What do you imagine when I say Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless bone conducting headphones? I bet it sounds like some kind of futuristic implant where you stick some titanium gadget to some bone on your body allowing you to hear sound wirelessly. Well, you aren’t too far off, actually. If you skip the implant part you’ve pretty much nailed what this is. They are headphones that instead of earbuds that go in your ears uses pads that vibrate the sound through your cheek bone and into your head. Say what?! Yes, exactly. Let me break it down.
What is bone conduction?
It’s not as unusual as you might think. Sound currently gets into your head through your eardrum. What you probably weren’t aware of is that sound is also traveling through your bones. Remember, sound is just air vibrations. If something can vibrate, it can conduct sound as it passes through it.
So what is AfterShokz doing with bone conduction?
AfterShokz decided to take the same bone conduction technology developed for military special ops and law enforcement by Voxtech in 2001, patent their renovated version of the technology, and incorporate it into general consumer headphones. AfterShokz describes the end result as “headphones that deliver unrivaled situational awareness and comfort.”
Here are the three pieces of technology their headphones offer
- PremiumPitch. Through design of their own, AfterShokz has fine tuned bone conduction audio to a range that is suitable for both music and voice. This means you’ll be able to listen to your favorite Backstreet Boys song (don’t deny it!) and also get the same great quality sound for listening to some standup comedy, audio book, or lecture that you’ve been meaning to catch up on.
- Sweat Resistant. To nobody’s surprise, their headphones are sweat resistant allowing you to listen to music during those intense workouts including running, bicycling, circuit training, and anything in-between.
- LeakSlayer. First of all, the name is awesome, right?! Second of all, the name fits the technology spot on. Earbuds, over-the-ear headphones, and even bone conduction headphones commonly suffer from sound leakage especially at high volume. AfterShokz has incorporated a technology where sound from the transducers, the part that sends the sound through your bones, is released to cancel out the sound leaked from the housing, significantly reducing what others may hear around you compared to traditional earbuds or headphones. LEAKSLAYER!!!!
Let’s talk about their latest headphones the Treks Titanium
The Trekz Titanium are the latest iteration of their wireless bone conduction headphones. With athletes in mind, these headphones are sweatproof, secure, and due to their open-ear concept are safer than wearing earbuds or over-the-ear headphones especially if jogging or bicycling near people or traffic.
The headphones are covered in rubber that are comfortable to wear and should be safe in many environments. On the right side behind the ear there is a charging port, LED indicator light, a power/volume up button and a volume down button. On the opposite side of the sound pad on the left side there is a multipurpose button that servers to switch songs, switch connected devices, take a phone call and other functions.
Here is a list of features as specified by their website
- Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds
- Titanium wraparound headband is lightweight and flexible for durability and portability
- OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear
- PremiumPitch+™ guarantees a premium audio experience, including wide dynamic range and rich bass
- Wireless Bluetooth® 4.1 connectivity and convenient multipoint pairing
- LeakSlayer™ technology significantly reduces natural sound leakage
- IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust and moisture, from workouts to wicked weather
- Enjoy six hours of continuous music + calls on a single charge
- EQ presets boost bass and reduce vibration on the go
- Dual noise canceling microphones exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech
- Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play and talk
- Hassle-free 2-year warranty
Here are technical specs about the Treks Titanium
- Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
- Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
- Sensitivity: 100 ± 3dB
- Microphone: -40dB ± 3dB
- Bluetooth version: v4.1
- Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
- Wireless range: 33 ft (10m)
- Battery: rechargeable lithium ion
- Continuous play: 6 hours
- Standby time: 10 days
- Charge in: 1.5 hours
- Weight: 1.27 oz (36g)
So what are the pros and cons of bone conduction headphones?
- You can listen to music and still hear everything around you (like cars, people, your kids).
- The materials of the Treks Titanium make the headphones ideal for exercising.
- Gives people with certain categories of deafness an opportunity to still listen to music and make/take phone calls.
- May be worn with glasses. Just make sure to put on the headphones first, then your glasses.
- Bone conduction is great for high range sounds. Not so much for low range frequencies.
- The only way to isolate outside sound when wearing bone conduction headphones is to wear ear plugs. I’m not a fan of ear plugs so that is why I put it as a con but not that big a deal. Regardless of how you see it, AfterShokz includes ear plugs for your convenience.
- A con about the Treks Titanium, not bone conduction, is that the part that wraps around the back of your head can lay so low that tilting your head back and sometimes even turning your head may cause them to shift around a little bit. It’s a noticeable issue for me but I imagine the experience would be different based on ear-to-shoulder distance.
- When you wear your Treks Titanium and place your glasses on top of them, the glasses will end up loose over your ears leaving potential for your glasses to shift around on your face.
Some tips when getting and using your new headphones
- AfterShokz recently came out with the Treks Titanium Mini for people that may have smaller heads. They provide a printout that you can use to measure your head to help determine which size to get. You can get the print out here. Just make sure your printer is scaled to 100% on a standard 8.5” x 11” page.
- In case you want to connect your Treks Titanium to a non-bluetooth device like your desktop computer speakers or your television I recommend the TaoTronics Wireless Portable Bluetooth Transmitter. As long as your device has a 3.5 mm jack, you connect this dongle to it, sync your Treks to the dongle via bluetooth and you’re all set. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to set up. And because these are the first of their headphones that support multipoint syncing, you’ll be able to sync to both the transmitter and your phone. You can use the multipurpose button on the headphones to switch between listening to music and taking a phone call.
- Let’s say you are the outdoorsy type and decide to go camping. The Treks are a great option because you can enjoy your music but still be aware of your surroundings. Well, you’ll need to charge them at some point. For that I recommend you get yourself a solar charger that will charge not just your headphones but your phone and other gadgets as well. Check out my review of the SunJack Portable Solar Charger.
AfterShokz has done a great job with taking bone conduction technology and incorporating it into headphones for the general consumer. Perfect concept for joggers, bicyclists, hikers, parents, office workers, deaf people, etc. I wouldn’t recommend them for audiophiles but if you need to be able to hear your surroundings while you listen to your favorite music, these headphones will fit the bill. And with their innovative LEAKSLAYER technology you can wear them and not annoy people around you.
So what do you think? Do you like this technology? Will you be getting one for yourself? Do you already have them? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.