Headphones that go outside of your ear but still deliver premium stereo sound? The folks behind AfterShokz open-ear headphones promised that and more. Always the skeptic, I wondered how on earth that could be possible. Alas, I tested the AfterShokz open-ear headphones at the gym, on a run in my neighborhood, and while walking my dog down a busy urban street. Now I can attest that they are indeed a pretty cool invention that works.
The AfterShokz open-ear headphones arrived in a lightweight, small rubberized carrying case. Could such a cute little case really contain bone conduction headphones that would help me “prioritize situational awareness and comfort through its unique open-ear design”? I wondered. Eagerly, I charged the headphones up with the included charging cable and got set to try them out the next day. I couldn’t wait to see if the lightness and comfort matched the brand’s claims.
Where was it tested?
Once the headphones charged up fully, I took them on a spin to the gym. I’ve become a little addicted to the Peloton spin classes. Fortunately, my teeny gym features a single Peloton bike and it’s usually available when I want to ride. A little problem with my corded headphones holds me back (literally) when I ride the Peloton. The cord is long enough that I can sit back on the bike and plug into the machine, but sometimes I need to lean forward when I’d really rather lean back. So I figured listening to the class with these wireless headphones and be a little more comfortable.
Voila, they worked! The sound quality surprised me. I was so absorbed in the class, or the sound quality was so good, that I was apparently oblivious to the horrible rap music another member was blasting. Note that the AfterShokz open-ear headphones do not claim to be noise-blocking. However, the music seemed like it was right inside my head. After I removed the headphones, I noticed the rap music and the member apologized and offered to turn it down.
How did the headphones perform?
In short: they were awesome. The three buttons near the right ear piece are easy to use (volume up/down and an on/off button) and intuitive. This is not a complicated device that takes much time to learn. Not only did they perform well at the gym, allowing me to hear an on-demand spin class clearly despite ambient noise around me, but they also performed well in other situations. Running along a fairly quiet residential street, I appreciated the great sound quality and the freedom wireless earphones provide. Walking my dog in the heart of the city, I was able to carry on a conversation with my mom, who remarked that she could even hear me better via my new device than talking into my cell phone like I regularly do!
Room for improvement
I love these headphones and feel really lucky to have been selected to try them out! The only thing I would change, perhaps for a future version, is to make them a little more friendly for those of us with thick hair. It was not a big deal to pull my hair back and put the headphones around my neck. But, if I could also put them on the outside of my hair, I would be a happy camper.