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Working for a running magazine means we often get items to test. Lately I’ve had a variety of music-related items crossing my path, so I roped in a running buddy to test two Bluetooth-compatible devices with me. We each synced our phones to one and then switched halfway (when we made apologies for our musical selections!). Honestly we weren’t rocking out to either of these—since we were running together—but we did vary the volume along the way. Neither of us took a phone call either, but you can do that with both.
LG Tone Active
This device sits around your neck and the earbuds are retractable, so you pull them out to stick them in your ears and then the cords pull the earbuds back to little storage slots. At $129, you are certainly paying for this ingenuity that allows you to be free of tangling cords, but the device also feels well-made and substantial (though not heavy). You can definitely feel it around your neck, but neither of us found it bothersome and it didn’t bounce around. One of the earbuds popped out for me at one point, but there are two different sizes so you can pick your best fit. If you like to listen to music in one ear (so you can still hear traffic or have a convo with your run bud), this is ideal for you.
AfterShokz Bluez 2
It took us a bit to figure out how these $80 bone-conduction headphones work: The speakers loop over your ears and the band connecting them sits low toward your neck to ensure that the speakers are in the right place for the “bone conduction” to work—which means the sound comes through your cheekbones. It’s not as weird as it sounds, but it is interesting to run without anything in your ears—convenient for safety as well as group runs. Because your ears are picking up other sounds, that airplane overhead may drown out the tunes, and you may have to tinker with the volume, but, don’t worry, you won’t be blasting everyone around you. I found the weight of the band bent my ears over a little (I do have a child-size skull), so I couldn’t see using these on very long runs. They come with an adjustable tension band so you can dial in the fit.