How Do Bone Conduction Headphones Work? – Complete Guide

Bone Conduction HeadphonesIf you are a tech geek then you probably might have thought at least once about how do bone conduction headphones work.

Unlike traditional headphones, bone conduction headphones work with the vibration of the head and jawbones. The sound signal is sent directly to the inner ear that bypasses the ear drum.

However, that’s not all because things aren’t as simple as it seems. There’s a complete logic behind the working of bone conduction headphones. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place because, in this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know.

So without any further ado, let’s not waste any more time and jump straight to our guide on how do bone conduction headphones work.

How Do Bone Conduction Headphones Work?

Well, there are two different types of headphones that are “behind the ear” and “on-the-ear.”

The first type of headphones falls under the category of bone conduction headphones. In this type of headphone, a transducer is placed near your ear which sends vibrations to your brain directly without going through any middle part.

There are actually four different types of Bone Conduction Headphones which you can take a look at here.

In bone conduction headphones, the sound is transmitted from the transducers to users when cheekbones and jawbone vibrate because of the loud sounds in your environment that could not be blocked by traditional earbuds or canal headphones.

When the vibrations are transmitted to the ear canal, it is called direct bone conduction headphones. When the vibrations are conducted to bones at the back of your ear, it is called indirect bone conduction headphones.

These headphones use a principle in which sound can be perceived in two ways: air-conducted and bone-conduction. The air-conducted sound is conducted through the ear canal whereas Bone-conduction delivers the sound via the bones of your face.

Basically, bone conduction headphones use a principle in which vibrations are transmitted to users when cheekbones and jawbone vibrate due to loud sounds in their environment.

These vibrations are sent directly to ear canals bypassing the ear drum. This way, users can perceive the sound via two ways: air-conducted and bone conduction.

These two methods deliver different types of sound to users which you can take a look at this video to learn more about the difference between these two sounds.

In order to make it more interesting and in-depth, let’s take a closer look at a headphone model.

Types of Conduction Headphones

Now that you have a better understanding of how bone conduction headphones work. You may wonder which types of bone conduction headphones are out there in the market today.

To give you an answer to this question, let’s check out the different types of bone conduction headphones.

Air-Conducted Headphones

Air Conduction Headphones

This type of headphones is the cheapest and most widespread among all bone conduction headphone types. As you may know, air-conducted headphones use a transducer that makes contact with the users’ eardrums.

However, with this type of headphones, the sound is conducted to users through their air-conducted method.

Since air-conducted headphones deliver sound to users through their eardrums, this means that they don’t pose any threat for people with medical implants or pacemakers.

On the other hand, these headphones are noise-canceling meaning that they won’t allow any other sounds from the outside world to be heard by users.

This can be helpful when you’re in a loud environment and need to focus on what you’re listening to such as music, phone calls or even watching videos.

The biggest drawback of air-conducted headphones is that they don’t allow users to perceive their surrounding sounds much like bone conduction headphones do.

This means that you can’t hear your surroundings because air-conducted headphones only deliver the sound coming from earbuds or speakers to you.

Bone Conduction Headphones

Bone Conduction Headphones

As we already know, bone conduction headphones are famous for their ability to allow users to perceive sounds by transmitting vibration through the cheekbones and ear bones.

However, with this type of headphone, bone conduction headphones allow users to perceive sounds from their surrounding environment.

In other words, these headphones work the same way that hearing aids do.

So if you have a medical implant or pacemaker and you want to use a headphone while keeping your ability to hear your surroundings then this is the perfect type of headphone for you.

On the other hand, bone conduction headphones deliver a better sound experience to users than air-conducted headphones do. In fact, these headphones are more similar to regular earphones in terms of audio quality.

However, compared to air-conducted headphones, these types of headphones have a higher noise cancellation which means that no other sounds will be heard by users.

This is the main reason why these headphones are perfect for people who need to focus on what they’re listening to without being distracted by their surrounding sounds.

