Bone Conduction (BC) Headphones Guide - All Facts You Need to Know
- 21 Nov, 2018
Table of content
- How does it work?
- Bone conduction vs. air conduction
- Top 4 industries benefited from bone conduction technology
- The advantages of these headphones
- BC headphones vs. “regular” headphones
- Who should buy these headphones?
- Things to consider when buying these headphones
- Frequently asked questions
- Can I use a BC headphone in a loud environment?
- Can these headphones be useful to deaf people?
- Can bone conduction make your hearing worst?
A couple of decades ago when there were radios and tape players, people would stick their ear to the speaker at the lowest settings to make sure they do not bother others with their noise. They would have never guessed that in the future, Bone conduction headphones would be a thing. These headphones work by conduction sound waves through your bones! They are undoubtedly one of the fascinating technologies in the world right now.
Take a look at our article to find all small and big details about this technology and find out how you can use it for yourself.
How does it work?
Bone conduction (BC) is not at all a new technology. Beethoven was deaf, and he used this way to hear the sound of his piano. According to Goldendance Co. Ltd, normally when we hear, the sound vibrations enter our ears, and the eardrum deciphers them into different notes so that our brain can understand. The system in the conduction is a little different. Headphones act as your eardrum, and instead of allowing the body to convert the sound waves, they are sent to the brain directly converted. This process is done through the bones around the ear like the jaw and the temple.
According to the neuro exam, a conductive hearing loss gives the conduction a better chance to help the patient in hearing. However, normal people will probably be hearing better from the regular air conduction method. Air conduction also helps in the sensorineural hearing loss.
Bone conduction hearing aid is also one of the most popular ways to retrieve hearing. According to the Oticon medical, the ear canal is not considered a channel because the sound vibrations can be sent through the skull bone of the temple. The direct connection allows better and clear sound and can be very helpful. Since skin can be a bad conductor of sound waves, the sound is clearer and does not lose connection.
With this process, bone conduction can be a great way to help the hearing impaired people hear. The process allows the eardrum failure to be nonexistent and allows users to hear well. One of the safest and finest uses that bone conduction has been introduced to is the headphones for music. These headphones are suitable for many different reasons like going underwater and for sports even.
Bone conduction vs. air conduction
Bone conduction and air conduction are the two most important and popular types of conduction technology which can help you hear in different ways. Air conduction hearing is the type of hearing which involves the sound waves traveling through the air near the ear.
The ear canal and eardrum okay an important part in the in this process as they decipher the codes according to what the brain can understand. Hearing with air conduction is better for people with regular hearing skills. Any blockage can result in the bad hearing through this conduction. Blockage can include fingers in the ear, ear wax or other composites in the ear and sensor neural hearing impairment can cause hearing loss.
Bone conduction uses the skull bones to transfer already deciphered sound waves directly to the brain. The sound is clear, and there is less chance of an obstruction in between the hearing process and the brain. Most hearing impairments are because of the loss of conductivity in the two processes. However, most of the time, the alternative is the bone conducting method and proves to be very effective as per Britannica’s say on audiology.
There is no proving to which method is the best for the ears. Researchers commonly say that both need to go hand in hand for the best everyday hearing results. However, it needs to be noted that in case of air conduction damage, it is most likely that hearing is damaged permanently. Bone conduction damage can always be backed up by air conduction and can help the person hear in any way. Bone conduction is used as a luxury these days instead of a compulsion for people with a bad ear. It is used by musicians, underwater workers, and other people that need a clear sense of hearing.
Top 4 industries benefited from bone conduction technology
Bone conduction is not a new way of hearing. The way is reintroduced in a more modern way to help people of different industries benefit from the use. The following are the top four industries that found it the most useful and have been using it for a few years to their extreme advantage.
1) Scuba diving
While most sounds are not conducted underwater, bone conduction makes it possible. The reason is that there is no air underwater and regular hearing will require air conducting. Scuba divers use this technology to keep in touch with the land and have connectivity to wireless transmitters for a safer approach to the profession. Scuba diving found this technology using more than 20 years ago and to date is taking great advantage.
One of the very first industries to acquire and use this technology is the military world. These headsets were made to be behind the ear with a strong grip so that soldiers could use them while on a mission. The reason why these were a hit is that during loud noises and missions, bone conduction headsets would allow them to listen without any obstacles in their way of hearing. Every single sound that was made on the headset was very clear and would not need repeating with bone conduction.
