And so we push on with our quest for the perfect pair of headphones for active people, or more specifically in my case, for running. Next up on my list are Shokz Elite Bone Conduction Sport Headphones. Back in November, when I mentioned my headphone review project on IG and explained what I was looking for in this post, the clear choice by those who chose to comment was Shokz. Prior to test driving them recently, I had never tried this brand but had always been intrigued. So, this was the perfect time to test them out and, to my good fortune, my dear friend Kelly had an extra pair to donate to the cause. Before I dive into the review, a couple reminders. For every test run (pun intended), I’ve worn the trial pair of headphones for at least 50 miles on a combo of road, track and trail. I have used them for both easy running and for workouts. And I have tried to wear them in as many different weather conditions as Mother Nature has served up during the test window. I promise there has been rain. Lots of it. I should also remind you that I have very small ears and, for this particular test, it might be helpful to know that I also have a pretty small head. Ok, so here we go.
QUALITY: Weighing in at 29 grams (about the same as a pencil), these headphones are light as a feather. They also seem pretty sturdy despite their light weight – like they would be very hard to break. They are water resistant so they did fine in the rain, although I can’t say for sure how they’d hold up in a downpour, since thankfully, I didn’t have a chance to give that a try. The battery holds 10 hours of charge which is pretty awesome compared to most other headphones and earpods. Shokz also have a quick charge feature that will zap them up to 1.5 hours of life in a quick 5 minutes – a nice option for those of us who forget to charge our devices. When you turn them on you receive a prompt telling you roughly how much battery life they have (i.e. Battery High or Battery Low). That is always really good info to have before you start your run. Particularly if it is a long one. When you run with these on you can still hear everything around you, which they refer to as enhanced situational awareness. In the feedback I’ve read on these, this is what users like the most about this brand. And if I’m running outside, I’m good with this, too, as I’m all about hearing cars and people around me. However if I’m on an airplane or working out in a gym, this is not ideal. Definitely something to consider if you prefer to block out all your outside noise.
SOUND: The sound is really good. As I mentioned in my last review, I’m not super picky on this. If I put them on, turn on my music and hear the songs I like, I’m pretty much good to go. I do feel like the overall volume is notably lower than in-ear headphones due to the fact that they are sitting outside my ears. So, I guess if you want your music wicked loud, these probably aren’t for you. They do have unique bone conduction technology which I won’t try to explain, but you can read about here. In a nutshell, they provide a really solid bass which enhances the overall sound. That said, be prepared to feel the music pulse on your temples when you first turn them on. Kind of funky for sure.
CONNECTION: The Bluetooth connection is rock solid and even though they are open-ear they are equipped with noise-canceling microphones so calls are clear. Again, I rarely take calls when I’m running but it’s nice to know these are dependable in this department.
FIT: I’m not going to lie, the fit on these is tricky for me. But it’s not because they are faulty. It’s simply because I am not used to having headphones that sit outside my ears rather than snugly inside. These also have a piece that goes behind the head to connect the earbuds which is tough for me because I have a very small head. The issue is that the wire sits pretty far off my head rather than right next to it which feels a little odd as I notice the space. I do know that they make a model designed specifically for smaller heads but I have not tried those yet. It also feels a little weird to have them sitting on my temples rather than inside my ears. It’s not a bad thing. Just very different and something I need to get used to. All that said, once they are locked behind my ears, they do not fall off or bounce around and that is really nice. I’ll take that over an earbud getting loose and feeling like it’s going to fall out any minute. I guess the net-net here is that the fit is fine, it’s just new for me and will take some time for me to adjust.
PRICE: At $179.95 these are a pretty substantial investment. Are they worth the price? Yes, I think they are. IF this is this is the type of headphone you are looking for. If you want more volume or an in-ear fit, this is a lot to spend for something that’s not quite what you are seeking. But, hey, maybe you’ll love them. So, definitely worth a shot. All that said, it is also worth noting that Shokz has another less expensive version known as the Shokz OpenRun that goes for $130 and was formerly known as Aeropex. I haven't tried these but I'm told by a friend who has that they are almost, if not just as good as, the OpenRun Pro. You'll have to make the call on that.
OVERALL RATING: A-