The Shokz OpenRun Pro are TechRadar's new top-rated running headphones

Woman on race track wearing Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones
(Image credit: Shokz)

The Shokz OpenRun Pro have just taken the number one spot in our roundup of the best running headphones, and for good reason. These are headphones that prove you don't have to choose between sound quality and safety when you're hitting the trail or the pavement with your favorite tunes or podcasts – you can enjoy the best of both.

We love running here at TechRadar, and we're always excited to put a new set of headphones to the test. While some team members prefer running with noise-cancelling headphones that allow them to block out distractions and get into the zone, others prefer the spatial awareness you get with a bone conduction headset.

In the gym, you might want to totally muffle the club's choice of music and the sound of people dropping weights, but when you're running outdoors it's wise to stay aware of potential hazards like cyclists, cars, animals, and other pedestrians. Most noise-cancelling headphones has a 'transparency' mode that picks up these ambient noises and mixes it in with your music, which is great, but means it's not possible to tell exactly where the sound is coming from. You may be able to tell whether a siren is coming from the left or right, but is in in front of you, or behind?

Shokz OpenRun Pro

Bone conduction headphones leave your ear canals open so you can still hear ambient noise (Image credit: Shokz)

Bone conduction headphones transmit sound to your auditory nerve by sending vibrations through your cheekbones, leaving your ear canals open. Cranking the volume right up will obscure your hearing, but if you keep your soundtrack at a reasonable level, you'll still be able to hear exactly what's happening around you and, importantly, where.

Move to the beat

The problem is that choosing a bone conduction headset usually means sacrificing sound quality for safety. Bass in particular tends to suffer, which is a real drawback if you rely on a driving beat to keep you motivated. It's proven that music can have a performance-enhancing effect during exercise , but tinny sound might just distract you.

That's where the Shokz OpenRun Pro come in. Shokz (formerly known as Aftershokz) has been in the running headphone business for many years, and over time its headsets have become lighter and more comfortable, with improved battery life too.

What sets the OpenRun Pro apart, though, is the addition of new bass transducers in each of the pads the transmit vibrations to your auditory nerve. It makes a world of difference, and means you no longer have to sacrifice rich sound in the interests of spatial awareness.

The OpenRun Pro are also a winner if you use a workout subscription service like Apple Fitness Plus, Peloton, or Amazon Halo. We've tested them using Les Mills On Demand's spinning classes, and the well balanced sound was excellent for delivering both the class leader's instructions and accompanying soundtrack.

The OpenRun Pro aren't quite perfect – when listening to particularly heavy music we found we could sometimes feel the vibrations – but that's a minor complaint, and something you might never experience if you're not a metalhead. It's also possible to adjust the EQ through the new Shokz mobile app (available for Android and iOS) if you prefer to listen to audiobooks or podcasts on the move. If you're in the market for a new set of running headphones, they come highly recommended.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)