Haylou is one of these obscure brands that you probably never heard of. It’s also the manufacturer of one of the best earbuds I tested to date. Haylou GT1 weren’t expensive (sub $20) but I used them for 3 years before 4 times more expensive GravaStar Sirius Pro dethroned them. When Haylou asked me to look at a brand new Haylou Purfree (AmazonUK, AmazonUS) – a bone conductive headphones – I was more than curious to give it a go as I never used bone conductive tech before.
It’s my 1st experience with bone-conductive headphones, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I even reached out to a friend of mine who uses AfterShocks daily to get his feedback about Haylou Purfree and have a go with what the competition has on offer. But first, let’s look inside the box.
Haylou Purfree came in a nice box that opens from both sides and I’m keen on re-using it for storage. Inside, I found Haylou Purfree, a magnetic cable and… earplugs which confused me at first.
The bone conductive headphones are covered with soft to-the-touch and very pleasant feel silicone coating. I love the feel and the weight of the product. They are light, but have a certain weight that translates to a “quality feel”. The band connecting both drivers is rigid but springy enough to accommodate bigger heads. It doesn’t feel uncomfortable. In fact, it’s relatively easy to forget the headphones are on your head.
The interface is simplistic. A side button handles typical audio/assistant commands and the volume buttons located behind the ears take practice to get familiar with. One thing I’d point out – the power on sequence requires a volume-up press rather than the button on the side. If I could change one thing about it: I’d make one of the volume buttons easier to locate with fingertips. I’m sure, the controls with time get more intuitive, but as for now, volume adjustment happens by locating both buttons with my fingertips and pressing the one I need.
I don’t know how I feel about the magnetic charging. On the one hand, it’s easy, snappy and feels secure when plugged in, on the other hand, you will need this cable to charge your Haylou Purfree. Without the cable by your side, there is no hope of a quick top-up.
Oh – earplugs are provided if you need noise isolation. It’s the only way.
Not sure what to expect, I popped them on my head and went through the usual playlist. It’s a funky mix of electronica, rock, and lo-fi beats with the occasional stray track that is hard to classify.
Having the music “inside” your ear channel, and still being able to hear things around clearly is a new experience for me. I covered headphones with environmental pass-through options from Sennheisers and Jabra, but this is something different. Haylou Purfree simply doesn’t get in the way of sounds from the outside.
With that said there is a big disadvantage of bone-conductive headphones. The bass just doesn’t travel as well as the high tones. The music felt flat on the lower frequency spectrum with a clear cut-off. High-frequency sounds are however clear and sharp. You will enjoy podcasts, audiobooks and phone conversations – but when it comes to music – it’s not for audiophiles. OLEAP Pilot had much better results in this respect while keeping an open-air design.
I lent these to a colleague of mine for a day, to get more constructive critique from someone who rides AfterShokz daily and his feedback of the Haylou Purfree was more positive. He found the sound to be a bit richer than his headset definitely loved the build quality. I guess he is more used to this technology than I am, but as he handles a lot of calls, this is his preferred way to listen to music and keep awareness.
The built-in microphone is decent despite being reasonably far away from your face. Enough to have a conversation on the phone, but that’s probably all you’d use it for.
Music wouldn’t be my choice for these, but podcasts and interesting videos on YouTube where the audio focuses on voices rather than sound immersion would be the ideal media to consume while on the go. There are no sync issues and
Considering proprietary magnetic charging, and how well these feel in my hand, I was surprised to learn that Haylou Purfree is only IP67 certified. It’s good enough for most sports, but not swimming. Bone conductive tech would probably do very well in a swimming pool. Since that’s not an option, I took mine for a run and a cycle around my usual track.
The first advantage of Haylou Purfree is linked to the head bob while running. These stay exactly where they suppose to be and the audio doesn’t suffer from that translation of movement. Music was consistent, even if lacking in the bass department.
The second advantage comes with the fact that your ears are available to you. Whether you need to watch out for traffic or have a conversation with a fellow runner, Haylou Purfree simply won’t get in a way.
If you cycle at speeds in excess of 20km/h – the actual ability to hear the traffic behind you is a myth. The air flowing around your ears is simply too loud to make you aware of what’s behind you without looking back. Haylou Purfree doesn’t cause extra turbulence (so common across many headphones) and therefore your ability to hear things remains unobstructed. Where the benefit comes in, regardless of the sound of the wind in your ears, you will still hear the music well. Sometimes even better than with traditional headphones.
The band didn’t get in the way of the helmet and on a windy day, I’d risk a statement that Haylou Purfree would actually give me a better sense of music than typical earbuds.
Battery & Range
Where things get really impressive is the battery life. Set to 50% the headphones last over 11h and 20 min which means that you can play 213 songs on a single charge. The range of Haylou Purfree is also impressive – tested in open plan office, I could move about 40m from my phone before the playback got choppy. You can almost go for little adventures – or definitely pop to the work kitchen to make a coffee without taking your phone with you.
During my battery test, I also noticed that Haylou Purfree doesn’t power off automatically when no playback is detected. It’s a weird choice, but considering the battery inside, these would take a while to discharge fully while in the inactive state. Days rather than hours.
Considering my primary uses, Haylou Purfree (AmazonUK, AmazonUS) is not for me. I can’t deny the craftsmanship, and how good they feel on your head, but my use cases don’t usually require me to hear what’s around me. Life taught me that we all have different needs, and if you fancy some music while working the phones, doing reps in the gym or going for a run with your mates, Haylou Purfree feels like a quality product that should last just as long as my Haylou GT1. Thoughts? Let me know in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.