These Aftershokz headphones are unlike any other I’ve tried. The main difference is that they don’t sit in or over the ear like usual ones, but in front of the ear. Sound is transmitted into the ear using ’bone conduction technology’ which leave the ear open to hear some ambient noise – cars being the principal reason for these. Aftershokz explain: “delivering stereophonic sound through the listener’s cheekbones to the inner ear”. And it works. I’ve been wearing these out running for three months now, and now I’m used to them, I like them a lot and have become my first choice. For anyone whose run starts on the roads they are superb and, most importantly, safer than not hearing a thing. Other features include an in-line controller on which sits the sound volume and a microphone and button that can be pressed to pick up phone calls. It also has an on/off switch and USB connector (these need to be charged, but one charge lasts for a long time – I’ve only charged them once). So far, so safe, but if they don’t perform and aren’t comfortable, they aren’t much good.
Firstly, the fit. They are constructed to sit just in front of the flap on the ear and do so through slight tension on the hoop that sits around the back of the neck and with hooks around your ear. It doesn’t feel tight but sits there well, even when bobbing up and down on your jog. I wear glasses and they do impede where they sit, and I’ve found this sometimes affects sound quality as they can’t sit so tightly on the ear. The first couple of times it took a while to get used to positioning them, but now it’s second nature. They are amazingly light. The volume and phone answering box has a clip and can be placed on a collar or pocket. The hoop floats around the curve of the back of the neck, as do many sports headphones. The only problem with this, and all these type of headphones, is when running with a hood up or something bunched around the back of the neck, it can dislodge the position. That said even wearing glasses I haven’t found these problems insuperable, in fact 90% of the time I don’t notice them – and all headphones have some kind of faff when running.
The sound quality isn’t up to your high-end over ear or in ear phones, but I’d say mid-range and equal to the ones I take out running. The bass is lacklustre, but the mid and top ends are good. You won’t hear John Lennon dropping a plectrum on the B-side of Abbey Road, but for your Block Rocking Beats it’s ample.
In conclusion, for running, the sound quality is good, they are light and comfortable, but it’s the safety feature of these that make them a great investment.
Daniel Neilson