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Shokz OpenRun Pro review: a new benchmark in quality and comfort

With in-ear headphones banned in UK running and cycling road races, bone-conducting audio equipment such as Shokz OpenRun Pro have found a growing audience. But have technological advances solved the long-standing sound quality issues? Do comfort, fit and battery life stand up to scrutiny? And as a more expensive option than traditional sports headphones is a pair of Shokz worth your hard-earned cash?

I’ve always exercised to music, podcasts or the radio, but until very recently had only ever worn over-the-ear or in-ear headphones.

This was fine in the gym for weights workouts because oversized cans were essential to block out the relentless beat of the gym’s soulless sound system. I’ve even been known to leave the locker room and return home to get my headphones rather than endure a second of unfiltered gym groans and other annoying noises.

But in-ear buds presented more of a problem when I went running, chiefly because I could never find a pair that would stay put. I’d spend most of my run pushing one or both buds back in place before they fell out, which became really frustrating. I even resorted to wearing a Buff bandana around my head to keep my latest pair of Sennheiser headphones in place.

This solution was short-lived, however, when I entered a local half marathon race. Under UK Athletics rules headphones are not permitted in events that take place on roads open to traffic because of concerns over runner safety, and participants risk instant disqualification if spotted wearing in-ear or over-the-ear headphones.

The sole exception are bone conducting headphones, which are allowed because of the unique way their technology delivers sound without speakers needing to be in or over your ear. That means you can listen to your favourite tunes while still hearing oncoming cars and other traffic.

Horrified by the prospect of running 13.1 miles with nothing but my intrusive thoughts for company, I invested in a pair of Shokz OpenRun Pro (£159.95) earphones – and they’ve been nothing short of a revelation. My only regret is not buying them sooner. Here’s what you need to know if, like me, you want to get fitter and faster and need a better sound solution whilst staying safe.

What are bone conducting headphones?

They’re a type of headphone that transmits sound through the bones of your skull and so bypasses the outer and middle ear. Unlike traditional headphones that use speakers to create sound waves that travel through the air to the eardrum, bone conducting headphones use transducers to convert audio signals into vibrations.

How do bone conducting headphones work?

They work by using transducers to generate vibrations that are transmitted through the bones of the skull directly to the cochlea, bypassing the eardrum.

The process involves converting audio signals into mechanical vibrations, which are then conducted through the bones in the head, particularly the temporal bones. These vibrations stimulate the inner ear, allowing the wearer to perceive sound. This clever bit of kit allows the user to hear ambient sounds, making it a far safer option for activities like running or cycling.

How do you rate the sound quality of Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones?

Compared to high-end over-the-ear speakers the sound quality is inferior when listening to music. But many sports and activity-specific headphones are designed for superior functionality and to withstand rigorous demands over delivering note-perfect sounds. Podcasts and talk radio suffer no discernible drop-off in quality or volume.

How long is Shokz OpenRun Pro battery life?

The headphones give up to 10 hours of use on a full charge and a five-minute quick-charge feature will boost the battery to provide 90 minutes of music.

Shokz OpenRun Pro (£159.95, Amazon) weigh just 29g and use bone-conducting audio technology rather than in-ear speakers, so you can wear them for UK road running and cycling races

Are Shokz headphones comfortable?

On at least three occasions since getting my Shokz headphones I’ve stepped into the shower still wearing them. It’s no exaggeration to say you completely forget you’re wearing them, that’s how light – they weigh just 29g, the same as a field mouse or two small robins – and comfortable they are. They couldn’t be further from troublesome in-ear sports headphones that require constant prodding to stay in place, and for me this makes them worth every single penny many times over.

How do Shokz headphones fit?

The OpenRun Pro comes in two sizes: standard and Mini (£159.95) which is about 1.25cm shorter for those with slightly smaller than average heads. Two buttons on the right side of the frame control power on and off and volume up and down. You can also pause, resume or skip songs or episodes by pressing this multifunction volume up button, once, twice or three times, respectively.

How do Shokz headphones connect?

Like all wireless headphones they connect to your phone and all other music-playing devices through Bluetooth. Set up take seconds and I’ve never experienced any type of connectivity problem or issue. So far they’ve connected first time, every time.

Are Shokz headphones waterproof?

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are water-resistant to IP55 standards, so are fine if out running in rain but not suitable for swimming or any other water-based activities. However, the Shokz OpenSwim bone conducting headphones are waterproof and can withstand total submersion in up to two metres of water.

Find out more at uk.shokz.com

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