With their open-ear design, bone conduction headphones are comfortable and allow to you hear your surroundings clearly. In this review, I’m looking at the Padmate S30 bone conduction headphones. The S30 provides up to 8 hours of calls and music and has an IPX5 rating, so you don’t have to worry about sweat or rain. It retails for $59.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Padmate for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Package and Accessories
The S30 comes in a simple white box with an illustration of the headphones on the front. Inside the box, you get the Padmate S30, a USB Type-C charging cable, a pair of foam earplugs and some documentation.
The S30 is primarily made from plastic, although the frame is a spring steel rod with a rubberized coating. There are also silicone pads on the front of the transducers to add stability and comfort.
The headphones are available in 3 colourways: black, dark green and grey with orange. There is a USB Type-C port for charging the battery under the right earpiece. On the side of the right earpiece is a single multi-function button. The button controls are:
Long press: Power On/Off
Single click: Play/Pause
Double click: Activate voice assistant
Triple click: Next track
Quadruple click: Previous track
In terms of comfort, the S30 is great. The headphones are very lightweight and have little clamping force, so you barely notice they’re there at all. S30 is also compatible with glasses, so if you wear glasses you will feel right at home wearing these headphones.
Because there’s nothing inside your ears, there isn’t really any passive noise isolation which is great if you want to talk to people or be more aware of your surroundings.
There’s no need to worry about sweating or getting caught in the rain thanks to the S30’s IPX5 water-resistance rating. So if you’re into outdoor sports like hiking, running and cycling etc. these would make a good companion.
Battery Life and Call Quality
S30’s battery life is rated at over 8 hours at 50% volume and 6 hours at 100% volume. In addition, the S30 has 150 hours of standby time.
When it comes to call quality, the built-in microphones are not great. My voice sounds quite muffled plus there is a lot of compression and artefacts present. It’s possible to make calls using the headphones but not something I’d recommend unless necessary.
If you have used bone conduction headphones before then you’ll probably have some idea how the S30 sounds. However, for those of you who haven’t tried any, I will do my best to explain what it’s like.
First of all, there’s not much in the way of bass quantity. You can hear mid-bass notes and the bass is generally fast and tight. But when it comes to sub-bass notes, you’ll feel the vibrations more than you’ll hear the actual sound. For most music though, the bass is sufficient enough that you won’t feel like you’re missing too much.
It’s in the midrange where the S30 comes to life. For that reason, bone conduction headphones perform extremely well with podcasts and audiobooks plus vocal and acoustic music genres.
Vocals and instruments come through with good articulation and clarity. I don’t know much about the driver technology used in bone conduction headphones but the transients speed and instrument separation are pretty satisfactory.
Female vocals and certain upper midrange notes can be a little shouty at high volume but for the most part, the overall tonality is good albeit somewhat lean and a touch dry. The treble is a bit laid back and sits just behind the midrange.
Most of the emphasis is on the lower treble while the upper treble is fairly rolled-off. Yet because of the light bass quantity, the treble still sounds crisp and airy. However, there’s not a great deal of extension in the highs and detail retrieval is only moderate.
The Padmate S30 is a solid bone conduction headphone and one of the more affordable models out there. It has great build quality, good battery life and is comfortable to wear. They’re especially handy if you want to hear music or podcasts and still be aware of your surroundings. You probably won’t be blown away by the audio quality but if you’re into outdoor sports and activities such as running, cycling or hiking, these are a great thing to have.