Are Bone Conduction Headphones Effective?

With the recent introduction of bone-conduction headphones, sounds can be more immersive. Additionally, the bone conduction headphones make listening to music while doing other activities easier. If you are interested in knowing more about bone-conduction headphones, then you should read through this guide. We have made this guide easy and simple to understand.

What are bone-conduction headphones?

Bone conduction headphones are, well, headphones that rest right atop the listener’s cheekbones. Rather than cueing the eardrum while sound waves travel through the air, bone conduction headsets send vibrations through the jawbone, bypassing the middle ear. Interestingly, Bone conduction headphones work on the principle of bone conduction discovered by Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven is considered the most incredible musician of all time, and he was almost deaf. If this is any indication, bone conduction headphones are the headphones that support hearing impairment.

Furthermore, The technology has its roots in hearing aids, and dates back to the 1920s, when Hugo Gernsback created the osophone — a bone-conduction hearing aid.

Nowadays, bone conduction audio has expanded beyond the world of health and medicine, and serves as a great tool for outdoor athletes. Since the headset frees up the ears, listeners are left constantly aware of their surroundings, which is paramount when running outside or hiking.

How Do Bone Conduction Headphones Work?

Bone-conduction headphones use an acoustic approach to provide an innovative way to enjoy music while simultaneously still being aware of one’s surroundings.

Although most sounds are transmitted through the air to our eardrums, bone-conduction headphones rely on the sound being transmitted through vibrations on the bones of the head and jaw. The sounds from these headphones bypass the eardrum and relay sound directly to the inner ear. Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) have been using this style of sound transmission for years to help people who have hearing difficulties.

Interestingly, this process of sound transmission is how we are able to hear our own voice.  The well-known composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who eventually went deaf, is noted for discovering this means of hearing. By biting his composer’s wand and pressing it against his piano, he could transmit the audio waves into physical vibrations. In this manner, he could “hear” and work on his famous works.

Unlike traditional headphones, bone conduction headphones sit on the outside of the ear. This leaves the ear canal open to ambient sound while also transmitting music from a portable device. This makes bone conduction a wise choice for avid cyclists, runners, or walkers who would like to enjoy music while staying alert and aware of their surroundings.

How Bone Conduction Headphones Produce Sound?

The fundamental difference between traditional headphones and bone conduction headphones is the former depends on the ear to transmit audio while the latter doesn’t. The bone conduction headphones rely on bone conduction audio technology to transmit audio. Here, instead of placing the headphone on the ears is placed on the skull.

A transducer in the bone technology method uses the skull bones as a medium to transmit the sound waves directly to the cochlea, which then sends a signal to the brain. It may also become a part of human augmentation in the future.

Advantages of Bone Conduction Headphones

Like any traditional headphone, bone phones also have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, let’s look at the advantages first and then move on to its disadvantages.

  • The primary advantage of bone conduction headphones is that they don’t use the ears to transmit sound waves. As a result, people can use them effectively to listen to their headphones while simultaneously remaining attuned to the outside world.
  • Bone conduction headphones are no less than a blessing for people with hearing disabilities. Also, the clarity provided by the bone-conduction headphones will enable deaf people to identify the audio more clearly.
  • Bone conduction headphones represent the future of healthcare by further eliminating the risk of hearing damage with traditional headphones when used at high volume.
  • Its designs are uniquely different from regular headphones, which may come across as appealing to people.
  • REMAIN CONNECTED WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD. If you find that music helps fuel your workout, but you still want to chat with your partner, headphones are for you. The open-ear design of bone conduction headphones means that you can hear everything your friend has to say even whilst listening to your favorite power tune.
  • CLEAN AND HYGIENIC. A recent study of earphones found that earbuds can harbor 119,186 colony-forming bacteria units and this can increase even more if you are sweating! Bacteria just love a warm and wet environment, maybe take a look at how dirty your headphones are! Prepare to be shocked! Open-ear headphones make for an altogether cleaner headphone option.

Disadvantages of Bone Conduction Headphones

Despite the novelty and select usefulness of bone phones, they have been met by consumers with mixed responses.

Many users agree that the sound quality in bone phones is worse than in regular headphones. Specifically, users report that they are generally quieter and have weaker bass frequencies.

There are also downsides to the physical design. Some users note that playing music at higher volumes causes an unpleasant or strange vibrating sensation in their faces. This design also causes a certain amount of sound leakage, which may be a problem for those who want to listen to something privately or listen to something in a quiet setting without disturbing anyone. Other users complain about the fit of the headphones, which, depending on the user and model, can be uncomfortable.

Bone conduction headphones are also significantly more expensive than run-of-the-mill earbuds. In 2020, basic Apple earbuds cost approximately $30, whereas some popular bone conduction models are priced at $130. For this price, users could buy normal headphones with far better sound quality than several bone-conducting models. There are some very cheap bone phones available, but the majority are much pricier than the alternative.

Uses

In general, bone phones are used to allow individuals to listen to audio privately and while on the move, just like regular headphones. However, bone phones are different because they bypass the outer and middle ear entirely. They also have a unique design that lends itself to physical activity, unlike most basic headphones. For these reasons, they may be preferred over regular headphones:

  • gym-goers and other physically active people who need headphones designed to stay on their heads while exercising;
  • joggers or bikers who want to keep their ears open for approaching traffic or people trying to say something to them;
  • users who listen to audio in a social environment and need to be at least partially attuned to what peers or announcements are saying;
  • users with impaired hearing, whose use of standard headphones may be physically obstructed by assistive technology; and
  • users with impaired hearing would likely experience better sound quality through bone conduction than through damaged ears.

Are bone conduction headphones waterproof?

Not all bone-conduction headphones are waterproof, so it is important to check the waterproof or water-resistant rating on a set before making a purchase.

How did we choose these bone-conduction headphones?

To find the best bone-conduction headphones, these are some of the factors considered.

  • Type: There are many different types of headphones, such as over-the-ear or in-ear bone conduction headphones. Everyone has a preference, so it all depends on the style of headphones you want and how you intend to use them.
  • Battery life: It is important to consider the battery life of bone conduction headphones, so you know how long to expect each set to last before requiring a charge.
  • Waterproofing: If you are a swimmer, you may want to consider a pair of bone-conduction headphones that are rated for water resistance or waterproofing, so you do not risk damaging them.
  • Cost: We chose bone conduction headphones that meet a variety of different budgets to help ensure that there is something for everyone.

Although the concept of using bones as an amplifier seems futuristic, the idea has been around for centuries. The classical music composer Beethoven used bone conduction to help him continue writing music after going deaf. He would put one end of a rod in his mouth and the other end against the piano, sending the vibrations through the rod into his skull, allowing him to “hear” the music he was playing. Some animals are also able to communicate through bone vibrations.

Conclusions

To conclude, Bone conduction headphones are an innovation brought about by necessity. The benefits that they provide offer audio playback to a wider spectrum of users than traditional earbuds.

Bone conduction provides reliable audio playback to the elderly and hearing impaired, a benefit that air-conduction headphones simply cannot deliver.

Traditional earbud users may find it tricky to adjust to using bone-conduction headphones but cannot dispute the health and safety advantages that they offer.

Bone conduction headphones place no direct pressure on the ear canal and are vastly safer to use than traditional earbuds.  Conventional headphones may still be the preferred method of audio playback for anyone that needs strong, precise sound quality.

Bone conduction headphones are perfect for anyone that wants to enjoy a passive listening experience without the risk of hearing loss or damage. If functional safety is your primary priority when considering headphones, bone conduction models are a terrific choice for you.

 

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