Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Review…
I may have just found the best safe Bluetooth headphones ever. I mentioned on my blog that my wife can tell you I may have something of a headphone addiction. I’m constantly looking for that better fit, sound, functionality or… er, je ne sais quoi.
What I like about these is that they are neither on/over ear nor in ear. They rest in front of your ear, and use bone induction to power the sound to your inner ear. This keeps your ears out of the equation all together.
Tell me about the features!
The first thing I look for is features that will work with my tech lifestyle. The Trekz Titanium have become my primary go-to headphones because they have the best combination of features I’ve ever found.
- Bluetooth with multipoint connectivity: This means it can be connected to a cell phone and tablet simultaneously, no more switching devices!
- Long 6+ hour battery life (quite longer in standby).
- Durable, water resistant.
- Great use for music or phone calls
- Player controls built in.
There are other features, but those are the highlights for me. I love the first feature so much, I feel it needs to be explained in more detail here. It’s not uncommon for headhones to have a number of devices it can be paired with a number of devices. But they can only be connected to one at a time. Trekz Titanium allows 2 devices connected at once. Here’s a senario that happens to me literally every day. I’ll be watching a video on my tablet with my headphones. When a call comes in on my cell phone, the headphones intelligently know to pause the video on my tablet and the ring comes in over my headphones. The controls on the headphones then switch over to the phone, allowing me to answer without taking my phone out of the holster. When my call ends, the controls go back to my tablet and the video resumes. It’s like magic!
What makes these the best headphones for safety?
So, they may be good sounding (more on the sound below), but how does that make them safe? I believe these are the best safe headphones primarily for these two reasons.
- Bone Conduction reduces the risk of ear drum damage from excessive volume.
- By not covering or even using your ear canals, outside sounds you need, like horns honking or verbal warnings from others, will be easily heard.
What is Bone Conduction?
Bone conduction may make those unfamiliar with the technology a bit concerned. It won’t hurt your bones or even been noticeable physically. Micro-vibrations from the contacts (in front of your ears, above your jaw bone joints) will travel from your outside to your inner ear in a natural way. There’s no electronic pulse or anything like that.
Bone conduction is not super new, but more refined here. In fact, I’ve been using bone conduction for years. If you’ve ever used a Jawbone brand Bluetooth handsfree headset for your phone, than you have too. They used the bone conduction to get the sound from your jaw to the listener. The Trek Titanium use the same technology, but to send the sound to you.
And the coolest thing I learned about these is that they work on people who have certain types of deafness. Why? If the problem is in your ear drum, but your cochlea is fine, which is more common than you’d think, then you can hear this as if you had no hearing issues at all. It’s a revelation for the deaf community whom I’ve seen comment on it.
Overall, I’m happy here. But, there still no perfect headphones. If you get the fit right, which isn’t hard to do for me, then they are snug. (A mini version is available for small head/children.) However, because the nature of bone conduction requires firm contact, prolonged use can result in some tension at the contact points. With time, either the headphones loosen up or you get use to it. Either way, I notice it less and less each day. Also, I’m talking about prolonged use, over 4 hours, so if you use them for a jog or 2 hour hike, you’ll probably not notice it much.
The second drawback is a slight tickling sensation that I and other’s I’ve spoken to have expressed. This does not happen when I listen to audio books or watch videos, it’s a bit of a rare occurrence when I listen to music with strong bass at a very high level. It stands to reason that if you need to get more volume and bass conducted through your bones, it will need to vibrate more. If I have the music at a level where I can still hear my surrounds reasonably well, it’s not a major issue. Just don’t be to shocked when you first get these, crank up the volume to see what they can do and get a tickle on your temples.
Do they sound any good?
In a word, yes. This is not the first using this technology made by the company. But these are the newest. There are some great new tweaks that AfterShokz (the maker) has put into these.
Ok, so that’s the sales pitch, but how does that actually translate into actual performance? Don’t expect the bass response to knock your socks off. If you have some noise cancelling Bose over-ear headphones, you will be getting a very different experience. But as far as bone conduction goes, these have the best bass I’ve ever heard from this technology. The “Leak Slayer” they tout is pretty effective, unless the volume is very high, it’s not too noticeable. But if you use these in a very quite environment, people close to you will know you have them on and are using them, even if they can’t hear exactly what is being played. I have used these in the library many times, but never had anyone concerned with my headphones.
The pro of having an open ear design can backfire in certain situations. For example, I can’t use my Trekz Titanium headphones while mowing the lawn. That is, unless I use ear plugs. To the credit of Aftershokz, each pair comes with a set of reusable ear plugs. So if you are on a plane or vacuuming the house, slip in the ear plugs and not only will the outside sound be diminished, but the act of closing off the outside seems to give the effect of increasing the bass and clarity of the music. It’s quite fun to plug your ear and experience how that effects listening.
On the other end, how do you sound to others when taking calls on these? Because I wear mine so often, people regularly ask me about my pair. They ask me how they perform for calls. I ask them if they had a hard time hearing me last time we spoke on the phone. Every time I’ve pointed out that I was using them on the phone, they were surprised. Like any hands-free headsets, too much background noise or wind will cause trouble, but the dual noise canceling microphones perform as well as any brand I’ve tried. I’ve had to switch to the phones internal mic in a few rare circumstances.
You may recall the popular Jawbone headsets. I have one of those, too. They also use bone conduction, but they use it for the microphone, to capture your voice, and a standard speaker to deliver the sound to you. Although Trekz Titanium uses bone conduction as well, they use it exclusively for you to hear, and traditional mics to capture sound. The two are like opposite sides of a coin. Because I have facial hair, people had difficulty hearing me on my Jawbone (the beard hair made the bone contact weak). But my hair causes no problem with the mics on Trekz Titanium or with my ability to hear a call. I don’t use a dedicated headset anymore, the Trekz Titianum does it all for me.
How durable are these?
I’ve been using my set daily (no exaggeration there) and can tell you that these puppies are built to last! Once I forgot I had them on at the pool and went down a water slide with them. They never faltered. I have also been rained on and sweat plenty with these, never a problem. These can really take a beating and keep on, well, beat-ing.
Being made of titanium (it’s not just a name) makes them very strong and resilient to accidental damage. Also, these have earned IP55 certified status. What does that mean? It means dust won’t get in there through natural use and water being sprayed at it from all angles won’t penetrate it. You shouldn’t swim or shower in them (although I have worn them in the shower without incident), but sweat or even a good rain won’t have any effect.
The Bottom Line…and how to get them.
The best endorsement I can give these is that…well… I wear mine everywhere I go! Unless you absolutely want to block out outside sound, I can’t think of a single reason why you’d not want these.
Here’s the basic pros and cons:
- Multi-point bluetooth connection
- Open-ear design allows for ability to hear surroundings
- Durable and water resistant
- Reasonable price ($119 retail, 10% off from me if you use SHOP10 at Aftershokz Trekz Titanium - 10% off, free shipping!)
- Long battery life (and they charge using a micro-USB, none of that propitiatory junk)
- Prolonged use (4+ hours) may cause wearing fatigue
- High volumes will cause a tickling sensation
- Open ear design may be a negative in loud environments (use the included ear plugs to help with that)
- Bass response lower than traditional speaker-based headphones
These are now available to the public. However, I have an exclusive link for you to get in on the fun for 10% off and free shipping! Use promo code SHOP10 at checkout.
If you don’t get in on this limited offer than you’ll wish you had.
Check them out now before it’s too late!