Bone conduction headphones work differently than traditional headphones and are used for special purposes (Voong, 2019). To get a better understanding of what is it, why they are being used? What are the reasons behind inventing or introducing these? There is a need to understand the human hearing system so one can decide whether these are the right choice for them or not. Looking at the human hearing system one can break it down into three different segments:
- The outer ear
- The middle ear
- The inner ear
How they work:
In traditional headphones sound gets sent from the outer part of the ear, through the ear canal processing through the eardrum, vibrating through ossicles or bones of hearing, stimulating the hair cells inside the cochlea (Iwaki & Chigira, 2016). To work for the headphones properly, all these systems must be working well so that clear sound can be produced.
But when it comes to bone conduction headphones, it can be observed that stimulation of the skull occurs, creating a vibration that moves those hair cells directly inside of the cochlea (Walker & Stanley, 2005). That’s how there is no need for all these outer and middle ear components.
For example, Underbone conduction instead of the air traveling through the ear canal vibrates the bone outside of your ear which transfers the vibration passing the eardrum so you don’t require the air anymore. There is a misconception which is that sound passes through the air perfectly. Sound is a vibration of particles and can pass through liquids and solids as well (Mukumoto, Kinoshita, & Touyama, 2020). Moreover, solids pass sound waves faster than the air and water as the particles are compact and have no space. So one can consider solids as the best conductors. And bone conduction headphones are designed by keeping in mind this reality.
Why Use Bone conduction Headphones:
After getting an understanding of what these headphones are and how they work then comes the point of why to use them in the first place. Why someone would switch to them rather the rely on simple traditional headphones. Well, there are some of the basic reasons.
- If someone has a conductive hearing loss which happens when the outer ear and middle ear have some issue and are not working properly. In case that does not allow the transmission of sound into your inner ear or your cochlea. When that happens, traditional headphones won’t be able to pass the sound and bone conduction headphones are being needed as an alternate option. As it can directly pass the sound to the healthy cochlea. Though if the cochlea will be damaged too then these headphones will add no value (Bekesy, 2005).
- The second reason is that one may not like something inside or covering their ears. Then the person can use bone headphones as they don’t need to have anything that goes inside of one’s ear canal to facilitate the services as there is no use of ear canal or middle ear in the whole process. Stimulation of bone that will stimulate the cochlea is happening by these bone phones, causing those hair cells to send signals to the brain (Granados, Hooper, & He, 2018). So if a person is having sensitive ears, not like putting something in ears and having ear wax problems he can switch to these headphones.
- The third reason that can push someone to consider this device is that it lessens the chance of damaging ones hearing but it won’t assure that one couldn’t cause hearing damage if the person is listening to something at a higher volume for a long enough time. But still, comparative less damage will take place to the ears. An increase in volume in bone conduction devices causes loss of a lot of that vibration because it’s not all being forced in and directed in through the skull (lwaki & Yano, 2018).
- Then comes another reason, which is very casual for sure, but is still considerable and makes sense. For example, if a person is into cool new technology, bone conduction headphones are not mainstream yet, they are not something one will find out in the gym or the parks wearing by people in their routine.
What are the pros of using bone conduction headphones?
One can agree with the fact that each thing has its advantages and disadvantages and the person who is getting benefits from a particular object must be familiar with its drawback and downsides too so that he can adjust with it accordingly. The concept of bone headphones has been introduced lately in the 18th century but came into practical practice recently. Let’s have an overview of what benefits it is providing to its buyers:
Safe during driving while listening to audiobooks or podcasts:
A study proves that bone conduction headphones are less distracting as compared to air-conduction speakers. As it transmits sounds through skull bone leaving the ear canal open one can pay attention to its surroundings while listening to a podcast or anything that can lessen the chances of any critical happening.
Comfortable size and fit:
They are designed in a way that one can carry them easily. material that is being used in their making is lightweight as compared to regular headphones. Along with that, the comfortable cushioning doesn’t hurt the head and one can keep it for longer durations.
A good choice for children and older people:
If a child or an aged person is suffering from hearing impairment, he must go for bone headphones because of the sound quality, its size, and comfortable design that provide great sound quality and maximum comfort. They have minimum pressure and are safe for such use.
Good for athletes:
One cannot ignore its use when it comes to games and the gym. Regular headphones are heavy usually and one wouldn’t be comfortable while running wearing them.
