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AfterShokz Sport bone conduction headset review

AfterShokz Sport bone conduction headset review

Sometimes you run across a press release and, if the PR agency did it right, something about it catches your attention. Amid the flood of CES 2012 press releases and meeting invitations was the following subject line:

Ear-free sound transmission? Meet AfterShokz at CES.

That got my attention, and an appointment was made soon after.

AfterShokz is a new company “on a mission to change the way the world listens to music on the go”. How? With ear-free headphones that transport sound through your cheekbones. The headphones use bone conduction technology to create a unique listening experience that doesn’t involve putting things on or in your ears. The military has used similar technology for years, and it’s now coming to the civilian masses.

There are three versions of the AfterShokz headphones. The Sport model only has the headphones and uses a standard headphone jack. The Mobile model adds an in-line mic and uses a single headphone jack. The Game model includes the in-line mic, but uses USB exclusively. All three models charge via USB.

The concept works very well. In fact the entire meeting time the representative had me wear the AfterShokz and listen to music while we spoke. I could hear both the music and the conversation clearly at the same time. They’re definitely comfortable.

A review sample was provided at the show, which provided the perfect opportunity for field testing. I wore them while walking between our hotel and the CES show floor, while working in the hotel room, and on the flight home.

Wearing the headphones in public didn’t seem to present an awareness problem. During one trek to the convention center a Honda Insight approached from behind—I was able to hear the tires (because the Insight’s engine is nearly silent) and get out of the way before the driver could flatten me (I’m assuming malicious intent but there’s no evidence to back it up).

Back at the hotel room I was able to have conversations with everyone in the room without a problem. No big deal, as conversations were as easily audible as they were during the meeting with Aftershokz on the show floor. These would definitely be useful in an office environment where listening to music could otherwise mean coworkers inadvertently sneaking up on you.

The flight home was the only real issue for me. Since the general sounds of flight were unobstructed, music was harder to hear (though not impossible). Earplugs probably would have helped considerably, but by the time that thought occurred it was too late to request them.

The downside

Icrontic Stamp of Approval artworkThe only place I feel AfterShokz has stumbled is cost. The Sport model sells for $60 on their web site. The Mobile and Gamer models sell for $70. It may be a tough sell at those prices, especially when decent ear buds can be obtained for half the cost. Are they worth the price? Yes, if you find the technology useful, especially considering AfterShokz sound pretty good and come with a lifetime warranty.

If you’re looking for a better way to listen to music while exercising or working and can absorb the cost, the Aftershokz Sport headset is a great product. We’re happy to award AfterShokz the Icrontic Stamp of Approval for a product we would happily recommend to our readers.

Comments

  1. Straight_Man
    Straight_Man This might be something I will buy, partly because my ears have an allergic reaction to some foams and I never know if an earpiece will have one of those kinds until too late-- after I buy them.

    Unfortunately, I am NOT kidding, have gotten in and on-ear headsets, have about 4 now, which I cannot wear without ears oozing gunk that turns into hard granular stuff. I am on a 1-week regimen of antibiotics and hydrocortisone OTIC liquid now for the latest outbreak. Another good reason for a product like this....
  2. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster When I'm out and about I have to use open air headphones, I like to hear my surroundings. This may be perfect for me.
  3. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle How comfortable are they? My problem is that I've got a huge head, so a lot of headphones don't fit right (all rear-wraparound sets included). Something like this would be good for cycling or the gym. Bluetooth would be even better.
  4. mertesn
    mertesn
    How comfortable are they? My problem is that I've got a huge head, so a lot of headphones don't fit right (all rear-wraparound sets included). Something like this would be good for cycling or the gym. Bluetooth would be even better.
    I have the same problem, and they're pretty comfortable. The band is flexible so it should fit just about everyone.
  5. Basil
    Basil Is that an inline amp or just a volume control?
  6. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ Can you wear them for extended periods of time? The reason I ask is for good sound transfer, most of these bone conduction types squeeze your head tightly and end up giving you a headache after a while. Initial comfort apparently doesn't always mean they're comfortable for multi-hour wearing as I understand it.
  7. mertesn
    mertesn
    Is that an inline amp or just a volume control?
    It's an inline amp.
    Can you wear them for extended periods of time? The reason I ask is for good sound transfer, most of these bone conduction types squeeze your head tightly and end up giving you a headache after a while. Initial comfort apparently doesn't always mean they're comfortable for multi-hour wearing as I understand it.
    I wore them for the duration of the flight from LAS->OKC, which is about 2.5 hours. They were comfortable the whole time. They don't squeeze tightly either, and they're certainly more comfortable than any on-ear headset I've ever worn. Usually on-ear headphones cause headaches for me because they push on the back of my glasses just behind my ear. No such problems with the AfterShokz.
  8. Gameblade
    Gameblade I wonder if they affect people with fillings, because given the structure of the skull loud vibrations may jar the jaw bone
  9. mertesn
    mertesn
    I wonder if they affect people with fillings, because given the structure of the skull loud vibrations may jar the jaw bone
    I can't speak to that. No dental work. Sorry.
  10. Annes
    Annes
    I can't speak to that. No dental work. Sorry.
    You're a magical man.

  11. Joe9457
    Joe9457 What about sound leakage? Our office is dead quiet... would any sound or noise leak out of these and annoy coworkers?
  12. mertesn
    mertesn I'll get a non-listener's opinion this evening when I get home.
  13. Joe9457
    Joe9457 Great! Hoping for some good news, thanks :)
  14. mertesn
    mertesn If you're listening to music loudly, someone will likely hear it if they're within about five feet of you.
  15. Joe9457
    Joe9457 So I guess listening at an average level in a quiet office environment wouldn't be an issue for others? Interesting!
  16. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster I've actually decided to order a set for my desk at work, and perhaps for when I get my tubby butt working out again. I can't wait to try them out.
  17. Straight_Man
    Straight_Man The AfterShokz Gamer is no longer being manufactured, sorry to say.
  18. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle You still use these, @mertesn? Or have regular ol' headphones won you back?

    What I really need is a bluetooth headset, but I'm considering these too since they'd be good for cycling & jogging.
  19. mertesn
    mertesn
    You still use these, @mertesn? Or have regular ol' headphones won you back?
    I still use them, but only if I don't need a microphone. Since they don't actually sit on the ears, I can still hear what's going on around me. If I want to fix that (read: ignore what's going on nearby) I have earplugs that go in while using the Aftershokz.
  20. Kay
    Kay Can you still use the headset (listen) while it is charging?
  21. Kay
    Kay I have looked everywhere for an answer on whether or not you can still listen (use) and charge them at the same time.

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