Bone conduction headphones are the kind of thing you only need to try once to know you love them. I know so many different kinds of people who rely on them every day, from massage therapists who want to catch an audiobook while working with clients to full marathon runners who want to hear a car as it passes by. These headphones are a curiosity to those who don't understand how you can hear things without having them in your ear, but try them once and there's a good chance you're hooked.
I usually recommend the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones when someone asks me which bone conduction headphones to get, or if you know you only want these headphones outside, I suggest the special sunglasses we've seen recently. But after spending the last month with the latest offering from Aftershokz, my recommendation without hesitation will be these new Trekz Air headphones.
- Super light and flexible
- Improved sound
- Improved battery life
- No Google Assistant (yet)
- Available colors are just okay
- MicroUSB charging in 2019
Aftershoks Trekz Air - What I like
I've been using the predecessor to these headphones, the Trekz Titianium headphones, for over a year now. I like using them when I'm on my bike, but the battery only gets me 3-4 hours of active use and they're not super comfortable to wear when I'm sitting back in a chair. That means using them on something like an Airplane isn't something I'm likely to do. But as bone conduction headphones go, they really are some of the best you can buy.
These new headphones from Aftershokz manages something impressive. The design is lighter, more flexible, and fits my head a little better in every situation, all without losing battery life. In fact, these Trekz Air headphones actually get my 5-6 hours of active use even though it's lighter.
The whole design is significantly improved, making everything much better. Even on an airplane, I can sit back against the seat and let the whole headset press against my neck without feeling uncomfortable or moving the bone conduction pads away from the spot where they are most effective.
Trekz Air headphones also sound better than the previous Trekz Titanium. They're capable of getting louder and sound clearer as long as they're pressed against the right place. But like all bone conduction headphones, if they're not positioned just right you'll know right away. And if the volume is too loud, you'll feel the vibration against your head and that can be a little unusual if you've never felt it before.
Like all bone conduction headphones, if the surrounding sounds are too loud it's possible to drown out the sound of the thing you want to listen to. This is why Aftershokz includes a set of earplugs in the box, so when you're somewhere you don't want to hear the world around you, it's possible to make those sounds go away. I don't use these often, usually only on an airplane where the sound of the engines at takeoff is just too much for these headphones to compete with, but knowing those plugs are in the box and come in a nice carrying case makes is a great addition to the package.
Aftershokz Trekz Air - What could be better
These Bluetooth headphones are just that, standard Bluetooth. There's no instant pairing, no Google Assistant access, and no way to locate these headphones if I lose them in the couch but they're still connected to my phone. A lot of the "smart" features I've come to appreciate in other headphones aren't here, and for $150 that's a bummer. I know Aftershokz is working on adding Google Assistant to these headphones in the future, but there's currently no ETA for this feature.
I'm also not a huge fan of the colors available for this headset, which is something I should probably explain. The Trekz Titanium headphones all came in bright colors if you didn't get the flat grey. Each color is vibrant, and easy to spot from across the room. The colors chosen with the Trekz Air headphones are a lot more muted, almost flat. The blue is deep and matte, almost purple. The green looks more like a hunter green, and you don't really notice it until you're up close. It's a small thing to complain about, but we've already seen the Aftershokz team use vibrant colors in the past!
The only other thing I have to complain about is the charging port. These headphones are designed to survive in some pretty gross conditions, but the cap over a microUSB port is dated to say the least. I think a USB-C port would have made the headphones bigger, but it also would have made it more modern and able to be charged with ease from my phone when I needed it.
Aftershokz Trekz Air - Should you buy it?
I'm a huge fan of bone conduction headphones, but not everyone is. If you're the kind of person who feels the need to be fully immersed in your audio and you want the highest quality at all times, bone conduction likely isn't for you.
But if you want some music or a podcast while you're on a run, or if you're in a place where you need to hear the world around you while you enjoy something on your phone, bone conduction is the best way to get there. And if you're leaning in that direction, the Trekz Air headphones are without a doubt the best possible option.
Headphones that disappear on your head and let you hear everything.
This small band wraps around the back of your head and delivers sound through unique pads pressed against your skull. It works everywhere, and works very well, but it's a little unusual if you've never used something like this before.