The OpenRun Pro is the latest in bone conduction tech from Shokz – you know – the company formerly called AfterShokz. But is the latest… the greatest? The answer might shockz you.
Since AfterShokz left the After behind to become Shokz, the branding of the headphone models has also changed. There are now three sport models: the cheapest OpenMove, the OpenRun which is the older Aeropex upgraded with fast charging and the new top dog – the OpenRun Pro. I mean – it’s got a Pro at the end of the name, what did you expect?
Shokz has made a big deal about how the Pro has the newest gen bone conduction tech – so let’s break it down: sound quality and leakage, call quality, and build.
Not to be contrarian or anything, but we actually prefer the sound of the older Aeropex we have here, because you get more of the mid and high-end frequencies coming through. The newer OpenRun Pro has more bass, but the warmer sound signature misses some of that sparkle. The place where the older model falls flat is at maximum volume. Once you turn it all the way up, there is a lot of distortion that gets added to the sound. No such problems with the Pro. However the Pro does vibrate quite a bit at louder volumes – something our sensitive cheekbones definitely felt.
Considering this is supposed to be used outdoors, we can understand Shokz’s decision to add more bass on the Pro. Look at this way – once you’re outside, you’re gonna have difficulty hearing any bass at all with bone conduction headphones. So that exaggerated bass actually sounds less exaggerated while you’re biking or running. If you’ve used bone conduction before, you know that you can’t expect sound comparable to in-ears or over-ears. We were shocked to read reviews saying that there’s no compromise for sound quality anymore with these headphones – sorry, but just… no! Bone conduction sounds fine, but it’s not comparable to even the cheaper in-ear wireless options out there. Let’s just get that straight.
Also – let’s talk about volume for a second. Having your ears open is both a benefit and a disadvantage. Even walking to the nearest supermarket, we noticed that we had to turn the volume up to almost maximum to hear Nilay Patel’s voice on the Vergecast. One of our favorite podcasts, by the way. And this is one of the downsides of bone conduction headphones – turning up the volume in a noisy environment is just terrible for your hearing long term, so that’s another downside when you compare it to good old in-ears.
Having said that, these have two EQ presets to tune the sound, which are ok, but we found the standard setting just fine, also for podcasts. Never needed to switch to the vocal preset.
Now let’s talk about sound leakage. Bone conduction tends to have more leakage than in-ears and Shokz says that it has done some work to reduce leakage. We tested it by comparing it to the older model, but… meh – we didn’t notice any major difference.
Note: Affiliate links in this post help support us financially. For more options check out the ‘Support Us’ section on this site.
We also tested those dual noise cancelling mics to check how much better they actually perform for phone calls. The older model was already pretty good and in quiet conditions, the two are both very good. But that dual noise cancelling mic is no joke. You can notice this especially in the second repetition of our test phrase when we speak quieter. There is a definite improvement in cancelling out background noise and that’s tangible because these are headphones you use outdoors, so noise and wind are part of the deal when making calls. And yes – also for wind you notice the same improvement – better cancelling of the wind noise while still keeping the voice impressively clear.
Have a listen to some microphone samples over HERE.
Just like the sound quality, we also noticed much more bass coming through in the voice using the new Pro versus the older model. And the controls for calls are unchanged – and still fairly good. Most things a vakman needs from volume control, answer / hangup, except for the ability to mute a call.
When it comes to build, we’ve seen some videos stating that the Pros are smaller than the older version, but for us that’s simply not true. That also means that you still can’t lie down or sleep in these since they stick out a bit from the back of your head. You bigheads out there might have a different experience of course. But hey – don’t sleep in these, they’re designed for sports! Burn some calories!
Just because you can’t cozy with them in bed, doesn’t mean they’re uncomfortable. Since bone conduction headphones go over your ear and rest on your cheek bone, they’re very comfortable! So these are very often our pick for workouts since you don’t have to deal with the problematic fit of in-ear buds or the heat generated by on or over ear headphones. And these are great for people with impaired hearing since sound is emitted through vibration of the cheek bone instead of through the ear canal.
So all that supposed improvement in sound and microphone quality comes at the expense of something in the build – a worse dust and waterproof rating. The Pro has an IP55 vs the older IP67. Now look – we’d happily take the better mics over the slightly worse waterproof rating any day of the week. However, it’s always disappointing to see a step back in numbers, especially if that extra bit of dust or waterproofing really matters to you.
And none of these are waterproof – let’s just make that clear – you can’t submerge these in water. For that you’ll need their OpenSwim variant. All right back to the OpenRuns…
The button layout is still the same and you can do volume and track controls reliably – something even high end in-ear buds cannot always do. The buttons are redesigned – now bigger and much easier to hit since the charging port has moved. This sounds minor, but it’s one of those small things that actually makes a difference in your day-to-day experience. What didn’t make any difference was the hard shell case. It sounds good on paper, but these things are so durable, we found ourselves hardly using the case. The charging port still continues to have that proprietary cable though – and this time we didn’t get a backup cable in the Shokz box.
The battery life has also been improved to 10 hours from 8 which is a welcome change and this time, Shokz gives you software with its hardware. The iOS and Android app is basic in terms of functionality. You can use it to change the EQ, change language of the voice prompts from English or one of 3 other languages. You can enable multipoint and upgrade your firmware, which is probably the most useful addition. The multipoint still works quite well, which makes it not only good for fitness but a very capable work-from-home headset as well. Fast charging also comes default on the newer models.
The rest of the design is pretty much unchanged, so glasses, caps, masks and even cycling helmets should work well enough with the headphones on. What do you think?
Should you buy the Shokz OpenRun Pro?
So – should you buy the OpenRun Pro? If you don’t already own the OpenRun or Aeropex and want to buy the latest and greatest from Shokz, sure get the OpenRun Pro. But for most of us, the older OpenRun or Aeropex does just fine. In some cases – like the sound and IP rating, it even outperforms the Pro. The price difference will determine which one you wanna get though – check out the links in the description for the latest prices.
You’ve been running in the open like a pro and we’ve been DHRME. Namaste!