Wireless headphones work effectively as earplugs that block sound when pushed into your ears, and although it’s great for tweaking the distractions, it’s not so great when it’s safer to hear what’s going on around you. Shokz’s solution was to completely skip the ears and deliver sound through the user’s cheekbones, and the latest generation, called OpenRun Pro, promises added bass performance that you can feel.
Even mid-range wireless headphones now offer features that help you become more aware of your surroundings by using built-in microphones to amplify the sounds around you. This is a useful feature when you’re out on the run or even just wandering around a busy city, as it allows you to hear cars and other dangers while still enjoying your tunes. The problem is that amplifying ambient sound often sounds very unnatural and uncomfortable, so most either don’t use it or use only one headset.
Shokz (formerly AfterShokz) own solution to the problem has always been smart. Instead of blowing sound waves down the ear canal, it transmits them through the user’s cheekbones using a pair of vibrating transducers located in front of the ears. The approach continues to deliver music to the eardrums, but leaves the ears themselves wide open to capture ambient sounds naturally instead.
Not every headphone manufacturer targets athletes because the sound delivered through bone conduction is not as rich or full as through in-ear or in-ear headphones, and it often lacks the low frequencies that can make listening to music so enjoyable. This is a shortcoming that Shockz specifically addresses with its new OpenRun Pro premium bone-conducting sports headphones featuring the company’s ninth-generation probe technology and a new feature called Shokz TurboPitch that introduces bass boosters so lower frequencies are better heard and even felt. Shokz is also, for the first time, introducing an accompanying mobile app that includes two EQ settings: ‘Standard’ for music and ‘Vocal Booster’ for clearer voices while listening to podcasts.
Other upgrades include larger shortcut keys on the OpenRun Pro headphones and a relocated charging port. Unfortunately, you still need your own charging cable and there will be another accessory you will never want to lose. With an IP55 rating for water and dust, the Open Run Pros will also work well if worn in the rain or during heavy sweating, but as with many gadgets, you’ll want to avoid accidental immersion.
Battery life is estimated at 10 hours of playback after a full one-hour charge. But if you only have five minutes to replenish them when they die unexpectedly, you can still expect to get an hour and a half of playback after that. The new Shokz OpenRun Pro premium sports headphones with bone conductivity are available for pre-order today from Shokz website for $ 180, only in black. If you prefer an alternative color, you’ll have to wait until later this year.