From Couch to Choir – My Love Affair With Bone Conduction Headphones.

An alternative to traditional headphones, where you can hear your own voice above the noise.
Practicing choir songs while walking outdoors with AfterShokz headphones.
Posted By Mary Williams – Choir Leader, Singer & Blog Writer

Do you get frustrated when singing along to your music with headphones that muffle your own voice? Or whilst attempting to do choir practice at home, but the glaring looks from family members make it clear they aren’t fans of your learning tracks? Then, for those with standard noise-cancelling headphones – you can’t hear traffic whilst out and about or people talking to you? It’s annoying.

Feeling trapped between being considerate and committing to my practice was a genuine struggle. Plus, I needed musical feedback to hear what I needed to improve with my singing. Standard headphones just don’t cut the mustard. Then, as a hobby runner (as well as a singer), I stumbled upon the world of bone-conduction headphones in 2021, which have changed my approach. 

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Whether I’m multitasking on a nature walk, run or sneaking in a practice session at home, these bone conduction headphones have been a true revelation in singing practice and keeping me safer by being more aware of the world around me. 

Let’s discover how they’ve transformed my musical journey outdoors and indoors!

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Understanding The Magic Behind Bone Conduction Technology

Let’s get a smidge science-y. So, what are these bone conductor headphones that work nicely for singing practice, and how do they work? 

Cleverly, they send vibrations through the bones of your skull by fitting in front of your ears on your face. 

The Curious Choir Singer wearing Shokz Bone Conduction Headphones for singing practice.
They fit in front of my ear rather than inside, so I can hear the world around me.

Sounds futuristic, right? But this unique method of leaving the ear open allows us to hear ambient sounds around us while listening to our music – chirping birds, honking cars, or the occasional ‘lower the volume’ from family members.

The main perk is safety. I can now actually hear cars or cyclists when I’m out and about, making my walks and runs much safer. 

And as for those personal singing practice sessions? I can clearly hear my voice and improve my singing technique above the tracks. Such a game-changer. 

For those not already using headphones – there’s no more drowning out the world or annoying my family with my eclectic music tastes on loudspeakers!

Comparing Traditional Headphones with Bone Conduction Headphones

Remember when you wore regular headphones, got lost in your favourite song, and accidentally missed someone calling your name (or that car honk warning you of impending doom)? 

That’s because most headphones nestle snugly in or over your ears, creating a mini sound-isolation chamber. Great for getting lost in music, not so much for staying connected to the world.

And let’s chat about trying to hear our own voice with those things in. 

Have you ever sung with in-ears on and felt like you suddenly sounded underwater or in a cavern? That’s called the ‘occlusion effect’. 

It’s like trying to sing with fingers plugged into your ears. Bone conduction headphones, on the flip side, keep our ears free. 

The result? I hear my tunes AND my voice, clear as a sunny day. It’s like having the best of both worlds!”

My Journey with Shokz Bone Conduction Headphones, Running and Singing

It all began when I started the “Couch to 5K” running program, aiming to add a sprinkle of fun to life and escape my home due to the COVID lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. I figured I could do more exercise in 30 minutes if I learned to run rather than walk.

I got deeper into my side hustle hobby in the Summer of 2021, and in my quest for the perfect running headphones to play the training programme app while learning to find my feet, I stumbled upon AfterShokz (now renamed Shokz).

At first glance, I was a blend of curiosity and doubt. I thought, “Headphones that don’t sit in your ears? How’s that going to work?” 

But the moment they settled around my head, it felt like I had unlocked a slice of the future. Comfortable, secure, and effortlessly cool. And I could say hi to anyone I passed and hear their reply. It was so important during those lonely pandemic times when we needed and missed human connection.

Barely there! Shokz Bone Conduction Headphones Discreetly Hidden Under Hair.
The Headphones are almost invisible with my hair down.

I started using them beyond my runs, especially during my choir practice sessions and on walks – and it was a revelation. Imagine singing your heart out and catching the surrounding world’s pulse – the distant laughter, birdsong, and the rhythm of my family life around me.

Sure, adjusting to this new ‘ear-free’ sensation took a bit of practice, but the pros? Oh, they’re in abundance. The clarity of my vocal feedback and the increased safety was a winner for me.

