I love bone conduction headphones. For me, it's the perfect compromise between safety and audio quality. I can ride anywhere on my bike, be it the trains near my house or the busy streets of Downtown Annapolis near the Naval Academy, and know I can enjoy music while also being aware of everything around me. But combining my bone conduction headphones with a set of sunglasses means there's a lot of plastic fighting for space around the top of my ears, and that gets uncomfortable after a while.
OptiShokz is one of several companies trying to solve this problem right now by embedding headphones in a decent pair of sunglasses, so you've only got the one thing on your head. And after using it for a couple of weeks, it's clear these Revvez sunglasses are way closer to an ideal solution than most of the competition.
- Built for fitness
- Lightweight design
- Two different protective cases included
- Great bone conduction audio experience
- No prescription lenses right now
- Noticeable audio bleed
- Not quite as loud as it could be
- Battery is just okay
OptiShokz Revvez What I Like
If you've ever used good bone conduction headphones, particularly the Trekz Titanium or Air headphones from Aftershokz, you have a pretty good idea what kind of experience you're getting yourself into here. OptiShokz are powered by the Aftershokz bone conduction platform, but instead of placing the "speaker" on your skull just above your ear, OptiShokz rest on the cartilage on your actual ear. This design change allows the bone conduction bits to hide on the ends of the sunglasses, so this design never really looks like you're wearing a gadget. Instead, it just looks like you're wearing sporty sunglasses.
The glasses themselves, at least the version I am testing, look nice but don't offer a ton of features. There are Revvez models which offer polarization, but these aren't those. What I have is a mirrored blue shade, with some aerodynamics for when you're moving. And trust me, when you're flying down a hill at 30MPH on a bicycle, the difference this design makes over traditional sunglasses is crystal clear. But more than that, I can listen to all of my music without worrying about missing something important around me. I can jam and still hear someone say "on your left" or catch that car coming around the corner, which is super important to me.
When I'm not using my OptiShokz, I have two different included cases for storage. There's a soft pouch, made of the same microfiber material you see with lens cleaners, and a much sturdier hard case with foam inserts for the rest of the time. OptiShockz including both options in the box is a big deal for me, especially considering the price of these glasses. I can grab the hard case when I want to toss the glasses into a suitcase, and when I'm done with a ride, it can slide into the soft case and I don't have to worry about any scratches. It's serious attention to detail, and I deeply appreciate it.
Comfort and quality are a big deal with anything I'm going to take on my bike for longer rides, and OptiShokz delivered in a big way. No soreness around my ears or nose, because the weight of these headphones are so well balanced. And when it comes to audio quality, I found myself impressed with both the volume and overall performance. Understanding that bone conduction headphones will never sound like traditional headphones, these sound almost identical to the original Trekz Titanium headphones made by Aftershokz. I can enjoy music with airplanes taking off and landing near the trails I ride on, unlike Bose Frames which have trouble competing with most ambient background sounds.
There's a lot to like with these Optishokz Revvez glasses. I can wear these for hours and enjoy music with ease, and they don't look like a gadget on my head. That's a surprisingly difficult balance to strike, and this design nails it.
Optishokz Revvez What I wish was better
Bone conduction headphones are, by existing, a form of compromise. You're exchanging the ability to hear the world around you for perfect audio quality. Highs and lows are frequently muffled in any bone conduction headphones, and if the speaker pads get too loud you can feel the vibrations against your skin in a way that makes a lot of people kind of uncomfortable. But again, you can hear the world around you without blasting your music or podcast to the rest of the world, so it's a compromise I am regularly perfectly happy to make.
But OptiShokz introduces some additional compromises worth discussing. The conduction pads aren't actually resting on bone in this design, which means the sound is absorbed a little differently. The quality is still on par with existing headphones, but you're sharing a lot more of that sound with others. I found myself unable to use these glasses in the car to catch a podcast while driving my family, because sitting next to me they could hear everything I was listening to. I'd be way less likely to listen to music on a bus or standing in line somewhere with these glasses knowing there was this much audio bleed happening. On my bike, this isn't a problem, but it does limit the total number of places I would want to use these glasses as more than just sun protection.
While the audio volume on these headphones is fine, especially when compared to some of the other glasses hybrids out there today, OptiShokz are a little on the low side compared to other bone conduction headphones. The Trekz Air bone conduction headphones, for example, are noticeably louder. The battery on those lasts longer as well. I average a little over three hours of constant music streaming on OptiShokz where Trekz Air will get me considerably longer. Three hours is still a great ride for me, but I absolutely have to charge up before I use them again. And when I charge them, I'm reminded these glasses use Micro-USB for power even though it's 2019 and OptiShokz really should have switched to USB-C by now.
Finally, I'm kind of blind without my prescription glasses, and would really like prescription lenses for these glasses. OptiShokz is looking into this, but it's not something you can get right now. Which is a bummer, because I can't really wear my glasses under these and contacts are not my friend.
OptiShokz Revvez Should you buy it?
If you're looking for a decent pair of sunglasses you can wear outdoors and still enjoy music, I think you'll be very happy with what OptiShokz have to offer. If you're the type to regularly jog or cycle or really just move a lot outside during the day, you really should consider bone conduction for safety and these glasses are a great place to start.
4.5 out of 5
And don't let the Indiegogo campaign dissuade you. OptiShoks has already more than made enough cash to produce these glasses, and promise to start shipping in June this year. So if this is your thing, or you think it might be your thing, take the plunge. You'll be happy you did, and you'll probably be a fair bit safer.