Shokz is one of essentially the most reliably fascinating firms I cowl, which is saying so much. In its first iteration, it made bone conduction headphones, which performed soundwaves by means of your cranium, that had been so profoundly uncomfortable, we mentioned we’d quite not put on headphones in any respect. Then 2022’s OpenRun Professional (8/10, WIRED Recommends) in some way grew to become one among my favourite pairs of workout headphones. They had been mild, safe, and surprisingly great-sounding, and allowed me to maintain an ear out for site visitors or youngsters whereas nonetheless listening to podcasts whereas biking or working within the backyard.
So I used to be immensely curious in regards to the firm’s newest product. In a briefing, Shokz spokespeople famous that prospects wished snug, all-day headphones that didn’t circle your neck and didn’t need to be securely wedged, match, or heat-molded into your ear canal. Therefore, the OpenFit are open-ear headphones that depend on “air conduction” know-how. They’re tiny audio system that ship sound from instantly above your ear canal.
Do the earbuds work completely? No. However are these among the extra fascinating headphones I’ve ever tried? Sure, and in a crowded market, that’s so much.
The OpenFit buds are available in a compact, palm-size case with an influence indicator mild and a USB-C charging port. Every bud is roofed with a tender silicone and has a slim ear hook, with a tiny weight on the backside to carry it in place. Every bud weighs 8.3 grams, or about 3 grams greater than my Beats Match Professional (9/10, WIRED Recommends). I didn’t discover the load distinction that a lot.
The headphones got here with directions on easy methods to slide the buds into place, however I nonetheless needed to affirm with Shokz instantly. It simply doesn’t look like this could work. You slide the headphone again and tuck the physique of the unit behind the tragus of your ear. (That’s the little nubbin that stands proud and shields your ear canal, and, sure, I needed to lookup what it’s referred to as.)
It really works, nevertheless it simply doesn’t really feel that safe, particularly if you happen to’re not sitting quietly at your desk. It wasn’t till I attempted the OpenFit that I spotted that my ears actually are the coat hooks of my head. I tuck my lengthy hair behind them; I placed on sun shades each time I am going outdoors and push them up on high of my head. With virtually each motion, I dislodged the OpenFits and needed to discover them in my hair or on the ground.
I additionally unintentionally pushed the buttons so much. The buttons themselves are unreliable; typically they’re delicate sufficient that readjusting my hair can cease a music. Different occasions I can determinedly faucet “skip” a number of occasions at a stoplight with none consequence in any respect.
I attempted carrying them in one among my favourite methods to make use of the OpenRun Professional, to hearken to music whereas biking to choose my youngsters up from college. However the mixture of hair, sun shades, and bike helmet was an excessive amount of for the OpenFits. I spent the entire trip paralyzed in worry that I might unintentionally faucet the testers out and crush them below my bike wheels, so after I received to my youngsters’ college I put them again into my pocket for the trip residence.
I love the hubris of an organization that claims to have invented air conduction know-how. Most sound waves are performed by means of air—air is the medium that’s in between you and your audio system, in spite of everything—however making a speaker this tiny, that sounds this good, designed for use this near your ear, is definitely fairly a feat.