Open ear headphones

Open-ear headphones are a popular choice to listen to audio handsfree. Unlike traditional headphones, open-ear headphones don’t cover the ears or sit within the ear canal. Instead, they allow ambient sounds, like street traffic, to blend with crystal-clear audio. This unique design allows you to enjoy your favourite music, podcasts, or calls while staying connected to the world around you. Discover how open-ear headphones work, explore their unique features, and learn about the benefits they provide.

What are open-ear headphones?

Open-ear headphones, as the name suggests, are a type of headphones that do not enclose or cover the ears entirely. They usually rest on or just outside the ear without completely covering it. This design is particularly beneficial for those who prefer to remain aware of their surroundings while enjoying music or audio content. This could be runners, cyclists, office workers, or anyone else who needs to stay connected to their environment.

How do open-ear headphones work?

Open-ear headphones work in two main ways: bone and air conduction. These methods differ in how sound gets to your ears, ultimately shaping the listening experience on open-ear headphones.

Sudio Audio B1 Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headphones

Bone conduction

Instead of going through your eardrums like regular sound, bone conduction headphones generate subtle vibrations that travel through the bones of your skull. This bypasses the outer and middle ear to directly stimulate the cochlea—the sensory organ responsible for hearing. These vibrations are then transmitted to the brain and interpreted as sound. Bone conduction headphones are lightweight and keep you aware of your surroundings, which makes them a popular choice for physical activities like running outdoors or resistance training in a gym.

Sony LinkBuds Open-Ear True Wireless Earbuds

Air conduction

Open ear air conduction headphones have tiny speakers that create sound waves. These sounds travel through the air and into your ears. The sound waves make your eardrums vibrate, and then those vibrations get turned into sound by your brain. Air conduction provides a rich audio experience, while also keeping you aware of what’s happening around you. You can also adjust the volume to your personal preference for an optimal listening experience in various environments.

Benefits of open-ear headphones

Man wearing Sony LinkBuds Open-Ear True Wireless Earbuds

Enhanced situational awareness

One of the key benefits of open-ear headphones is their ability to maintain situational awareness. By allowing ambient sounds to filter through, you can remain attuned to your environment. This makes them great for commuting and outdoor activities that require awareness of surroundings, such as running or cycling.

Reduced ear fatigue

Open-ear headphones do not create a sealed environment around the ears. This reduces ear fatigue compared to closed-back headphones. The absence of pressure buildup alleviates discomfort during extended listening sessions. It’s a comfortable option for prolonged and extended use.

Comfort and breathability

The design of open-ear headphones promotes comfort and breathability. The earpieces rest lightly on the ears without creating a tight seal. This makes them ideal for use in warm climates or during physical activities, where ventilation and comfort are paramount.

Practical considerations

Shokz OpenFit Open-Ear True Wireless Earbuds

One potential drawback of open-ear headphones is sound leakage. Without a sealed environment around the ears, sound may escape and be audible to those nearby, particularly at higher volume levels. This can be a consideration if you’re in shared spaces or quiet environments where privacy is desired. However, advancements in design and technology have mitigated this issue to some extent, with manufacturers implementing measures to minimize sound leakage without compromising comfort or sound quality.

Experience the difference of open-ear headphones

Open-ear headphones strike a unique balance between immersive audio and situational awareness. This makes them a versatile choice for various activities that require awareness of your surroundings. Whether you’re outdoors, working out, or commuting, their innovative designs offer a comfortable and enjoyable listening experience. While they may not suit every situation, their ability to enhance awareness and reduce ear fatigue make them a compelling option if you’re looking for a new pair of wireless headphones.

This article was drafted using AI technology and then reviewed, fact-checked, and revised by a member of our editorial team.

Best Buy (assisted with AI)
Best Buy is exploring ways to use AI technology to help us craft engaging content for our customers and fellow tech enthusiasts. It is important to us that we provide you with articles that are timely, accurate, and helpful, which is why our amazing team of writers and editors review, fact-check, and revise any AI-generated content before we post it on our blog. Learn more about our Policy on the Use of Generative AI Content.


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