Listen with Your Skull!

I listen to a lot of audiobooks. They're not the sort of thing you blast from your car speakers, because invariably when you pull up to a drive-thru window, it's at an awkward part of the book. Thankfully I don't read many books with sex scenes, but it's a bit embarrassing when it's a super-cheesy-sounding part of the book that plays while you're paying. But, I digress.

I don't like earbuds or headphones, because I prefer to hear what's going on around me. So when I'm driving, or walking with someone, I tend to leave one earbud in, and the other out. It's not perfect, but it works.

Recently, however, I discovered bone-conduction headphones. I really like the Trekz Titanium model, but they're fairly pricey, and others might work just as well.

The concept is that instead of putting something in your ears, the device vibrates the bones in your head, which in turn vibrate your inner ears and produce sound. It means your ears are completely open, so you can hear people talking to you or honking behind you. Thanks to the sound transferring internally, however, you still can hear the audio really well too. In fact, if you want to drown out the outside world, you can put earplugs in and totally immerse yourself in audio. It feels weird to increase the volume by plugging your ears, but it works. In fact, if you want to try it, just hum, and while you're humming, plug your ears. That same sort of thing happens with bone conduction headsets. It's sort of magical.

Like I said, I use Trekz brand and really like them. I can take calls, listen to music or play/pause my audiobooks with ease. If you like the privacy of earbuds, but don't want to stick anything in your ears, give bone conduction a try. I thought it was a gimmick, but I'm happy to say I was wrong!

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Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.