Skip to content

Shokz OpenRun Pro: the ideal sports headphone experience

Earbuds are doing transparency modes well these days, but nothing does full awareness of the world around you better than bone conduction.

Seamus Byrne
Seamus Byrne
3 min read
Cyclist checks a car over his shoulder. You can see he's wearing Shokz headphones.
Full awareness is key for sport headphones.

Sport friendly headphones are an important category for audio on the go. Maximising the balance between staying connected to your phone and being fully aware of the world around you, and doing that job for hours on end, is a special problem that deserves the right solution. And the Shokz OpenRun Pro might be the right way to deliver that balancing act.

Earbuds have become a big focal point for mobile listening – I'm certainly a big AirPods user – there's plenty of reasons they are not ideal when you're pounding the pavement or flying down a hill on a bike. I do plenty of running with a pair of AirPods, but those runs include a lot of little moments of adjustment to make sure they don't fall out. They've only fallen out once or twice ever, but that's enough to keep me checking them.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro is a bone conduction headphone with a wrap around design that sits comfortably around the ear. They feel snug with just a very gentle hug in front of the ear and they never feel like they're in the way or going to fall off.

Most importantly, bone conduction headphones are fundamentally transparent. By sitting on the bone just in front of your ear, the sound is transmitted through your body to the ear. (There's a very slight tickle you feel when wearing bone conduction headphones. Once upon a time this felt more like a weird irritation, but the tech is in a really good place now. Just a pleasant fuzz that you only notice if you focus on it.)

Compare this with noise cancelling headphones that have adopted very useful transparency modes to help you hear the world around you. It's important when out and about, but it also feeds into battery drain with all that extra real-time audio analysis. With the Shokz, you can confidently hear the world around you all day long on a marathon run or riding the Bowral Classic and still have battery to spare.

It can also seem confusing as to whether or not other people can hear what you're hearing because it's so loud and clear. But lift them off your skin for a moment and you realise it's relatively quiet – but definitely louder than earbuds or a full set of headphones. Just worth keeping in mind if you're in a quiet area and want to keep what you're listening to private.

The usability of the Shokz OpenRun Pro is also very simple. Power on the right, along with volume control. Long press the power to go into pairing mode, which worked very easily. The play / pause button is on the left, which also accepts and ends phone calls. Easy. No fuss.

As for negatives, the nature of the tech – the wrap around neck design – means two inconveniences. One is the size of the carry case, which is far larger than an earbud case you can slip into your pocket. The other is the charging cable, which is proprietary at the headphones end into a full-size USB cable at the other end. Right now it is the only device on my desk that still avoids USB-C. Lose that one cable and you're in trouble.

These are also something of a luxury, because you would not want to make these your every day wear headphones. The audio quality is not amazing. If you really want to enjoy music and have even the slightest audiophile tendencies you are not going to be impressed. But for me, I'm a big audiobook and podcast listener when I'm running or at the gym, and so the Shokz suit this listening format just fine.

But that's exactly how you should see these. The Shokz OpenRun Pro is a $269 dedicated sports headset that does this job in a way that puts safety and the ability to focus on exercising above all else. If you're getting sweaty they will keep you fully aware of the world around you and are very easy to wipe down afterward.

Shokz also sells an OpenSwim Pro for $299 that will keep you listening even in the pool, including not only Bluetooth connectivity but also MP3 mode so you can load up your listening directly.

If you're curious about bone conduction headphones for any sporty situation, you'd do well to look at the full Shokz product range to see what might suit your niche.


Seamus Byrne Twitter

Founder and Head of Content at Byteside.

Related Posts

DJI Power 500 review: sneaky power for tech nerd camping trips

A beautifully designed power station with plenty of power to keep your devices running for extended stays away from home.

The DJI Power 500 power station sitting on grass.

Espresso displays: hitting the sweet spot for portable displays

The Australian startup has designed top quality hardware that is perfect for those who really want two screens wherever they may work.

A laptop and Espresso display on a busy wooden table.

Sonos Ace: excellent headphones for Sonos devotees

For a debut set of headphones, Sonos has leapt to the top-tier consumer range alongside Sony. If you own a Sonos soundbar, it's a particularly attractive option.

White Sonos Ace headphones with carry case and cable accessories on a white background.