Are There Bone Conduction Headphones Side Effects?
| Reuben Howe
Understanding the technology that we use is a huge factor in our work ethic at Daffodil. From the science of wave propagation in Radio and TV to the thermodynamics of our Re-usable Ice Cubes we think a customer can make a more informed decision thanks to our constantly updated and expanded blogs.
Bone Conduction is one such technology that is a little more niche, and so less people have taken the time to understand it while other might assume that the units have speakers in just like other headphones!
Let’s look into the latest bone conduction tech and see how they work, so we can finally examine potential side effects for this audio transmission method.
What Are Bone Conduction Headphones?
Bone Conduction Technology is an audio innovation which transmits the vibrations of audio using your bone as a conductor. This gives the technology its name: Bone Conduction.
Bone Conduction technology hinges on the science of sound, as all sound is specific vibrations of frequency and amplitude. To recreate that sound, all that’s needed is for a vibration of the correct frequency and amplitude to reach the 3 small audio-reception bones in our ears.
Usually, sound is transported through the air as sound waves. These waves are vibrations which make up the audio, and are conducted through the air itself. Bone conduction “skips the middle man” so-to-speak and, rather than broadcast those vibrations into the air, channels the audio directly to your auditory bones of your ear.
This would normally happen through sound waves entering our ears from the air, but Bone Conduction uses physical contact with your head (They are still headphones, after all) to achieve that same goal.
Are Bone Conduction Headphones Good?
Understanding the transmission method used by Bone Conduction is one thing, but looking at the benefits and how good they are is another.
There are some key benefits to bone conduction headphones:
No Sound Waves in the Air. Since Bone Conduction Headphones don’t vibrate air, but focus on bone, there is little-to-no sound bleed. Listen in privacy even at louder volumes!
No Over-Ear or In-Ear Units. Since Bone Conduction Headphones only need physical contact nearby your ear, there’s no need for puffy headphone covers or uncomfortable in-ear devices!
Lightweight and Secure. Since Bone Conduction Headphones don’t need speaker units and padding, they are minimalist in design. We have seen marathon-runners and cyclists (And even swimmers!) use Bone Conduction to great effect due to the light weight.
All of these benefits are possible directly because of the science of Bone Conduction. Less energy is wasted vibrating air, and all that energy is used to give precise, high-fidelity audio directly to you and you alone.
Are Bone Conduction Headphones Safe?
Finally, we can address the potential risks and side effects of the technology.
In terms of health side effects, there are a few stand-out cases that will change on a person-to-person basis. The key cause for this side effect is the constant vibration of the skull and oscillatory bones. If you are prone to headaches or jaw / joint pains in and around the skull then you may feel the Bone Conduction Headphones are triggering those symptoms.
The vibrations caused by the headphones are small, but constant. This can, in some cases, irritate a person who previously has such conditions.
The vibrations can also trigger headaches from the pressure and constant motion. If you do experience these symptoms, you can use a lighter headset, move the headband to be less tight, or rest the vibrating earpieces more gently on the side of your head.
In both of these cases, side effects are only likely in people with prior conditions or discomfort, and Bone Conduction itself is no different to listening to loud music for long periods via speakers or other audio device. If you are comfortable with normal headphones, there’s no reason to assume Bone Conduction would be uncomfortable.
How to Use Bone Conduction Headphones
Armed with all this knowledge, the best way to use bone conduction headphones is the same as other headphones! Keep your volume moderate and don’t listen to loud music for extended periods without a break.
It might seem obvious, but if you plan to be using your Bone Conduction Headphones swimming then do check the “IP” rating! You can read all about IP ratings here, but they’re essentially a measure of how waterproof something is. Don’t swim or shower with electronics below IPX5.
Don’t Be Scared, Be Responsible
Overall, there’s no direct overt risk to using Bone Conduction over any other form of audio, and the same care as you have when using any other headphones should be taken when using Bone Conduction. The benefits of this innovative technology are many, and the largest risk is incorrect usage.
Stay informed on the best ways to use your tech, and always follow what your user manual says when concerned. If you need to contact the manufacturer then August International are the creators of the great EP400 Bone Conduction Headset that we stock, or you can call us at Daffodil!