Naenka Runner Pro Bone Conduction Headphones Review

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The Naenka Runner Pro bone conduction headphones are ideal for those looking to get in some exercise

Who Are The Naenka Runner Pro Bone Conduction Headphones For?

  • Naenka Runner Pro bone conduction headphones are great for listening to audio without causing ear fatigue
  • With its impressive IPX8 waterproofing the Naenka Runner Pro can be used everywhere, even in the shower or pool
  • The Naenka Runner Pro has built-in memory to store songs or other audio

We've reviewed countless earbuds and headphones here at International Business Times, but one area that we haven't looked at too much is bone conduction headphones. These unique offerings bypass the outer ear entirely, instead using vibrations to send audio signals straight to the inner ear. Today we're looking at the Naenka Runner Pro bone conduction headphones, which have been designed with active people in mind.

Take Them Everywhere

One of the most prominent features of the Naenka Runner Pro bone conduction headphones is that they have been designed to go anywhere and everywhere. This headset has IPX8-grade waterproofing, which means it can be submerged in water that is over a meter deep. This allows the Naenka Runner Pro to go straight from the gym to the shower, or can even be used when swimming laps in a pool. As long as the Naenka Runner Pro has been dried off before charging again, it's good to go.

Buttons That Don't Push My Buttons

There are three buttons on the Naenka Runner Pro, which is a nice way to keep things simple. Two of these buttons raise and lower the volume, while the third button serves a number of purposes. The third button is the power button, the button that answers and hangs up phone calls, the button that pauses and resumes playback and more.

The buttons just don't feel good to press

While I like the minimal button approach, I don't like the actual buttons themselves. The buttons are all very small and pointy, making them feel like they don't really fit in with the overall sleek look of the Naenka Runner Pro. They also feel a little awkward to press, almost like they were an afterthought. However, the worst part about the buttons is that they all pretty much feel identical, so finding the desired button takes longer than it should.

In what seems to be a fairly common move with bone conduction headphones, the Naenka Runner Pro uses an odd proprietary magnetic plug for both charging and data transfer. I generally frown at proprietary plugs because it means having to keep an eye out for yet another specific cable. To make matters less ideal, the cable with the Naenka Runner Pro doesn't have that strong of a magnetic connection. Even putting the headset down on a table after plugging it in could create enough strain on the connection to knock it loose. Users just need to be sure it is fully connected before walking away.

A look at the proprietary charge port on the Naenka Runner Pro

Great Audio Quality When A Balance Is Found

For something that doesn't actually go in ears, the Naenka Runner Pro headset offers some really great audio quality. Where the Naenka Runner Pro really excels is with lighter music and spoken word audio, like pop music or podcasts. Audio comes through very clearly, making it easy to hear what is going on.

Heavy bass doesn't quite work with the Naenka Runner Pro. Listening to something with incredibly heavy bass, like Kanye West's Blood on the Leaves, results in the Naenka Runner Pro's ear pads literally thumping against my head. I feel it more than hear it, which isn't a great listening experience. This makes music like rap and heavy metal tough to enjoy given how much vibration it can cause.

How the Naenka Runner Pro looks when on my head

Here's the thing, though: the Naenka Runner Pro headset works best when it can find a balance between being too quiet and too loud. When things are too quiet, I can't hear them at all. This is usually any time the headset is below 50 percent of the max volume. However, when things get too loud, I can actually feel the vibrations from the earpads. This doesn't hurt, but it's somewhat uncomfortable and ticklish. Generally, audio sounds (and feels) best on the Naenka Runner Pro in the 75 to 90 percent range. Of course, every audio file has a different base volume to it, so there really isn't one setting on the Naenka Runner Pro that works with everything.

Aside from audio quality, I absolutely love how the Naenka Runner Pro (and all other bone conduction headsets) keeps ears open. This works better than any audio passthrough mode found in a pair of earbuds or headphones at helping wearers hear the world around them while also listening to something. This is perfect for when I'm out riding an electric scooter or bicycle, as I'm still aware of my surroundings. It's also something that is great for new parents, who can listen to music or a podcast while still being able to hear their child.

Not Just Bluetooth

One of the more interesting features that sets the Naenka Runner Pro apart from the competition is that the Naenka Runner Pro has internal memory. This allows the headset to store music, podcasts and other forms of audio, which means the Naenka Runner Pro can be used without a paired phone. This is ideal for those who work out, as it means they don't need to bring their phones with them when going for a jog or bike ride. Putting audio files onto the Naenka Runner Pro was as easy as plugging the headset into a computer and dropping files onto it like any other USB drive.

The ear pads on the Naenka Runner Pro are a little bigger than other bone conduction headsets we've used

That said, when using the Naenka Runner Pro headphones for the first time, they start in this internal storage mode. There are two songs that come included, and it was a little confusing and annoying to figure out how to switch over to Bluetooth mode. Thankfully, the Naenka Runner Pro remembers the setting it was last used with, so I rarely needed to switch back and forth between the two modes.

A Perfectly Fine Microphone

The Naenka Runner Pro headset has a built-in microphone, similar to just about every pair of wireless earbuds currently available. The microphone is built into the body of the Naenka Runner Pro, which means the actual hole for the microphone is actually tucked behind the wearer's ear. With a placement like that, one might expect the microphone to sound horrible.

Surprisingly, the microphone on the Naenka Runner Pro actually works pretty well. The person I talked to on the phone said I did sound a little muffled, and I did have to speak a little louder than I normally do, but I was otherwise able to be heard perfectly fine. There weren't any weird background sounds or other strange mishaps when using the Naenka Runner Pro like I've encountered regularly with earbuds. This isn't the microphone to use for making audio recordings or anything like that, but works perfectly fine for quick phone calls.

Final Thoughts

The Naenka Runner Pro is an absolutely ideal headset for anyone who exercises. Not only does it provide fine enough audio quality, it can also be used in any weather, can be taken into a pool or shower, can be loaded with music, doesn't need to be tied to a phone, and, best of all, keeps ears open to the outside world.

There are a few issues with the Naenka Runner Pro, notably the buttons and volume concerns. These aren't my favorite pair of bone conduction headphones, that honor still belongs to the AfterShokz OpenComm headset, but the Naenka Runner Pro headset is the better choice for working out while still being a fine enough headset on its own.

The Naenka Runner Pro bone conduction headset is available now on Amazon.

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