Since 5 years ago, I discovered the first AfterShokz Trekz Titanium and started running wearing bone conduction headphones my way of listening to music while doing sports has drastically changed, indeed I would say that I started listening to music while doing sports exactly at that moment. Before discovering the Trekz, in fact, I had never been able to run with a pair of headphones that would plug my ears and therefore completely isolate me from everything around me.
The fact of being able to listen to music while continuing to hear the frequency of the breath and the noises coming from the street and the surrounding environment proved to be a real turning point for me. The new Shokz OpenRun Pro, formerly AfterShokz, are the latest expression of bone conduction technology and, if possible, still improve the performance of the latest OpenRun and Aeropex, which I wore up to 10 days ago and which still remain excellent. Read on below and I’ll tell you how they go and how they evolved.
DESIGN AND MATERIALS
Open the package of the new OpenRun Pro we immediately find the hard case, inside which we have our headphones and the charging cable, as always with proprietary magnetic connector. In addition to these, by moving the cardboard divider we can recover the classic manual with instructions for the first start and the card with useful information for the guarantee.
A winning team does not change and Shokz, with the new OpenRun Pro, does not stray far from this philosophy. Therefore, the same OpenFit design remains that has characterized all the company’s solutions for years; a scheme that includes two small transmitters that integrate the motor for the vibration and lean just in front of the tragus (the protrusion that protects the ear canal), joined together by a titanium arch that thicken at the loops that rest on the ears to make room for electronics and controls.
Precisely in correspondence with this thickening of the bow, on the right side, we find the keys for adjusting the volume, switching on and activating the Bluetooth and, together with these, the magnetic connector for charging. On the left transmitter, on the other hand, we have a third multifunction button which, depending on the frequency and duration of the pressure, allows you to start and pause playback, go to the next or previous song, call up the voice assistant of the smartphone and respond to a call. In addition to the transmitters, in fact, there is also a microphone system that allows us to receive and make calls.
Also on the right side we also find a small one Status LED which, depending on the frequency of the flashing and the color, allows us to obtain different information on the connection with your playback device and on the battery charge.
As mentioned above, the design hasn’t changed much compared to previous OpenRun. The two transmitters are a bit smaller and in general the forms have been further harmonized. A difference that is certainly more marked if we look at the Aropex but which in any case does not drastically change the feeling once worn. Even with 3 grams more weight than the previous model, 29 against 26, the OpenRun Pro remain very light and very comfortable to wear, you hardly feel them. The most interesting feature, however, is given by the fact that despite being so light and comfortable they are at the same time always firm in their position even during physical activity.
I also tried other bone conduction headphones, often much cheaper, but I’ll be honest: none of them gave me the same feeling in terms of comfort and above all stability. Precisely for these characteristics it is a pair of headphones designed for use during physical activity but which also lend themselves very well to be worn for a long time in many other situations.
And finally, we must not forget about the impermeability and resistance to dust infiltration. Being, in fact, designed to be worn during physical activity offer IP55 certification which does not allow immersion but still guarantees resistance to drops of sweat and rain, which is enough for the most common uses.
The new OpenRun Pro are the first Shokz headphones to integrate the 9th generation bone conduction sound diffusion technology. This same brings as the main novelty the TurboPitch function that allows you to have a greater presence of bass thanks to a double enhancer of frequencies below 500Hz.
Obviously, even with all the remarkable progress made, starting from the Trekz Titanium up to these OpenRun Pro it is still impossible to expect the same sound quality that we have when we use classic in-ear headphones or even more than supra-aural headphones. However, this is a recognized limitation and therefore if you are thinking of buying this type of headphones it is not certain why you are audiophiles looking for the highest sound quality.
Having said that, considering all the limitations of technology, the quality of the sound produced by these OpenRun Pro is certainly very good. Compared to the OpenRun there is an improvement in the maximum volume level and also, as mentioned above, in the reproduction of low frequencies. In the same way, however, I cannot also point out how, in listening at high volume, a greater vibration is perceived; which can be more or less annoying depending on the situation.
For the first time, two different modes of use are available that substantially change the sound equalization. Switching from one mode to another takes place via the Shokz app, currently only available in the United States, or by simultaneously pressing both the volume adjustment keys for a couple of seconds. The standard equalization is dedicated to music, while the alternative one is designed for listening to podcasts and adiolibri.
By activating the modality that we could define “vocal” we have a real boost of mid and high frequencies and a sudden suppression of the low ones. The result is absolutely satisfying, with the voices standing out very clearly from everything else.
As was the case with previous models, these OpenRun Pro also give the best of themselves, in terms of sound quality, when we use them indoors. Moreover, it is quite obvious that outside the home or office the amount of environmental noise is often greater and to this are added elements that should not be underestimated such as the wind. This does not mean that the Shokz are unusable outdoors, far from it, but you will still hear a greater difference than the same comparison made with in-ear headphones.
AUTONOMY AND FAST CHARGING
Obviously it cannot be a review of Bluetooth headphones without also talking about autonomy which is one of the features that have been improved compared to the OpenRun is precisely battery life. In fact, Shokz declares 10 hours of use against the 8 of the previous model.
During my testing period I had the opportunity to try these new OpenRun Pro in different conditions and, above all, at different listening volumes. I can therefore tell you that at maximum volume the autonomy is around 7 real hours, while with the volume at 75% (level at which Shokz declares the expected 10 hours of autonomy) I managed to get to about 9 hours of use. Going further down the figure obviously can only improve, but consider that under 50%, outdoors, it becomes quite complicated to have a satisfactory listening.
Speaking of charging, another improved feature, while using the same connector as the previous models, the new OpenRun Pro they recharge completely in an hour, which means 30 minutes less than the time taken by OpenRun. Thanks to the fast recharge then, 5 minutes of charge guarantee an hour and a half of use.
PRICE AND CONSIDERATIONS
Well, it’s time to draw conclusions. Let’s start by talking about the price; Shokz’s new OpenRun Pro are available in two color variants, namely black or blue, at a list price of 189.95 euros, which means 50 euros more than the 139.95 required for the OpenRun. Now, 190 euros for a pair of bone conduction headphones is not cheap, absolutely, but we are facing the best currently available on the marketwhich improve the performance of the previous model in all respects.
Water resistance aside (the OpenRun are certified IP67), we have a clearer sound, higher maximum volume, the possibility to choose between two equalizations, a battery with a longer duration and an even more efficient fast charge. In short, if you are not a fan of water sports these 50 euros are certainly an expense justified by all the upgrades I have just described.
Undoubtedly, on the market we find various cheaper alternatives; staying at Shokz we have the OpenRun but also the OpenMove, entry model at 89.95 euros. Online you can then find dozens of other models around 50 euros, but know that the quality, both in terms of sound and of construction and ergonomics, is absolutely not comparable to that of these Shokz.