Bone Conduction Headphones are a truly unique piece of tech. They are completely different from any other earbuds on the market. But do bone conduction headphones leak sound?
All headphones can leak sound if they are used on maximum volume. Some amount of sound leakage is normal and acceptable. Bone conduction headphones don’t leak significantly more sound than other types of headphones. Bone Conduction Headphones do leak more sound than in-ear headphones on average.
Read on to learn why there’s sound leakage from bone conduction and all forms of headphones. We will also share a few handy tips that will help you reduce sound leakage.
Why Do Bone Conduction Headphones Leak Sound?
According to RTINGS.com, all headphones leak some sound; bone conduction headphones also leak sound because the sound escapes from the sides of the transducers. The headphones have drivers that vibrate to create sound. The vibrations are strong enough to make small gaps between the headphones and your skin.
If your bone-conducting headphones have vents, there’ll be even more leakage. The problem is further amplified when you listen to loud music because the drivers create even stronger vibrations. That’s the reason why bone-conducting headphones leak more sound than in-ear style earbuds.
Some In-ears headphones or earbuds use silicon or foam tips to create a strong seal. On the other hand, bone conduction headphones don’t have any way to create a seal. They sit directly against your skin, and they even move a bit if they’re not tight enough. Combine this with loud metal blasting against your temple, and it becomes a recipe for sound leakage.
But How Bad is The Sound Bleed on Bone Conduction Headphones?
It’s very similar to other types of headphones, which is not so bad. Most people around you won’t hear your music unless you have them at extremely high volume, so you’re safe to listen to classical rock if you like.
When was the last time you heard someone’s earbuds on the street? There’s already so much traffic and other noise that you can hardly hear anything. So, your music session stays private. If you want to be extra safe, lower the music a bit.
The only time someone may hear sound from your bone conduction headphones is in very quiet places. People sitting extremely close to you can also hear some music. Remember this when sitting next to strangers on an airplane, bus, or train.
How to Reduce Bone Conducting Headphone Sound Leakage
You don’t have to stop using bone-conducting headphones because of sound leakage. After all, they are the safest regarding awareness, most convenient, useful, and comfortable way to listen to music outdoors.
Also, as we often discuss in our articles on headphones, Bone Conduction Headphones are one type of headphones we use depending on our circumstances and what we are doing.
While you can’t completely stop sound leakage, there are a few ways to reduce it.
Lower the Volume
The louder the volume on your headphones, the more sound leaks because of the stronger driver vibrations. To counteract that, you may want to lower the volume a bit. But remember that you can hear your headphones much louder than people around you.
So, you don’t have to make them completely silent. It’s enough to lower the volume to 60-70%.
Of course, you may not want to listen to loud music in the first place. Constant loud music causes hearing loss because it damages your cochlea. Bone conduction headphones are not any safer in this regard.
Use Better Bone Conduction Headphones
Have you ever noticed that bad earbuds are always obnoxiously loud to bypassers? Bone conduction headphones aren’t any different. A cheap pair will always have more leakage, while bad earphones often let you crank up the volume way louder than what’s considered safe.
Let’s look at AfterShokz as an example. They are one of the pioneers of bone-conducting headphones, so they had plenty of time to hone their craft. Their latest earphones come with LeakSlayer technology. In a nutshell, the headphones cancel out their sound from the outside.
It’s the same principle that noise-canceling headphones use. A separate driver plays the opposite soundwave to the main driver, which causes the sound to cancel out.
You might want to check out the AfterShokz Titanium from Amazon.com. These bone conduction headphones have built-in LeakSlayer technology. Also, they’re very comfortable and IP55 certified.
Get Better Fitting Bone Conducting Headphones
Earbuds need to fit perfectly into your ear to reduce sound leakage, which is why they give you a few different size silicon tips. You also want your bone-conducting earphones to fit snug against your skull. If it’s too loose, they’ll slide around, which can significantly increase sound leakage.
But you can’t just fit a new pair of ear tips to them. Most people won’t have trouble with the standard size. However, if your head is too small, the earphones will slide around too much. They might even slip off.
AfterShokz explains in their video how to tell what size fits you:
Measure what length you need before you buy the headphones. You may want to check the dimensions in the product details.
The AfterShokz Aeropex Mini from Amazon.com is perfect for smaller heads. They have the same great sound as the standard Aeropex, but the band is 0.5″ (1.27 cm) smaller.
How Do Bone Conduction Headphones Work?
Bone conduction headphones work by transmitting the sound through your bones instead of air. The sound travels directly to your cochlea instead of the eardrum picking up vibrations.
It’s a true marvel of engineering. But where did the sound engineers get the idea for bone conduction headphones?
Well, you actually use bone conduction every single day. When you speak, your voice transmits sound waves to your ear through the skull. That’s why we cringe when we hear our voices in recordings.
We usually listen to ourselves through our bones. Bone-conducting headphones use our bones for the same purpose. The sound travels from the temple to the cochlea, which is located in the inner ear.
Are Bone Conduction Headphones Worth It?
Bone conduction headphones are worth it if you want to be aware of your surroundings, as they don’t block any ambient noise. They’re a good alternative to traditional in-ear headphones. Also, they don’t usually cost more than regular Bluetooth earbuds.
I’ve been a huge fan of bone conduction headphones ever since I saw them. You can continue using your ears with the headphones on, making cycling or running while listening to music significantly less dangerous.
Bone Conduction Headphones for Swimming?
If you never liked having in-ear headphones shoved down your ear canal, get bone-conducting headphones. There’s no reason to miss out. You can use them just like regular earbuds. Wear them in the gym, on the trail, on the street, and in public transport.
And did you know that you can wear them for swimming? They sound identical underwater because they don’t need air to function.
If you’re an avid swimmer, get the Aftershokz New Xtrainerz Bone Conduction Wireless MP3 Swimming Headphones from Amazon.com.They’re IP68 Waterproof, meaning they can be submerged, and the sound quality is very good. They are not Bluetooth compatible, but they have 8-Hour Battery Life, and the bass is surprisingly punchy.
Because the headphones are in an MP3 format, they have Internal music storage that allows for a library of 1,200 songs, audio books, or whatever suits your taste.
Bone-conducting headphones leak some sound. But they aren’t significantly worse than traditional earbuds, and they still leak less than open-back headphones. Most people won’t hear your music unless they’re very close to you.
If you’re concerned about sound leakage, turn the volume down.
You can get a unique experience from bone-conducting headphones. They cost about the same as other earbuds, so they are worth the price.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: How Does Loud Noise Cause Hearing Loss?
- The Hearing Journal: The Truth about Bone-Conduction Earphones
- AfterShokz: Technology
- Wikipedia: Noise-cancelling headphones
- Wikipedia: Bone conduction
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: How We Hear
- AfterShokz: How Bone Conduction Headphones For Swimming Work