Conduit headphones combine earbuds with bone conduction
Listening to music while out for a run can help make exercise less of a chore and much more fun. The Conduit Sports headphones offer users a choice of listening experiences. Their bone conduction technology means that users can still hear what's going on around them, and the integrated earbuds cater for a more isolated approach.
Bone conduction pretty much does exactly what it says on the box – music is sent straight to the inner ear as vibrations. In our experience, high quality music lovers will likely be less than satisfied with the listening experience offered by this technology. Our own Will Shanklin described his experience of the tech as "kinda like listening to AM radio over a pair of old headphones," while our Science Editor Michael Franco has yet to find a bone conduction device that isn't a disappointment.
There is a big advantage for runners and cyclists, though – the world outside can still be heard, important when pumping through busy city streets or even bolting down quiet country lanes. But what makes the Conduit Sports headphones really stand out from other head buzzers is that they also include earbuds, cabled to the main frame, for those times when more isolation is required or to enjoy the promised high quality listening experience.
When in bone conduction mode, the "world class" earphones can be stowed away in neck band plugs and held in place with magnets while the frame is hooked over the ears and the transducers rested against the side of the head. Switching to in-ear mode is simply a case of unplugging the buds and popping them in the ears, while letting the U-shaped unit sit at the base of the neck. The tuned earbuds have 7.8 mm dynamic drivers for a supported frequency range of 10 Hz to 20 kHz.
The setup also offers a bone conduction and earbud listening combination, to feel the music but still benefit from passive isolation. Conduit Sports says that the user needn't worry about having to change between off-ear, in-ear or hybrid modes as the headphones will detect how they're being used and switch the output automatically.
The overall design is similar to other bone rattlers we've seen, such as the AfterShokz wraparounds, with the obvious addition of those horn-like bud plugs on either side of the neck band.
The Conduit Sports have a titanium frame with a soft elastomer jacket, and are dust, rain and sweat resistant. They connect wirelessly with a music source over Bluetooth 4.2, and have a multifunction control on one side – to skip tracks, pause and play, or answer calls using the integrated noise-canceling microphones – and an up/down volume switch on the other.
The built-in battery is reported good for 6 hours per charge and a built-in help program will issue audio alerts when the device is running low on battery, confirm playback mode and pairing, and so on.
Conduit Sports has launched on Kickstarter to get its headphones off and in the ears of sporty music lovers, where pledges start at US$76. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in November. Meanwhile, the pitch video below shows what all the fuss is about.