This is our review of the Shokz OpenFit Headphones, which we think could be the right choice for some of our readers who are looking for safe headphones to wear while riding their bike – without sacrificing premium audio. Or for those who just want to spoil themselves with some premium audio, wherever they happen to be. The Shokz OpenFit Headphones are something new for Shokz, as they are not bone conduction headphones. Yes, you read that right. No bone conduction here, folks. These headphones use regular but tiny speakers. But they are still safe for cycling, because the design leaves your ears open.
Premium DirectPitchTM technology for Premium Audio
The new Shokz OpenFit Headphones use something called Premium DirectPitch technology. This means that a tiny, very directional speaker directs sound into your ear. The sound is on a par with traditional headphones, but does not seal up your ears. This is in keeping with the Shokz commitment to safety and versatility. You can wear their headphones all day (and I do), but still remain in touch with your environment at all times. Whether you are cycling, shopping, driving, or sitting on a train.
Basically, it feels like a tiny person is sitting on top of your ear and holding a miniature speaker near your ear, while not covering it. And the magical thing about it is that these tiny speakers are quite awesomely excellent. In terms of sheer sound quality, Maggie and I had exactly the same reaction: these may be the best sounding Shokz headphones ever. Maggie actually started dancing! I was a bit more restrained, but I did LOVE the sound.
The sound is very much like great quality over-the-ears headphones, with a very enjoyable level of bass. And you can use the companion app as an equalizer if you want to fine-tune the sound to your exact tastes. I find the EQ controls very flexible and helpful – well worth the three minutes it took to download the app. I highly recommend you get the app, as it also updates the headphones. And it allows you to customize the controls – more about that below.
Making calls on a bike is always a major challenge. Years ago, I always pulled to the side of the road. But these headphones make it possible to chat as you ride. This is because the mic incorporates a kind of reverse noise cancelling. The headphones don’t cancel out ambient sound for you. That would be exactly the opposite of keeping you safe. But the mic somehow cancels out the ambient noise for people you are speaking to. Shokz claims they block out almost 98% of surrounding noise, and it definitely felt like they did. I don’t know how they do this, but I also don’t know how a microwave works – and this does not stop me from enjoying the benefits every day.
What’s in the Shokz OpenFit Headphones Box?
I was very impressed with both the box and its contents. Shokz keeps upping their game, and their packaging now rivals the gold standard (Apple, IMHO). Nestled inside the beautiful box is a beautiful shell-like case, which doubles as hard-cover protection for the headphones, and as a charging case. This case would be perfect for transporting the headphones to the gym or the office, or wherever else you were planning to enjoy some music or other entertainment, while not annoying everyone else around you. And the case means that you are carrying around an extra 21 hours of listening time with you, thanks to the charge it carries.
The charging case is charged with a standard USB C cable, which makes life easy, as we are an Android family. (I am talking about our phones – Maggie and I are not [fairly] intelligent robots. As far as I know, anyway.) I do love that most of the world is moving to USB C – even Garmin!
And then of course there is the question of what is inside the charging case. The headphones, of course. Again, Shokz has outdone themselves with a quality build of really classy headphones that combine strength with comfort, good looks and great sound. The soft silicone makes for all-day listening comfort.
The Instructions for the Shokz OpenFit Headphones
There is a little set of printed instructions in the box, but unfortunately, they are unreadable. Which seems to be the case with everything I buy these days. I was trained as a classical typesetter, and we were taught NEVER to use type smaller than 8-point, because most human beings cannot read type smaller than that. Anyone using 2-point type could expect to be instantly fired. However, it seems that typesetters today receive no such training, and only have to make sure that things look pretty. So yes, the instructions look lovely, but there was no way that I could actually read the 2-point type. I used my standard trick of photographing them, then enlarging the photo.
And if that fails, you can just read the instructions online.
Operation of the Shokz OpenFit Headphones
Luckily, the operation is pretty intuitive. The headphones switch themselves on and start to try to pair the second you take them out of the charging case. And the Shokz OpenFit headphones switch themselves off as soon as you put them to bed in their case. Someone needs to find out how to program children to do that. And puppies.
