An often-used phrase is, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. Shokz does not seem to subscribe to this notion, as their new and revolutionary OpenFit wireless earbuds have taken the earbud design that most mobile phone users will be familiar with and rewritten the rule book.
When it comes to audio devices for listening to music and having telephone conversations, there have been two dominant audio designs on the market, in-ear and headphones ear cups. However, that could all be about to change thanks to Shokz’s (formerly known as AfterShokz) revolutionary OpenFit earbuds.
Before I get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of why the OpenFit earbuds are so different, I will admit that before trying the OpenFit earbuds, I was more of a fan of traditional headphones with earcups, tending to steer clear of earbuds.
The reason for this is quite simple; I find that having something stuck into my aural cavity for long periods often causes my ears to ache; plus, I am somewhat of a clean freak, so I am constantly cleaning my earbuds before wearing them as I shudder at the thought of putting dirt and bacteria into my ear—I have a penchant for keeping my ears as healthy as possible.
Why Shokz Openfit Earbuds are revolutionary
As I have clarified, I am not a fan of shoving anything into my aural cavity. Fortunately, the Shokz OpeFit earbuds completely eliminate this, as no part of them enters the ear canal. Instead, they rest almost unnoticeably across the auricle. The significant benefit of this is there is no pressure or heat build-up, and from my own experience, no uncomfortable aching.
I can guess what some reading this will now think: “Surely if they don’t go inside the ear, the sound quality will be far worse?”; surprisingly, this isn’t the case. The reason is that SHOKZ has incorporated several innovative and cutting-edge technologies, which results in a first-rate audio experience whilst allowing you to hear what’s going on in the outside world simultaneously.
Undoubtedly, many will have seen headlines where people have been injured by something while listening to music, a podcast of when they’ve been engaged on a phone call. It’s something that is becoming all too common, particularly in cities which are dominated by quieter electric cars and cyclists.
This is one of, if not the major plus points of the OpenFit earbuds; the simple fact that you can be aware of a potential oncoming danger makes navigating this busy world considerably easier and safer.
The Comfort Factor
The Openfit earbuds utilise an over-ear hook design, also known as a dolphin arc. They are a pleasure to wear due to the company’s decision to use an ultra-soft dual-layered liquid silicone with ultra-fine memory wire that moulds to the contours of your ears. In addition, they are incredibly light (8.3 grams), which did cause me to forget I was wearing them on more than one occasion.
Although comfort is a significant consideration, another important factor is whether they will stay in place. After all, if you are spending approaching £200 for a set of earbuds, the last thing you’d want to do is to lose one.
To test this, we put the earbuds to what we call our ‘headbanger test’, which involved us rigorously shaking our up and down and side to side (something we would not recommend others try). In addition to this, I tried the earbuds at some rather vigorous, frantic and sweaty Les Mills classes. At no point did the earbuds fall from my colleague or my ears or feel like they were coming loose.
The OpenFit earbuds utilise a variety of technologies, the first of which we’ll look at called Shokz DirectPitchTM, which sends or, as I prefer to call it, ‘beams’ the sounds directly into the ear canal.
In addition, the earbuds contain Shokz OpenBassTM, a proprietary low-frequency enhancement algorithm that carries low-frequency vibrations directly toward your ear without covering it. The Dynamic Range Control adjusts the EQ in real-time, providing a rich and natural listening experience under any volume. They also have an 18 x 11mm customised dynamic driver unit with an ultra-light composite diaphragm crafted from carbon fibre and a polymer surround.
The inner dome-shaped cap is made from a high-strength, ultra-lightweight carbon fibre that is said to be 20 times stronger than steel, enabling every acoustic vibration to be directed with incredible accuracy. The polymer surround also amplifies the intensity of the diaphragm’s vibrations, producing deep bass notes.
The Battery Life
The Shokz OpenFit earbuds come with a smart-looking charging case, which I adored as, unlike some other earbuds I’ve tried in the past, this case pretty much sucks the earbuds instantly into the right place for charging thanks to the powerful magnets.
According to Shockz, the earbuds offer up to seven hours of listening time on a single full charge, and the case can extend this to 28 hours of constant listening. Another welcomed feature is you can get an hour of battery life from just a 5-minute charge.
My experience with the Shokz OpenFit earbuds has been excellent. I found the sound quality excellent when listening to music, and the call quality also exceeded my expectations.
The fact I don’t feel disconnected from the world whilst using them is a huge benefit, and I can honestly state they are, by far and away, the most comfortable earbuds I’ve tried.
Have I confined my over-the-head earcup headphones to the cupboard? Not yet. As someone who meditates daily for at least one hour, my meditations require me to block out the outside world, hence my fondness for earcup headphones; if it weren’t for this, the answer would be resounding yes.
- Shokz DirectPitchTM Air conduction transducer
- Shokz OpenBassTM powerful bass speakers
- Bluetooth version 5.2
- 7 hours of listening or up to 28 hours using the charging case
- A 5-minute quick charge can provide one hour of listening
- The earbuds are IP54 water resistance
- Dual noise-cancelling microphone
- 10m wireless range
- Works with Android and Apple phones. (The Android app is scheduled for launch later this year)
What’s in the box?
- OpenFit Earbuds 8.3g
- Magnetic Charging case 57g
- OpenFit earbuds
- USB-C charging cable
- Shokz App for customised settings
- 2-year warranty
The Shokz OpenFit earbuds have an RRP of £179 and are available from www.shokz.com.
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