Aftershokz Trekz Open Ear

8.0
8.0 score
[Editors rating (8.0)] = Runnerclick score (8.0)/10

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Editor rating: 8.0 / 10
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Aftershokz Trekz Open Ear Review Facts
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The portable listening devices that we use today didn’t just appear in someone’s mind as a complete product. No, modern headphones and earbuds were developed over a long period of time, further iterating as technology and design advanced over the last century. Before settling on the now-commonplace style of a tiny speaker housed over or inside the wearer’s ear, one common method of portable listening was bone conduction.

Bone conduction technology utilizes the nature of sound and the human body’s method of interpreting it. By creating vibrations around the wearer’s cheekbones, bone conduction headphones like the Aftershokz Trekz Air vibrate the jaw and stimulate the inner ear bones to simulate sound. This technology was originally adopted by various military organizations because it allows the wearer to hear sounds from their devices while leaving their ears uncovered so they can still maintain full auditory situational awareness. With the Trekz Air wireless headphones, Aftershokz seeks to provide this same benefit for people with an active lifestyle. Runners, cyclists, and cross-trainers can benefit from the increased awareness provided by these headphones if they decide to exercise outside of a gym.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Provides situational awareness
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent battery life
  • Can be used for different activities
  • Appealing visual style
Cons
  • Diminished sound quality
  • High price
Activities
Activities

Activities

The potential activities an individual can engage in while wearing a pair of Aftershokz Trekz is the same as any other pair of activewear headphones. Everything from jogging, running, cycling, weightlifting, calisthenics, to cross-training can be accommodated in much the same way as ordinary in-ear wireless earbuds.

Where these headphones define themselves as a different product from the standard headphone or earbud is through their bone conduction ability. Since this device doesn’t cover the wearer’s ears, it can be used in environments where background noise is important or can be a safety concern. For example, a jogger who lives in an urban area can take advantage of the Trekz Air’s ability to provide them with music while also keeping them aware of traffic or other people on the sidewalk.

Unfortunately, one form of activity that these headphones aren’t suited for is aquatic. Despite being water and sweat resistant, these Aftershokz headphones aren’t waterproof, so swimming and surfing are out of the question. As a general rule, any activity where brief exposure to water is possible will be okay, but any activity involving submergence in water should be avoided.
Basic Features
Basic Features

Basic Features

Trying to describe any features provided by the Aftershokz Trekz Air as ‘basic’ is a difficult feat. Just about every feature of this futuristic portable listening accessory would be mind-blowing to describe 50 years ago. However, at its most basic essence, this product is designed to allow the wearer to hear music played through a paired audio device, such as a smartphone or MP3 player.

Without any wires to connect the Trekz Air to the wearer’s listening device of choice, Bluetooth technology is used for this purpose. This means that anyone looking to get any functionality out of this product will need to have a listening device that is compatible with this form of wireless connectivity. This won’t be an issue for anyone who plans on listening to their music on a modern smartphone or tablet, but people who use legacy MP3 players will be excluded. The other potential downside to this form of connectivity is that these headphones must be charged in order to function, which can annoy some people who already have to charge their smartphone, smartwatch, laptop, tablet, and home media player controller.
Advanced Features
Advanced Features

Advanced Features

In addition to offering smartphone functionality through the use of Bluetooth wireless connectivity, the Aftershokz Trekz Air also provides wearers with the ability to take voice calls. Two microphones on either side of these headphones are able to pick up the wearer’s voice while isolating and removing background noise so they come through in a crisp and clear manner.

Aside from this, the most advanced feature provided by these headphones is their method of delivering audio to the wearer’s ears. Rather than place the speakers over or inside the wearer’s ears, the Aftershokz Trekz Air uses bone conduction technology to deliver its audio. This works by placing the small speakers over the user’s cheekbones, where the tiny vibrations produced are picked up by their jawbone and stimulate the bones in the inner ear. Known as the middle ear, these three bones then send the information to the brain where it is interpreted as sound. While this method of sound delivery is fundamentally different from traditional headphone design, the only major benefit it provides is leaving the wearer’s ears exposed and able to function normally while listening to their music.
Sound Quality
Sound Quality

Sound Quality

Although bone conduction technology has existed for the better part of a century, it has only been used for military applications before Aftershokz decided to harness it for the purpose of casual headphone-style listening. The main reason for this seems to be that the overall sound quality for bone conduction audio is poorer than standard in-ear or over the ear styles of headphones.

