Thank you Mionbel for sending us this product to review!
I remember when the first bone conduction headphones first came out a few years ago. They created quite the buzz (no pun intended - okay I lied) about a new means to listen to music - rather than from speakers or headphones that go on or in your ears, the sound could instead travel through your body itself and reach your eardrums that way. It's an interesting concept, with several potential advantages. In my case, this new M1 from Mionbel is my first exposure to this technology, so I can't compare them to other headphones that use similar tech. What I can do is tell you about these, and how they compare to other types I've heard.
The way these work is that they connect to your phone or other device via Bluetooth, and they rest behind your head. Then there are a set of over the ear loops, and on the end of those there are two pads meant to rest on your temples. Once there, these pads then vibrate, sending the music through your skull into your eardrums. The thing to note here is that your ears are in no way covered up - you can hear what's around you because it still is - all sounds
I might as well make it clear that for people who prioritize sound quality above all else, or for those who want to wall themselves off from their surroundings, these are exactly what you don't want. The primary goal of these is exactly the opposite - to enable you to listen to whatever you like while also being aware of what's around you. I'm quite impressed with how well that works.
Just today, before writing this review, I happened to be on a phone call with my wife, while at the same time I was outside working with my daughter trying to untangle our dog from her leash. It was in that moment when I experienced the magic of these things: I was able to carry on two separate conversations at the same time, and I was able to hear everyone equally well.
I was also really surprised by how well they worked while riding a bicycle. I mean sure the wind noise was certainly there just as you would normally expect, but despite that, I was still able to hear what I was playing, all while remaining aware of my surroundings. If you want to listen to something while biking, and still value your life more than hearing whatever it is that's playing, then something like this is an excellent choice.
It has to be said that as good as they are, I felt like with some content, the volume is a bit lower than I would have preferred. It does advertise that these are safe for your hearing, so it's possible this was a conscious choice, but it's still a bit of a bummer. For example, while I could listen to my preferred podcast just fine at home while wearing these, when I went to the gym, it was too loud in that environment, so these just weren't loud enough. With that said, it would probably be fine if I just wanted my own background music; since I wanted to take in every word they were saying on my podcast, it wasn't enough. I also had an issue with some YouTube videos that aren't mastered at a very high volume; because there isn't a lot of headroom, quieter tracks for videos can be hard to hear.
As for the sound quality itself, it's decent, but with caveats. The mids are a bit recessed compared to other parts of the frequency spectrum, and if you use the included earplugs (which defeats the purpose in my opinion), it gets quite a bit louder - but the frequency response collapses hard. Lower frequencies travel better through solid objects than the air, and vice versa - higher frequencies travel better through the air than objects. As a result, the highs as well as much of the midrange is nearly impossible to hear with earplugs in. At least I can confidently say bone conduction works!
As my introduction to bone conduction headphones, the Mionbel M1 is an interesting lot. For the price, it offers a comfortable headset with a decent microphone and good enough sound quality (though not spectacular). I do wish it was a bit louder so I could use it at the gym, and I love how you can hear your environment when that is desirable. After hours of use it never bothered me enough to want to take it off, though I could tell where it touched my head once I did remove it - so much vibration in the same spot left my temples slightly tender, but not uncomfortably so. Based on my testing, the battery life is decent and the promised six hours seems close enough. If you are curious about bone conduction headphones, or if you want something to use while doing outdoor activities where keeping taps on your surroundings is desirable, take a good look at the Mionbel M1 - especially if it retains the discounted sale price!