I have been looking at bone conducting headphones ever since the Aftershokz Titanium became popular. Unlike regular headphones which sit either on or in your ear and block the outside sound, bone conducting headphones sit on the outside of your ear. This technology allows you to hear what is going on around you whilst also listening to music.
The idea behind the concept was a safety measure for cyclists as it allows them to hear traffic around them. It has now expanded to the running market, and bone conducting earphones are the only earphones allowed to be worn during official UK Athletics regulated events.
I’m used to running without music, however when I saw a pair of Vidonn F1 on sale for Black Friday, I decided to see what all the hype was about. The more expensive Aftershokz models are frequently recommended on running forums, but I couldn’t justify the price. Even on Black Friday, the best Aftershokz deal was £79.99. I picked up my pair of Vidonn F1 for £35, including postage, instead of the regular price of £49. I ordered them on Friday 23rd November and they arrived on Monday 26th November!
I actually really liked the box. It was a nice size and had a magnetic opening flap. The headphones were placed in the centre with the charging cable and instructions underneath. A pair of ear plugs were also included.
The Vidonn F1 are available in Grey, Blue, and Yellow. I opted for the neutral Grey colour (despite the yellow on the box).
Pairing to my phone was really straightforward. I powered on the headphones by holding the volume up button for a few seconds. Once powered on I simply had to hold the volume up button for 3 more seconds until the LED flashed red. The headphones then told me that they had entered pairing mode, and my phone found them instantly.
I purchased an MP3 with Bluetooth connectivity to use on longer runs to avoid draining my phone battery. The headphones also connected to this device with no issues, whilst still remaining paired to my phone. This is really handy as it means that I don’t have to un-pair my headphones from my phone each time I want to switch devices.
When paired to a mobile device, the headphones can be used to answer incoming calls. There is a built in microphone, however I have not tested this feature. This is more of a nice feature than something I required from the headphones.
The main reason for using bone conducting headphones is for safety as they allow you to hear your surroundings. For that reason, I ran with the volume at 50% during my first outdoor run with them. I could still hear my music fine but also remained able to hear what was happening around me. It was nice to be able to hear cars passing and to just feel more aware of my surroundings. At my most recent event, the Chasewater 10k Pudding Dash, I opted to wear the Vidonn F1. I was able to hear other runners talking, marshals and runners approaching from behind.
I also tested the Vidonn F1 on the treadmill with the volume at around 85%. The sound quality was fine and I would feel confident in being able to wear these in a gym environment. At first I didn’t think it would be possible as I expected the ambient noise to drown out the music, however this wasn’t the case.
There is some sound leakage at the higher volume ranges, but nothing extreme. You have to be fairly close to someone in order for them to hear your music still.
My longest run in these so far has been during the Sneyd 10 Mile Christmas Pudding Run. I wore them for 1 hour 48 minutes of running, plus the 5 or so minutes I had them on for the pre-race warm up.
My main issue with regular earphones whilst running is that they never seem to stay in my ears! I have tried specially designed sport earphones, as well as wireless earphones, but have never found a pair which would stay in place and be comfortable. I’m not a fan of over the ear headphones as I like to know what’s happening around me and also find that my ears get hot. A lot of over the ear models also cause my glasses to dig into the top of my ear and side of my head after certain periods of time.
I’m happy to say that I have so far encountered no issues with the comfort of the Vidonn F1. They sit in place perfectly and don’t bounce or move around. Even after wearing them for almost 2 hours, they still felt comfortable. They sit on top of the arm of my glasses but don’t cause them to dig in.
The Vidonn F1 are a good weight – you don’t feel them on your head and I could easily forget that I was wearing them!
I wore the Vidonn F1 for the Chasewater 10k, so around 1 hour 20 minutes on the day as I also waited for Chris to finish. Without charging them, I also wore them for around 1 hour 55 at the Sneyd 10 mile event. According to the manual, the headphones alert you when the battery is getting low (around 30% remaining), however I have not yet reached this point. I did charge them after the Sneyd 10 mile run, but I can imagine these lasting at least 6 hours, if not slightly longer.
I feel like I got a bargain with the Vidonn F1 for £35! I would be happy with them even if I had paid the £49 retail price. They are cheaper than the wireless Aftershokz models which usually sell for £99 or £79 when they are on sale.
Despite the cheaper price point, they are well built, comfortable and easy to set up. I haven’t experienced any issues with the sound quality or volume. They can be paired to more than one device simultaneously, which means I don’t have to un-pair from my mobile when I want to use my MP3.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Vidonn F1, and fail to see what the higher priced Aftershokz could offer for the higher price. The Aftershokz also claim around a 6 hour battery life and the build quality seems similar. If anything, the Vidonn F1 seem slimmer and lighter looking.