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OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds review – A worthy upgrade to the previous model!


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REVIEW – We’re out on the trails again! The OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds are designed for exercise & outdoor activities delivering excellent sound quality, durability, and battery life. I recently tested the older model (the OpenRock Pro), so this review will evaluate the new design and compare/contrast this model to it’s predecessor. Let’s take a walk. To the review!

What is it?

OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds are open ear wireless air conduction sports headphones. The pod sites outside your ear, and projects the sound into your ears (as opposed to sitting in your ear canal).

What’s in the box?

Your kit comes with the OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds, the combination storage/charging case, and a USB-A to USCB-C charging cable.

Hardware specs

  • IPX5 water resistance
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Up to 60 hours of total playtime
  • TubeBass™ technology with 16.2mm dynamic driver and high quality biological diaphragm
  • 4-Mic AI noise cancellation
  • Two different audio modes for exercise and relaxed activities

Design and features

The OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds are the latest edition to OpenRock’s lineup, and upgrade from the Pro model I reviewed back in October (click here to see!). I’ll highlight those differences where appropriate as we go.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, “air conduction” earbuds are a newer technology in headphones. The idea is that the speaker pod sits outside of your ear as shown below, and the speaker projects the sound into your ear canal.

Our journey begins with your earbuds’ home base, which is a sturdy case that measures in at 5.5″ long by 2″ wide by 1″ deep. The case is big (relatively speaking), but the rounded ends make it easy to slide in and out of pockets.

This case also serves as your charging dock for the earbuds, and is powered by a USB-C port. The kit includes a USB-A to USB-C cable, but you can use the same USB-C chargers and cables you have for your other gadgets.

You won’t need to plug in often, however! The earbuds themselves are rated for 19 hours of playtime, while the case carries enough juice for 41 additional hours. That adds up to 60 hours of play between recharges!

There’s a battery meter on the outside of the case that lights up when charging or when you open the case. I’m at 75% here after two weeks of daily use during my workouts.

Open the case and you’ll find the molded nesting spaces for your OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds. They pop into their slots with a magnetic boost to make sure that they are secure and connected for charging.

The OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds are designed so that they automatically connect to your device when popped from the case, and disconnect when put back in their beds.

The earbuds, like their previous editions, are chunky boys. Here’s a shot of them next to the case (and a ruler) for a size visualization.

The outside of the earbuds are wrapped in a combination of silicone and plastic. Controls don’t have a specific button or contact point; you tap the meaty part of the pod where the “O” in the “OpenRock” logo sits. Your controls are engaged by some combination of taps and/or tap/holds between the two earbuds:

  • Double top either side answers calls, hangs up calls, or pauses/plays audio
  • Two second tap/hold toggles next track (right earbud) or previous track (left earbud)
  • Triple-tap activates voice assistant
  • Tap-hold both sides for two seconds to change audio modes (see below)
  • Tap-hold for three seconds to power up or five seconds to power down (as opposed to placing them in or removing them from the case)

The inside of the earbuds shows you where that focused speaker resides. OpenRock claims that these earbuds use something called “TubeBass™ technology” for improved sound quality, in addition to multiple microphones to deliver selective noise canceling for clearer phone calls.

Like previous OpenRock models, these earbuds are designed for a comfortable fit. The posts have a lot of flexibility so that they will bend & flex to fit a bunch of different ear sizes and head types.

The OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds also sport two audio modes that claim to enhance active vs. passive listening. Here’s the description of the two modes from the promotional materials.

Rock/Relax Dual Mode – The rock mode emphasizes low-frequency, rhythmic sports sound effects, aiming to reduce sports fatigue and activate your sports potential. The Relax mode emphasizes three-frequency natural and comfortable sound effects, aiming to help individuals relax their body and mind and reduce stress.

Finally, the earbuds have IPX5 water resistance. This means that they can take a bit of moisture through rain, splashes, or sweaty business but cannot be submerged. No swimming with these, kids.

Performance

As I mentioned at the start of this review, the OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds are an evolution of the Pro model I reviewed previously. Laying them out next to each other shows some of the significant differences in the designs. You can see from the shots below that the S (top) is clearly smaller and more streamlined than the Pro (bottom). The newer model also eschews that shiny button control in favor of a tappable zone on the pod.

The inside shot below shows an additional design change in the speaker area. The S model (top) has a bit of a flair at the end of the pod where the speaker is set, which helps to focus the sound over the older Pro model (bottom) below.

These differences in the design played out in my testing with some interesting results. The smaller OPenRock S is still a chunky design, but feels a bit more comfortable & streamlined than the previous design. I find these earbuds to be very comfortable for daily use for long periods of time.

They do have a bit more of a tendency to pop off than the older model. I don’t normally have an issue when I’m moving about or weightlifting, but I have knocked them off while flipping up my hood or taking my sweatshirt off. I haven’t had this be enough of an issue that it disrupts my activities, but it is something to be aware of.

Sound quality is excellent and even better than the last model. You’ll get crisp audio, strong well-rounded bass notes, and excellent tone for both music and podcasts. While I have noticed that phone calls sound very quiet on my side, people on the other end have had no complaints about call quality. This may be a setting on my side I need to play around with.

I do not love the change to the earbud controls. The previous edition had actual tactile buttons that were easy to operate. These tappable areas behave inconsistently in my tests, and I find myself whacking them multiple time to do the things they need to do. I find myself just managing the controls from my phone when required.

Battery life is absurdly good. 60 hours of play between base charges is crazy, and takes some getting used to. I will use them for 1-2 hours a day depending on what I am doing and go for weeks without recharges.

Finally, I have had a hard time differentiating between the so-called “Rock” and “Relax” mode. Maybe the Rock mode is a little more intense vs. Relax mode, but it’s barely noticeable in my testing. I just leave them in Rock mode, and the sound quality is more than good enough for all of my needs.

What I like

  • Tough, durable design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Amazing battery life
  • More streamlined than the previous model

What I’d change

  • Manual tap controls are twitchy

Final thoughts

I think the OpenRock S Air Conduction Sports Earbuds are a worthy upgrade from the OpenRock Pro. They’re a little smaller & more streamlined while providing the same toughness & durability that you want in earbuds designed for sports & outdoor activities. The sound quality is outstanding. The controls can be a little twitchy to get used to, but the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion. Just keep in mind that, like their predecessors, that chunky design may not be comfortable for all ears.

Price: $79.99
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by OpenRock.



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