When we talk about audio peripheral brands, the name Haylou isn’t probably the first that comes to your mind. With the increase in demand and varying needs of consumer audio devices, many form factors have bubbled up in the past few years, giving people maximum flexibility to choose the ones which suit them the best. Truly Wireless and Neckband Style headphones are some of the most popular form factors as of writing this.
But what if we told you there’s another form factor that doesn’t deliver on the sound aspect but clutches on the comfort aspect? Bone Conduction headphones are a growing breed, grabbing lots of attention from fitness enthusiasts. Haylou reached out to us to test their PurFree BC01 bone conduction headphones, and I was pretty surprised. Here’s my review of the Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction headphones.
Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones Review
Let’s start with the box contents and then move on to the design, sound quality, comfort, battery life, and how it compares to other headphones. In the end, let’s find out if you should buy it.
Haylou PurFree Box Contents and Specifications
- Haylou PurFree Bone Conduction Headphones
- Magnetic charging cable.
- User manual.
|Build Material||Titanium alloy with rubberized texture.|
|Audio chipset||Qualcomm QCC3044|
|Claimed battery life||8 hours, 165mAh. 2 hours of playback in 10 minutes with fast charging.|
|Noise-canceling||Yes, cVc with 2 mics.|
|Audio codecs||AAC, Qualcomm aptX|
Build Quality & Design
The build quality of PurFree BC01 is excellent. The grippy rubberized texture combined with the highly flexible neckband offers outstanding comfort that’s second to none. The overall footprint of the neckband is relatively small compared to in-ear neckband style earphones, and that’s because they don’t sit on your neck but rather slightly above it where your hair starts.
The left side of the earphone probably houses the battery and is empty, with Haylou branding on the front and regulatory labels at the back. The volume up and down buttons are on the right side with the magnetic contacts for charging.
While the right earbud is empty, the left houses a button with a nice Haylou logo, which can take or cancel calls, control music, and trigger the Google Assistant. Weirdly though, major headset operations like powering it on, pairing, and turning on dual-connectivity are paired to the volume up button and not the single button on the left pod.
The earbuds rest slightly beside your earlobe, and the hooks, similar to what we find on IEMs, ensure the earbuds stay in place during intense workouts. Overall, the earphones look and feel very premium and are, hands down, one of the most comfortable pairs that I’ve tried.
Sound Quality and Loudness
All the audiophiles reading this should skip to the next section, as these headphones don’t produce sublime sound because they aren’t meant to. I’ve had a few issues with the sound quality (which I’m not going to dwell deeply into), the loudness, and a few factors that make the experience less enjoyable.
Starting with the sound quality, remember the on-ear earphones that came bundled with Nokia phones? The PurFree BC01 sound a little fuller and wider with clearer vocals than the Nokia, but the overall listening experience is more or less the same. Now, this is, by no means, an insult to the PurFree BC01, as the old Nokia headsets sounded pretty average, but you should remember that Haylou’s focus isn’t on the sound quality.
The vocals are crisp and clear, and the audio separation is decent. What’s not decent, though, are the high frequencies. The lows are recessed, understandably, because they’re difficult to produce by the vibrating pods. I wish they had slightly more pitched-up highs and a more V-shaped sound because when used outdoors, the headphones tend to sound tiny, especially in the subcontinent, where there’s usually a lot going on the streets (People love constantly honking, even when the streets are empty). I could not make out the lyrics even at max volume.
And that’s when another problem arises. Raising the volume to the maximum, the vibrations from the headphones, due to the vocals, could tickle your earlobes, depending on how sensitive they are. Mine are pretty sensitive, and the listening experience was pretty discomforting.
This could be purely subjective, though. Turning the volume low eased the problem, but I couldn’t hear the vocals due to the low sound, and the instruments faded into the background noise. I could feel the tickling sensation when listening to chiptune music like Kubbi’s Ember or vocal-heavy music like Lagtrain by Inabakumori and Ghosts by Mike Shinoda.
At the end of the day, these aren’t your audiophile-level headphones or even your average daily commute on-the-go headphones. They’re solely marketed as sports and activity headphones, and I’m glad to report that they cling to your ear like a harpy eagle while running or playing any sport.
Another problem I faced was when listening to music at a high volume—the music leaks. However, lowering it below 60% volume seems to make it better, but then the sound was too tiny for my liking.
The microphones, on the other hand, sound pretty good. During our testing, the microphones picked up my sound clearly, and the party on the other side had no issues listening to me, even in harsh windy conditions. A big thumbs up for that.
How do they perform on the field?
It’s Cricket season, so what better way to test them than playing the sport? While the hooks help the headphones stay incredibly well on your ears, the rubberized coating will help them stick if you sweat a lot. I wore the BC01s during the entirety of a few matches, and they refused to come off while sprinting, even with excessive head shaking. What’s even better is they’re so light that you can wear them and forget that they’re even sitting on your ears.
Battery life and Misc
The PurFree BC01 comes with a 165mAh cell, and Haylou promises around 8 hours of battery life. Like other manufacturers, we found this claim to be a little too ambitious as we could only squeeze around 6 hours of battery life. Mind you; this was achieved with the volume set to the maximum all the time. Now, six hours is alright battery life; however, it could’ve been extended by a significant margin had Haylou included an auto-off feature.
Speaking of battery, the charging times are reasonable. The headset charged from “low” to 100% in just above an hour and a half, which is pretty good. Although we wish the headset incorporated a Type-C charging port instead of a magnetic charger. The length of the charging cable is slender, but the magnetic connector is strong.
Dual device connectivity is one of the best selling points of the device. As someone who daily drives Sony’s WH-1000XM4, the feature in the HC01 is on par with Sony’s implementation. However, what’s not on par is the process you need to follow to enable it. To give credit to Haylou, the process is mentioned in the user manual but is a little lengthy.
Another gripe that I have with the earphone is its voice alerts. Power it on, and it doesn’t tell you exactly how much battery is left. There are only three indicators—”battery high,” “battery medium,” and “recharge me.”
Bone conduction headphones are underrated
If there’s one thing I’ve realized while reviewing these headphones is that bone conduction tech is extremely underrated. Imagine being able to enjoy music and podcasts without being disconnected from the outside world. Noise-canceling headphones/earphones increase the risk of accidents, whereas, with bone conduction headphones, you can be aware of your surroundings, reducing the risk of accidents. Not to mention, you don’t need to take off your headsets when talking to someone. Just press the pause button, start talking, and press it again once you’re done.
Haylou PurFree BC01: Closing thoughts
While I wish the sound quality were better, getting everything right in such a small package and form factor is impossible. The Haylou PurFree BC01 checks most of the boxes compared to the competition. However, at $100, it isn’t the cheapest earphone out there and puts it against some of the best-selling TWS earphones like Apple’s 2nd Gen AirPods. Haylou is currently running a sale on the BC01s on Amazon, where it dropped its price from $120 to $99, with an additional $15 off after applying a coupon. This brings the price down to $75, which makes it an excellent buy.
However, it is essential to understand the niche Haylou’s targeting here: anyone who wants to listen to music while working out and not feel disconnected from the world. If you need workout headphones or want to be aware of your surroundings while listening to music, the Haylou PurFree BC01 headphones are an excellent choice. However, Xiaomi has recently launched a bone conduction earphone with better battery life and a similar feature set for an identical price, which makes it worth checking out.
Haylou PurFree BC01