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Haylou PurFree BC01 Headphones Review: A Great Value for Active Lifestyles

Rating: 7/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $100
Haylou Bone Conduction Headphones resting on bench
Kelly Hodgkins / Review Geek

Bone conduction headphones are outliers in the market, sounding more like a superhero prop than a serious audio accessory. But don’t be fooled. Headphones like the Haylou PurFree BC01s are so good at managing ambient sound that you just may add one of these unusual cans to your collection.

Bone conduction headphones, including the Haylou PurFree BC01s, are more than a gimmick. They deliver decent sound and are comfortable to wear even while exercising. Best of all, they provide a situational awareness you just can’t get from most wireless earbuds. It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. There are some drawbacks to these novel headphones, and not everyone will like them. Who will best appreciate their unique features? Read on to find out.

Here's What We Like

  • Good for audiobooks, podcasts
  • Allows situational awareness
  • Comfortable, waterproof design
  • Effective noise cancellation
  • Good battery life with fast charging

And What We Don't

  • Not for audiophiles
  • Proprietary charging cable
  • One size doesn't fit all
  • Can't use while lying down

Review Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

How Bone Conduction Headphones Work

Before I delve into the pros and cons of the Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones, it’s helpful to know how bone conduction technology actually works. Most headphones and earbuds transmit sound through air conduction; the sound waves travel down the ear canal and into the eardrum, which vibrates. Your brain then converts these vibrations into sounds.

Bone conduction bypasses both the ear canal and eardrum. It relays sounds directly to the inner ear (cochlea) through vibrations applied to the cheekbones. It’s similar to how Beethoven could still hear his piano as he lost his hearing. The composer held one end of a pencil or wooden baton in his teeth and the other on the piano while he played. The baton would vibrate from the piano’s sounds, allowing his brain to interpret the sounds he was playing.

Lightweight, Comfortable Design

Woman wearing the Haylou PurFree BC01 headphones
Kelly Hodgkins / Review Geek

  • Material: Titanium alloy
  • Weight: 1oz (28g)
  • Dimensions: ‎1.77 x 4.92 x 0.39in (45 x 125 x 10mm)

The Haylou PurFree BC01 Headphones contain 2 bone conduction transducers which are connected via a lightweight, flexible band. They feature a swan neck design that slips over your ears and wraps around the back of your head with a slightly-grippy silicone band covering that feels soft against your skin. These headphones weigh a mere 1oz (28g), so you hardly feel them on your ears.

It’s a one-size-fits-all headphone solution, which is unfortunate. The band is roomy and will accommodate even the widest heads, but it’s not adjustable. I have a smaller head, and the band felt huge on me. Instead of hugging my neck, it extended several inches from the back of my head, getting caught on the hood of my sweatshirt and pushing against the back of my neck when I tilted my head to look upwards.

That’s the thing with bone conduction—it only works when there’s physical contact with your cheekbones. Every time I bumped the band, it shifted its position, and I could no longer hear my music. This also made it difficult to wear the headphones while reclining in a chair or lying in bed without disrupting the middle of a song. The band fit my husband perfectly, and he didn’t have any issues wearing the headphones.

Balanced but Mediocre Sound

The PurFree BC01 open ear design delivers a balanced sound suitable for all music types. That’s not because it’s outstanding, but because the sound quality falls right down the middle. There’s bass, but it isn’t overly heavy. Treble is also present, but it isn’t shockingly high. Listening to music is enjoyable, but you won’t be blown away by the experience.

You can tell the difference between bone conduction headphones and typical earbuds or over-the-ear headphones. The sound quality isn’t nearly as dynamic or rich. If you prefer to listen to podcasts and audiobooks, the Haylou PurFree BC01 is an exceptional choice. But for audiophiles, these are not the headphones for you.

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Mostly Good Vibrations

Haylou PurFree BC01 Hanging on a post
Kelly Hodgkins / Review Geek

For bone conduction to work, the sides of the headphones must sit securely against your cheekbones right next to your ear. You don’t feel the vibration of the headphone’s bone conduction at lower volumes, but that changes when you crank it up. The part that sits on your cheekbone vibrates significantly at maximum volume, which isn’t painful, but it is noticeable and mildly annoying.

Outstanding for Athletics

  • Waterproof: Yes
  • IP rating: IP67

The PurFree BC01 headphones can be worn at home or the office, but they were designed with activity in mind. The band was surprisingly secure and didn’t move while I was running or lifting weights. It only shifted when something, like the hood of my sweatshirt, bumped it.

The Haylou headphones were comfortable, too. They didn’t pinch my ears or put pressure on my cheekbones. I wore them for hours without any issues. I found them to be more comfortable than typical in-ear buds, which have a way of irritating the inside of your ear after an hour or two of exercise. The PurFree BC01s also come with the peace of mind that they won’t fall out and crash to the ground, unlike in-ear listening solutions.

