In the world of sports headphones, there’s never been more sets that promise to be the perfect partner when you’re getting into some sweaty HIIT action or needing to put that Spotify playlist to good use. training during a lung training run.
The Philips TAA6606BK are another pair of headphones that deliver on those promises and adopt bone conduction technology to bring that sound to your ears more safely.
At £99.99, they’re ready to give Shokz, the dominators in bone conduction sports headphones, a run for their money. It aims to do so with an IP67 water and dust resistant design, a running safety light to keep you visible during night runs and the promise of up to 9 hours of battery life. Crucially, it also promises the kind of bass sound that bone conduction headphones usually lack.
So could the Philips TAA6606BK be the headphones you need when you go for a run? We put them to the test to find out.
The Philips TAA6606BK are available to buy at £99.99. Compare this to other top sport bone conduction headphones and it’s £30 cheaper than something like the Shokz Openrun but around £10 more expensive than the more affordable Openmove Shokz headphones. These give you extras like the running safety light, two listening modes, and the promise of longer battery life compared to the two Shokz headphones.
Like many bone conduction headphones you can buy right now, the Philips TAA6606BK offer an open-ear fit, so they don’t overgrow your ears and sit just in front of the ears. From there, it can go through the process of letting the transducers send vibrations through the cheekbones and jawline, where the brain can then get to work processing it, converting those vibrations into sound.
Philips does this from a relatively slim neckband design that’s been slapped with an IP67 water and dust resistance rating, meaning it’s built for rain and sweat and after having been caught in the rain on the run a few times with them, they survived those downpours with no problems to report.
This slim, neckband design gets a little thicker behind the ears to make room for physical controls that let you tinker with the volume or skip tracks back and forth. There’s also a multi-function button on the left side of the headset, allowing you to play and pause audio or answer and reject phone calls with an onboard microphone for hands-free talking. Fortunately, that doesn’t make them cumbersome to use and the controls overall work well on the move, with volume up and volume down buttons perhaps too close together for our liking.
Holding these buttons down for two seconds to skip tracks often meant turning up the volume in the process so that a particular control took over the mastering.
To add to its user-friendly credentials, Philips has dropped LED lights that act as traffic lights that can flash slowly, quickly, or stay constant to give you better visibility. You can’t turn them on from the headphones themselves, you have to download the Philips companion phone app, where you can choose from your lighting mode before you start running. It’s not the kind of light that’s going to dazzle other pedestrians like a headlamp, but it will help ensure you’re seen a little better during night runs.
This app is also where you can look to better match the audio performance to what you’re listening to. Typically, bone conduction headphones give you a listening profile, and while they tend to put more emphasis on clarity and detail, they tend to disappoint when it comes to warmth, bass and overall power.
On these headphones, you can use this app to choose between a bass or vocal listening mode, with the former giving you a noticeably fatter, bassier sound, but that means these drivers can sometimes vibrate a little more intensely. at higher volumes. means sounds fill your ears better when outdoors and still give you a strong awareness of your surroundings. In voice mode things sound noticeably quieter and make them better suited for handling calls and listening to podcasts, but it does sound quite mild in comparison when bass mode is in play.
However, opting for this bass mode seems to have a noticeable impact on the kind of battery life you can get from these headphones. Philips suggests that the built-in 155mAh battery will give you 9 hours of music time and 8 hours of talk time. With bass listening mode in use, one hour of operation saw the battery drop by 20 per cent. So in this mode it’s closer to 5 hours. It’s less in voice mode, but if you also activate the running light, it will also affect the battery. Fortunately, it uses Type-C charging, with a covered compartment under the helmet to store the port. You just need to make sure to close it once you’re done charging to keep sweat and rain out.
Like all bone conduction headphones, you make sacrifices in sound performance compared to standard headphones or earbuds that sit over or inside your ears. Philips did, however, manage to produce a pair that managed to elevate the sound to something warmer and more rewarding. You’ll just have to sacrifice battery life when you do.
The Philips TAA6606BK are inevitably going to be compared to bone conduction sports headphones made by Shokz (formerly AfterShokz), as they have been the leader in the field for quite some time. They’re not the only brand making them, but others are largely made by smaller, lesser-known brands that can offer a mix of results.
We’d say the Philips headphones hold up well against the competition. Compared to the more expensive Shokz OpenRun, the Shokz headset offers a thinner, lighter and more versatile look and while it can’t match that low power option you have on the TAA6606BK, the sound does seem a bit more balanced. on them.
The OpenRun also offers an IP67 water and dust resistance rating and actually promises a shorter battery life of 8 hours and an exclusive charging method, it offers a useful quick charge feature and should comfortably meet that 8-hour battery demand.
The OpenRun can’t match those user-friendly extras like traffic lights and doesn’t have a companion app to offer another way to control music playback.
The Philips headphones clearly give you more power in the sound department and control if these are the key to what you expect from bone conduction headphones designed for running and exercising.
When Shokz has dominated the bone conduction sport headphones space for so long and more runners are looking for headphones that don’t block the world, it’s refreshing to see more options. In the Philips TAA6606BK we have a pair that addresses one of the biggest gripes about them overall by delivering a more serious sound profile. These headphones can deliver that while ensuring you’re well aware of busy roads and traffic.
Yes, that lower bass sound comes at the cost of battery life, but you have an easy way to recharge them and they should be good for a good week’s practice. Also, if you enjoy running outdoors and like the idea of a little more visibility, running lights are also a good idea. If you’re looking for running or sports-focused headphones that don’t bulk up your ears but can still deliver good sound and a comfortable fit, these might be for you.