Philips TAA6606BK Bone Conduction Headphones Review: Safe and Secure

In the world of sports headphones, there’s never been more groups that promise to be the perfect partner when you’re down for some sweaty HIIT work or need to put your Spotify workout playlist to good use on a lung-breaking training run.

The Philips TAA6606BK is another pair of headphones that deliver on those promises and adopt bone conduction technology to bring that sound to your ears in a safer way.

At £99.99, they are set to give Shokz, dominant in the bone conduction sports headphone space, a run for their money. It aims to do this with an IP67 waterproof and dustproof design, a working safety light to keep you visible during nighttime operation and a promise of up to 9 hours of battery life. Crucially, it also promises the kind of bassy sound that bone conduction headphones typically don’t.

So could the Philips TAA6606BK be the headphones you need to grab when you’re out for a run? We tested them to find out.

price

The Philips TAA6606BK is available to buy at £99.99. Compare that to other bone-conducting sports headphones, which are £30 cheaper than something like the Shokz Openrun, but about £10 more expensive than the more affordable Shokz Openmove headphones. These additional features like a safety light while on and two listening modes give you the promise of longer battery life versus both Shokz headphones.

Features

Much like the bone conduction headphones you can buy right now, the Philips TAA6606BK offers an open-ear fit, so it doesn’t invade your ears and just sits in front of the ears. From there it can go through the process of allowing transducers to send vibrations through the cheekbones and jaw, where the brain can then begin processing the work of converting those vibrations into sounds.

Philips does this by designing a relatively thin neck strap that has been smacked with an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance, which means it’s built for rain and sweat and they’ve gotten stuck in multiple times while running with them, and they’ve survived those heavy rains. There are no issues to report.

This slim neck design gets a little thicker around the back of the ears to make room for the physical controls that let you fiddle with volume or skip tracks back and forth. There’s also a multifunction button on the left side of the headphones, allowing you to play and pause audio or answer and reject phone calls using an onboard microphone for hands-free talking. It doesn’t fortunately make it heavy to operate, and the controls over the entirety work well on the go, with the volume up and down buttons probably located very close together.

Pressing these buttons for two seconds to skip tracks often means raising the volume in the process so that the particular control takes on a mastery.

To add to the convenient operation credentials, Philips has dropped LED lights on this business as running lights that can flash slowly, quickly or remain steady to give you increased visibility. You can’t turn it on from the headphones themselves, you need to download the companion phone app from Philips, where you can choose from which lighting mode is on before starting. The light won’t shine on other pedestrians like a headlamp, but it will help make sure you see a little better at night.

This app is also where you can strive to customize better audio performance for what you’re listening to. Bone conduction headphones usually give you one listening profile, and while they tend to focus more on clarity and detail, they tend to get frustrated in the overall warmth, bass, and power departments.

On these headphones you can use this app to choose between bass or bass listening modes, the former gives you significantly more volume, but this means that these transducers can sometimes vibrate a little more intensely at higher volume levels. It fills your ears better outdoors and still gives you a strong awareness of your surroundings. In audio mode, things look noticeably muffled and make it more convenient to handle calls and listen to podcasts, but it sounds pretty mediocre compared to when the bass mode is on.

Choosing 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 155mAh battery will give you 9 hours of music time and 8 hours of talk time. With the bass listening mode in use, an hour of playback saw a 20% battery drop. So in this mode, it’s closer to 5 hours. It’s lower in sound mode, but if you enable the running light as well, it will hurt the battery as well. Fortunately, it uses Type-C charging, with a covered compartment on the underside of the headphones stashing the port away. Just make sure to close it after charging is done to prevent sweat and rain from getting in.

Like all bone conduction headphones, you’re making sacrifices in audio performance compared to regular headphones or headphones that fit on or in your ears. Although Philips has managed to produce a pair that manages to elevate the sound to something warmer and more rewarding. You’ll just have to sacrifice battery life when you do that.

comparisons

The Philips TAA6606BK will inevitably be compared to the bone conduction sports headphones made by Shokz (formerly AfterShokz) because they have been an industry leader for some time. It’s not the only brand that makes it, but others are largely made by smaller, lesser known brands that can deliver a mix of results.

We might say that Philips headphones stand up to the competition quite well. Compared to the more expensive Shokz OpenRun headphones, the Shokz headphones offer a thinner, lighter overall look, and while they don’t match the power option you have on the TAA6606BK, the sound feels more balanced on them.

The OpenRun also offers an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance and actually promises a shorter 8-hour battery life and a proprietary charging method, it offers a useful fast charging feature and should comfortably meet the 8-hour battery claim.

OpenRun can’t match playback-friendly plugins like Running Lights and doesn’t have a companion app to offer an alternative way to control music playback.

Philips headphones obviously give you more power in the audio and controls department if that’s the key to what you want from a bone conduction headphones designed for running and exercise.

to rule

When Shokz has dominated the bone conduction sports headphone space for so long, and more runners are looking for headphones that don’t block the world, it’s refreshing to see more options out there. At the Philips TAA6606BK we have a pair that addresses one of the biggest issues with them overall by offering a more attractive sound profile. These headphones can provide just that while making sure you are aware of busy roads and traffic.

Yes, that bass comes at the cost of battery life, but you have a simple way to charge it up and it should be good for a good week of training. Plus, if you like running outside and want an extra amount of visibility, running lights are a nice touch as well. If you’re looking for some running or sports-focused headphones that don’t cramp your ears but still can deliver good sound and a comfortable fit, then these might be right on your street.

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