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Naenka Runner Pro Bone Conduction headphone review

The perfect audio partner for Triathletes and anyone seeking an earbud alternative that won't wear your ears out

Naenka Runner Pro
(Image: © Future)

Laptop Mag Verdict

Although the Naenka Runner Pro’s are a little niche, they achieve their goal to provide a good audio experience while you conquer your training goals

Pros

  • +

    Haptic audio experience

  • +

    Solid overall audio performance

  • +

    Durable and fully waterproof

  • +

    Physical buttons

  • +

    Extremely comfortable

Cons

  • -

    Middling noise-canceling

  • -

    Battery life when connected via Bluetooth needs improving

Naenka Runner Pro specs

Speaker driver: 16mm speaker

Water resistance: IPX8 waterproof

Built-in storage: 8GB for more than 1,500 songs

Microphone: CVC noise reduction 

Battery: 230 mAh with magnetic USB Type-A charging cable 

Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

Materials: Titanium alloy with soft-touch matte silicone cover

Headset weight: 1.3 ounces

The Naenka Runner Pro bone conduction headphones cost $120 and are just maybe the most fun I’ve ever had reviewing an audio product. When the Naenka headset arrived I was a little intimidated by it, would it fit my massive head and neck? What is this bone conduction you speak of? How’s the audio quality? What do you mean I can use this in the shower or while swimming? 

I had serious questions, and I’m sure you do too, so let's get into why the Naenka Runner Pro’s are so much fun and possibly worth the $120 investment.

Naenka Runner Pro pricing and availability

The Naenka Runner Pro cost $119.99 and they’re really great for active outdoor people who also wish to be aware of their surroundings. And while I have never considered swimming while listening to music, the Runner Pro allows you to do that too and for the price, that's a great option to have if you’re a would-be triathlete. I used them in the shower because waterproof anything is fun. 

Naenka also makes a $57.89 version, the Runner Chic, which arrives with IPX6 water and dust resistance, which is fine for most people. A rating of IPX6 means that the unit is water-resistant up to strong water jets projected by 12.5mm nozzle at any range for a duration of 3 minutes or more. In layman's terms, you can use them in a hurricane and they’ll survive however, they’re not meant to be submerged.

Naenka Runner Pro design

The black matte titanium frame of the Runner Pro is covered in silicon that gives them a very tactile, non-slip feel. The 16mm speaker nodules are at the end of the curvature that goes over your ears, gently placing the speakers just past your ears on your front ear bone area. The underwire that connects both sides is made of titanium and super durable.

Naenka Runner Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The controls are on the bottom right of the module before the curvature, while the left side module houses the battery and 8GB of storage in case you want to run without your phone and just wish to hear music while exercising and not deal with calls. 

The charging cable is a USB Type-A to a proprietary magnetic charging interface which you can also use to upload music directly to the headphones. 

Rated at IPX8, the Runner Pro’s are fully waterproof, which means they can withstand any weather you may deal with on your morning run or a trip to the shower or for swimming. They are rated for depths over 1 meter (3 feet). 

The Naenka Runner Pro are 6.5 x 5.9 x 2 inches and weigh 1.3 ounces, making them a little heavier than the AfterShokz Aeropex bone-conduction sport headphones which measure 4.9 x 3.9 x 1.7 inches and weigh 1.1 ounces.

Naenka Runner Pro comfort and fit

It’s no secret I have a massive head and if I suddenly lean in to hug someone it can be a frightening experience for them. That said, Naenka must have been taking people like me into consideration when they decided on the dimensions for the Runner Pro’s as they fit perfectly and were extremely comfortable even when worn for prolonged periods of time.

Naenka Runner Pro

(Image credit: Future)

I noticed that over time I did prefer the Runner Pro’s over earbuds simply because no matter how well fit or comfortable a pair of buds are, you will eventually tire of them being in your ears. I never experienced that feeling with the Naenka, since they’re not inserted, and simply rest comfortably over your ears, I literally forgot they were there and was reminded only when a call came in. I was also reminded of their existence when I went to take off my sweatshirt but, other than that, you can forget about them because they’re so lightweight and comfortable.

Naenka Runner Pro setup

The setup was painless and quick. Once out of the box and fully charged via the magnetic charger, the Naenka Runner Pro connects to your phone via Bluetooth 5.0. Simply press the volume up (+) button and the LED will flash blue and then red. Then quickly pair up your phone and that’s it you’re done. 

Also, you don’t even need to connect them to your phone as you have the option to take advantage of the 8GB (average 1,500 songs) of built-in storage and upload your music onto the unit. This allows you to go for a long walk, run or swim without any distractions.

Naenka Runner Pro controls

All the controls for the Runner Pro’s are on the right-hand module. There is a power/play/pause button, and volume and track control buttons. There are no controls on the left-hand module.

Naenka Runner Pro

(Image credit: Future)

I like that it uses physical tactile button controls instead of sliding my fingers on a surface or pinching them to change settings. You can answer or end calls by using the power button.

