The OpenRun Pro sit at the top of the Shokz range of open ear headphones. They have improved sound quality, faster charging and there’s a new app to control them. Just to avoid any confusion Shockz changed their name from Aftershokz just recently.
These bone conduction headphones leave your ears open delivering sound through your cheekbones to your inner ear, so you can still hear what’s going on around you. Which should make them perfect for running and cycling or anything else where being able to hear your surroundings is important.
I’ve reviewed their predecessors the Aeropex around 2 years ago, and they’ve been my main running headphones since. Those headphones have just been replaced by the OpenRun with the only upgrade being faster charging. I’ll cover them in a separate video, as part of a long term review of the Aeropex that I’ve used for hundreds of runs.
The OpenRun Pro are £160 or $180, around £30 or $50 more expensive than the non-Pro version. I’ll run through their features and compare how they sound to see whether it’s worth paying the extra. I’ll also compare them to the now entry level OpenMove I reviewed last year which are half the price of the OpenRun Pro.
So let’s take a closer look.
In the box you get the headphones themselves, a hard case, a proprietary USB charging cable and a user guide.
The case is more bulky than the silicone case included with the Aeropex and the soft pouch included with the OpenRun, but offers more protection and now has somewhere to store the charging cable.
The OpenMove released last year moved across to a USB-C charging cable, but Shokz have stuck with their proprietary magnetic charging connector for the OpenRun Pro. It’s the same cable that came with the Aeropex.
The magnetic charging cable is convenient, but would have preferred a standard USB-C cable. You can always find a spare USB-C cable if you run out of battery. At least with the Aeropex, Shokz were kind enough to supply a spare magnetic cable. You only get one with the OpenRun Pro.
I thought perhaps the magnetic connector is required for waterproofing, but these headphones have the same IP55 sweatproof rating as the OpenMove with their USB-C connector, and are a downgrade on the Aeropex and OpenRun headphones’ IP67 waterproof rating.
I’m assuming that’s due to the two vents on each transducer which are covered in a fine mesh, compared to the mostly sealed Aeropex and OpenRun.
They’re also a couple of grams heavier than the Aeropex and OpenRun at just over 28g and just a fraction lighter than the OpenMove.
They do now support quick charge which will provide 1.5 hours of battery life with a 5 minute charge. And a full charge only takes an hour – around twice as fast as the Aeropex and 30 minutes quicker than the OpenRun.
One new feature of the OpenRun Pro that isn’t advertised is a new multi-function button for controlling your music and phone calls. It’s a little bigger than the button on the OpenRun and Aeropex. And it sits a little more proud of the surface of the left transducer with a lighter actuation so it’s much easier to locate and use, even when running.
Despite their very slightly heavier weight compared to the OpenRun and Aeropex, they still feel very comfortable and I barely notice them in use. The neckband and hook is made from titanium and feels robust. The neckband is very flexible but always returns back to its original shape. I haven’t been particularly careful with my Aeroepex and they’re still going strong.
I’m testing the blue version but they also come in black, pink and beige. The power button which doubles as the volume up button sits closest to your right ear. The volume down button is just behind. If you press either button with the headphones turned on and music paused you’ll get a battery level audio prompt. You can press both buttons together for 3 seconds to change EQ mode from Standard mode to Vocal Booster mode which is more suited to podcasts and audiobooks. And you should also use this mode with earplugs. Shokz used to supply some earplugs, but they don’t any more. I find using bone conduction headphones with earplugs very useful when operating loud machinery.
Like all the Shokz range, with the headphones turned off you press and hold the power button for 5 seconds to pair them to your smartphone. They also pair to my Apple Watch when I occasionally leave my phone behind on a run.
A single press of the multi function button will play or pause your music or answer and end a phone call. A double press will skip to the next track and a triple press will skip back a track.
Shokz have just released an app on iOS and Android to configure these headphones. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with any of the other Shokz headphones. This makes it far easier to change EQ mode and you can also turn on multipoint pairing which allows you to connect to two devices simultaneously.