Their IP67 waterproof rating means the BC01 Headphones can comfortably withstand sweat and light rain. You cannot wear them for swimming, though. If you need to be submerged in water, you should check out Shokz OpenSwim Bone Conduction Headphones instead. These IP68-rated headphones can be submerged in 2-meters of water for up to two hours—perfect for pool sessions at the gym.

Shokz OpenSwim Bone Conduction Headphones

Want to add some tunes to your aquatic endeavors? These bone conduction headphones are with you every breaststroke of the way.

Effective Noise Cancellation, Glitchy Bluetooth

Haylou PurFree BC01 Transducer
Kelly Hodgkins / Review Geek

  • Chipset: Qualcomm QCC3044
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
  • Tranmission range: 32ft (10m)
  • Audio codec: SBC/aptX
  • Supported Protocols: A2DP/AVRCP/HFP/HSP
  • Dual device connection: Yes
  • Noise Cancellation: cVc + 2MICs

The Haylou PurFree BC01s offer dual-mic noise cancellation, which worked surprisingly well for a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The call quality was clear and the noise cancellation effectively muted the background noise, making it possible to be heard on the other end even in less-than-quiet environments.

You can hear the noise cancellation in the audio clip below. I was sitting directly next to a window fan and experienced only minimal distortion in my voice. The person on the other line could hear me perfectly, even with the slight change in call quality.

Haylou PurFree BC01 Mic Test in a Quiet Environment

Haylou PurFree BC01 Mic Test in a Noisy Environment

The PurFree BC01 headphones have three buttons that are easy to find with your fingers. One multi-function button for play/pause can activate Siri or Google Assistant. To the right, there also are “+” and “-” buttons that raise or lower the volume on your phone. The “+” also serves as the power and Bluetooth pairing button.

These bone conduction headphones also feature multipoint Bluetooth, meaning they can pair with multiple devices at once. I was able to pair the BC01s with both my MacBook Pro and iPhone. The headphones switched between the two devices, but not as seamlessly as I would like. I did have to disconnect one device to connect with the other.

Battery Life: Surprisingly Strong

Haylou PurFree BC01 Charging Port
Kelly Hodgkins / Review Geek

  • Battery life: 8H
  • Capacity: 165 mAh Li-ion polymer battery
  • Charging port: Magnetic attraction
  • Fast charge: 10min-2H

Battery life was surprisingly good, delivering up to eight hours of playback time. I used the headphones intermittently throughout the day and only had to charge them twice a week. Unfortunately, the Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones use a proprietary magnetic charger.

The magnetic port makes charging easy, but the proprietary connector is not convenient. You have to carry an extra charging cable when you travel, which makes yet another thing to keep track of. If you lose it, you have to purchase and then wait for a replacement before you can charge your headphones again.

On the plus side, Haylou does support fast charging, allowing you to fully recharge in only one and a half hours. If you need a short burst of power, you can plug them in for 10 minutes to get 2 hours of playtime.

Should You Buy Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones?

Like all bone conduction headphones, the Haylou PurFree BC01 Headphones let you listen to music and hear your surroundings simultaneously. This open-ear design is a game changer for someone who likes the outdoors. I wore the headphones while trail-running and was no longer startled by mountain bikers trying to pass or other runners coming up from behind me. I could groove to my music and still hear everything around me.

There’s more to bone conduction than sports and situational awareness, though. It’s also discrete. Unless the headphones were near maximum volume, people didn’t even know I was listening to tunes while talking to them. It also has a medical benefit; because bone conduction headphones don’t transmit sound via eardrums, they also work well for those with ear damage or hearing impairments.

Not everyone is going to like the PurFree BC01s. Unfortunately for some, they are only available in the black color scheme as seen in this review. If you want a splash of color, you should consider the Shokz OpenRun Pro, available in blue, pink, white, and black. If you’re not sold on bone conduction and just want straightforward, quality earbuds, take a look at the Sony WF-1000XM4 set. They offer an ambient mode, impeccable sound quality, and outstanding noise cancellation.

Otherwise, for a solid exercise partner at a price that won’t break the bank, you can own Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones for $120.

Rating: 7/10
Price: $100

Here’s What We Like

  • Good for audiobooks, podcasts
  • Allows situational awareness
  • Comfortable, waterproof design
  • Effective noise cancellation
  • Good battery life with fast charging

And What We Don't

  • Not for audiophiles
  • Proprietary charging cable
  • One size doesn't fit all
  • Can't use while lying down

Kelly Hodgkins Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years at sites like Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR, among others. Living near the mountains, she gets outside backpacking, hiking, and trail running any chance she can get. And with a background in science and technology, she brings digital know-how to her backcountry ramblings. Read Full Bio »