Other than that, you just have to tap twice on either side to start and end operations, such as answering calls, ending calls, starting music, and ending music. Or you can do a long hold to jump forward or backwards (left side is previous track and right side is next track.) By default, if you want to change the volume, you need to do that on your device. However, you can use the Shokz app to change that. I have changed mine so that a long hold on the left decreases volume, and a long hold on the right side increases volume. That’s because I change volume all the time, but hardly ever want to change tracks.
One minor point: I found that the discreet touch areas on the headphones were not as easy to operate as the tiny buttons on the Shokz OpenRun Headphones. Not at first, anyway. I did quickly get used to them and gain the knack of double tapping with just the right degree of pressure. You have to tap as if you mean it!
So now I have complete control of the headphones, and have customized them to my needs. However, they were definitely more of a challenge than the controls of the Shokz OpenRun Headphones, which are more “clicky.” This is because these headphones have more space, so they have actual buttons, instead of just a touch area. These also prioritize safety because your ears are wide open, but you have the compromise of bone-conduction audio, not tiny speakers.
Wearing the Shokz OpenFit Headphones
Of course, due to the design – two small devices, one for each ear – these headphones are not quite as stable on your head as other Shokz headphones that are a single unit that loops behind your neck. However, they are remarkably stable for what they are, and certainly way more stable than those stand-alone ear buds, which are hopeless. The only pair of ear buds I ever had ended up falling into a gallon of blue paint. They absolutely did not survive.
These headphones stay on your head because they loop over your ears. And the tiny battery case sits behind your ears, acting as a weight that holds the headphones in place. A big plus: there is a flexible memory wire built into the loop, so that it can adjust to the exact shape of your ears, and stay that way. It is those kind of details that makes us think that Shokz headphones are worth their asking price.
Overall, these headphones are so comfortable that you can wear them all day and forget you are wearing them. This is because of the combo of very light weight (8.3 grams or a third of an oz), silicone construction, and absolutely no pressure points. And they fit easily under a cycling or ski helmet.
Who Would the Shokz OpenFit Headphones be Best for?
These headphones would be well suited to cyclists who want to listen to music or podcasts while still keeping their ears open to traffic around them.
They would also be well suited to cyclists who prioritize superior audio quality. The sound quality could definitely lift a long bike ride to a new level. And with up to 28 hours listening time, you would not waste any of your valuable time worrying about your batteries.
While the Shokz OpenRun Headphones are slightly more secure and slightly easier to operate, there is no denying that the quality of music is transcendent on the Shokz OpenFit Headphones, and definitely surpasses the quality of music on the Shokz OpenRun Headphones. This is simply because the OpenRun use bone conduction technology, while the OpenFit use superior, tiny headphones.
Bottom Line on the Shokz OpenFit Headphones
With these headphones, Shokz has produced another gem. It’s no mystery why Shokz have been our rock-solid favorite headphones for years. They are just superior. These headphones are no exception, but they are superior in a different way. In this case, it’s the build quality and sound quality. And even with this level of sound quality, they have remained true to their primary mission – providing headphones with a safety-first focus, in that you can still remain in touch with your surroundings.
Just one thing to be aware of – these headphones are not waterproof, with an IP54 rating. That means they are protected against dust, and protected against splashing water. If you want better than that, you are better off with the Shokz OpenRun, which have an IP67 rating. (I once took mine for a short swim, by accident, and they were fine.)
I would unreservedly recommend these headphones for anyone who wants great sound in a premium package, while still remaining aware of their surroundings. For example, cyclists or runners with an appreciation of good music, who also want to stay alert in traffic. And who do not want to inflict their own music on other people. Thanks to the directed sound speakers, there is minimal noise leakage, so you could even use these on a bus or train.
Related Post: Shokz OpenRun Pro vs. Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction Headphones: What’s the Difference?
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