Aftershokz Trekz Open Ear
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.
- Provides situational awareness
- Comfortable fit
- Excellent battery life
- Can be used for different activities
- Appealing visual style
- Diminished sound quality
- High price
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ease of Use
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.
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.
- 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