Aftershokz Trekz Titanium

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium
20 Jul 17

As a runner and more specifically a runner with a bit of a fetish for headphones I have tried many pairs in search of the perfect balance of comfort, sound quality, usability and safety. I was therefore excited to be able to road test the Trekz Titaninium headphones from Aftershokz.

At an initial glance the headphones look similar to other sports neck-band style earbuds however the bone conduction technology embraced by Aftershokz makes these stand out from the other players in this market.. Runners and cyclists alike will know too well that wearing headphones whilst out on the roads brings risks with it in that they remove or at the very best restrict your ability to hear traffic around you. Also many competitions have banned the use of headphones due to safety concerns that competitors won’t be able to hear instructions or alerts from marshals or the emergency services. Aftershokz however have used bone conduction technology to overcome these problems and keep your ears “open” to hear the world around you.. Aftershokz don’t claim to have invented bone conduction tech, it’s been around in one form or another for a long time and in fact the military were one of the early adopters of bone conduction technology, using headsets for communication on the battlefield to improve field communications whilst ensuring full awareness of ambient sounds.

So how do Aftershokz work? Well here’s the science bit… Bone conduction is a natural part of the hearing process in that sound travels through our eardrums and bones simultaneously. Aftershokz headphones rest on your cheek bones in front of your ears and produce sound via mini vibrations which travel through your cheekbones to your inner ears, bypassing your eardrums completely. There are a number of articles describing that bone conduction headphones can be a benefit to those with hearing difficulties or partial hearing loss. I therefore asked my Father in Law who wears dual hearing aids to try them and he confirmed the results were significantly better than his standard on ears that he uses when watching television.

Aftershokz produce a selection of wired and wireless headphones and it was the newly released Trekz Titanium flagship headphones that I got the opportunity to review. Nicely packaged and accompanied in the box by a travel pouch, mini USB charging cable and info booklet the headphones have an immediate sense of quality. The headphones themselves continue this, the neckband is made from a titanium alloy which is rubber-coated making it extremely lightweight and robust. The fit is snug and borderline tight however this is needed to prevent movement when exercising and I wouldn’t say uncomfortable at all, even after a few hours wearing them. They also fit well with my cycling helmet and whether by good luck or by design they sit perfectly between the chin straps.

The Trekz Titaniums are rated IP55 meaning basic dust and water-resistance. My first run out with them resulted in getting caught in a fairly heavy downpour and they coped without any issue. Controls for the headphones have been kept to a minimum which in my view is exactly what you need when chasing that personal best time.. Behind your right ear is the dual volume up/power and volume down button next to the micro USB change point. On the left “transducer” which rests on your cheek is a multi-function button which controls the play/pause/call answer and call end functions making usability really simple. A double tap also skips tracks however a missed trick in my book is not including a triple click to go back a track which is a feature nowadays on many budget wireless headphones.

Other key features are the ability to multi-connect to two separate Bluetooth devices and dual noise cancelling microphones.

Performance Quality – First try of the headphones felt a little strange and with the volume cranked up I could feel a gentle vibration on my cheek bones, when back at ‘normal’ volume this sensation disappeared. Responses from several friends and colleagues was one of “wow”. I found the sound quality to be really clear with a good volume range, when you consider what these headphones are really about and the ability to hear the ambient noise around you gives a great balance of having your music/podcasts etc and staying safe. So much so that Aftershokz are the only earphones fully approved for use in all road races under the UK Athletics rules of competition. With headphones I feel that there are different types for different needs, these are not going head to head with others in terms of any cinematic/audiophile experience but for running they are the best I’ve tried so far.
The dual noise cancelling mics gave mixed results, they performed really well in the office and out running on a good weather day however I found when cycling at pace and on a particularly windy run my conversation did struggle lto be heard.

Battery life is quoted at a respectable 6 hours and after 4 runs over a week these are still going strong. Bluetooth 4.1 means easy and stable connectivity to phones etc and I tested to a distance of around 25 metres before I noticed any sound distortion.

Verdict – If running or cycling is your thing, you sit on the “with music” side of the fence (runners seem to be fiercely divided as to whether music is a must have or an absolute no no) and safety is a concern then Aftershokz Trekz Titaniums should be on your shortlist, at £110/$130 they aren’t cheap but for me the overall quality coupled with the safety benefits are easily worth the cost.

Trekz Titanium are available here

Author

Chris Campion

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