Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction Headphones Review

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Headphones can become a constant source of irritation for active people who like their activity to happen alongside their favorite tunes. Common frustrations are about “sweating to death” and not staying put. The Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction Headphones address and solve both issues for me in almost all cases.

This is the second pair of Shokz (formerly AfterShokz) headphones I’ve tested. I had thought I had found my perfect match in OpenMove headphones, which like these, use bone conduction technology to transmit audio while leaving your ears open.

However, several months after the end of the review period (but still within the two-year warranty period), these failed, and I updated the review to reflect this. The good news is that the OpenRun earphones offer all the benefits of the OpenMove that I loved, and the brand seems to have solved the problem that I encountered later.

Shokz OpenRun Helmet: Construction

Shokz Open Charging Port

The most important exclusive charging port

(Image credit: Future/Michelle Arthurs-Brennan)

You probably want to know what was wrong with the OpenMove headset. They just stopped charging. Visit the Troubleshooting pagethe first item on the agenda is:

“My OpenMove is not loading.

Test the headset with another USB mic. If the headphones still won’t charge, file a warranty claim here https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/shokz-open-run-headphones-review”

OpenMove headphones use a USB-C cable and charging port [I don’t know why the Troubleshoot page refers to a micro USB, perhaps this has changed over time]. USB-C is a widely adopted standard and a vast improvement over the former industry-leading choice of Micro-USB. The port isn’t impenetrable, however, and while the headphones are sweat-resistant and waterproof to IP55, I imagine – but can’t guarantee – that liquid or dust/debris ingress caused the problem. This is however not a review of the OpenMove.

Enter: OpenRun, which uses a radically different, proprietary charging port that has a magnetic attachment feature that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t allow any entry possibilities.

Shokz Open Race

(Image credit: Future/Michelle Arthurs-Brennan)

While Shokz is very clear that they are not intended for swimming, the waterproof rating is upgraded, to IP67. Meeting this external standard means that “the device can be submerged in a body of water up to one meter deep for half an hour”, although it is of course not advisable to try to push back limits.

The charging mechanism is not only stronger. While the standard battery life is 8 hours, the ‘Quick Charge’ technology means you can get 1.5 hours of juice in just 10 minutes. This is extremely useful in case you plan to use the headphones in half an hour, but forgot to plug them in. Battery life claims are based on Shokz lab testing, your own battery life will be affected by volume and temperature tastes.

Shokz Open Group View

(Image credit: Future/Michelle Arthurs-Brennan)

The OpenRun headphones also use “8th Gen” bone conduction technology, which is said to deliver “deeper bass, less vibration and louder volume” than the 7th Gen.

The unit connects to your device via Bluetooth 5.1 and can be used for listening to music, answering calls or if you are training indoors and using Zwift Companion to talk to your friends.

The headphones fall on the scales at 26g and the available controls are limited to on/off, volume up/down and a ‘multifunction’ button on the front of the left earcup that lets you play/pause, forward, answer / end a call or redial a number.

You’ll get a silicone rubber carrying case in the box, and it feels like a high-quality addition that I’ve gone out of my way to use whenever I put the headphones in a gym bag.

Shokz OpenRun Helmet: in use

Aftershokz OpenRun

(Image credit: Future/Michelle Arthurs-Brennan)

I’ve used these headphones when training indoors on a smart exercise bike or turbo trainer, at the gym, and when running outdoors.

Pairing with my phone was quick and easy, I just turned the headset on and searched for the device through my Bluetooth settings. On the one occasion when they didn’t connect automatically, holding the “power” button to pair was effective.

When you turn on the headphones, a small light appears and a voice says “Power: On”, before telling you if the battery life is high, medium or low. If it is very low, you will get “Charge Me”. No more granular indication, like “58%”, would be nice to have a bit more feedback from Shokz.

To turn off the headset, simply press and hold the power button. I found I often forgot to do this, which proved just how awesome the battery life is, but it was annoying. Again, some sort of indication (such as the light staying on) could be nice, even if it drains said impressive battery.

The ‘multifunction’ button is quite useful, once you have learned to use it.

In terms of comfort, Shokz’s solution is number one for me. I have small ears and have yet to find an in-ear solution that works for me – they all fall out eventually. At 26g, the Shokz are also lightweight. The band that stretches around the head can get irritating when doing basic lying exercises, but in this case I just adjust the positioning to the top of my head. I noticed that the US site seems to show a “Mini” version, which is 0.5 inches shorter at the band, and would likely eliminate some of the overhang around the back of my neck/head.

Bone conduction technology keeps your ears open, and when I was cruising down country roads I could still hear oncoming cars – unless I turned up the volume to an uncomfortable level, which I’m not prone to. To do.

Speaking of volume, there’s no need to worry that it’s insufficient. I found that if I went slightly beyond what was comfortable I could hear my own tunes seeping into the atmosphere when I took the headphones off, but as long as I stayed within reason no one else could hear what I had chosen to add to my playlist.

I’ve sometimes found that I have short-lived stutters in sound transmission, it never lasts more than 15 seconds, and I imagine that has more to do with my device’s Bluetooth than the headphones OpenRun.

The nature of bone conduction headphones means you may feel a little vibration, especially in response to anything with a heavy bassline, but that’s not a regular occurrence.

I’ve subjected the headphones to hours of sweaty sessions and haven’t experienced any charging issues or damage. While I would need to use them for over a year to be fully confident, I think the new charging mechanism is likely to significantly improve longevity and reduce the risk of warranty replacements.

At £129.95/$129.95, the Shokz headphones have some competition from lesser-known brands (just check Amazon: bone conduction headphones). However, these come with a 2 year warranty, high quality sound, and I couldn’t put a price on the benefits of this new proprietary charging system.

  • RRP: £129.95/$129.95
  • Weight: 26g
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