Quick Answer: Yes, you can use bone conduction headphones with earplugs. Bone headphones work by transmitting sound waves through the bones of your face and jaw rather than through your ear canal like traditional headphones. This allows you to still hear audio from the headphones while also blocking outside noise with earplugs. The key is to use earplugs that block noise but don't completely muffle all sound. Softer, foam ear plugs work better than rigid ones that completely seal off the ear. You'll still be able to hear the bone conduction headphones with the earplugs in, just at a lower volume since the earplugs are dampening some incoming sound. Using both together gives you the ability to listen privately while also muting external distractions.
Bone conduction headphones are unique audio devices that transmit sound through vibrations in your cheekbones and jawbone rather than directly into your ears. This allows you to listen to music and make calls while still being able to hear ambient sounds around you. Many people wonder if you can use bone conduction headphones together with earplugs. The short answer is yes, you can use them together safely and effectively in certain situations.
In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits, ideal use cases, limitations, and best practices for pairing bone conduction headphones with earplugs. We'll also look at the technology behind how these two products can work in conjunction with each other.
First, it's helpful to understand how bone conduction headphones work on a technological level. The headphones have oscillating transducers that generate sound vibrations. When worn, these vibrations get transmitted through your cheek and jaw bones directly to your inner ear. This bypassing of the eardrum allows you to simultaneously hear both the headphone audio and ambient sounds around you.
Meanwhile, earplugs are designed to block sound waves from entering your ear canal through a tight seal. This prevents outside noise from reaching your eardrum. But the bone conduction headphone vibrations can still reach your inner ear via bone transmission even while wearing earplugs. That's how you can listen to the headphones and dampen external noise at the same time.
Benefits of Bone Conduction Headphones With Ear Plugs
Using bone conduction headphones together with earplugs can be highly beneficial in the right situations. Here are some of the top advantages of this audio setup:
Maintain Situational Awareness in Noisy Environments
One of the signature features of conduction headphones is the ability to keep your ears open to hear ambient sounds around you. This situational awareness is useful when running, biking, or doing activities with moving hazards near you.
However, in extremely noisy environments, these important ambient sounds can also become drowned out. Combining the noise isolation of earplugs with bone conduction headphones gives you the ability to maintain awareness of your surroundings while lowering dangerous decibel levels.
For example, construction workers and landscapers can use earplugs to mute power tool noise down to a safer level. At the same time, bone conduction headphones allow them to take phone calls and listen to music without missing coworker voices or backup signals from vehicles.
Hear Audio Playback in Loud Workplaces
Many workplaces have high noise levels that make it difficult to hear music or take calls with traditional headphones. This includes construction sites, factories, airports, and more.
The noise cancellation technology in most over-ear headphones is not enough to overcome this level of background noise. But with earplugs reducing the ambient decibels, bone conduction headphones can deliver your audio loud and clear.
Using well-fitted earplugs together with bone conduction headphones at lower volumes can provide greater hearing protection than either device alone. This is especially important for those exposed to prolonged loud noise above 85 decibels.
The earplugs act as the first barrier against environmental sound waves entering the ear canal. Any remaining vibrations get further dampened by the bone conduction headphone's looser seal and lower audio volumes before reaching the inner ear.
Listen to Music in Noisy Gyms
Trying to enjoy your workout playlist at the gym can be frustrating with all the background noise from weights clanging and people talking. Earplugs help mute the gym's noise pollution, while bone conduction headphones pump up the volume of your motivating music.
You can also maintain spatial awareness of people walking by or equipment you need to share. This makes bone conduction headphones ideal for any environment where loud background noise impedes your music listening.
When Should You Use Bone Conduction Headphones With Ear Plugs?
Pairing bone conduction headphones and earplugs together is ideal for certain noisy situations where you want to listen to the audio while decreasing distracting ambient noise. Top use cases include airplane travel, where it eliminates engine roar and crying babies while allowing you to watch movies. Just keep one ear unplugged for situational awareness. It also helps in loud offices by reducing chatter so you can focus on work while listening to music.
For construction workers, this combo protects their hearing from jackhammers and power tools while enabling communication. Operating loud machinery like tractors or generators is made more comfortable by blocking machine noise while permitting entertainment. Motorcycle riders get protection from wind and engine noise while staying alert on the road. For students trying to focus in noisy coffee shops or libraries, it minimizes disruptions while listening to music. If attending live events, the earplugs reduce crowd noise, while bone conduction headphones amplify helpful commentary.
Limitations of Using Bone Conduction Headphones With Ear Plugs
While beneficial in many cases, there are some limitations to keep in mind when using bone conduction headphones and earplugs together. The earplugs can muffle high frequencies and slightly degrade music quality from the headphones. With both ears plugged, you also lose spatial awareness and the ability to hear warnings around you. Having earplugs in makes communication more difficult while listening to headphones. Getting a good fit and seal with both devices comfortably in place can also be tricky.
Those with existing hearing loss may find it too difficult to hear their headphones clearly after adding earplugs. There is also the temptation to crank up the headphone volume too high because the earplugs lower the sound, which can negate hearing protection. In some places, wearing both headphones and earplugs while driving or operating heavy machinery is prohibited by law. The key is to be aware of these limitations and be selective about when to use this combo.
Best practices for Using Bone Conducting Headphones With Earplugs
If you do decide to use bone conduction headphones and earplugs together, follow some best practices to do it most effectively. Keep at least one ear completely unplugged at all times for spatial awareness and safety. Alternate ears periodically. Use any communication mode your headphones offer to amplify ambient sounds. With earplugs reducing noise, you can also keep headphone volume lower to protect your hearing.
Look for foam earphone tips that block noise better and are more comfortable with the headphones. Custom molded earplugs designed for hearing protection fit better and seal out more noise than generic ones. Make sure both devices fit snugly, or the benefits will be reduced. Avoid overdoing it with total sensory deprivation by also wearing an eye mask. Remove the earplugs temporarily when stopping to converse with people. Also, avoid hazardous situations requiring complete auditory awareness.
In many situations, bone conduction headphones and earplugs complement each other quite well when used properly. Key benefits include hearing protection in loud environments, avoiding noise distractions, and enjoying audio with greater comfort. Just stay mindful of situational awareness, sound quality trade-offs, and getting a proper fit. With prudent use, this combo allows you to optimize your listening experience.
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