“What’s the main difference between Bone Conduction headphones and normal headphones?” is the question I seem to always get asked. As regular readers will know my pair of AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones are practically glued to my head now wherever I go. I’m wearing them right now as I write this, listening to some Johnny Cash, so let’s Walk The Line and Fall Into A Burning Ring Of Fire while we try to once again answer that question.
I’m used to the question now because of how frequently I’m seen in my stylish pair of Bone Conduction headphones. This technology is becoming much more common, but they are still a novelty for most people.
Something they’ve seen before but never really thought about until the guy on the treadmill next to them is using them in full view. I also suspect my fellow gym-goers are secretly calling me The Bone Conduction Guy’ behind my back. I wonder what they’d say if they knew I also wrote blogs about them too? I’d never escape that nickname then.
I don’t mind really. I quite enjoy being the guy who has new gadgets before everyone else. I love gadgets if truth be told. Only last month I went on a family vacation and brought a ridiculous amount of them. I brought 3 portable games consoles, two laptops, two tablets, three pairs of headphones (including my Bone Conduction headphones of course) and two separate portable speakers.
And I genuinely mean it when I say #SorryNotSorry. My wife didn’t approve, saying to me, “Do you really need this many gadgets? You’re only going to play on one game console, write on one laptop and listen to one pair of headphones anyway.” How right she was, I only did wear one pair of headphones that week as it happens. You can guess which ones they were. It was indeed my Bone Conduction headphones, and what makes them different from my normal headphones?
The fact that they don’t actually funnel sound through my eardrum. We’ve gone into how Bone Conduction technology works in other blogs so we’re not going to repeat that in precise detail here, but essentially Bone Conduction headphones work by sending sound vibrations through your skull, so it rumbles around your bones, finally landing in your cochlear.
Allowing your brain to hear the sound in its purest form. Normal headphones work by directing as much of the sound as possible through your ears in the traditional way, so the sound waves are picked up by your eardrum then funneled through to the cochlear that way. It’s a different way to hear the sound and some people prefer it.
The truth is we detect sound from Bone Conduction all the time, especially when we move or interact with the world physically. Most sound reaches us by sound waves traveling through the ear, but the most satisfying and dare we say, intimate sounds are actually heard through Bone Conduction.
There really is something fun about hearing sound that way. Think about how weirdly gratifying it is to walk on crisp snow, hearing that crunch as you walk. That crunching noise is traveling up through the bones in your legs, spine and skull before slipping into your cochlear.
We’re unsure about why Bone Conduction makes the sound feel so rich and satisfying, perhaps it’s something we need to research and write another blog about. Watch this space. One example of it was when listening to audiobooks or relaxation tracks through Bone Conduction headphones.
Somehow the sound feels closer and seems to permeate our minds in a way hearing sound in a traditional way doesn’t achieve. Perhaps this is why? Whatever the case may be, this is the difference between Bone Conduction headphones and normal headphones. Although I gave my fellow treadmiller the abridged version.
If he asks again then perhaps I’ll send him to this blog and embrace the moniker of That Bone Conduction Guy’ for the end of all time. Or until I find another gym and go through all these questions again. Although I think I know the reason for all these questions. In the time that I’ve been wearing Bone Conduction headphones regularly I’ve heard them all:
I think the real question all these people are asking is “Wow they look cool, can you tell me if they work well so I can get a pair?”. This is why I’m always happy to answer the questions I get. I take it as a compliment. Discovering new technology is fun and a few months ago I was the other guy on the treadmill.
I was on the fence about Bone Conduction headphones until I started using them frequently. Now I couldn’t be without them. They’ve stealthily infiltrated various areas of my life and come nearly everywhere with me. I’m actually starting to consider buying a second pair.
The technology looks and feels stylish so it’s only natural for others to be intrigued when they see someone they know wearing them. They are becoming more popular, but they’re still not an item you see every day.
As well as functioning differently than regular headphones, Bone Conduction headphones are also different in design and style. The standard design is a headband that snuggly fits around the back of the cranium. It normally has to comfy parts around the ears to make sure it is nice to wear and not irritating.
Finally, there is a speaker that is can be located in two different spots. Some designs see the speakers fitting directly in front of the ears but a few inches below our temple, while other designs have this behind the ear instead.
