As the quote goes 'competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best.' and the Haylou PurFree wireless bone conducting headphones are a prime example of that. They have certainly stepped up to the mark of the more familiar brand Shokz and match them feature for feature. We need more time with the headphones to reassure ourselves of their durability, but for now, making the choice between the two mostly boils down to whether you need Bluetooth multipoint or a protective case more. Personally, I would probably opt for whoever had the best deal on at the time.
Lightweight and comfortable to wear
Great sound quality, without noise bleed
Bluetooth multipoint for syncing with two devices at once.
Team well with glasses.
Limited battery indication notification
No protective case
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Headphones and cycling have mixed press, but the Haylou PurFree is another option that stands to unite those divided factions.
Gone are any awkwardly trailing cables and sweat build-up in your ear canals – which often spelt the death of in-ear headphones. Plus, by transmitting sounds using vibrations sent through jaw/cheeks, your ears are left fully open to the world – which is a great feature for cycling outdoors.
Now, those are the general benefits that bone-conduction headphones have to offer – let's get stuck into exactly how the Haylou PurFree stacks up against the competition itself.
Haylou PurFree: Construction
This particular pair have been recognised for a design that “inspires with its minimalist, precisely drawn forms, which give it an elegant appearance despite its sportiness” by the German design house Reddot. In fact the Haylou PurFree wowed judges so much it was presented with a 'Reddot award'.
Award aside, the composition isn't significantly different to the Skockz OpenRun headphones, with the pair sharing the same swan-like over ear wireless design, a magnetic charge point, and flexible frame.
On the scales the Haylou comes in at 28grams, it's a mere two grams heavier than the Shokz, which in my book counts as the same weight. They're both made using a lightweight titanium frame, which does keep weight low, but to add further context, the Apple Airpods Pro come in at 11 grams for the pair.
Along with the physical similarities, the headphones also carry closely mirrored the technical attributes of the Shokz, with an equalled water resistance of IP67.
This means ‘ingress protection’ of 6, recognised as dust tight particle protection, and 7 which protects against a decent level of liquid of up to one metre. This shouldn't be confused with water protection however, and the Haylou are aimed at sweat and rain protection, not swimming.
They also boast a comparable eight hour playback time, and a quick charge feature of a 10min blast for between one and a half to two hours of play time. However, it's worth noting here that the amount of play time you'll actually get after those 10 minutes does depend on outside temperature and if you're using the headphones for two way calls, etc.
As with all wireless headphones these days, Bluetooth provides the connectivity between devices, answering calls and volume control.
The Bluetooth multipoint feature is a real bonus, too. This nifty inclusion allows users to connect the PurFree headphones to two devices, say your phone and laptop, without having to disconnect one first. This makes the Haylou headphones ideal for riding online with your friends, but then immediately answering an incoming call.
Haylou PurFree: The ride
As you can tell, I found it almost impossible to differentiate the Haylou PurFree headphones with the Shockz pair in their construction. In practice, they perform just as well.
Pairing with your chosen device is easy as pressing a couple of buttons, switching on your Bluetooth and then just picking up the headphones in your list of devices.
My regular listening device is the much lighter Apple Airpods, so I thought the additional weight of the Haylous would be noticeable. However the weight is distributed well, and because they aren't in-ear, they are arguably more comfortable for longer durations. That said, I think if you wear glasses you're probably more used to the fit and the feel; for non glasses wearers it might be a little uncomfortable while you get used to them.
Talking of glasses, I need to highlight that I suffered zero clashing wearing the two simultaneously, if anything they helpfully stopped my reading glasses sliding down my nose. With my riding glasses, which have thicker straight arms, it's easier to have the headphones on first. This does mean the arms sit on the headphones, raising the position of your lenses ever so slightly, so perhaps something to think about if they are prescription lenses.
The sound quality is great, with even the bass level sounding as good as any pair of headphones I've used at this price point; in my experience a particularly tricky feature for bone conducting headphones to master.
One of the things to get your head around is realising that no one else can hear the headphones output. Using my daughter as chief assistant tester, she asked "can you hear that? Really, can you not?" several times before being assured that there really was no sound bleed to others in the vicinity.
In turn what she really liked about me using them at home is that she can still interrupt mummy's workout with a million questions that have to be answered at that moment! It's a negative feature that is hardly fair to load on Haylou, but the days of total immersion do appear to be over. No more 'do not disturb' because I can't hear you (faked or otherwise) with these.
It's a feature of bone conducting headphones in general, so if you are looking for noise cancelling, then you're looking in the wrong place. That said, Haylou do include a pair of earplugs in the box, should you need to block out surrounding sound. For me this one of the best ways to keep ears protected from loud noises, but still have the intimacy of sound that headphones deliver (although I use my own custom in-ear defenders, and only when I'm using them for non-active activities).
What Haylou don't include in the box however is a box, well a case to be precise. Other than the really handy Bluetooth multipoint, it's the only real departure from bone conducting headphone peers Shokz, which do include a protective case.
This lack of protection leaves the Haylou PurFree's vulnerable to the accidental occurrences that take place when they're not hanging off your ears. I've taken to stowing them away in the presentation box they came in, but it's far from ideal, and too bulky to be sustainable.
When it comes to battery life and charging, I'm yet to find myself out of juice. The audible battery level notification when you first switch on is helpful, although it will take a while of living with the headphones to know how realistic that is. I don't really get more than a handful of hours use between them before I auto pop on recharge, so hope to be able to update this feature as I spend longer with the headphones.
The other feature I'm yet to thoroughly put through it's paces is the connection speed. So far on calls and music it's felt as instant as my Apple Airpod Pros. I've not noticed any signal dropping or delays.
Haylou PurFree: Value
There's no escaping the fact that the Haylou PurFree wireless bone conducting headphones are in direct competition with Shokz Openrun. The only major differences in features are Haylou has the Bluetooth multipoint and the Shokz get the carry case.
The other defining feature is price, which is around £30/$40 mark, with the Haylou being the cheaper option.
It's not a massive amount of money, nor is it something to be ignored. It might be worth checking back to this review to see how they fair after a few months of use; the Shokz Openrun were under testing for several month before our reviewer was confident that the charging issue of the previous models had been dealt with.
If you're in the market to buy right now, I'd say give them a go and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Haylou PurFree: Spec
- Material: Titanium alloy
- Weight: 28g
- Chipset: Qualcomm QCC3044
- Bluetooth: 5.2 Multipoint
- Battery life: 8hrs (Claimed)
- Charge: Magnetic connection USB power
- Waterproof: IP67
- Voice assist: Yes
- Controls: Button
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