Naenka Bone Conduction Runner Pro open ear wireless headphone review

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REVIEW – Naenka Bone Conduction Runner Pro open ear wireless headphones send sound through what I’m calling ‘transducers’ that sit in front of the ears against the jawbones. I wondered what quality of sound these would produce since this is my first experience with bone conduction sound. 

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What is it

Naenka Bone Conduction Runner Pro open ear Bluetooth headphones (‘Runner Pro’ from here forward) are a lightweight, Bluetooth, water-resistant audio set for active use, including swimming.

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What’s in the box

  • Runner Pro headphone
  • Charging cable
  • Instruction sheet

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Hardware specs

  • Both IP68 and IPX8 ‘waterproof’ are claimed at the Naenka website
  • “IPX8 industrial grade waterproof” is claimed at Amazon
  • 8GB memory onboard
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Charge time: ~2 hours
  • Play time: ~6 hours at 65% volume
  • Black plastic construction

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Design and features

Beyond the bone conduction method of sound transmission used by these headphones, they also come with 8GB onboard memory so music can be directly downloaded to them for true, phone-free use using the supplied USB cable. 

While the descriptions at the Amazon and Naenka websites clearly state the Runner Pro is ‘waterproof’ and can be used for swimming, the manual sheet contradicts this promotion in the ‘Care and Cleaning’ section, twice. “Please do not soak the earphones in water for a long time.”, is followed in the same section with, “…Do not immerse the earphone in water.” The term ‘waterproof’ comes into question given these discrepancies. Or should I only swim briefly? How briefly? 

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I found the Runner Pro uncomfortable after 30 minutes or so of wear. The over the ear loops made my ears hurt a little, as would a pair of glasses that were not properly adjusted. Given this discomfort, I could not imagine the Runner Pro being comfortable during running. 

The band that sits at the neck area stood off from my neck by about 2 finger-widths when raised up enough to alleviate the ear pain, and did not rest on my upper neck, which might have taken some of the pressure off the ears. If I used these while doing a weights workout, I’d have to remove them for exercises lying prone on my back due to this band stand-off behind the neck. But I wasn’t interested in exercising with this device since it caused discomfort in the back of my ears during casual use.  

If I pushed the neck band upwards, that took pressure off the ears but over time the headphone would slip back down. I’m not talking debilitating pain here, but audio listening devices should be comfortable, right? And you shouldn’t have to keep adjusting them to avoid discomfort.

Phone call volume would not increase high enough. With call volume at 100% on my phone and the Runner Pro, calls were often not loud enough.  

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Installation and Setup

Bluetooth pairing is accomplished by holding down the power button for about 3 seconds when the device is off. My phone recognized and paired with the Runner Pro quickly.

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Testing and observations

Using my ‘go to’ testing music, such as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Deluxe’ Remaster of their album, ‘Rumors’ on Spotify, I found bass tones to be quite weak with the Runner Pro. The device delivered mid and high range sounds pretty well but without great separation. Bass guitar and kick drum were muddy or missing. I could only recommend the Runner Pro for casual music listening and/or listening to news, talk radio, or podcasts.

When I heard the low battery warning it took 90 minutes to bring the Runner Pro up to full capacity.

What I like

  • The bone induction headphone technology is something I might like if it was well executed.
  • Build quality and material seems excellent.

What I’d change

  • The Runner Pro should deliver bass tones at this price.
  • An irritating tickle from transducer vibration during some music and talk at high-ish volume was uncomfortable.
  • English phrasing in the manual and at the Amazon site needs to be reviewed and corrected in a few areas.
  • The manual picture showing how to wear the headset uses an ink-black, stylized head shape and the depicted Runner Pro on the head is black. More contrast is needed for this graphic to be of use.
  • Ear pressure discomfort needs to be corrected.  Redesign of the ear loops is needed?

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Final thoughts

The Naenka Bone Conduction Runner Pro open ear headphones could be a good choice if you find this device to be comfortable, and enjoy listening mainly to news, online talk radio, podcasts, or are a casual music listener. 

A device at this price should come with greater comfort and fit more stably. I really wanted to like this headphone but I’ve concluded I would not make this personal purchase.

Price: $119.00
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Naenka.

3 thoughts on “Naenka Bone Conduction Runner Pro open ear wireless headphone review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I use a pair of Titanium Aftershokz as my go to Zoom headphones (3 of us doing remote work in the house) and they are comfortable for me all day long. I haven’t really put them through their paces in terms of music listening but if you are looking for a pair of bone conduction headphones that are well executed, I highly recommend them

  3. I’ve been using the AfterShokz OpenComm as my go to for WFH for all my Zoom (etc) calls. Has a noise cancelling boom mic.
    I also use a set of AfterShokz AeroPex mini for listening to podcasts. I also wear them when biking to listen to music so I can still hear the road noise around me.

    I think the lack of bass and then slight vibration issues are indicative of bone conduction headsets. If I fell the vibration, I just turn them down a notch or two. When I’m biking, I’m not really worried about sound quality (I have other headphones/buds for that), just want some tunes playing.

    Looking at the pictures of the Naenkas, the seem huge in comparison to the AfterShokz. I sometimes even forget to take mine off after a call.

  4. Another Aftershokz user here (I’ve used the Bluez2, Bluez2S, Titanium, and now Aeropex). They’ve really hit their mark with the most recent offerings, very comfortable and about as good as I think you’ll get from bone conduction headsets in terms of sound quality. Every other bone conduction offering probably needs to be reviewed in comparison to their products nowadays.

    I wear them for running primarily, but in my current job assignment I’m on the phone quite a bit during the day but need my hands free, so I’ve been wearing them all day long (powered on but not always actively doing anything) for the last few months, without discomfort. When I have to put in earplugs, you can then hear substantial bass improvement, but if I’m actually looking for sound quality I’ll go with one of my over-the-ear or in-ear-monitor solutions.

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