Mine wraps over my ears and fits snuggly in the soft part of my skull in front of my ears and below my temples. This is the best route to the cochlear and is considered the best place for Bone Conduction headphones to sit. It’s at least considered the spot with the most access to the cochlear.
The sound, however, can reverberate through the headphones themselves meaning it gives the impression that it’s flooding the skull with sound. This can be a very interesting and intense way to hear a sound, especially for those who are used to listening to music or audio in the traditional way.
While I’m perfectly happy with my rather awesome AfterShokz, I’ve even bought my wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law a pair, I’ve noticed something else. Something new has caught my eye and I’m rather tempted to purchase them. My Bone Conduction headphones are wireless but, like a traditional pair of headphones, are two speakers connected by a headband. I’m now becoming aware of separate bone conduction headphones that fit in each individual ear.
This design seems to work a lot as earbuds do, or Apple AirPods. There are no wires and no connecting material between each pod. Each working independently of the other. Are they Bone Conduction Earbuds? My first thought was simple: I want them. But as I thought about it would the lack of headband take away from the functionality? After all, the vibrations reverberating through the entire headset is what makes Bone Conduction headphones so unique.
If this was absent wouldn’t it have less bone to conduct around? We’re confident each cochlear would find enough sound, but would it create the same feeling of immersion I’ve come to expect from Bone Conduction headphones? This is something I’m keen to learn more about, so I’ll report my findings when I’ve been able to secure a pair.
If they work in the way that I hope and don’t lose any vibration sound quality then Bone Conduction Earbuds could be the future of Bone Conduction technology. From what I can tell they look and work in a similar way to hearing aids, but clearly without the sound magnification technology.
Using these for audiobooks when lying in bed or under my hat while I walk my dog could revolutionize my audio experience, just like earbuds and Bone Conduction headphones have each done before in recent years.
Bone Conduction headphones are the future, that’s becoming close to an established fact, many of us are simply waiting for the world to catch up and discover them. Could it be, that by the time this happens they are already replaced by a smaller sleeker version? The technology is always improving so it’s not out of the realms of possibility.
However, should this be the case then you can bet your bottom dollar that this will lead to even more questions in the gym from the guy on the other treadmill. “Hey what are those things in your ears?” Here we go again.
The story of the Smartphone is so amazing and interesting it would be hard to make this entire narrative up. It is so intricately entwined in the ingenuity of humanity and the necessity to continue to discover and grow as a species. There is always hope!
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The ultimate mission of cellular data has always been to be on par with Wi-Fi. 4G has come close in many ways, but let’s be honest; we know there are things we can do at home on our computers or tablets that we cannot do on our cell phones. When we are at home, we think nothing of streaming.
Depending on your internet provider and plan, if you have modern Wi-Fi, you may have no data allowance or cap, so some can go to town and binge as many Netflix shows as we like.
However, this abundance of data has not yet crossed over into our mobile lives. Many of us are on data plans, and it is always possible to use up all of our data before we know it. Streaming through our phones is one way we risk doing this, which is why most people are still relatively conservative in their mobile streaming habits, but this is becoming harder to do.
Before the holidays, we wrote a blog post called “How Can You Hear Something That’s Not In Your Ear?” The blog's title was inspired by my father-in-law asking me that very same question while we were on a family holiday. As a prolific writer and self-confessed workaholic, I was busy writing my latest article while listening to the Killer's latest album through my Bone Conduction headphones.
Due to Bone Conduction headphones sending the music directly into my inner ear, I was able to enjoy it while I concentrated on my work, but without shutting out my surroundings. I was on a family vacation; after all, one which included dogs and small children all running around together.
It was sensible to keep an eye (and both ears) on them just in case I was needed to do a spot of parenting. Fortunately for me, my Bone Conduction headphones allow this due to their design. Other headphones may have blocked out the sound entirely.
I live in remote Alaska where there is barley 3G and don’t see us getting to 4G, let alone 5G anytime soon. For most of my life, I lived in a large city with cutting edge technology and the benefits of living with 4G.
The 5G promise is very exciting for many reasons we list below but do we need a 5G Phone in rural Alaska? The answer is no because there is no connection and if you live in a rural area the answer is more than likely the same for you.
Nome Alaska is 143 miles from the Arctic Circle and you can see Russia on a clear day from Wales which is in the Nome census area and Nort of Nome. If you measure on Google Maps Lavrentiya Russia is 179 miles from Nome Alaska.