Rock-Solid Sound? OneOdio OpenRock S Open-Ear Earbuds Review

In the ever-evolving world of audio technology, OneOdio’s OpenRock S stands out as a noteworthy addition. This latest model in the open-ear earbud category merges immersive sound with environmental awareness, while distinct from bone-conduction models. It employs open-air conduction, a trend seen in rivals like Oladance and Shokz, using traditional audio drivers. It offers a balance of distinctive sound signature and commendable battery life, presenting a more budget-friendly alternative to its predecessor, the OpenRock Pro, in the competitive sports wearable market.

Key Takeaways

Verdict:  The OpenRock S is a well-rounded, competitively-priced addition to the open-ear headphone market. Despite a few drawbacks, it offers robust features that make it a worthy consideration.


  • Impressive bass
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Clear call quality
  • sleek build
  • Smooth Bluetooth connection
  • Quick charge feature


  • No volume controls on earbuds
  • Tricky touch controls
  • No app
  • Less Bass compared to OpenRock Pro
OneOdio OpenRock S neatly in its case
OneOdio OpenRock S in its case

What Is Open-Ear Air Conduction?

Before we delve further into the specifics of the OpenRock S, let’s take a moment to clarify what we mean by ‘open-ear air conduction’. It might seem like a bit of marketing jargon, but it’s actually a fundamental aspect of how we perceive sound.

In essence, ‘air conduction’ is the default way that sound works. It’s the process by which sound travels through the air and reaches our ears. This is how everyday devices like your television or even your own mouth transmit sound. What OneOdio is trying to do with this term is differentiate their product from ‘bone conduction’ headphones, which use a different method to deliver sound.

Bone conduction headphones transmit sound through the bones of the skull, bypassing the outer and middle ear. They’re a popular choice for open-ear designs because they allow the wearer to hear ambient sounds. However, OneOdio has chosen to stick with the traditional method of sound transmission for the OpenRock S, hence the term ‘open-ear air conduction’.

In the realm of open-ear audio technology, bone conduction headphones, popularized by brands like Shokz, have carved a niche for themselves. Their unique design offers excellent environmental awareness, promotes ear health, and provides comfort. However, they do have limitations, including less impressive sound quality, lower perceived volume, bulkier design, and potential discomfort from vibrations against the skin.

Addressing some of these shortcomings, open-ear air conduction earbuds have emerged as an appealing alternative. Brands like Bose, Oladance, OneOdio, and even Shokz have introduced models that maintain the benefits of environmental awareness and ear health, while also offering improved sound quality and compact design.

Excellent Sound, Especially Bass

OpenRock S earbuds driver side, placed on a rock
OpenRock S earbuds driver side, placed on a rock

When it comes to open-ear air conduction headphones, the first question many potential buyers ask is: how does the sound compare with bone-conduction headphones? The answer is straightforward: the sound from the OpenRock S is significantly better.

OneOdio has equipped the OpenRock S with a 16.2mm dynamic driver, which, though it may seem small, makes a significant difference in sound quality. While these earphones don’t deliver the deep bass response you might find in over-the-ear headphones or earbuds, they provide a full range of sound that is noticeably superior to bone-conduction headphones.

The OpenRock S incorporates OneOdio’s TubeBass technology, previously praised in the OpenRock Pro for its strong bass performance. This technology delivers a thumping lower frequency, which is quite impressive for open ear headphones. The OpenRock S, like the Pro, supports AAC and SBC codecs, however aptX is not on the list. If you have high quality audio source, you may notice a difference.

When the OpenRock Pro was released, it was lauded for its strong bass and clear mid-tones. The anticipation was high for its successor, the OpenRock S. After extensive testing with various genres, including jazz, blues, electronic, country, hip hop, reggae, pop, heavy metal, and folk music, the OpenRock S proved to be a different beast altogether.

The song 'Feel It Still' is a good test of the OpenRock S' sound characteristics.
The song ‘Feel It Still’ is a good test of the OpenRock S’ sound characteristics.

While the bass lines of the OpenRock S are less punchy compared to the Pro model, they exhibit a warm, bass-forward character reminiscent of the Koss sound signature. The vocals are crisp, and many instruments are more noticeable. This headphone manages to control shrillness without suppressing the brightness of the audio in higher frequency tracks.


Even though the OpenRock S earphones are fairly large, they are also very comfortable. The hook that goes around your ear has a degree of adjustability, allowing for a snug fit. They are light enough to be unnoticeable, each weighing a mere 0.45 ounces. and because there’s no pressure on any part of your ear, they are supremely comfortable to wear. They work well with glasses and bike helmets due to the absence of a strip around the back like most bone conduction headphones.

They are also stable, especially when engaging in physical activities such as gym workouts. They’re significantly more comfortable than bone conduction styles with a band at the back, which can interfere with bench and floor exercises.

Close-up view of the OneOdio OpenRock S outer shell
Close-up view of the OneOdio OpenRock S outer shell

Battery Life and Charging Case

The OneOdio OpenRock S distinguishes itself with an exceptional battery life. OneOdio asserts that a single charge of the case provides a runtime of 60 hours, while the earphones alone can run for 19 hours on their internal batteries. In my personal testing, these earphones consistently delivered audio for just over 18 hours. If the battery depletes, a brief five-minute charge in the case offers an hour of playtime. A four-bar LED on the front of the case serves dual purposes, indicating both the charging status of the earphones and the remaining battery life of the case.