3) Sports headphones
Another industry to take advantage of this technology is the sports industry. About only a decade ago the first company to use this technology in sports was the audio bone. They marketed their product by making it set surrounding the ear. They also emphasized that without the ear being covered, all outside noises could be heard and also the players could hear the sounds from their headset. Emphasizing on quality and the sudden increment in the popularity allowed more companies to pick up this technology and eventually this became a raving hit in sports.
4) Hearing aid
Of course one of the most popular ways of using this technology is the hearing aid industry. The technology has been around since a very long time for people that have been conventionally having trouble hearing. The bone anchored hearing aid system uses this technology and allows people to hear well. The technology allows the hearing aid to be more discrete and users could even wear headsets with it which made it even better.
The advantages of these headphones
Since we have already established how cool and well thought of technology this is, it is now time to discuss how exactly does it benefit people and what the advantages are;
The weight of these headsets usually depends on the company and their design just like regular headsets. However, comparing the regular ones, they are generally much lighter in weight. The reason is since that they do not require as much wiring as the other kind. They have a lot less but important parts which makes it light in weight and easier to handle. The lightweight feature allows users to use them in places like sports and military without them dropping off from your ear because they are hefty. Aftershokz bone conduction headphones are of great material, and they are light in weight too.
Good bass and dynamic sound
Although this feature is not technically very true, the idea of the bone conducting headphones having better bass and dynamics is because there is a lot less chance of any obstacles affecting the sound quality. If the bone conduction in your ear system is working fine, then you will get the best effects. However, it is to be noted that the design of the headset is also a huge factor. The quality that the headset will give, there will be no changes to it when you listen to them through the headset which is why good bass and dynamics is a factor.
No more buds
Although we all love music and would like to hear it, there is no problem in accepting the fact that sometimes, buds can be physically painful and can be tiring to put on. They often come off as well because they tend to be loose to us. The Bone conductor headsets are a great way of getting rid of this problem. You can wear it without even touching the insides of your ear, and it gives great sound quality that you can enjoy for hours.
BC headphones vs. “regular” headphones
BC headphones are the newest technology which helps in making music a better experience. The technology allows users to have a better sound and better dynamics which makes the experience better.
It is one of the biggest differences amongst the regular headphones and the BC headphones. Regular headphones use air conduction for listening. They are the regular way of listening but more privately. The external sound vibrations are transferred to the eardrum, and they are deciphered for the brain to understand them.
BC headphones are not like regular headphones, and they are worn around the ear. This feature allows the ear to be less damaged and the ear to be less affected. It is probably one of the reasons why BC headphones are a better option as they promote safety and allow users to listen to music for long hours without physical pain in their ears.
Deborah Price is a doctor of audiology who claims them to be very safe. These headphones are also light in weight which allows them to be a better grip around the ear. Like traditional headphones, they do not fall off because they are too heavy. Bone-conducting headphones are also fit around the ear tightly which allows them to be a perfect fit for everyone instead of losing to some and tight to others.
People have complained that not all notes and sounds are clear on the BC headphones. The reason can be the different conduction processes in different body systems. The idea is being researched thoroughly to find if that is the case. They are still considered better because air conduction can hold a lot of different problems like obstacles with ear wax or other stoppers.
Who should buy these headphones?
BC headphones are a great way to enhance your music experience. Anybody can enjoy them provided that their bone conduction system is not impaired or damaged. However, most people that can benefit from it are the people that are hearing impaired. These people will find an alternative to their hearing with this technology. They can even enjoy music as well regular sounds.
People underwater like swimmers and divers are also bound to love this technology. Since there is no air underwater, it is not likely that sound travels. With this technology connected to a wireless transmitter, sound can travel underwater.
The process is natural and can be enjoyed by everyone. Since it is marked as safe, it is a great option for people to switch to these headphones for less damage to the ear.
Things to consider when buying these headphones
There are many different factors involved in buying BC headphones. The following are the basic features and factors that need to be considered to get the perfect pair of BC headphones
➢ Wireless or wired
Just like any other good pair of headphones, wireless bone conduction headphones also have the basic option of going wireless or wired. The choice here needs to be made according to the different uses that you will use this for. Usually, athletes would want to go for wireless so that they do not have to deal with the hassle of a wire. Keep in mind to check the battery life and connectivity to make sure that you get the best results. Wired options do not have much hassle except for a bigger cable than usual for the best results.
