Aftershokz, the flagship brand of bone conduction headphones recently went through a rebrand, changing its name to Shokz. With it came some rebranding for products as well, such as the Aftershokz Aeropex, which became the Shokz OpenRun. Then came the next generation with the Shokz OpenRun Pro, which is what we get to talk about today. An upgraded model with some new tweaks for better sound and performance.
During an interview with Shokz during CES 2022, Shokz explained that they took into consideration some of the comments and requests made by customers to target specific improvements on the Pro. Focusing on things like audio range (in general) as well as a little added bass delivery. The latter is something that literally every bone-conduction model suffers from, making it a smart point to touch on.
For the most part, the physical design of the headphones falls right into line with the others. This is no surprise since there is only so much that you can do with bone conduction physically. So it does pass closely as looking similar to the previous non-pro model. That shouldn’t bother you though since there really isn’t anything wrong with it. Again, the enhancements all come from the tech within the headphones.
The volume controls are located on the bottom of the right side that sits behind your ear. We’ve mentioned before that this bulk section (both sides) is likely where the internal battery is stored. We haven’t exactly opened the headphones up to confirm this (and we won’t), but the options are limited for the battery location(s) to be anywhere else.
The volume up button is multi-functioning. The volume up button functions as the power button for turning the headphones off and on (a few seconds of holding it). It is also used to trigger pairing, although it does also go into pairing mode automatically on first use upon powering it on.
On the left side, on the back of the module that rests in front of your ear, is where the main multi-functioning button is located (and the only other physical control). Its function is mostly obvious, controlling the play/pause of a track and answering or disconnecting calls. It allows you to also control tracks by double-clicking it to move to the next song or triple-clicking to go back (previous).
Like other models such as the original OpenRun or the OpenComm, there are no other controls physically on the headphones. However, you can control things a little further using the app.
Setup & the Shokz app
Getting setup is easy. Easy as any Bluetooth headphones would be. As mentioned, the first time you power them on, they will automatically go into pairing. Simply find the headphones in the list of Bluetooth devices within your mobile device and pair.
Then you want to download the app. Currently, this is the only model the Shokz app will work with, but you’ll likely find the list expand as the company rolls out additional models (or if it decides to support some of the current ones in the future).
From the app, you have a few options beyond what the physical buttons have to offer. It’s limited though. Shokz may think of some additional features at some point, but there is only so much you can do with a pair of headphones like this. With that, you have the ability to switch between two EQs–standard and vocal. The first is what you’d use for audio playback of any kind of media (music, movies, etc). Vocal is if you spend most of your time on the phone or listening to things like podcasts.
You can also keep an eye on multi-point pairing, battery life, change the language of the audible prompts, and upgrade the firmware. Beyond that, you have alternative controls for next/prev track, play/pause, and volume.
So beyond upgrading the firmware whenever necessary, the app has little use if you don’t plan on switching EQs. You are more than able to skip the use of the app entirely and just use it like any normal pair of headphones (or, bone conduction headphones.
We have mentioned before that bone conduction doesn’t always come with the best audio quality. It’s just so hard (or even impossible) to recreate high-res sound through this method. Instead, bone conduction has its own niche scenarios. Working out at the gym while being able to carry a conversation with your spotter, working a construction site or anywhere else that requires you to hear everything around you for safety reasons, and any other situation where you don’t want to inhibit your ability to hear everything else.
Despite that, Shokz has seemed to touch on this a bit. Obviously, when you have limitations, you focus on what you have to work with. In this case, you focus on clarity and crisp highs. They seemed to pull this off well enough. However, they actually have tuned in the low-end a little better with this model. There are notable mid-lows in the audio when listening to media. I wouldn’t call it “deep base” like some of the literature online claims, but it is noticeably better than other models. So Shokz is listening to customer feedback and considering the weaknesses that come with the technology (everything has its pros and cons).
Of course, with added bass through bone conduction, there are vibrations. There always were but they are a bit more prevalent in this model due to the additional bass footprint. It’s not terrible but still worth pointing out in case someone is sensitive to such. In our use, it never came to bother us.
Looking back at some of the models we have come across over the years, this has to be one of the best sounding models yet in bone conduction. A crisp range, plenty of volume, and even a little upgrade in noticeable bass. I could easily see myself using these at the gym.
As for phone calls, I wouldn’t say they are anything special. Few headphone models are incredible at this without bringing the mic a little closer to the mouth. If you plan on taking a lot of phone calls, you’d likely want to focus your attention on the Shokz OpenComm headset. However, it doesn’t lack at this either. You can easily use this for casual phone calls maintaining clarity and user-friendliness.
And battery life too! You get up to 10 hours of actual use with this one, including music and phone calls. So it will definitely get you through an average day of use for both recreation, work, or around the house. Not only that but it does offer fast charging. So it doesn’t take long to charge up. It promises up to 1.5 hours on just 5 minutes of charge.
The charging cable is proprietary of course. With so many devices taking the route of universal connectivity, we never like to see proprietary options like this as it just adds to the clutter of cables (and the price if you need more than one or to replace one). However, we do have to keep in mind that some of this has to do with water resistance. Only a little though since there are USB-C options out there that maintain some kind of water resistance.
As for water resistance, they are only IP55 rated. Which means you won’t be jumping in the pool with them on your head. You will be protected from a little rain and a lot of sweat, but not much more than that. We would have expected a little more for having to use a proprietary cable. Then again, it could also have something to do with the bone conduction tech in general too. At least you do get some kind of resistance.
Finally, comfort is something you’d find across the entire Shokz line of products. These headphones are so light in weight, it’s kind of hard for them to be uncomfortable. They sit lightly across the ears and blend right in over time. Unless you have overly sensitive ears.
They are comfortable and make for a great option in situations where you need to hear everything around you. Their ability to charge quickly and last throughout a day is helpful and the audio range is definitely noticeable compared to other models we have tested. The lows are more present than usual, which is great, despite the added vibrations that come with it. As usual, they are expensive, but this is any pair of “true” bone conduction headphones.
- Battery life: 10 Hours
- Battery type: Li-Polymer Battery
- Charge time: 1 Hour
- Charger: Magnetic Induction Cable
- Command controls: Yes
- Compatible codecs: SBC
- Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
- Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
- Microphone: Dual Noise-Canceling Mic
- Microphone sensitivity: -38dB +/- 3dB
- Moisture detector: Yes
- Multipoint pairing: Yes
- Sensitivity: 105 +/- 3dB
- Standby time: Up to 10 Days
- Titanium band: Full-Wraparound
- Titanium frame: Full-Wraparound
- Type: Bluetooth 5.1
- Warranty: 2 Years
- Water resistance: IP55 (Water-resistant)
- Weight: 29 g
- Wireless range: 33 feet
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