AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones: Why I'll Never Go Back
Ridiculously cool (and safer) headphones that don't sit in your ears
When I started running more regularly, I found myself in the market for Bluetooth headphones; I wanted to untether my head from my phone. I was also interning at EarQ at the time, and my work for them had taught me about bone conduction technology.
Enter AfterShokz. Their headphones don't sit inside your ears or over them; they sit in front of your ears and rest on your cheekbones. The sound quality is surprisingly good—on par with most headphones out there—and they leave your ears free for better situational awareness (like a car coming while you're on a run).
This is most people's faces when they test mine out:
How do they work?
Our ears receive sound through both bones and eardrums during everyday life. The vibrations just have to make it to the inner ear for us to hear them; it doesn't matter how it gets there. This is also how cochlear implants work, in essence. These headphones play sound directly through your cheekbones and into your inner ears. You'll be shocked that you're the only one who can hear their sound!
You can read a bit more about their technology here.
Two main reasons. The first is situational awareness, as I mentioned above. I run on a popular bike path, so it's great to be able to hear bicycles that are coming up quickly behind me. Running on the road is safer, too, because I can hear cars coming.
The second reason is to protect your eardrums. At the risk of sounding like a Debby Downer, noise-induced hearing loss is a really big problem, especially among young people. The rule of thumb for headphones is actually no higher than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. I had my ears tested once, and although I'm not a big concert-goer and I don't really listen to loud music very often at all, having grown up in a dance studio was enough. I had the beginning stages of noise-induced hearing loss.
With bone conduction, you're not exposing your eardrums to that kind of mistreatment.
How much are they?
AfterShokz makes several different models, and they run anywhere from $40 for a wired pair to $130 for their best set. I have the Trekz Titanium, which will cost you $90.
This is actually my second pair! My first was the Bluez2, which is now retired. They lasted me over two years with regular usage . I had zero hesitation in buying another pair when they started to act up a little.
Also, the battery life on these things is great! I can go for multiple 70+ minute runs on a single charge, easy. It tells you when they're getting low by way of a little voice saying, "Charge me!" in your ear. Startling at first, useful after that.
And that's it. I get absolutely nothing for telling you about these headphones—I just love them! I think you will, too, especially if you're a runner or a biker. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email!
Image copyright: Busted Wallet