➢ Style and comfort
Of course, style and comfort are major factors that are very important to consider. Most of these headsets and headphones are made with the same sporty look, and they come in metallic colors to make them stylish. However, there are plenty of other styles that are available but not that common. It isn’t much you can do about style, but the comfort can be varied. Most of them are comfortable, but they need to be checked to make sure they don’t prick. The material used defines the comfort by a great standard. Different material will also mean different prices. Aftershokz is one of the most popular brands that give stylish looks too.
➢ Sound quality
The sound quality of the headphones will be dependent on your body system. However, it does not mean that the design is not responsible at all. While most people love the sound for music and podcasts, it is recommended that people that work with music as their profession do not use this system. The details in the system are sometimes not taken care of which affects the base. Hence, the material and the design allow the quality to be differentiated. Aftershokz trekz titanium allows users to have better sound quality.
➢ Bass response
BC headphones generally have a better base dynamic than regular headphones. They are generally not able to produce lower frequencies which give the headphones a great sense of base. However, if you want to pump up a base, you will not find it here. The BC headphones are little limited too many features, and though the sound quality they may give is great, it may be very limited. People with a lack of hearing sense will find them suitable the most.
➢ Sound leakage
One of the cons that you will see in BC headphones is the ability that they have to leak sound. The idea is that that the sound does not only channel from the air inside your ear, but it also channels through vibrations that transfer from your skull bone. You can physically feel the vibrations in your head. Since vibrations are transferable, they are most likely to be channeled to the person sitting next to you, and they will be able to hear it easily. The louder the volume or the closer the person, the easier it will be to the other person to hear from your headphones
➢ Health problems
Even though BC headphones are considered safer and are more of assistance to people with an impaired hearing, they still can damage the hearing health of the person. The hearing journal explains that since the eardrum is not involved in listening with the BC headphones, the eardrum may be safe. However, the cochlea is vastly used without the filter of the ear canal and eardrum, and it may be highly affected. The cochlea is also responsible for the human balance which may, in turn, be affected too.
Frequently asked questions
Since BC headphones are gaining major popularity all over the world, people have expressed several types of issues. The following are a few of the concerns of people and their answers to them.
Can I use a BC headphone in a loud environment?
These headphones work with the conduction of sound waves directly to the cochlea so that the brain can decipher it. There are a few factors involved in answering this question.
First of all the ear won’t be covered and the air canal and drum would not be used through your headphones which means that you will be able to hear anything you play on the BC headphones. The louder you turn up the volume, the louder you will be able to isolate the outer sounds. However, the isolation will not be entire which takes us to the second factor.
The eardrum and ear canal will be sued if external noises reach the ear. The external noises will most likely be mixed with the bone conducted noise. They will go two ways; either they will turn into white noise, and the external noise will not be heard. The second possibility is that the voices will be dual and will probably confuse the listener. Hence, these headphones can be used in a loud environment though not recommended if safety is concerned.
Can these headphones be useful to deaf people?
BC headphones are considered a great way for helping out deaf heroes. However, they work for a certain type of hearing impaired people only. People that have had a permanent block in their canal or their eardrum will find this technology to be useful to them. Bone conduction transfers sound waves directly to the cochlea without using the eardrum which is why people with a bad eardrum may find it useful.
Our body has two conductions of hearing which are air conduction and bone conduction. If the bone conduction system of the body is ruined, then this system cannot help people here. If the deafening reason is the damage of cochlea, then this system will be ineffective to the person. So, the answer to this is that only in a few cases which are the majority, can deaf people benefit from them.
Can bone conduction make your hearing worst?
This question is also not as simple as the other two. The answer to this more complicated than it sounds. The simplest form of this answer can be yes. The reason is exactly that of regular headphones, the louder you hear, the more your hearing will be affected. The real question is that if bone conduction does not use the ear canal and the eardrum, then how does it make the hearing worst?
The cochlea is the answer here. The BC headphones take the role of the eardrum, but they still have to report to the cochlea to transfer the waves to the brain. The louder you hear, the more the cochlea will be vibrated. The ability to transfer sound waves decreases. Additionally, you can also lose your balance since cochlea is responsible for it. Your ear bone can also be in major trouble.
Conclusively, you can see that bone conduction technology is not new, but it is only used in a new way. The most common use is to want the best bone conduction headphones which everyone wants as they are the latest thing in the headphone industry.
Even though they are safe, you can read the article to find out that the hearing damage that they cause can be much more permanent than what the regular headphones cause. With our article, you will get the answer to are bone conduction headphones safe? You have the decision in your hand now!