I’ve been using my first pair of bone conduction headphones for two weeks now, and I wanted to share my thoughts for anyone else who is thinking about whether these would suit their needs.
Reasons I wanted to try bone conduction headphones
- Wary of hearing damage by having IEMs jammed in my ears all day
- Desire to listen to my podcasts at home without bothering my family through speaker playback or blocking them out with IEMs
- On occasions where I have to take a call while driving for work purposes, do so without needing a dedicated in-car bluetooth setup or a bluetooth headset completely blocking sound from one ear
Fit and comfort
I have a larger than normal head (not a brag, it’s mainly air :D) and the Aeropex fit nicely, with a slight bit of room at the back to spare. The transducers are secure against your head without feeling tight.
Being the newest headphones in the Aftershokz range, the transducers are smaller than older models. As a result, there are times where people won’t notice these at all; especially if you are wearing glasses and/or a hat. The thin profile of the frame around your ear means they don’t get in the way of my sunglasses at all.
The sensation of bone conduction on your head takes some getting used to. For the first few days, I had a slight discomfort from the vibration of the transducers; however now it is not noticeable. Speaking of the vibration, I don’t “feel” it until 70-75% volume.
Sound quality & experience
Yes you can listen to music on this, but the experience is still not great compared to headphones. These are really suited for voice playback, so my needs for podcast use is perfect.
If you are used to listening to podcasts on headphones, deeper voices initially might sounds a little weaker due to the lack of bass response and noise isolation. However if you are used to listening through speakers, it’s a similar experience except no one else can hear it (for the most part).
Having what your listening become a part of your ambient sound has, for me, become such a pleasant experience that it’s now my preferred headset to use (outside of music listening and train commutes, where isolation and better bass response are preferred). Most of the time I can comfortably listen at 50-60% volume in a quiet or office environment; only needing to ramp it up to full in noisier scenarios such as a busy street or crowded areas.
The quality of phone calls has been a surprise as well. Callers sound like they are right next to you and I haven’t had any complaints/comments about my voice quality from the Aeropex microphone. Using the microphone with Google Assistant, it picks up my voice clearly even when I’m in the office and saying commands in a softer voice than normal.
Aftershokz say the Aeropex have 50% less sound leakage than the previous model. I don’t have experience with other models but the sound leakage does seem impressive. In a completely quiet room, sound leakage is barely noticeable at around 60% volume. Even then, the leakage depends on the sound frequency as high frequency sounds will be more noticeable.
However, that is a quiet room. Get to an area with more ambient noise and it’s going to be harder for others to notice any sound leakage at higher volumes.
- Google Assistant can be triggered via a 2 second press of the multi function button, however the lack of audio trigger when you have engaged it is a bit annoying
- I’d like to see proper Google Assistant integration within the headset as I think it would be perfect to explore the capabilities of audio ambient computing
- Multipoint pairing is such a welcome feature
- Charging is via a proprietary magnetic charging cable (boo), but they give you two cables in the box (yay)
- Comes with a nice silicon carry case
- IP67 sweatproof/waterproof rating
- 8 hours rated battery life. I haven’t had any issues getting through a work day yet
Overall while these are expensive, I have no issues with recommending them to someone looking at bone conduction audio. While I’m not the target audience for these based on their active lifestyle marketing, I think they could significantly expand their market by targeting general consumers; taking advantage of the increased consumption of podcasts and moving into the ambient computing space.