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Published on February 22nd, 2012 | by Greg


Aftershokz: Bone Conduction Headphones

Have you ev­er won­dered why your voice sounds dif­fer­ent in your head, ver­sus when record­ed and played back? The an­swer is the same as the in­ter­est­ing tech­nol­o­gy un­der­ly­ing to­day’s nifty head­phones: bone con­duc­tion. The idea has been around for a long time, as ear­ly as 1923, but we’ve on­ly seen a few spe­cial­ty prod­ucts that use it to trans­mit the au­dio sig­nals with­out ac­tu­al­ly cov­er­ing your ears.

The Af­ter­shokz Sport head­phones are thus rel­a­tive trail­blaz­ers. The Af­ter­shokz are wa­ter and sweat re­sis­tant, and wrap around the back of the neck. Aimed at a mass au­di­ence, they are cer­tain­ly af­ford­able, and the mar­ket­ing and name in­di­cates their tar­get- ac­tive users who are frus­trat­ed by tra­di­tion­al ear­buds falling out. Which is good, be­cause they aren’t re­al­ly a good choice for au­dio­philes- the sound qual­i­ty is de­cent but unim­pres­sive, lack­ing in de­tail, warmth, rich­ness, and the all-im­por­tant sound­stage.

But we’ve seen some ear­buds that do an in­cred­i­ble job of stay­ing in place, at a slight­ly cheap­er price, with a mic, and of­fer­ing a more com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence. The fact is, some­thing press­ing against your head isn’t gen­er­al­ly a cozy sen­sa­tion, and that’s def­i­nite­ly the case for bone con­duc­tion. You’ll no­tice these af­ter a short while of use. And while for a cou­ple of us, the nov­el­ty fac­tor was a def­i­nite­ly plus, we were pret­ty unan­i­mous that there were bet­ter op­tions out there- with one no­table qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

The oth­er ad­van­tage of bone con­duc­tion is that your ears are left com­plete­ly open to ex­ter­nal sounds- mean­ing that in en­vi­ron­ments where out­side noise is de­sir­able, these can be a life­saver. Run­ners and jog­gers might want to con­sid­er these, if on­ly so they’ll be able to hear that car honk or bike mes­sen­ger yelling. At $60, the hit to your wal­let is min­i­mal, but we do note one has­sle that is com­mon to those us­ing noise-can­celling head­phones: you’ll have to keep track of the in­ter­nal recharge­able bat­tery’s lev­el and recharge them (via the in­clud­ed USB adapter) ev­ery so of­ten.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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