You can do this with the various button presses as described in the downloadable user manual, but the process is a little convoluted. Whilst I’m on multipoint pairing, the Aeropex used to have an annoying quirk where the headphones would continuously beep when their lost their connection to the second paired device. With the OpenRun Pro, you’ll hear a single beep when they lose their second paired connection but that’s it. And then there’s a “connected” audio prompt when they re-connect when you’re back in range.
In the app you can also switch between EQ modes, check battery life and change the audio prompt language. Although you can’t turn the prompts off. And you can’t configure the multi-function button which might have been useful. I’d also like to see an auto-power off setting. Currently these headphones will remain on in standby mode until they run out of batteries.
There’s also the option here to upgrade firmware down the line.
Audio quality and performance
The OpenRun Pro use Shokz’s TurboPitch™ technology. This is their 9th generation bone conduction technology, compared to 8th gen in their OpenRun and Aeropex headphones and 7th gen in their OpenMove. They still don’t sound as good as even inexpensive in-ear or over-ear headphones, but Shokz have managed to improve their overall range, in particular bass and the difference isn’t quite so noticeable, compared to more conventional headphones.
It does depend on what you’re listening to, but generally they sound more full-bodied compared to the Aeropex or OpenRun and probably more importantly for me they sound a little louder too for most music I listened to. Shokz’s entry level OpenMove headphones sound tinny in comparison, but the difference between the OpenRun and OpenRun Pro is more subtle. For some tracks I actually found better clarity in the mids with the OpenRun. It’s disappointing the accompanying app doesn’t provide more EQ profiles or custom EQ configuration.
I listen to a lot of podcasts and I’d still like them a little louder out on the bike, but for music they’re ok and for running there’s enough volume for both music and podcasts. At higher volumes especially with tracks with lots of bass, the vibration can be a little uncomfortable. They feel like they’re tickling your ear which is an odd sensation. You don’t notice it so much with the movement of running and cycling but if you’re sat still you could try turning on Vocal Booster mode although you’ll most likely just want to turn the volume down.
Which you’ll need to do anyway if you share an office or are using public transport since they have major sound leakage at anything above around 60% of full volume.
Like the Aeropex and OpenRun the OpenRun Pro have dual noise cancelling microphones but calls sound much clearer with these headphones, even with background noise. You can hear the difference yourselves in the accompanying video, compared to the OpenRun and my AirPods Pro that have the best call quality out of the earbuds and headphones I’ve tested so far.
Shokz quotes 10 hours of battery life thanks to their larger 160mAh battery, which is two hours more than the OpenRun and Aeropex and 4 hours more than the OpenMove. They don’t say at what playback volume that’s at, but listening at between 60% and 100% of full volume I didn’t get far off those times. My biggest issue with battery life is forgetting to turn them off. They remain in standby mode for up to 10 days, but there’s no LED to warn you they’re still on and as I mentioned before there’s no auto power off setting. Hopefully that’s something that can be added via a firmware update.
The OpenRun Pro use Bluetooth 5.1 like the OpenMove and the OpenRun versus Bluetooth 5.0 with the Aeropex, and I found the Bluetooth connection reliable and the range good. And there’s no perceivable lip sync delay watching YouTube videos or Netflix.
They don’t have any support for higher quality codecs like AAC, or aptX – just the standard SBC codec. But even with the improvements in audio quality, I’m still not sure you’d be able to hear any difference anyway.
The improved audio quality, extra battery life, new multi-function button, phone call quality and the accompanying app, do help to justify the extra price of the OpenRun Pro over the OpenRun. Overall these are the best bone conduction headphones I’ve tested so far.
They are already my headphones of choice for running, and their slight extra volume also means I’ll be using them more for cycling. They fit quite nicely underneath my helmet straps and sunglasses and I can still hear music playing with wind and traffic noise.
But they are a lot of money and I’m a little concerned over their drop in water resistance rating longer term. I’ll provide an update in 6 months or so to see how they fare.
The OpenMove don’t sound as good, but they’re half the price and have the standard USB-C connector which will be a major benefit for many.
If it was between the OpenRun and OpenRun Pro, the OpenRun which are just the Aeropex with fast charging, still sound pretty good, have a better IP67 waterproof rating and are a couple of grams lighter too. And I’m sure most people would be more than happy with them.
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