Review: Aftershokz Bluez 2 Bone Conduction Headphones
The Aftershokz headphones use a bone conductor technology, which channels noise through your cheek bones to your ear drums, rather than down your ear canals. The result, is that your ears are left open to vital warnings and ambient noise, whilst you can still enjoy your favourite tunes.
The Bluez 2 headphones from Aftershokz are their latest release. As well as using the height of bone conduction technology, they also go one step further; pushing functionality in areas such as remote control and connectivity.
The Bluez 2 use Bluetooth technology, which means no wires, no in-line remote controls, and no annoying moments when you pull the connector out of your iPod. Bluetooth technology also means that the Bluez 2 can control your device, all from buttons located on the headphones. You can control volume, skip through tracks and even answer and dismiss calls (the headphones also have a built in microphone); all without needing to get your phone out of your pocket or pannier. Handy!
I've been testing the Bluez 2 out on my commute for the last week or so, and they've impressed me.
After a little bit of a fiddle finding the best position with helmet straps, I got them comfortably positioned in the optimal place just next to your ear. The sound quality is good, and despite not "plugging" into your ear, the clarity and balance are great. External traffic noise and warnings are left completely uninterrupted, and the best way to describe the mix, is like driving through traffic with the stereo on and the windows down; it mixes the two together very well.
I found that in inner city traffic you do need to have the volume up quite high, so that you can hear your tunes over the top of the vehicle noise; but, unlike blasting music out of cheap headphones, there doesn't seem to be any quality loss even at these higher volumes.
There is a fair bit of noise "leakage" to the surrounding area, due to the fact that the speakers are not encapsulated by the ear; but that's not really a problem on a bike, and you just need to remember to be a bit considerate and turn the volume down if you're wearing them on the train or in the office.
The Bluetooth connectivity is fantastic, and I really wish more headphones utilised it. I could safely stash my iPod in my pannier, and then control everything from the heaphones: switching on the unit, switching between tracks and altering volume levels. It makes on-the-bike control very easy.
Overall, the Bluez 2 headphones from Aftershokz are a very impressive gadget. I had previously advocated not to use headphones on the bike again, unless I was on the rollers or turbo trainer; these have firmly changed that. They allow you to listen to your favourite tracks comfortably, easily and safely. You don't need to worry about blocking out alerting traffic noise, and you don't need to worry about fumbling with your phone or iPod, as you try to change tracks. They're very well made, they're sweat resistant, and they even have nice little additions like reflective strips that you can add to the rear band to aid visibility.
Quite simply, these are the best solution to on-the-bike audio that I've found to date. Let those tunes encourage you to push further and ride tempo!
View the Aftershokz range at Aftershokz.co.uk (Link)