Open-ear sport headphones have grown in popularity. The Aftershokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones has made a dent in this market since it's debut. As more and more manufacturers get into the active noise cancelling game, Aftershokz aims to give people who want to maintain their situational awareness while out in the world a great option. They are useful for people who are working out in environments where being unaware of their surroundings is a safety issue. For some people, ambient noise is necessary in these situations.
Bone Conduction Technology
Sound can be transmitted through just about anything. With bone conduction headphones, a small plate sits on part of the skull. The plate is usually covered in a rubbery material. In the case of the Trekz Air, they sit near the jawbone. Technically speaking, it rests on your temporal bone. A lot of people do not realize that the skull is not one solid piece, but rather made up of 22 separate bones. The vibrations that come out of it are transmitted and you get to hear your music. Your eardrum is completely bypassed in the process. Instead, the vibrations send the sound directly to the sound sensing organ found in the cochlea.
Bone conduction is a method of listening to sounds originally developed for the military. Music being directly transmitted down the cheekbone is a new sensation for most people. This may be a freaky experience the first time, but most people quickly get used to it. People are generally more aware of the transducers as they hit the higher levels of volume.
The band on these headphones is designed to go around your neck rather than on your head. Aftershokz refers to the design of these headphones as "OpenFit." These are easier to get on and keep in place than earbuds. The band is made of a flexible titanium which is very durable while also offering you a secure fit. When properly placed, they sit right on top of the jawbone.
One of the reasons these are called Trekz "Air" is because of how little they weigh. Altogether, these guys weigh only 30 grams. That is 20% lighter than the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium model. You can also get these headphones in your choice of several attractive colors. Although it is hard to look cool in wraparound headphones, Aftershokz does a great job of making these headphones stylish. The placement on the charging port and the controls help the headphones feel a little less dorky than other wraparounds on the market.
Aftershokz decided to go with actual titanium so that you can wear these headphones for extended periods without worrying about them flying off. Titanium is a lightweight material that is incredibly hard to break. These can take being twisted, dropped, bent, and other forms of abuse with little worry. These headphones are one size fits all. Unless someone has a particularly large or small head, getting these to fit should be no issue. The weight of these is barely noticeable - throw them on and then forget they are there. They don't need to be constantly adjusted like some headphones. Unlike earbuds, you do not have to worry about finding the perfect pair of ear tips. Ultimately, these just might be the most comfortable headphones you ever wear.
One of the biggest challenges originally presented by open-ear headphones was sound leakage. In order to reduce this, Aftershokz went with what they call a "LeakSlayer" approach. While you will experience some leakage at high volumes, these are definitely a step up from other open-ear models. How much the people around you can hear your music when using these is comparable to when you wear earbuds.
The Bluetooth capabilities on the Trekz Air are impressive. You get a range of 33 feet (10 meters.) Users experience very few dropouts. You can quickly and easily pair these to most devices. In order to improve on the connection from previous headphones, Aftershokz is using a new antenna design. The Trekz Air uses Bluetooth v4.2. You are able to pair these with multiple devices, which is a big plus. People find these headphones to work great for phone calls. There are two noise-canceling microphones to help people hear you and not your surroundings.
Controlling these bone conduction headphones is very simple. Anyone concerned with setting up these Aftershokz headphones need not worry. A female voice that goes by the name of Audrey will walk users through the entire process. On your right side, you will find the volume controls. Each time you press these buttons you will hear a tone. This helps you determine how much noise leakage may be happening. When you have reached the maximum volume, you hear a slightly different tone. You can also control playback with buttons on the right side. On the left side, you will find the button to activate the hands-free mode. One handy feature is the mute button in case you need to quickly stop your music. The buttons are quite small and may take some time to get used to.
The multi-function button can accomplish a lot of things. When the music is going, one quick press will pause and play it. Two quick clicks will skip to the next track. If you get a phone call, one click will both answer and end it. When you get a call while already on a call, one quick click will answer the new call while putting the current call on hold. If you want to end your current call and answer the new one, simply press and hold the button for two seconds. Pressing and holding the button for two seconds will also reject a call. When no phone calls are happening, a two-second press will call up Audrey, your device assistant. Finally, two quick clicks when no music is playing will redial the last number called.
These are great for biking enthusiasts for a few reasons. With the way they wrap around the head, they will not interfere with your helmet or glasses. With the strong Bluetooth connection, you can easily throw your phone or another device in your backpack and not worry about dropouts. You can also easily answer calls while riding when you are wearing the Aftershokz Trekz Air. That being said, you will pick up quite a bit of wind noise if you do not stop when talking on the phone.
For runners, these can be used in marathons or other events that require that participants have nothing in their ears. You can run at top speed without worrying about them slipping off. With its IP55 rating, the Trekz Air can repel quite a bit of dust, sweat, and other moisture. That being said, these are not intended for swimming. These headphones can also be paired with most running watches that are compatible with Bluetooth headphones.
The biggest appeal for bikers and runners is definitely the safety. These will allow you to listen to a Podcast or music while still being aware of traffic and other potential hazards. Other athletes can reap the benefits of these headphones as well. They are surprisingly popular among golfers.
On a single charge, you get roughly six hours of use from the Aftershokz Trekz Air. They take about an hour and a half to fully charge, even if they are completely dead. For this type of headphones, these definitely have an impressive amount of battery life. While you get six hours of active listening, you can get up to 20 days of standby time. This device charges through a micro USB cable that is included with your purchase. The battery is rechargeable lithium ion. If you are in a hurry, there is a quick charge mode that gives you one hour of life after just 15 minutes of being plugged in. Audrey, the voice command assistant, also sticks around to tell you important things like how much battery life you have left.
Using these headphones is a great way to provide "background music" to your routines. It will not provide you with earth-shattering bass or jaw-dropping quality like some in-ear headphones, but they do still provide an enjoyable listening experience.
In order to give you the best sound possible out of open-ear headphones, Aftershokz uses what it calls "PremiumPitch+." This gives you a wide and dynamic range of frequencies as well as a respectable amount of bass. There are EQ presets programmed in to reduce the vibration you experience as well as boost the bass.
If you also plan on using these headphones in the comfort of your home, know that they come with earplugs to help improve the sound. The bass is much more noticeable with the earplugs in and the overall volume is increased. Keep in mind, at maxed out volume you will likely be very aware of the vibrations happening on your cheek. Some people don't seem to mind this tickling sensation while others find it too unnerving.
When unpacking these, you will find the actual headphones, the earplugs, a charging cable, and a rubberized carrying case. There is also a smaller carrying case designed specifically for the earplugs. You will also find the standard user's manual with a long list of safety warnings. The case is great for throwing in your gym bag or purse. Speaking of the gym, that would be a great place to utilize the earplugs that Aftershokz included.
The Aftershokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones do an amazing job of blocking some ambient and white noise while still allowing you to hear what is important. With its bone conduction technology, these make you feel like you're listening to music in the future. Although the sound produced by open-ear headphones cannot yet rival that of more traditional ones, these Aftershokz Trekz Air provide more than decent sound quality. While it is true that these may not be the best choice for your everyday commuter, they are definitely worth the small splurge for cyclists and runners. Even if you are not an athlete, you may find these headphones great for walking the dog or tanning at the beach.