What are bone conduction headphones how do they function, and why are they useful for athletes and the hearing impaired?
for whom it is beneficial, and how headphones transmit sound via the skull Truly wireless earbuds may have dominated discussion about wireless audio in recent years, but they are far from the only exciting development in this area. As a specialized product, bone conduction headphones shine in the hands of outdoor athletes and specific subsets of the deaf and hard-of-hearing population. The topic of wireless bone-conduction headphones is being explored in depth.
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How do bone conduction headphones work
To start, let’s define bone-conduction headphones.
While using bone conduction headphones with a microphone, the earphones are placed directly on top of the listener’s cheekbones. Bone conduction headsets transmit sound vibrations via the jawbone, skipping the middle ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. Hugo Gernsback, in the 1920s, developed a bone-conduction hearing aid called the optophone, which may be traced back to its hearing aid beginnings. These days, bone conduction audio isn’t only useful in the medical field; it’s also a handy gadget for athletes who train in the vast outdoors. By using a headset, one’s ears remain unencumbered, allowing for heightened situational awareness—critical when engaging in activities like jogging or trekking in unfamiliar territory.
Bone-conduction headphones work how?
best bone conduction headphones with a mic are odd. They vibrate your cranium and are quite silent. How does your skull perceive sound? Bone conduction headphones vibrate bone to send sound waves through the skull. Sound bypasses the eardrum, malleus, incus, and stapes to reach the cochlea via the skull. The cochlea moves Corti stereocilia. The auditory nerve is stimulated by neurotransmitters from this flowing movement. The brain perceives auditory nerve impulses as sound.
This technique also explains why you hear your voice lower than others. Since bone transmits low-frequency sounds better than high-frequency ones, our voices seem high-pitched when recorded. Bone conduction goes directly into the ear canal, whereas earbuds and headphones need cushioned ear cups. Most individuals use the eardrum and other mechanisms in both cases. Hearing-impaired people should use bone-conduction headphones.
Sounds Are Just Vibrations
First, let’s examine the physics of hearing, and only then will we get into bone conduction. Sound, like light, moves in waves across the air. Yet, in contrast to light, sound is capable of penetrating opaque materials. This is why “pressure waves” is the common term for what we hear. Even unseen things are made to vibrate by them.
Your ears contain a number of small organs whose only purpose is to process and respond to auditory information. To put it another way, they have excellent vibrational qualities. Your eardrum is the real show stopper; it’s a small flap of skin that vibrates like the diaphragm of a microphone or the head of a drum. The additional ear organs and the small earbones are stimulated to vibrate as a result. (On a completely unrelated issue, avoid looking for images of the eardrum online. (It’s disgusting.)
Your cochlea takes in its surroundings and makes a mental note of any changes whenever the ground begins to shake. The information is subsequently sent to the brain, where it is interpreted as the sounds you are hearing. It seems that hearing is a rather straightforward procedure. Furthermore, did you know what? Even the transmission of sound through bone is easy.
Your Eardrums Are Ignored By Bone Conduction.
To put it simply, the eardrum is part of the ear that must vibrate in order to for the inner ear’s many tiny bones and organs to respond to sound. Without the eardrum, the inner ear’s bones and organs would be inert and you wouldn’t be able to hear.
Do you get where we’re headed with this? Bone conduction transmits sound waves directly to the inner ear without going via the ear canal. Your cochlea doesn’t recognize the difference until all the tiny bones and organs of your inner ear begin to move. It takes the vibrations, transmits them to the brain, and then you hear sounds like music, podcasts, or those annoying autoplay videos on news websites.
This, however, does not imply that bone-conduction headphones produce no audible noise at all. Nevertheless audible (albeit much less so than with earbuds), these headphones are designed to transmit music directly through your skull.
Is It A Good Idea To Have Bone Conduction Headphones?
You should evaluate your requirements for bone-conduction headphones before going out to get a new set. Bone conduction headphones are a great investment if you want to listen to music but still be able to hear your environment. (We are not making light of the fact that many brands of bone-conduction headphones are subpar. If you’re going to buy a pair, get an excellent pair.
If you’re just concerned with high standards, it’s best to stay with what you already know. Headphones, even the nicest set, will always “sound” better than bone-conduction headphones. In spite of its usefulness, bone conduction compromises audio quality.
How can I choose the most effective bone-conduction headphones?
AfterShokz is a brand name that is certainly recognizable to you if you have ever looked for a pair of Bluetooth bone-conduction headphones online. In any case, it has a dominant share of the market for bone-conduction headphones. In-depth recommendations for the best bone-conduction headphones may be found on our sister site SoundGuys, but here is a summary of the three models we consider to be the finest overall.
The Aeropex is the most rugged of the three AfterShokz headphones, with an IP67 certification indicating resistance to dust and water. The Aeropex bone conduction headphones are waterproof for up to 30 minutes at depths of one meter. Yet, the absence of onboard storage means that they aren’t designed to be used while swimming; nonetheless, the water resistance is a welcome bonus in case you accidentally drop them in the lake.
In addition to the standard eight hours of continuous playing offered by most wireless earbuds, they also have a microphone for taking calls hands-free. With the press of a single button, you may contact Google Assistant and manage playback. It’s the priciest option because to its usage of the latest Bluetooth (5.0) firmware and its price tag of $125 USD.
This lightweight, sub-$100 training headset is more discreet than the competition and has reflective strips for safety on evening walks or runs. Battery life for the AfterShokz Air is just six hours, which isn’t amazing but should be plenty to get you through a week of workouts. Also, the Air employs Bluetooth 4.2 firmware, which may be responsible for its somewhat shorter battery life when compared to the Aeropex. Mics built right into the device are great for taking calls. Keep it out of the neighborhood swimming pool, since it has just an IP55 rating.
When I initially started looking into Bluetooth bone conduction headphones, I tried out the AfterShokz Titanium, which I highly recommend to anybody who is on the fence about trying them out. It boasts a six-hour battery life, Bluetooth 4.1, and an IP55 rating, and it is one of the more reasonably priced alternatives out there. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this headset, and if at all possible, you should choose one of the other AfterShokz models instead since their connections are more stable. If you’re looking for additional information about headphone sales, you can find it here.
FAQ: how it works for Bone conduction headphones you should know
Q. Bone conduction headphones—safe?
Bone conduction headphones are safer than in-ear earbuds since nothing is in your ear canal. This eliminates the risk of ear infection or silicone sleeve entrapment. They’re safe for jogging outdoors since they let you hear everything around you, but you need to listen at a safe level.
Q. Bone conduction headphones and tinnitus?
Bone conduction headphones, like other headsets, may produce tinnitus. Sensorineural hearing loss, the most frequent kind, affects multiple ear systems (SNHL). Stereocilia injury causes SNHL to impair high-frequency hearing. These inner ear hairs lie along nerve routes. Constant stimulation or harsh noises may harm them.
Q. Do bone conduction headphones induce headaches?
Vibration headphones, like any headset, may induce headaches. Pressure on our temples might make bone conduction headsets unpleasant. These headsets induce headaches with little pressure over time. Bone conduction earbuds seldom cause headaches, while on-ear and over-ear headphones do.