If you’ve not yet experienced bone conduction technology for delivering sound – it’s interesting (and freaky) for a number of reasons.
First off, there’s no earpiece. What looks like an earpiece is actually a vibration mechanism that sits firmly against your jawbone. And, instead of delivering pure sound directly into your ear canal, it delivers vibrations of sound directly into your skull and allows your eardrum to sort it out. It’s actually pretty neat technology. The technology sounds freaky, I know, but in an effort to help minimize traffic/runner/biker accidents companies have been developing this technology to allow music/sound delivery without total immersion. Delivering sound through your bone structure leaves your ears unplugged and open to the sounds around you – like a moving car.
When I run on a busy road, I’m ever vigilant, but there have been times that I’ve come close to making a severe mistake. Maybe I was lost in the pace or the music, or just deep in my thoughts, but a couple times I’ve come close to passing directly in the line of a moving vehicle. The outcome wouldn’t have been pretty, for sure. But, I’m a stickler. I like to be immersed in my music. And, while I can see the value for safety, I'll roll the dice and take my chances.
I obtained the AfterShokz TREKZ Titanium while on a trip to Emeryville, CA recently. My hotel was extremely close to the newer Bay Bridge biking and running trail. The trail treks across the Bay Bridge and stops just short (to my disappointment) of Yerba island. I’ve included photos of my run in the slideshow above. Eventually, once the trail is complete, you’ll be able to bike/run onto Yerba Island and either drop off to run around Treasure Island or head straight into San Francisco and take advantage of paths that circle the bay there or brave the hills in town.
One of the strangest things about these bone conduction headphones, is that the louder you play the music, the more it vibrates – which in turn delivers a gentle “buzz” against your jawbone. It’s something to get used to, for sure, but it literally makes your face vibrate and it feels freaky. The pair I received has an errant buzz of its own in the right transducer that sounds very much like a busted car speaker. I’ve reached out to the manufacturer and have yet to obtain a replacement.
The set that I tested worked flawlessly from a functional standpoint (despite the sound clarity problem due to the "busted speaker" effect). Bluetooth setup is quick and sure, and I never had any problems reconnecting after the initial setup. Functionally, AfterShokz TREKZ Titanium can’t be beat, and in the right conditions are a highly ample headphone choice. And, since the transducers don’t fit into the ear but sit on the jawbone, they are technologically savvy enough to spur conversation. So, except for the seemingly busted right speaker, I have no qualms with how they work or the clarity of sound they produce.
My problem, as I eluded to before, is about music immersion. And, since these headphones don’t fit inside the ear canal (on purpose for safety reasons), there’s a huge amount of noise distraction. During my entire 10-mile test run I was straining to hear the music due to strong winds and crazy-noisy bridge traffic. And, I imagine, for anyone that runs or bikes outside, this will be an issue. I can see bone conduction technology being a great fit if you’re sitting around a quiet house, or hiking, but if you’re like me and are a music addict for your fitness routines, it’s probably not the best tech for you.
Still, I’ll leave that up to you. These are fantastic headphones and the sound they produce is rich and full. As a safety device for runners and bikers who need to be extra vigilant, they are well worth a look.
AfterShokz TREKZ Titanium headphones are available from Amazon.com for $129.95.