Side-by-side comparison of OpenRock S and AirPods Pro cases
Side-by-side comparison of OpenRock S and AirPods Pro cases

On the downside, the included charging case is a bit bulky, which might be a minor inconvenience for those who prioritize portability. However, it’s worth noting that the robust case provides excellent protection for the earphones and offers substantial battery life for extended use.

Touch Control

The OpenRock S earphones are equipped with touch-sensitive pads, allowing for control over music, calls, power, and mode switching. However, they lack a crucial function—volume control—requiring adjustments to be made via the connected device. The touch controls, while a modern feature, demand precision and can be less user-friendly than traditional buttons.

Furthermore, the touch control’s performance can be inconsistent, especially when trying to switch EQ modes or in challenging outdoor conditions. Compared to the OpenRock Pro, the S model has forgone button — a feature some users may find themselves missing.

No App Control

Another limitation of the OpenRock S is the absence of a dedicated app for customization. In a market where personalization is highly valued, the inability to tweak earbud settings is a noticeable drawback. Without an app, users miss out on potential features such as a comprehensive equalizer, noise cancellation toggles, and firmware updates.

Change Your Mood With Rock/Relax Mode

The OpenRock S earphones offer two EQ modes – ‘rock mode’ and ‘relax mode’. These modes can be switched between by holding down the touch-sensitive pads on the earphones for a couple of seconds. It is a bit tricky to activate though.

The ‘rock mode’ is the default setting and offers a normal sound profile. On the other hand, the ‘relax mode’ is designed to provide a more subdued, laid-back listening experience, making it a good fit for podcasts or ambient music. It’s meant for low-intensity activities where a less energetic sound might be preferred.

The ‘relax mode’ lowers the bass even further and notches down some of the treble extension. This results in a leaner bass response and a slightly subdued treble extension, making the overall sound flatter. This mode might be beneficial if you find the default sound overly bright or if you want to avoid fatigue during long listening sessions.

However, the effectiveness of these modes is subjective and depends on individual listening preferences. Some users may found the ‘relax mode’ to do more harm than good, while others appreciated the balance it provided. It’s worth noting that the default sound signature of the OpenRock S is already less energetic than that of its predecessor, the OpenRock Pro.

Call Quality

The OpenRock S earphones are equipped with a four-mic array that offers impressive call quality. The AI-powered environmental noise cancellation effectively reduces background noise, ensuring your voice is clearly heard during calls.

A comprehensive view of both sides of the OneOdio OpenRock S
A comprehensive view of both sides of the OneOdio OpenRock S

This feature was tested in a variety of real-world scenarios such as boardroom meetings, noisy coffee shops, and bustling city streets. The earphones performed admirably across these varied soundscapes, maintaining clear communication on both ends of the conversation. This makes it possible to take or make a quick call during a run or bike ride without having to shout above the background noise.

Bluetooth Connectivity

The OpenRock S earphones harness the power of Bluetooth 5.3, renowned for its reliable connections across a variety of environments.

The OpenRock S distinguishes itself with its innovative handling of connection distance. In contrast to many devices that disconnect abruptly when the user exceeds the range, these earphones employ a more user-friendly approach. They gradually degrade the audio quality as the user nears the boundary of the connectivity zone. This intuitive method acts as a subtle alert, preventing a sudden and jarring loss of sound that can disrupt the listening experience.

For podcast enthusiasts, this feature is a game-changer. It’s all too familiar how frustrating it can be when you need to reach for your phone to replay a missed segment due to unexpected disconnections. With OpenRock S, this annoyance is thoughtfully addressed, making it a compelling choice for those who value uninterrupted, high-quality audio streaming.

However, it’s important to note that the OpenRock S does not support multipoint connection. This means you won’t be able to connect it to multiple devices simultaneously. If you frequently switch between devices, such as a phone and a laptop, you’ll have to manually disconnect and reconnect the earphones each time.

Design And Build Quality

The OpenRock S has a sleek and attractive design that is a big improvement over its predecessor, the OpenRock Pro which somewhat failed in its attempt to visually pay tribute to the iconic B&O A8. Instead of the Pro’s metallic surface, the OpenRock S has a more polished look, giving it a high-end, premium feel.

Constructed predominantly from durable plastic, the OpenRock S incorporates a soft, rubberized area for adjustability. This thoughtful design choice not only elevates the overall aesthetic but also guarantees a snug, comfortable fit for a wide range of ear sizes. The ear hook on this model is slightly larger, a feature that enhances stability without compromising on comfort.


The OpenRock S earphones are equipped with an IPX5 waterproof rating, offering a degree of protection against water. This means they can handle light rain, making them a good fit for outdoor activities. In situations with heavier rain or high-speed movemenent, it’s recommended to secure them in a safer place.

Final Thoughts on OpenRock S

The OneOdio OpenRock S headphones offer impressive bass and long-lasting battery life. Some minor drawbacks include lacking multipoint connection and the absence of app support. However, the headphones excel in delivering clear sound, efficient call handling, and robust connectivity. They provide essential features efficiently. For budget-conscious consumers seeking reliable open-ear headphones, the OpenRock S is a compelling, cost-effective choice.

  • Levi Scott

    Levi Scott is a seasoned tech industry professional with a deep-rooted passion for technology, especially in the realm of wearables. His journey began with building DIY PCs, fostering a skillset that led him to work on innovative tech projects. Levi is adept at demystifying complex technologies and integrating them seamlessly into daily life.