Earlier this week we reviewed the Shokz OpenFit headphones (earbuds?) designed to allow true sounds and noises from your environment to be heard while at the same time as listening to music.  

These work differently to ambient noise in traditional ANC headphones and are a true indication of all of the sounds around you.  Another version of the open-ear headphones from Shokz are the Shokz OpenRun Pro.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are “open-ear” headphones that use bone conduction to emit sound waves into the ear canal while at the same time leaving the ear canal wide open for any subtle sounds and noises around you.  

They include Bluetooth 5.1 support along with an IP55 rating and multipoint connectivity along with a solid, well-constructed carry case that will definitely keep them safe and secure.

Design and comfort

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are extremely comfortable, because there is nothing on them that goes anywhere near the ear canal.  They wrap around the back of your neck comfortably but they do sit tightly around the ears without encumbering any sunnies or glasses you may be wearing.  

The main section of the headphones sit in front of the ear canal using bone conduction to deliver sounds to your ear bones and nerves.

The left side of the headphones houses a single button to control music playback or to pick up or end a call.  To adjust volume you have to reach back and underneath to the charging section on the right side, behind the ear to hit the volume up and down buttons there.  

The charging section behind the right ear houses the proprietary magnetic charging port which is a strange port indeed – don’t lose that cable included as it will be a struggle to find another one in a hurry.

Running and walking only – lying down movies them and can affect how they sit during that set.

Sound quality

Podcasts and spoken word sounds just fine using the bone conduction and given it is just spoken word you don’t need to listen closely to hear nuances of music etc so they work well with these headphones.  

With music though ALL the surrounding noises will hit the ear as well, making it difficult to fully appreciate the full extent of the music unless you are in an extremely quiet environment.  Using them at the gym was useless given the gym also plays music so there is that along with all the banging and clanging of the weights competing with the music I was playing.

The environmental awareness that the OpenRun Pro  delivers causes the sound quality to suffer.  If you are out and about on a run you will be able to hear all traffic, people, bicycle bells etc without any issues but you won’t get anywhere near a pure audiophile sound – but that is not what they are designed for.

Listening to podcasts is ok with these headphones but if you want quality music while running you are barking up the wrong tree.  The quality of the music is similar to listening to the speaker of your phone – and that was in a quiet environment..

Once again: this is not the point of these headphones.  You can safely listen to some music/podcasts while staying fully aware of your environment, be it cars, bikes, other people or whatever.  You will hear it all.  Out and about is it – at the gym with all the banging, clanging and gym music thumping they are next to useless. Even then the sound is average so don’t expect any audiophile quality sound.

The bone conduction can definitely be felt while listening to music and takes awhile to get used to – there are new bass transducers in these headphones but don’t expect skull crushing bass. Expect a little. You can adjust the EQ within the app but the options in the app for EQ are not great.

Battery life and charging

There is no charging within the case — it is just that — and the proprietary charging cable, albeit disappoitning, is likely to keep them lighter and smaller. I managed to get close to ten hours of battery life with these but I suspect if you only listen to podcasts with these they should last longer.

For this reason you will need to make sure you constantly keep these charged but at least the carry case has a nice little spot to keep the charging cable — You will not have a spare on of these lying around.

Who buys these and why?  

Comparing the Shokz OpenRun Pro to the OpenFit showed just how average the sound quality from the OpenRun Pro is. The OpenFit did not amaze me but their sound was so far better than that from the OpenRun Pro.

But for those hard of hearing and way in the back — these OpenRun Pro are NOT for audiophiles. They are for those who wish to remain aware of their environment so they don’t get attacked/run over/bitten/scared while out for a run/walk/ride.

The ability to hear your surroundings with the OpenRun Pro far exceeds that of the OpenFit and that is what they are designed for — safety. If this is your primary concern, and for many it should be, especially folks who like to run/walk at night (and let’s face in Winter it is often dark at 5pm when we all finish work).

The Shokz OpenRun Pro is available from Shokz.com.au and specialty stores for $269 in black, blue, beige and pink.