Parts of Bone Conduction Headphones

A standard bone conduction headphone can be divided into four main parts.

These parts are a battery, a circuit board, a speaker, and a transducer.

The first part is the battery which provides power to the headphone components. The second one is the controller unit of the headphone which includes all hardware buttons as well as LED lights for indicating different statuses.

The next part of the bone conduction headphone is the speaker.

As you know, speakers are responsible for converting electricity into sound patterns that users can hear.

And finally, we have a transducer that is responsible for transmitting vibrations to the cheekbones and ear bones of the user in order for them to be able to perceive sounds in their surrounding environment. It is usually placed near the user’s ear.

Losses in Bone Conduction Headphones

All bone conduction headphones have a loss ratio of about 20% which means that out of 100 decibels coming from the original sound source, only 80 decibels are transmitted to the user’s brain through their cheekbones and ear bones.

This is the main reason why users with hearing problems are recommended to use hearing aids instead of bone conduction headphones.

This is because the sound quality delivered by hearing aids is better than bone conduction headphones, although hearing aids are not wireless like these headphones are.

Sound Quality in Bone Conduction Headphones

Bone conduction headphones deliver a different sound experience for users compared to regular earphones or air-conducted headphones.

What really makes this type of headphones stand out is their ability to allow users to perceive sounds from their surrounding environment.

So, if you’re using a bone conduction headphones then you can also hear your surroundings while listening to music or watching videos.

Another aspect that makes bone conduction headphones different than air-conducted and regular earphones is their sound quality.

In fact, bone conduction headphones are similar to regular earphones in terms of sound quality.

That means that they deliver an audio experience that you can find in most wired earphones on the market today.

Protection Against Sound Loss in Bone Conduction Headphones

Although bone conduction headphones deliver a sound experience that is similar to regular earphones many people still prefer to use these types of headphones instead.

That’s because they provide better noise cancellation than air-conducted and regular earphones do.

This is one of the main reasons why these headphones are perfect for people with hearing problems who need to focus on what they’re listening to without being distracted by their surrounding sounds.

However, they might not be the perfect option for people who want to listen at a high volume as these headphones tend to lose some of that auditory input.

So if you ever find yourself listening at a very high volume then it’s recommended that you stop doing so because your hearing can get damaged.

Safety Concerns

Even though this type of headphone allows users to perceive sound in their surrounding environment, they also have some major flaws.

One of them is that these headphones use electricity. And you know what that means?

That means that if there aren’t any safety standards regarding the usage of electricity then the risk of electric shocks and injuries increases.

As a result, in 2010, UL introduced new safety standards for all headbands that use electricity which you can check out here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these headphones may pose a threat for people with pacemakers.

In fact, the pacemaker could be affected if a person with a pacemaker uses these headphones.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, using bone conduction headphones could affect pacemakers and implantable defibrillators.

Accordingly, this is why it’s important to inform your doctor about the usage of such headphones if you’re having any medical implants before using these headphones.

What Makes Them Different From The Traditional Headphones?

Well, bone conduction headphones are different from traditional headphones because they do not use earplugs to deliver sound.

Instead, air-conducted and bone-conduction sounds (which provide quality as well as volume) are transmitted directly to users’ inner ears.

Thus, unlike traditional headphones that cover up your ears completely which make it difficult to hear, bone conduction headphones do not cover your ears.

This open access to your ear canal makes you more aware of the environment and sound around you. Although, this is a good feature but can be dangerous in certain circumstances such as biking, running, or walking on the streets at night, etc.

Final Thoughts

So how do bone conduction headphones work? well, such types of headphones use vibration to deliver the sound signal directly to the brain.

These devices have transducers installed that convert the sound signal into vibrations.

Since they are in contact with the cheekbone, therefore, they deliver these vibrations directly to the brain.

We hope you’ve learned something new from this article and enjoyed reading it. If you found it helpful please share it with your friends and family so that can also learn the working principle of bone conduction headphones.

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