predecessors) for years and am a big fan, even if bass-heavy songs can get a bit concussive (the OpenRun Pro is a better option if you like a lot of bass and don’t ride/run in heavy rain).
The OpenFit uses “DirectPitch” technology, or is basically just a small speaker held close to your ear to convey music, giving you the same experience as having your phone on speaker, only it sounds better and doesn’t make everyone around you imagine all the ways they could kill you.
Then there’s the OpenSwim, which I use for swimming. It’s an MP3 player with bone conduction tech so you can listen to music under water and makes doing laps bearable. Delightful technology.
Would you want any of these as your main headphones? Absolutely not, that would suck. But if you do enough exercise/take enough calls where you’d like to be hands free, then let 2024 be the year you treat yourself to the good stuff while staying safe.
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