Are Bone Conduction Headphones For Real?

Jonathan Kim
12 min readApr 20, 2021

They are, and you might want some

The Runner Pro bone conduction headphones by Naenka

One could argue that we are currently in the Golden Age of Headphones. Everyone is carrying smartphones that can stream infinite hours of listenable content, including not only music, podcasts, and audiobooks, but also games, video, social media, Zoom calls, and new live audio entrants like Clubhouse. So it makes sense that dozens, if not hundreds of companies have stepped in to sell a dizzying number of personal listening options of every type, size, connectivity, feature set, and price point.

It’s also becoming more obvious that, budget permitting, it makes sense for a lot of people to own multiple types of headphones for different activities. Maybe you need something with noise isolation or active noise cancellation (ANC) for working or studying in distracting environments, and a different Bluetooth pair that are light, secure-fitting, and water-resistant for exercising. Maybe you need a comfortable over-ear pair for watching TV or playing video games next to a sleeping partner, or something with a great microphone if you teach an online class. With so much audio to listen to in so many different situations, it only makes sense that one set of headphones probably won’t fit every occasion.

So with that, I’d like to ask you a question: Have you considered bone conduction headphones?

That question usually leads to two more questions: “What are bone conduction headphones?” and after hearing the answer, “Does that really work?” I’ve definitely asked myself these questions over the years, but I’ve never known anyone who owns a pair I could try out. So I was very excited when a company called Naenka sent me a pair of their new Runner Pro bone conduction headphones to review. And they not only work, they’re actually kind of great — if you can accept their compromises.

How Do They Work, And Who Are They For?

Bone conduction headphones bypass your ear canal and eardrum

Every speaker or headphone you’ve ever listened to works by using drivers which cause vibrations that create sound/pressure waves that travel through the air and into your ears. This causes your eardrums…

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Jonathan Kim

Used to be a film critic, now writes about tech (mostly Apple), and sometimes woodworking