Naenka Runner Pro active noise canceling

The Naenka Runner Pro come with one CVC (clear voice capture) noise-canceling microphone and it did a solid job during calls to filter out background noise as I walked around my neighborhood during rush hour traffic. My voice was clear, the algorithm used to filter out background noise worked fine, however, I found my calls had some noticeable hiss at times.

Naenka Runner Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Personally, I wouldn’t use them to take conference calls but, if you’re out and about and need to take a call, the CVC mic on the Runner Pro will do a nice job of making sure you will be heard clearly above most average background noise. I noticed that it doesn’t do well filtering out louder sounds like a car horn or someone speaking loudly within the same room but it’s usable.

Naenka Runner Pro audio quality

I was initially concerned that the audio would not be great simply because I wasn’t well versed in bone-conducting audio technology. How could they sound good if they’re not in my ears or over my ears? Happily, I can report the Naenka Runner Pro’s deliver a really enjoyable audio experience that was surprising and that I could actually feel. 

With bone conduction headsets you’re going to experience more mid-tones than booming bass or luxurious highs. However, I found that the Runner Pro produced excellent mid-range tones with solid depth and good highs. You’re not going to experience massive thumpy bass like you would with an excellent pair of earbuds or headphones but, there is something else that I did find enjoyable, a haptic-like experience when the Naenka was handling lows and deep bass. 

You can feel the bass and that made for an interesting experience and probably has to do with the large 16mm drivers. However, feeling the bass as opposed to fully hearing it kind of tricked my brain a bit and enhanced the experience. 

So I went for a waddle (my version of a jog) around my neighborhood while listening to Nice and Smooth’s “Hip Hop Junkies” and I enjoyed the clean, clear mid-range audio along with the actual feel of the bass as the bassline line is immediately introduced. The other cool thing is enjoying your music while also clearly hearing all that’s going on around you, it gives you a sense of security. 

I switched things up and listened to Bruno Mars with Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open” with its smooth early 80’s R&B vibe. The headphones delivered hints of bass, the clean piano, drums. I got swept up in Mars’ falsetto and matched with my own which ultimately scared folks because nobody expects falsetto notes out the face of a 6’ 3”. , 250-pound person. Imagine a singing linebacker suddenly appearing, it’s a little disconcerting. 

The Naenka Runner Pro’s overall audio experience is surprisingly good for a bone conduction headset. I was impressed with it’s ability to actually make me feel the music. It made me wish I has access to a pool so that I could dog paddle while listening to music.

Naenka Runner Pro battery and Bluetooth

The Runner Pro comes with a 230 mAh battery and are rated for 6 hours (240 standby time) of playback and use. It took about an hour and a half to fully charge them using the supplied magnetically attached USB Type-A charging cable that also allows you to upload your music.

Naenka Runner Pro

(Image credit: Future)

I found that I averaged about three and half hours of audio playback via Bluetooth. I uploaded some of my music and noticed that I got a full six hours and a little more without using Bluetooth. The latter is great if you know anyone who is going to run for six hours straight, I do not. So particularly if you are willing to pass on the Bluetooth connection you should get a good whole day of use out of them.

The Runner Pro uses Bluetooth 5.0 and it is quick and easy to set up. I never had any connection issues or dropped signals.I left my phone in my bathroom and walked down my hall and out my front door and remained connected over 40 feet. So that’s not bad but, again I really don’t need to connect them to my phone because I have hours of my music loaded up into the 8GB of built-in storage.

Naenka Runner Pro call quality

The call quality with the Naenka Runner Pro is solid and impressive when you take into consideration it only has one CVC microphone handling calls. I called my daughter to discuss this week's outlandish financial request while out for a walk during rush hour traffic in my area. She reported she heard my “No“ very clearly and proceeded to say at times I did sound like I was in a cave, but still clear. She mentioned some light wind noise, but it was a very windy day and I kind of expected that. 

She also heard me clearly when I said yes to her request for me to buy her movie tickets, so at least she’s happy. Overall, the call quality was fine, with the CVC noise-canceling doing a good job of keeping most average noise out so calls are clear.

Bottom line

For $120, you will get a waterproof pair of bone-conducting headphones that you can use while training for your next triathlon. However, even if you’re not a triathlete the Naenka Runner Pro’s are a good option if you’re tired of having buds in your ears or headphones over your ears. The audio quality is solid, and the ability to actually feel your music is a new and enjoyable experience that you too will enjoy. 

The only real complaint I have is the battery life while connected via Bluetooth. Yes, you get a much better battery life if you upload your own music directly to the Naenka Runner Pro but, what if you do not have an expansive music collection? I will add that Naenka states their testing is done with the volume at 65% so they got 5 hours of listening time. I had my volume up 100% all the time and got three-plus hours. So battery life is definitely driven by the settings you use and should be something you keep in mind.

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.