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Shokz OpenRun Pro review: the best sounding bone conduction headphones around

The Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones give you the best of both worlds – an open-ear design for safety, plus excellent sound

Shokz OpenRun Pro running headphones
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Shokz OpenRun Pro offer easily the best sound quality of any bone conduction headphones we've tested to date, with really punchy bass. You might notice a slight tickle if you pick a particularly heavy soundtrack for your workout, but it's very minor, and if your budget will stretch to them, these lightweight sports headphones are easy to recommend.

For

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Open-ear design
  • Lightweight construction
  • Great microphone for calls

Against

  • Relatively expensive
  • Slight tickling from heavy bass

Shokz OpenRun Pro: first impressions

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are bone conduction headphones, which means they sit against your cheekbones and leave your ear canals open during use. That means you can still hear what's happening around you while listening to music or podcasts, and (importantly) pinpoint where it's coming from. 

Shokz (formerly known as AfterShokz) is the biggest name in bone conduction headphones, and if you've used one of its headsets before then the look of the OpenRun Pro will be instantly familiar. They feature two transducer pads that sit just in front of your ears and transmit vibrations to your cochlea while bypassing your eardrum. These are connected by a thin, flexible band that holds them in place with just enough pressure to stop them moving during workouts, without ever feeling uncomfortable.

Specifications

• List price: $179.95 / £159.95
• Weight: 29g
• Colors: black, blue, pink, beige
• Active noise cancellation: no
• Best use: trail running, road running, hiking, cycling

The OpenRun Pro make several improvements on earlier Shokz designs, including small tweaks like a repositioned charging port that's now easier to use, and larger buttons for skipping between tracks, changing the volume, pausing and restarting audio, and taking calls.

The biggest improvement, however, is the addition of new bass transducers for improved sound quality. Most bone conduction headphones are seriously lacking in the bass department, which is a shame for runners who prefer to train with a driving beat to help maintain a good cadence, but the Shokz OpenRun Pro are the exception.

Shokz OpenRun Pro running headphones

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are lightweight, and don't budge even during intense workouts (Image credit: Future)

The headset is charged using a USB cable with a proprietary magnetic connector. Unlike true wireless earbuds there's no charging case to keep them powered up, but battery life is very respectable; Shokz quotes up to 10 hours on a single charge, which should be fine even for marathon training.

The OpenRun Pro were available in black and blue colorways at launch, and Shokz expanded the options with pink and beige in June 2022.

Shokz OpenRun Pro: on the road

The Shokz OpenRun are the best running headphones I've tested to date, and that's no mean feat. Bone conduction headsets are great for safety (and are the only type of headphones permitted at many races), but choosing one usually means accepting a big drop in sound quality.

That's not true with the OpenRun Pro. If, like me, you find there's nothing more satisfying that hitting the pavement or the trails with a pounding rock playlist, you'll immediately notice that the OpenRun Pro's sound quality easily rivals traditional in-ear headphones. There's very little in the way of sound leakage too, which is impressive.

If you crank up the volume all the way then you might notice a slight tickling sensation where the transducers touch your skin, but it's not a serious problem and only noticeable if you pick a particularly heavy track.

Call quality is good as well. Shokz has improved its microphones for the OpenRun Pro, and it's an upgrade that's paid off.

Shokz OpenRun Pro running headphones

The Shokz OpenRun Pro feature improved bass transducers that make a huge difference to sound quality (Image credit: Future)

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are water-resistant, and will be fine when subjected to rain and sweat, but aren't suitable for swimming. For that, you'll need the Shokz OpenSwim, which also allow you to store music on the headset itself (a sensible choice since Bluetooth signals transmit very poorly in water).

The open-ear design and subsequent lack of noise cancellation mean they won't block out distractions on public transport unless you also carry a pair of earplugs. If you want a set of headphones that will perform well for both running and blocking noise then you'd be better off with the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro.

If, however, you're looking for a set of headphones to keep you entertained on walks and hikes, the OpenRun Pro are easy to recommend. At $179.95 / £159.95 they aren't cheap, but they're solidly built; I've been using them since their launch in January 2022 and have so far experienced no problems or signs of wear.

Cat Ellis
Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).