Published on February 22nd, 2012 | by Greg0
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.