For starters, the distance that sound needs to travel to reach the wearer’s ear is longer when coming from the cheekbones than from the ear. This can result in diminished quality due to interference, and some reviewers have mentioned this occurring during their tests. Audiophiles simply won’t get the same range of lows, mids, and highs while wearing the Trekz Air, although these types of people probably wouldn’t want to wear headphones that let in outside noise in the first place. Sound bleed is also an issue; these headphones still have speakers, and they don’t create the same seal that in-ear or over the ear headphones do. For these reasons, individuals looking for the best possible sound quality will likely want to give this Aftershokz product a pass.
Connectivity
Connectivity

Connectivity

As with just about every other pair of wireless headphones on the market today, the Aftershokz Trekz Air connects to listening devices via Bluetooth. Although this form of wireless connectivity is common and compatible with nearly every single modern music listening device, many people are frustrated with this technology’s limitations. Pairing Bluetooth objects can be a difficult process, and the need for a charge before using can be frustrating as well. Because of this, individuals who are unfamiliar with or disgusted by Bluetooth won’t like these headphones. Alternatively, people who are already familiar with this tech that doesn’t mind its potential shortcomings will have no problem getting the Trekz Air up and running.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Aside from providing full situational awareness for the wearer, the next most appealing benefit to these bone conduction headphones is the comfort factor. Many people dislike in-ear earbuds because they can cause their ears to feel sore after using them for too long. The stock Apple earbuds that are included with every iPod and iPhone are notorious for this problem. Fortunately, the lack of any ear speakers on this Aftershokz product means that individuals with sensitive ears can wear these headphones for as long as they like without any fear of pain.
Style
Style

Style

Although it may ultimately be up to personal preference, the general consensus seems to be that the Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones are very stylish. Multiple colorways to choose from is a rare find for many headphones, even among high-end models like these. Because of this, the inclusion of several different color options gives these headphones a leg up on many competing brands. The lack of wires gives the Trekz Air further fashion cred, and the general design evokes images of a Roman emperor’s crown.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Since the band that makes up this Aftershokz product is made from titanium, durability is guaranteed. These headphones can take a few dings without sustaining any serious damages, although visible scratch marks can possibly occur. The lack of any wires further increases this product’s resiliency since these are often the weakest part of any headphone that carries the highest likelihood of malfunction. Out of all the reviews listed online for the Trekz Air, not a single customer has stated that they broke or stopped working for them.
Ease of Use
Ease of Use

Ease of Use

The biggest hurdle to a customer looking to use the Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones is its wireless functionality. This is because the user of these headphones will need to ensure that they are charged and connected to their listening device of choice via Bluetooth. This may lead to some minor inconvenience at first, but no additional problems should occur after the wearer figures out how to charge and pair these headphones.

The bone conduction method in which these Aftershokz headphones allows the wearer to hear sound and music results in a nearly unprecedented ease of use. Unlike other forms of headphones, these won’t be impeded by glasses, hats, or excessive hair. Individuals can have all three of these potential headphone hazards and still have an easy time using the Trekz Air. Furthermore, the lack of wires means that people wearing these headphones while exercising are free to use their full range of motion since there are no pesky wires to tangle, fray, or disconnect from their listening device. As a result, these are some of the most accessible and user-friendly headphones in this price range.
Power Source
Power Source

Power Source

Something that may come across as inconvenient or frustrating to people interested in buying the Aftershokz Trekz Air is the fact that they will need to be charged separately from the user’s listening device of choice before usage. This is because their wireless design doesn’t allow them to be powered by the listening device through a headphone, USB, or Lightning jack. For the most part, this shouldn’t be a major inconvenience for users, since they don’t take very long to fully charge and can be used for an impressively long time before fully draining. However, individuals who already have a plethora of devices that need to be charged regularly may not want to add another device to their crowded power strip.
Price
Price

Price

The price tag for the Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones is roughly the same as any high-end pair of wireless headphones or earbuds. Customers who are willing to pay full price for a pair of these bone conduction headphones would have to give roughly the same amount of money as they would for a pair of Beats wireless earbuds, just to give an example.

Whether or not this price is justified will depend on the needs and preferences of each user. For someone interested in purchasing expensive headphones that want a high level of audio fidelity, the Trekz Air simply isn’t going to offer what they’re looking for. As a consequence of their bone conduction design, the sound quality is diminished and sound bleed is very high. However, an individual looking to buy a pair of pricey headphones for use during physical activity will find a lot of this Aftershokz product’s features to be beneficial. In addition to being very durable and having no annoying wires, these headphones allow for full situational awareness which can come in handy when jogging or cycling in a busy area.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features


  • Bone conduction audio delivery system

  • Dual microphones for voice calling and sound isolation

  • Multiple colorways for customers to choose from

  • Solid and durable titanium construction

  • Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth

  • Short charge time for impressively long battery life

Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

There are many interesting features present in the design of these headphones that are bound to appeal to some customers but strongly discourage others. The bone conduction technology is the crux of this divide, with users either loving or hating this unconventional style of audio delivery. Ultimately, the Aftershokz Trekz Air wireless headphones are a decent product worth their price tag, especially for people with an active lifestyle that are concerned about their safety while listening to audiobooks or podcasts. However, the diminished sound quality makes listening to music on these headphones a disappointing experience.