While the markets for IEMs, TWS, and full-sized headphones have exploded over the last few years, their bone-conduction cousin still remains the odd one out.
When Wissonly contacted me about reviewing their inexpensive (sub-USD $100) pair of bone-conduction headphones, I jumped at the chance. I’ve heard what feels like countless pairs of cans over the years, but this is my first experience with bone-conduction audio tech.
So, if you, like me, are asking, “what the heck is this all about,” let’s recap the technology quickly.
Bone conduction headphones have drivers that, unlike traditional headphones, rest on the cheekbones rather than covering the ear canal. Audible vibrations are conducted along the bones to the inner ear, where they are interpreted as sound. The name seems rather obvious now, doesn’t it?
The eardrum is bypassed and remains unobstructed to pick up environmental sounds. This lack of isolation is a potential benefit to folks with hearing aids or who want to remain aware of their surroundings.
All good, right?
Wissonly is a new company name for me. Turns out it’s been an ODM (original design manufacturer) for other companies for about ten years now. Makes sense, as the Hi Runner appears identical to the other headphones.
“…we have provided ODM products for many brands, including many famous first-line brands. They have all achieved great success, but success is theirs and we have nothing… These products are designed and manufactured by us, but not ours… So we created the wissonly brand.” – Wissonly
- Form: Bone Conduction
- Bluetooth Audio Codec: not disclosed
- Battery Life (hrs): 12hrs 50% volume, 480 hours standby
- Battery Capacity: 230mAh
- Bluetooth Version: 5.0
- Mic: Y
- IPX: IPX8
- Weight (g): 30g
- Internal Memory: 32Gb
The Hi Runner box is pretty plain and no frills. Slide off the cardboard sleeve, and the meager accessories and headphones are held by a small foam plate.
In the box
- Wissonly Hi Runner headphones
- Proprietary USB magnetic charging cable
- Rubber strap
- Instruction manual
The instruction manual is slim on details and doesn’t explain the purpose of the included thin rubber strap. The ends clearly loop around and attach to themselves, and my best guess is that it can be fastened to the non-adjustable headband to tighten it for smaller heads. ¯*(ツ)* /¯
The USB charging cable is proprietary – so don’t lose or damage it – and fairly short. It magnetically attaches only one way to the port on the side of the headphones. The non-standard connector is the trade-off for full waterproofness.
The Hi Runner are constructed from black soft-touch plastic and are very lightweight (30g). The behind-the-head band is rubber-coated titanium alloy, so it is very flexible and holds its shape well.
The headband is virtually indestructible, and it lulled me into a false sense of confidence.
The drivers are, unlike regular headphones, entirely sealed in thumbprint-sized capsules with no venting or holes. The side module on the right contains all the controls and the charging port. A small red/blue LED is on the inside surface beside the charging port, while the bottom surface contains the three buttons and a microphone hole.
The controls are relatively intuitive and easy to manipulate. Press and hold the center button to power on/off. A voice prompt will inform you of the status. While wearing, quickly press the front button to increase volume and hold to advance track. The back button decreases the volume and goes back a track.
Double pressing the center button switches the Hi Runner between Bluetooth mode to using the internal 32Gb of storage space for music playback. Loading songs is as easy as connecting the Hi Runner to a computer using the charging cable and dragging and dropping. Tracks pick up where you left off and play in order.
The Hi Runner can also be used to answer calls, and the microphone works quite well for this purpose. The center button answers and hangs up.
The internal 230mAh battery is rated for 12 hours of playback and will charge in about 2 hours. In practice, the 12-hour rating is a stretch, and about 6-8 is more realistic at usable volume levels.
You will receive three audible notifications when the battery level is getting low. Please note that if you hear the warning, it’s almost already too late, and you’ve only got a few minutes of life left before they shut off. A notification in advance– say 1 hour – would be far more useful.
The over-ear hooks are constructed from non-adjustable rigid black plastic. Initially, they pressed somewhat uncomfortably on the backs of my ears, but after a few days of use, I grew accustomed and now find them comfortable for long-term use.
The driver pods press firmly against the sides of my head, immediately above my jawbone in front of my ear canals. They hold on with enough pressure to stay put but not enough to cause discomfort. The band halos out from the back of my neck, leaving about a finger’s width of space.
Sound volume and audio quality depend entirely on how well the driver pods contact your head. I assume they will fit most folks fine .
Wissonly Hi Runner Sound
The proverbial 10,000-pound elephant in the room for bone conduction headphones is certainly sound quality. On one hand, the novelty of the technology makes me impressed by how well they do work. The sound is clear, and voices sound like they are coming from regular headphones.
Music listening is otherwise unexceptional, but for the fact that you can run or swim laps while doing so. Casual background music listening suits these headphones best.
I can’t produce any frequency response graphs, as my miniDSP EARS fixture lacks bones to conduct. So you’ll just have to take my word for the absence of the frequency range extremes. You’ll feel low bass notes vibrate on the sides of your head but not hear them.
Volume is limited, and isolation is non-existent, so, for instance, driving in a car with the window open is a no-go. You can’t hear anything over the wind.
However, if you are an audiobook or podcast fan, I consider the Hi Runner the perfect solution. Voices sound articulate, and you can easily multitask while shopping and listening to your favorite book. Not important for everyone, and I get that, but the Hi Runner fit well into my lifestyle.
I used to wear a single TWS earbud for this purpose, allowing me to stay connected to my surroundings, but the Hi Runner fit the bill far better. They can easily stay on your head, hang around your neck, or go in a jacket pocket if not in use.
Where to Buy
- Official Store
For sports or activities where environmental awareness is important, the Wissonly Hi Runner can’t be beat. Audiobook and podcast lovers will find a valuable tool in the affordable Hi Runner. Perhaps surprisingly, these non-audiophile headphones have claimed more head time than any other cans for me over the last few months.