And, naturally, when you find something this great, you share it. 

My choir buddies and singing friends were intrigued. So, I happily shared my love and my story. After they tried them, their reaction was to buy a pair for themselves.

The consensus? Shokz Bone Conduction Headphones struck the right chord, it wasn’t just my solo anymore!

Hitting the High Notes – Advantages of AfterShokz for Choir Practice

I’ve shared my journey with Shokz, but you might wonder: What makes them the perfect companion for choir practice? Let’s break down the main benefits of these headphones for those of us in the choir and singing world:

Improved Self-Awareness: Singing is all about control – from the pitch to the dynamics. With AfterShokz, I could hear my voice clearly, aiding in mastering that challenging crescendo or fine-tuning that high note.

Multitasking Masterclass: Gone are the days of being tangled in wires or isolated from the world during practice. Whether out walking, making coffee, or navigating a bustling area, I can rehearse my parts and remain connected to the world around me.

Protection for Your Precious Ears: Traditional headphones might feel cosy and nestled into your ears but exert direct pressure on the eardrums. AfterShokz takes a kinder approach. By transmitting sound through our bones, our eardrums are spared from continuous pressure, making them a safer option in the long run.

Keeping It Real – Potential Drawbacks of Bone Conduction Headphones

As much as I rave about my AfterShokz, I believe in giving you the whole picture. Every rose has its thorns. So, while these headphones have been a boon for me, there might be a few things to consider if you’re thinking of making the switch:

Sound Quality: Let’s face it, we’re all audiophiles at heart. Some folks feel that the sound quality of bone conduction headphones can’t quite match up to the deep, immersive experience traditional headphones offer. It’s different, and while I find it perfect for my choir practice, the bass heads might wish for more.

Comfort Quirks: They sit on your face in front of your ears and the band over the back of your head – not in or over your ears. It’s a change which can take a little getting used to. It may feel unfamiliar or less comfortable during extended use than the old-school ear-huggers until you are used to them.

Battery Battles: Like all tech, they run on juice. The battery life might vary depending on which model or brand you pick (outside AfterShokz). Some last the marathon, while others might be sprinters. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on those specs! Mine charge with USB and last for many hours. I’ve had them for three years, and they still work perfectly.

Watch Your Volumes: Although it doesn’t block your ears, Bone Conduction Headphones can still damage your hearing if used improperly or at too high a volume.

Which Bone Conduction Headphones Should I Buy For Singing?

I have tried both the Shokz OpenMove and Shokz OpenRun for singing practice and running. Both work perfectly fine at different price points depending on what you want to spend.

The sound quality is better in the more expensive models. They also do a swimming version – can you ever imagine singing and swimming?

All the Shokz bone conduction headphones are water-resistant, and I’ve been out in all weather with them.

Please note – As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you click on my Amazon links below from this blog page, I get paid a small commission.

I’ve never been given a sample or approached to write about this – I am a real customer who has bought them and used them for running and singing practice for two years. And they still work perfectly!

Would I buy a cheap pair to save money on another brand? No, probably not, because my hearing is precious to me as a singer and as a choir leader in Bristol, and I don’t want to risk damaging it.

My Final Thoughts on Bone Conduction Headphones As A Singer

We’ve journeyed through the high notes and the occasional flats of bone-conduction headphones, especially in the world of choir practice. 

From the newfound self-awareness to the occasional quirks in comfort, it’s evident that these headphones offer a different but enriching auditory experience.

For me, my AfterShokz has been a game-changer. It’s transformed my choir practices, letting me multitask without missing a beat (or note) and ensuring I stay connected to the world. Yes, like all things, they have their pros and cons. But if you’re up for an ear-free adventure, give it a go!

Mary the Curious Singer Holding Her Shokz OpenMove Headphones

So, over to you, dear singers. Have you ever donned a pair of bone-conduction headphones? Are you intrigued to try? Whether you’re a seasoned user or a curious newbie, I’d love to hear your take on this. Drop your experiences and thoughts on my socials.

Get my Free Guide – The Perfect Song Learning Checklist for Singers PDF

Take care,


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