I think you’ll agree with me if I say, judging from the present bone conduction headphones and sunglasses, sound quality generated from bone conduction technology will never rival those of the traditional earbuds.
So instead of just focusing on how bad the sound quality is, why don’t we regard bone conduction product as a whole and admire its benefit (such as open ear listening experience and possibly a solution for the hearing impaired).
If you’ve been holding back on purchasing one of those fancy bone conduction glasses or headphones and get confused of which one to buy, we are here to help you understand everything about bone conduction technology and find the best ones you need.
Or you can also check out this article for the best bone conduction glasses.
What is bone conduction technology?
Bone conduction transmission is a technology originally used in military. It’s the conduction of sound to the inner ear through the bones of the skull.
After several crucial improvement, the technology is gradually put to commercial use.
Aftershokz use this technology over their headphones (Trekz Air and Trekz Titanium) and now they are probably one of the best selling sports headsets. Google Glass also employs this technology with a transducer beside user’s ear to transmit sound.
Is bone conduction hearing aid an option for the hearing impaired?
It depends on the type of hearing loss.
If the patient’s cochlea is intact and functional, then bone conduction is fully capable of recovering much of the hearing.
If you want to try the bone conduction products for this reason, we advise you to ask your doctor first.
Bone conduction headphones and sunglasses
It’s been 7 years now since bone conduction headphones made their official debut at CES 2013 by Aftershokz.
Today in 2020, Aftershokz still is one of the best bone conduction headphones brands in the market, with its product AROPEX, Trekz Air and Trekz Titanium leading the way.
During the past 7 years, we’ve seen other products such as sunglasses and helmets which may prove to be great carriers for bone conduction technology. Bone conduction helmet, is, after all, not something you wear on a daily basis, which leaves bone conduction smart glasses being the treasure every manufacturer is chasing after.
Popular bone conduction smart glasses brands
Today, quite a number of new bone conduction brands have emerged.
There is Zungle, the bone conducting sunglasses forerunner is already generating buzz for their new model – Zungle Viper, the 2.0 version of Zungle Black Panther.
And there are also rising stars such as MusicLens, VocalSkull, Vue Glasses and DigiOptix. Some of them may already have proved their product quality and won a reputation, while some of them are still delaying again and again their product shipping date on Kickstarter.
If you are confused which one to buy, here is a review on these bone conduction glasses which may give you some advice.
We need someone in this field to set the standard yet such brand so far has yet to come.
Aftershokz could probably be the one but 7 years later this wireless bluetooth bone conduction headphones pioneer still haven’t launch its first glasses. In mid 2019, Aftershokz released its first bone conduction sunglasses, Optishokz Revvez, but its style is mainly for outdoor sports though.
Is it because they are so confident in their current product that they would rather give up such a huge piece of cake or there are any technical difficulties that are hard to overcome? After talking with one of the bone conducting manufacturers, here is what I find out.
When talking about bone conduction glasses and headphones there are mainly two factors that we care about most.
1. Sound quality.
2. Sound leakage prevention.
Due to the sound formation theory of bone conduction technology, you shouldn’t expect they are as good as traditional headsets.
The most common solution to improve listening experience is to increase the contact area between the vibrator and the skin. The vibrators on the bone conduction headphone could be made larger and more comfortable than those on the sunglasses because when it comes to the glasses all of the structure need to be compressed into the glasses legs and what makes it worse, they are trying to make the legs thinner and lighter. That’s why they developed such extra part to hold the vibrator, which in my opinion is both ugly and cumbersome.
But that’s a disadvantage we could ignore since bone conduction has actually brought us such a huge advantage as to listen with ears unblocked. Thanks to strides in bone conduction technology in these two years the vibrator could be made small enough to fit into thinner frame legs. The sound quality has also been significantly improved and according to some manufacturers their product may actually rival those in-ear headphones.
So the crux of the problem lies in the sound leakage part. This is an issue both traditional and bone conduction headset encounters. But it is worse with bone conduction products because the vibrator is exposed in the air, thus the higher the frequency, the more sound leaks. When in the bustling street nobody will notice anything. But in a quiet office or in the elevator, it’s awkward when others can hear what you are listening to.
Demonstration of sound leakage level of Aftershokz
This is a demonstration of sound leakage level of Aftershokz Bluez in 2015. Unfortunately, leakage issue is about the same even today.
Manufactures used to limit the frequency range to solve it but that affects the sound quality. Now they try to find the trade-off between the size of the vibrator and the overall volume. Again I was told new techniques will soon come out to thoroughly settle the problem within months.
Aftershokz may be waiting for the new technology before they expand their market to this glasses industry. Optishokz proves to be a great pair of sports sunglasses, but its leakage is still about the same.
In conclusion, for now, bone conduction headphones have a better sound quality and leakage control.
However, the gap between them is decreasing rapidly.
If you feel uncomfortable wearing glasses while having headsets on, bone conduction music sunglasses are still one of the best choices.