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I Hated Earbuds — Shokz OpenFit Changed My Mind

I'm happy to kiss ear discomfort goodbye with Shokz OpenFit.

Shozk OpenFit earbud review(Photo/Sean McCoy)
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Earbuds. They’re ubiquitous in offices, on busy streets, at homes … you name it. But, I’ve never been one to buy in. The majority of earbuds sit in your ears. And apparently, I’m a little sensitive. I find almost anything in my ears uncomfortable for more than short stints.

Enter Shokz OpenFit. The brand has made other, similar models in the past, but this is the first true wireless offering from the company. Shokz’s first foray into this market hit the sweet spot for me because of its comfort, sound quality, and appearance. And as a major bonus, the Shokz OpenFit gives wearers much more situational awareness than competing in-ear audio devices.

In short: Shokz OpenFit is a comfortable earbud that sits outside the ear canal, yet attaches firmly with a loop over the earlobe. And after a month of testing, I love them with some caveats — minor distortion at higher volumes and a slightly funky pairing method. But neither is a deal breaker.

Shokz OpenFit


  • Microphone type AI Call Noise Cancellation technology
  • Speaker type Air conduction transducer
  • Wireless range Up to 33 ft. (10 m)
  • Continuous play time Up to 7 hours of listening on a single full charge
  • Standby time Up to 10 days
  • Charge time Charge the earbuds with the charging case: 60 min.
  • Weight 8.3 g per earbud; Charging case: 57 g
  • IP rating IP54 water-resistant; charging case is not waterproof


  • Comfortable
  • Good sound
  • Secure fit
  • Great microphone


  • Minor base distortion at higher volumes
  • Case needed to change devices

Shokz OpenFit Review: How They Work

Anyone familiar with earbuds will know the drill. You store the OpenFit in a pocketable case that will charge them up to three times. The pod charges via USB-C.

To use these the first time, open the storage pod, and a small light flashes orange and green, indicating the earbuds are in pairing mode. Hop on your device, find the Bluetooth settings, find the buds, and connect. Bing, bang, boom.

That part is super easy. The somewhat trickier part is if you want to switch devices — say, going from your phone to your computer for a meeting.

To do so, you have to place the OpenFit buds back into the case. Once the light turns back on, you touch both earbuds for a few seconds, and the light will begin flashing again. That again indicates it’s in pairing mode. There is no way to switch pairing without the case or add a second device.

The buds will remember their last device connected, otherwise, back in the case to switch them. It’s not a big deal, but a minor quirk that took a minute to get used to.

Fit Is Everything

Let’s talk comfort for a minute because it’s a big selling point to me. These feel great, especially if, like me, you can’t tolerate the pressure of something in your ears for long spans.

Shokz OpenFit Earbud Review

They sit securely outside the ear canal, with the soft plastic band wrapping over and behind the ear lobe. This makes them very secure as well. I wore them running, and they don’t budge. They are IP54 water-resistant, so sweat or light rain should be no problem.

Shokz claims a 28-hour battery life. I never wore out a battery in testing, but continuously stored them in the case. The OpenFit easily got me through a 10-hour workday.

Shokz OpenFit Review: A Music Listening Session

I put the Shokz OpenFits over my ears and let the music rip. Already connected to my phone, the earbuds fired up immediately without me having to push play. That can be a little alarming the first time, but not a big deal.

First up was Tyler Childers’ “Bus Route,” which had been playing in my car during an afternoon errand. I immediately picked up so much more nuance than over car speakers — the subtle layering of strings and jaw harp underpinned by a creamy and deep standup bass. Childers’ distinctive twang carried the song straight to the heart of Americana.

Shokz OpenFit Review

Next up, RAYE’s “Escapism” seemed to test the capabilities of the small earbuds. It sounded solid, but the steady rolling bass seemed to overpower the kickdrum, which distorted. Listening back to back with my Sonos Beam, I definitely noticed a dropoff in the lower-end audio. But for a comfortable earbud that fits in your pocket, they were entirely serviceable.

To try and give the Shokz a home run to wrap up my listening/writing session, I fed them one of my go-to focus songs: Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”

The OpenFit held its own against the powerful guitar riffs, beating drums, and soaring vocals at lower volumes. But pushing into the higher range of appropriate Metallica-listening volume, a bit of distortion still crept in, again centered around the kick drum.

So, are these studio-quality headphones? No. Will they replace your over-ear headphones for close audio listening? No. But will they be great for everyday use, exercise, taking Zoom meetings, and whatnot? Absolutely, and they’ll do it with a lot of comfort lacking in other buds.

Shokz OpenFit is available for order today in beige and black for $180.

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