Bone conduction is an odd beast and, frankly, it freaks me out, which is why I was hesitant to use the Audio Bone headphones for a few days. On the other hand, my hearing is pretty bad and I’ll do anything to keep earbuds from blowing out my eardrums. They may look funny, but the Audio Bone headphones work quite well and may save me from having to wear hearing aids in the future.
Designed to sit in front of your ears, the Audio Bone 1.0 ‘phones allow you to hear what’s going on around you while music is being transmitted to your inner ear via your skull. They’re also waterproof and sound quality is not deteriorated because of it. Sound quality is surprisingly good given the fact that you’re still hearing what’s going on around you, but it can be muffled at times. You just have to keep adjusting to find the optimum area on your noggin.
Because the Audio Bones sit in front of your ears and not in them, you’re going to have to crank up the music. It’s hard wearing these around the city because of all the street traffic and people, but it keeps me aware of rogue taxis and bicyclists whom I would otherwise not hear if I were wearing my earbuds. The wraparound design fits a bit too snug for me, but maybe I have an abnormally large skull. They’re not very comfortable if you wear glasses either because they pinch the legs — but that might just be and my glasses. I’m not keen on the cord placement as it wraps around my neck to plug into my laptop, but when you’re working out I suppose it’s fine. Just a minor qualm – nothing more, nothing less.
If you’re going to use this with an iPod be sure to turn off the volume limit and/or sound check.
At $189, it’s on par with some very high quality audiophile earbuds with much better sound, but these ensure you can still hear in 20 years — we all pump up the volume on our tiny little earbuds more than we should. Apple includes a cautionary note with every iPod, warning, “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.”