Gear Review: Aftershokz Sportz

As a trail runner, I don’t rely on music as much to run. I am really into my zen moment – listening to the birds, the winds in the leaves, all that good stuff. But at night, it is sometimes nice to have some music on to cover the noises that sound fine in the daylight, but are rather scary at night.

As a road runner, I really like having my music on the run. Not only does it pump me up and help me push thru the hard spots, it also lets me block out the sound of the beeping Garmins around me… and especially the people that use Runkeeper and have it set to call out intervals and pace. Really?? Really people? “You have gone a quarter mile in four minutes and twenty five seconds” in that horrible computer voice! Just stop.

Anyway… back to music. One thing I can appreciate is the need to be able to hear my music, yet be able to hear the world around me. I need to hear bikes sneaking up on me at the trail. I need to hear course marshalls giving me direction at the race. The options usually are to keep the music at a low volume, or run with one earbud out.

Enter Aftershokz Sportz Titanium headphones.  Aftershokz headphones have a different sort of earpiece. Instead of an earbud that enters the ear canal or sits on top of the ear, it sits on the cheekbones. Little vibrations go thru the cheekbones into the ears to deliver the sound.

I received a pair of Aftershokz and have been dutifully testing and trying to make them work for me. Honestly, it has been a mixed bag and I feel I need to share the good and the bad with you.

On the plus, the headphones charge up using a USB connection, and I like not having to swap out batteries. You will get up to 6 hours out of a single charge. The down, the headphone have a pretty sizable fob that I struggled finding a good place to hide it. I am really picky about things bouncing around, so that might not be an issue for you.

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On the plus, the headset rested comfortably around me head, ears and cheekbones. The unit is sweat, dust and moisture proof. On the down, the wrap portion was really big on my head. It bounced against my neck when I ran.

On the plus, the headphones themselves did rest easily on my cheekbones. It didn’t bother me at all and the ear wrap bands kept them in place. On the downside, I really missed the sound quality of my usual headphones. I am a musician and an audiophile, so I have a pretty high quality bar for my headphones. When I really cranked them up to get some bass response, the buds were vibrating and rattling my head.

All that said… I know many people really loved them and give a glowing review. I guess I am more cynical as a musician so they just didn’t work for me. But I hope they work for you! 🙂

Disclaimer: I received a pair of headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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