They are a safe option:
Not only athletes but militants can also use them as they keep the person aware of its surrounding while enjoying music and listening to required audios too.
Versatile and unique:
If a person goes to the gym he can notice that 2 out of 10 people will be having bone headphones while the rest of others must be relying on regular ones. that depicts that they are unique and can leave an impression on fellow mates. In addition, they are versatile and can be used for multi-purposes like listening to music and taking phone calls. One can perform other tasks listening to audio and working on the computer.
Keep active and increase awareness:
It helps you to keep interacting with your surroundings. One will not be cut off from his surroundings. One can stay tuned with his environment while driving and taking phone calls.
People who prefer the Bluetooth option and do not like anything hanging around them must go for it. as these headphones are wireless and are handy too. One does not need any wire while using them.
Maintain ear protection:
These headphones have no direct connection with the ears and do not get in the ears directly so it doesn’t allow any burden over them. Also, the chances of any infection are minimized on their own. Along with that, it won’t affect the hearing capacity of a person which can occur due to a rise in volume.
Easy to use:
These headphones are handy or are easy to use due to their slim design and lightweight material. One can carry it easily in its handbag and can hang it around their neck. It won’t tire the person anytime soon. People who have to go long way and are consistent travelers must give it a try.
A person who likes to swim and is a hunter can take bone headphones along with them as there are various versions of it, available in the market that are waterproof.
Cons of bone conduction Headphones:
When there are advantages there must be some drawbacks too one has to deal with. These are the following:
Affordable or not?
As these headphones are unique and facilitating with high-end features, one has to pay extra to get these features. The market has several options. It’s better to do proper research before opting for a model.
Low Sound Quality:
These headphones allow you to listen to the surroundings which somehow affects the sound quality. along with that the concentrate of the manufacturers is more on comfort rather than high sound. But it’s another considerable concern as people who prefer to use these headphones are already trying to cut themselves from the noise and anything that is not comfortable for eras. That’s why they are designed in a way, having low sound quality than regular headphones.
Then comes another issue, for example: if the inner ear of a person gets damaged these headphones will be of no use as they rely on the conduction of sound waves and their process of passing through the inner ear.
Less Battery timing:
Just like many wireless and advanced devices, they are demanded to be charged more often which can get annoying. But one can use multiple batteries and portable chargers along with them.
Uncomfortable for people wearing glasses:
A person who wears glasses wouldn’t feel comfortable while using these headphones. As they are not designed in a way. It would be uncomfortable for some people to wear these along with their glasses for a longer duration.
Not suitable for new users:
People using it for the first time and are not habitual of such designs might consider it as an unsuitable product because of several reasons like; due to its placement on the head rather than inside the ears which ultimately cause loss of sound and leakage of sound too. People in surroundings might be able to hear what the person using these will be hearing. Earbuds inserted into these might irritate. It will take time to get used to these.
Safety precautions are necessary:
People using these headphones have to be careful as these are wireless and are compact hence they can be misplaced easily. Due to their lightweight one can drop them anywhere while running.
Should a person buy bone conduction headphones? If YES then why:
This device is specially designed for people facing hearing loss issues, for swimmers, cyclists, gamers, hunters, or travelers. If the person is in any of these categories he must avail this option for making things convenient for him. These headphones are useful in almost every situation and let you be the participant in your surrounding while listening to music or talking to a friend. One can use them as an alternate option for AirPods and earbuds as they are wireless and lightweight too.
Should a person buy bone conduction headphones? If NO then why:
If the person is habitual of bass and high-quality sounds without any noise and interruptions then these headphones are not a perfect fit for him. It allows you to hear sounds produced in your surroundings so if someone wants headphones with a noise-canceling feature then regular headphones are the appropriate one. Also, they are not budget-friendly and chances of inner ear damage remain there. It doesn’t give you a 100 percent guarantee of any safety. Also, one cannot carry it on a long trip without any side batteries and chargers.
where one can buy these?
The best way to purchase a bone conduction headphone is to follow a few of the simple steps:
- First of all google, the models available in the market
- Make a list of them along with their prices
- Then switch to amazon and go through all the models and the basic features mentioned there
- Go through customers’ reviews
- Then check whether the model you shortlisted is as per your requirement.
A few of the best conduction headphones available on Amazon are the following:
- Pyle Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones
- Vidonn F1 sports
- MOING Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones.