Can bone conducting headphones help people who are deaf?

by Alex.   Last Updated On June 7th, 2022.
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Wireless earbuds and headphones have taken the market by storm and have been used to listen to music, produce music, or record podcasts. Headphones and earphones are indeed a fantastic innovation through the advancement of science and technology, but they have one issue; their target market is only limited to people without hearing loss.

To solve this problem, engineers and researchers use bone conduction. Bone conduction is the transmitting and conduction of sound to your inner ear through your skull bones.

We usually hear sound waves with our eardrums that transmit vibrations to the inner ear canal or the cochlea. However, bone conduction headphones work directly to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrums and directly to your auditory nerve.

Bone conduction headphones can help deaf people hear sounds without the need for surgery and other expensive processes.

This article will tackle if can bone conducting headphones help people who are deaf, what bone conduction is, how it works, why you should get bone conduction headphones, and what the best bone conduction headphones are for deaf people.

Let’s get right into it.

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What is Bone Conduction?

Bone conduction transmits sound through skull bones into the inner ears, called the cochlea.

All healthy people can hear sound waves through their bones, and in fact, it’s mainly by the ear and ear bones that we’ve listened to our voices. People without hearing loss directly observe bone conduction when their voice sounds different to you compared to others.

You might sound fuller and deeper when you listen to your voice; this phenomenon happens because sound waves travel faster through our bones than through air conduction.

Bone conduction might be a term that sounds like something invented just recently, but bone conduction has been used in the past, an example of this is the famous musician Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven was completely deaf at the age of 27, but this did not stop him from composing his works as he utilized bone conduction to hear sound vibrations.

He used a rod attached to his piano and heard the sound of the piano by clenching his teeth. This allowed Beethoven to create music until he was 56 years old, but it also proved that we could reach our auditory system through other mediums than just through air.

This concept has been used as the basis for modern bone conduction headsets that is now used for people suffering from hearing impairment.

How does bone conduction work?

Some people have hearing issues that are better managed using bone conduction headphones since they have problems with their eardrums. Unlike traditional headphones and earphones, eardrums do not vibrate to send sound waves through the cochlea. Instead, a cochlear vibration is generated by bone conduction.

We usually hear sound through the vibrations in the air. These vibrations travel to our ear canal and eventually reach our eardrums. Our eardrums, in turn, convert these vibrations to yet another form of vibration that your inner ear or the cochlea can understand. The cochlea is then asked to decode and send that message to our brain, resulting in us hearing sounds.

Meanwhile, with bone conduction technology, we completely bypass the need for our eardrums as the bone conduction headphones work as the exterior eardrum, which directly converts the sound waves to vibrations that the brain can understand. This is why bone conduction headphones can help deaf people hear.

This technology can help hearing impairment because it uses the sound from bone conduction instead of the ears.

Why should you get bone conduction headphones?

Bone conduction hearing devices are indeed a fantastic innovation. Here are some reasons why you should get them.

Situational awareness

Bone conduction headphones are fabulous because they provide you with situational awareness whenever you are going out commuting or jogging. Since in-ear headphones block out sound to isolate noise and even have noise canceling, you might not be able to hear the honking of cars or people calling out to you.

Since you can still hear sirens, or people shouting at you when wearing bone conduction headphones, they tend to be the safer choice, especially when exercising outside.

Very comfortable

Have you ever had that feeling of soreness in your ears when wearing your headphones for prolonged periods? Well, bone conduction headphones have entirely solved that problem as they rest on your cheekbones. Which means, your ear canals will no longer experience pain after hours of listening to music.

You won’t also need to worry about them falling off as they were designed to comfortably and perfectly fit your face even when doing intense workouts.

Don’t cause ear wax build-up.

Since we’ve already established that bone conduction headphones rest outside your ears, they don’t cause ear wax build-up like regular headphones or earbuds. Adding to this, wax build-up may cause ear infections resulting in permanent hearing loss.

If you are recovering from an ear infection, don’t worry cause it is still okay to wear over-ear headphones with an ear infection.

So if you want to take care of your ears, then the bone conduction headphones might be a great choice.

