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If you like listening to music on your bike then it's a good idea to use an open-ear design so that you can hear other stuff that's going on around you. There are plenty of options, and bone-conduction headphones are a big part of the market, but these OneOdio OpenRock S headphones, which use a more standard audio driver, are better in many respects and easy to recommend.
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The OpenRock earphones come in a smart case a bit smaller than a glasses case, which also contains a battery to recharge them. When they're in the case, they're charging, and when they're out of the case, they're on. If you want, you can remove just one earphone and use that, and there's no throwing a wobbly about one of the sides being missing that you get with some systems.
OneOdio claims a run-time of 60 hours from one charge of the case, and 19 hours just from the internal batteries in the earphones themselves. If you run out of juice, five minutes in the case will give you an hour of play. There's a four-bar LED at the front of the box which lets you know both that the earphones are charging, and also how much juice is left in the box's battery.
On the one hand the larger box than some other earphones – including OneOdio's Openrock Pros that we reviewed recently – means that they're a bit harder to find room for in a jersey pocket. On the other hand, the battery life is exceptional. I charged them at the start of the review process and weeks later I'm still on that first charge.
These are fairly large earphones but they're also very comfortable. There's a bit of adjustability in the loop that goes round your ear to allow you to get a snug fit, and once you've got them dialled in they're really comfortable: you can easily wear them all day.
I found them easier to get on if I took my glasses off, but they play okay with both riding and normal specs, and because they don't have a bar round the back they also work well with bike helmets. They're light enough to not really be noticeable, and because you're not putting any pressure on any part of your ear – no in-ear plug and no bone-conduction pad – they're supremely comfortable to wear.
The OpenRock S earphones are IPX5 rated for waterproofing which means they should be fine in light rain but you might want to keep them in your bag if you're riding fast and it's tipping down.
The earphones both have a touch-sensitive pad on the outside, and various combinations of taps will do things with music and calls, as well as powering the headphones up and down and switching between 'relax mode' (tinny) and 'rock mode' (normal). One thing you can't do is adjust the volume of the earphones from the units themselves – you have to use your phone for that.
It takes a bit of practice to hit the earphones in the right place, and when you're double tapping to pause music I often found myself either missing the first tap and not pausing the track, or thinking I'd missed and tapping three times, which brings up the Google assistant. You can tell it to pause the music, though, so it's not the end of the world, but it's just more fiddly than a physical button and a bit of a weak point in the design.
That's the spec, but what do they sound like? Let's get the marketingspeke out of the way first, shall we? 'Air conduction' is the default way that sound works. Your telly and your mouth use 'air conduction' to get the sound to your ears. I know that what OneOdio is doing here is trying to distinguish from 'bone conduction' which other open-ear headphones use and is something different, but I don't really think we need a new term coined, thanks all the same.
Probably the first thing you'd ask if you've been in the market for a pair of open-ear headphones is: how does the sound compare with bone-conduction headphones? And the basic answer to that question is easy: it's much better.
OneOdio uses a 16.2mm dynamic driver in these earphones, and that extra 0.2mm must make all the difference because the sound is, really, pretty good. They don't have the deep bass response of a pair of good over-the-ear headphones or buds, but the range is all there. Using a pair of bone-conduction headphones like the Shokz Openrun Pros that Steve tested last year, you don't get much of the bassline or kick drum coming through, even sat at your desk in the quiet. These headphones are hugely better in that regard, with a much more rounded sound.
The other advantage over bone-conduction headphones is that the sound doesn't alter when you move your jawbone, which is used to transfer sound. If you've ever tried eating while wearing bone-conduction 'phones, you'll know what I mean.
With the sound coming out of the driver and into your ear with no seal, you might think that there'd be a lot of sound leaking out. But that's not the case; turn them up loud and there's a bit of leak, but it's by no means a deal breaker, and it's a lot less than you'd expect.
The OpenRock S earphones also have a four-mic array for taking calls, and the noise cancellation seems to be pretty effective. I'm not one for taking calls on the bike but for the purposes of testing I did take a couple, and there were no problems with making myself heard.
The whole entire point of an open-ear headphone system is that you can hear other stuff, so it's hardly fair to then turn around and say, 'Well, you can hear other stuff and it drowns out the music.' But it is worth noting that if you're using these headphones for riding then there will be times when wind and traffic noise are going to drown out your podcast or your album. Wind noise is especially noticeable if you're travelling quickly, or it's a windy day. Road and traffic noise will be there too, of course, but if you want open-ear 'phones for riding, that traffic noise is probably the thing you're wanting to make sure you hear.
On the plus side, the advantage over bone-conduction 'phones is that you can whack them up to full volume and it doesn't feel uncomfortably tickly on your cheekbones.
Realistically, if you're trying to follow a podcast there will be times when it won't be easy; if you prefer music in your ears then it's probably less of an issue that you won't get the full experience all the time, and being able to hear what's going on around you on the bike is definitely useful.
Different folks have different reasons for wanting to listen to music on the bike. For me, it's mainly to pipe some drum and bass into my ears on the turbo to keep me motivated, and to give me something to keep me occupied on audaxes and such – on bigger rides I'm on my own, often as not. For both of those use cases I've often used bone-conduction headphones, but I'm pretty sold on these OpenRock S earphones as being a better alternative. They're more comfortable when you're wearing them for a long time, the sound quality is better, and they play more nicely with helmets and cycling clothing because there's no loop around your neck. And you still get the benefit of being able to hear what's going on around you.
At £83 these headphones aren't cheap but neither are they anywhere near the top end of the market: the Oladance earphones were more than twice as much at rrp (£199.99) when we reviewed them in February and you don't even get a battery in the case.
They're also significantly cheaper than a good quality pair of bone-conduction headphones like the Shokz Openrun Pros I mentioned earlier, and they're more comfortable, with better sound quality.
Overall they're excellent, really. Okay, the touch pads are a bit fiddly and the case is bigger than you'd like if you're cycling, but unless you're doing a multi-day ride you probably won't even need to take it because the battery life is so impressive. And environmental noise can drown out your music at times, but that's kind of the point so it's a bit unfair to mark them down for that. These headphones have quickly become my go-to choice for rides.
Really good sound quality and unbeatable battery life, and you can hear the traffic too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: OneOdio OpenRock S Oper-Ear Air Conduction Sport Earbuds
Size tested: One Size
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
OneOdio says: "Open ear design, feel nothing but comfort"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
OneOdio lists these features:
Epic bass performance, thanks to TubeBass™ technology with 16.2mm dynamic driver
Professional sound effects for sports
Born for comfortable and secure fit
Extreme 60-Hour Battery Endurance: it offers 19 hours of playback time per charge and a total of 60 hours with the charging case. 5 minutes of charging for 1 hour of use.
4-mic Al noise cancellation for clear and crystal call
More surprises to discover: IPX5 waterproof perfect for sporting, new generation Bluetooth 5.3, intelligent touch control
For the quality, good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. You can hear music at full range, and you can hear whatever else is going on.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable, good quality sound, excellent battery life.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Touch controls are fiddly, case is pretty big.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are cheaper options, but for the product quality I'd say they are good value.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're not perfect, but for the money they're excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.