Unlike traditional earbuds that funnel sound waves through the ear canal to your eardrum, bone conduction headphones deliver audio via vibrations that resonate from your skull and into the inner ear. It’s a natural human function that can be seen in action in animals, like baleen whales who hear with their skulls and elephants who communicate seismic vibrations with their feet—another reason why they’re great for runners who want to stay aware of their surroundings.
Whether you’re in the market for an active pair or simply looking to make a safe transition from earbuds, we’ve got bone conduction headphones that meet a wide range of budgets. Most are wireless and feature Bluetooth, with the exception of the fully waterproof Shokz OpenSwim headphones which use a cord that runs behind the headband. Look for a headband that’s comfortable and doesn’t feel too tight or restrict your movement, as well as a microphone to easily answer phone calls.
If you’re new to bone-conduction headphones, we recommend starting with a pair that costs between $70-80. These models are a good value, offering most of the top features (like Bluetooth 5.2, a 10-minute quick charge, and an 8-hour battery life) while also providing a satisfying audio profile that’s ideal for runners. A lightweight titanium build and sweat-resistant rating make them an excellent choice for athletes and those who tend to produce a lot of sweat.
If you’re an experienced listener or a serious athlete, you may need a more high-performance set. Our picks for advanced users have all the same features as our best affordable bone-conduction headphones, but are built with stronger materials and a more durable waterproof rating that’s suitable for swimming and biking. bone conduction headphones with mic