There has long only been one main brand in the bone-conduction headphone market – Aftershockz (now just Shokz) – and we’ve tested its ‘Open Swim’ headphones before in these pages, so it was hard not to directly compare these similar ones from Creative.
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Like the Shokz, they work by sitting on the bone just in front of your ears with the loop over the top of your ears, so the sound is transmitted through bone conduction rather than through your ears.
The benefit? You can still hear ambient sound and be aware of your surroundings, plus these can be used underwater.
On the whole, the features offered here look good. You get up to 8GB of storage for music, with 10 hours of battery life when fully charged.
They’re Bluetooth compatible and also include a microphone for taking phone calls – a feature the Shokz don’t include – so these would be a good choice if you’re keen to use them for work calls as well as music.
We found sound quality to be okay, though it lacked the depth of other headphones and on some tracks it sounded a little tinny.
Under the water, there’s no second mode (as found on the Shokz, to enhance underwater sound) but the sound was still good enough to listen to while in the water.
There are a couple of drawbacks as a swimmer, though – the IP8 rating means they should only be used for 40 minutes at a time and they can’t withstand salt water.
You also need to plug the microphone hole with the included tiny plug – which was very easy to forget!
Verdict: Nice for general use, but as a swimmer they had a few limitations; also pricey.
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H20 Audio Sonar Pro Underwater Headphones
More and more waterproof bone-conduction headphones are gradually making their way onto the market, offering more choice than ever before.
This option from H20 Audio comes in with an RRP of £129.99 and, unlike the Creative ones above and the Shokz, these don’t have a semi-rigid band around the back.
Instead, you get a malleable cable, while the headphones themselves attach to your goggle straps. This should make it easier to use these while wearing a swim cap.
H20 Audio says these headphones are submersible to 3.6m, can be used in the pool or open sea and can be used underwater for as long as desired.
You get 8GB of memory if you want to add music to them, otherwise you’ll have to rely on the Bluetooth connection to stream music from a watch. However, the brand says this will need to be within 10cm of the device for the Bluetooth connection to work.