Great alternative for people with hearing loss

Perhaps the most significant advantage of using bone conduction headphones is that they are great for people who have hearing loss, especially with regards to a damaged eardrum, as a bone conduction headset bypasses the need for your eardrums.

In addition to this, bone conduction headphones are also a great alternative to traditional hearing aids. People who have conductive hearing loss can now hear stereo sounds and great music that they cannot hear through the use of regular headphones.

Why shouldn’t you get bone conduction headphones?

Although bone conduction headphones have tons of benefits, especially for people who suffer from hearing impairments, they compromise some departments.

And here are some reasons why you should not get bone conduction headphones.

Bad sound quality

Perhaps the biggest downside of using bone conduction headphones is that they don’t sound as good as regular headphones. Since bone conduction headphones don’t have excellent background noise isolation, they worsen the audio quality.

Bone conduction headphones were made for people who have issues with their hearing ability. And if you don’t have any hearing impairments and want to listen to music in its full resolution, then it’s best to stick to regular headphones.

It can be pretty pricey.

Since bone conduction headphones have a few more complex components when compared to regular headphones, they tend to be on the more expensive side of the two. While you can purchase regular headphones for as low as $20-$40, the average price range for bone conduction headphones costs $80-$150.

Others can hear what you are listening to

Since bone conduction headphones are placed outside instead of going inside your ear canals, other people might be able to hear what you are listening to. Especially if you are blasting loud music or are in a quiet area, others might be able to figure out what music you are listening to.

Senior man in hospital having ear test.

What are the best bone conduction headphones?

To help you choose the best bone conduction headphones on the vast market, here are some of the objectively best ones.

AfterShokz OpenComm Wireless Stereo

AfterShockz is one of the leading companies when it comes to high-quality bone conduction headphones, and one of their best is the AfterShokz OpenComm Wireless Stereo, which features an open ear comfort that allows you to be completely aware of your surroundings, a multifunction button that allows you to skip, pause, or take calls quickly and easily.

It also has a noise-canceling microphone, up to 16 hours of talk time, and 8 hours of listening time after a full charge. Its fast-charging feature lets you have 2 hours of talk time after just a short 5-minute charge.

MilanSo Bone Conduction Headphones

The MilanSo Bone Conduction Headphones is one of the best budget bone conduction headphones that only cost $42.50, and for that low price point, you can have access to this IP55-rated, 5-ounce headphone that has the most recent Bluetooth version connectivity.

This lightweight bone conduction headphone can last up to 6 hours after just one full charge and can output music levels that are higher than others on this list.

Pyle Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones

The Pyle Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones were explicitly made for running and exercising; this open ear headset rests comfortably over the ears, so you don’t have to worry about strains when wearing them for long periods. Its 200 maH rechargeable battery means that you can listen to music for up to 4 hours.

It also features IPX6 water resistance, so you don’t have to get worried about sweat entering the headphones.

Zulu Exero Open-Ear Wireless

Perhaps the lightest among every headphone on this list is the Zulu Exero Open-Ear Wireless. Weighing at just 1 oz, the Zulu Exero Open-Ear Wireless can still last up to 6 hours of playback time, has the latest Bluetooth 5 connectivity, and can be connected to multiple devices at a time.

It also has a high-quality built-in microphone and has a water resistance rating of IPX5 which means you can feel comfortable about the headphones getting wet occasionally.

Mojawa Mojo1

Last but not least is the Mojawa Mojo1, which features a comfortable open-ear design that enables you to be still aware of your surroundings. A dual-noise canceling feature will undoubtedly deliver your music in high quality.

It features an 8-hour playback time after a full 1.5-hour charging time. It has IP67 water resistance and a reflective stripe, which allows the headphones to be easily found, especially in low-light conditions.

And for the price of $99.99, it’s no surprise why the Mojawa Mojo1 is highly rated on Amazon, with over 18,000 positive reviews and an overall star rating of 4.7 stars.

Conclusion

A bone conduction hearing aid is a fantastic innovation, especially for the hearing impaired. But even if you don’t have hearing impairments, they are still a great choice, especially for people who work out regularly.

So if you are looking to purchase bone conduction headphones or just simple reading to learn more about them, we hope this informative article has helped you understand their features and the best conduction headphones on the market.