Aftershokz Bone conduction headphones
If you’re like most runners, you know how much a great playlist can help you maximize your workouts. And to get the most out of your playlist on your run, you need a comfortable pair of headphones that sound great and don’t interfere with your exercise. Enter bone conduction headphones.
What are they? If you’ve spotted people using headphones that don’t seem to go into the ear itself, you’ve probably spotted bone conduction headphones.
Bone conduction headphones don’t pass sound through your outer and middle ear the same way air conduction earbuds do. Instead, they sit outside of your ear canal, typically just above the top of your ear. The sound gets to you by vibrating through your skull and straight to your cochlea—the spiral cavity in your inner ear that is crucial to hearing.
With bone conduction headphones, you don’t put anything inside or over your ear. People who find modern earbuds or full-sized, padded headphones uncomfortable tend to gravitate towards these just for that reason.
They even work for some people with certain types of hearing loss. They’re also great if you have an ear infection, or don’t simply want to put anything in your ear.
Perhaps most importantly for runners, bone conduction headphones don’t impede your hearing when you’re listening to music. Because your ears are still open, you can hear traffic and other environmental sounds that are critical to safety. And you don’t have to choose between chatting with a running buddy or listening to some tunes. These headphones allow for both.
Although this technology has been around for over a century in things like hearing aids, it has just recently become a more popular choice among consumers. As the market for bone conduction headphones increases, choosing between the options can be difficult.
To help you sift through the best options, we’ve found the best bone conduction headphones available on the market today.
1. AFTERSHOKZ AEROPEX
The Aeropex headphones by Aftershokz offer state of the art design and functionality in current bone conduction headphones. Not only are the Aeropex one of the lightest headphones on the market, but they offer great sound quality. You’ll hear deep bass and feel less vibrations, even with the volume turned up.
If you’re worried about sound quality, these sound just as good as traditional headphones.
And unlike traditional headphones – which can be uncomfortable and often fall – the Aeropex sit nicely around your head where they stay in place. Like all bone conduction headphones, they allow you to hear ambient noise for improved safety while running.
The Aeropex headphones are fully water-resistant. While you can’t swim with these on, you can wear them in any kind of inclement weather.
They are also Bluetooth compatible. That means you don’t have to worry about messy cords that can get caught in your run, moving the headphones and making them less secure. They’re also a smaller overall design. That also works to improve stability during your workout.
A built-in microphone lets you make and receive calls. And a long 8-hour battery means you won’t be constantly recharging the headphones.
2. AFTERSHOKZ AIR
The Aftershokz Air is one of the most popular bone conduction headphones currently available.
With bone conduction headphones being a relatively new item on the market, sound quality from model to model can be an issue. Trekz ups the sound-quality game with Premium Pitch technology, which offers a good range of sound with the proper bass.
Using bone conduction headphones the first time can be a little strange: some people describe the sensation as a pleasant tickle. Trekz Airs come with EQ presets that will boost the bass or reduce vibrations, to help balance that feeling while you get used to it.
Given the price tag, these aren’t headphones you’ll want to replace often, so reliability and a good warranty found in Aftershokz headphones are big selling points. If you want the safest option for guaranteed quality, go with the Aftershokz Air.
3. AFTERSHOKZ TITANIUM
Compared to the Aftershokz Air, the Titaniums are heavier (but this is a matter of several grams) but less expensive. While they do come with nearly all the same features, you’ll get them at a better price.
The Titanium model comes with a headband that is flexible for great portability. And the materials are extremely durable. This model is the only Aftershokz headphones that comes in two sizes: small and standard.
Sound leakage, or sound escaping from the headphones, is a common problem with any headphone. The Titaniums use “LeakSlayer” technology that cancels sound from the housing of the headphones and releases sound from the transducers. This greatly reduces the amount of sound from your headphones the people around you will be able to hear.
If you want the sound quality of Air but need a more affordable option, go with the Aftershokz Titanium.
Not sure if bone conduction headphones are for you?
4. AFTERSHOKZ XTRAINERZ
The Xtrainerz offer a couple unique features not found in other Aftershokz headphones.
First, they have 4 GB of storage for mp3s. This means you take your music loaded on the headphones with you. You won’t need to carry your phone, watch, or other device for music – you simply listen to what’s stored on the Xtrainerz.
The other unique feature of the Xtrainerz is that they are full waterproof. You not only don’t need to worry about getting them wet in the rain, but you can fully submerse them in water – they’ll still work. They are ideal for triathletes and swimmers – or anyone who includes swimming in their training – and wants to listen to music underwater.
Like the other Aftershokz headhphones we’ve reviewed, the Xtrainerz are wireless and offer great sound quality while allowing you to hear ambient noise. Battery life is good too – you’ll get about 8 hours before you need to charge them up.
The only thing we don’t like about them is that they don’t have bluetooth. This means you can only listen to what you load up in the 4 GB of storage on the headphones. You can’t stream your own music from a phone like you can with the other wireless Aftershokz headphones.
The Aftershokz OpenMove is a great-sounding Bluetooth bone-conduction headset that allows you to work out with music while remaining aware of your environment. It’s well priced too, but unfortunately the changes to its design aren’t all for the better, and it’s less comfortable to wear for long periods than its predecessors.