Heads Up, I didn’t buy these headphones myself. I was kindly sent a pair of Trekz Titanium Headphones from Aftershokz in exchange for my review. They currently sell for around £109.99 on Aftershokz’ official site.
Like most people, I love listening to Music and Podcasts when I run. I want the distraction from the distance at hand, the beat to keep me in rhythm, or an excuse to escape entirely from the working week.
However, there are usually a few main issues when using headphones on a run.
- Awareness – You have no audible clues of the environment around you. Cars and Cyclists, sometimes even other runners appear out of nowhere. You’re so cut off from the outside world that even saying hello to a passing dog walker results in a decibel-blasting “HELLO” as you can’t even gauge your own internal volume. (I’m sure I have made people leap out of their skin on more than one occasion)
- Sound – You have to compromise on sound quality with running headphones. In-Ear buds will be the best but as above, you lose external noise. Wrap-arounds hang down next to your ear but are tinny and lifeless. Wearing a big pair of cans, well, you just look bonkers!
- Fit and Feel – Most of the run will be spent popping headphones back in, or having them fall out due to sweat. Every step you feel the wires pull at your ears or get tangled in your arm. You can try and tuck them up your top but that just feels wrong. Wrap-arounds sometimes bounce at the back of your neck and again, your focusing on running here, not being a sound technician.
So this is why I was really interested in these headphones. They say on the box they are Bluetooth (great, no wires!) and use Bone Conduction technology.
Bone Conduction (I hear you say)? Yes, Bone, Conduction.
The Trekz Titanium don’t go in your ears. They are wraparound’s that rest just in front of your ears. The sound is produced through what seems to be a combination of a speaker and vibration, so that sound travels through the bones of your ear and deciphered by your brain. Sounds like the stuff of science fiction!
In practice, the sensation is strange at first but you get used to it very quickly. Being able to hear and hold a conversation with someone as music is being beamed inside your head is otherworldly. More on that below.
So let’s see how Aftershokz address some of my concerns above and then some Technical specs and nitty gritty too.
- Awareness – Big green tick here!! As the Trekz Titanium are purely open ear headphones, you are free to hear all outside noise. On my runs, I could hear my environment, cars coming up behind from way in the distance, and yes, I could say Hello to passers-by without screaming in their general direction. It’s no surprise that the Trekz Titanium are the only approved headphones for UK Athletics road races! For the first few runs I was still acting as I did with normal headphones, triple checking roads etc when crossing and looking behind me constantly, but the more I use them the more confident I’m becoming that I can hear just as well as I would without them on.
- Sound – Honestly, I was expecting the sound to be its downfall. How good could sound vibrated through your head actually be? Well turns out, really, really good! With it being a mixture of a speaker and vibration, you get a really broad spectrum with both decent Treble and Bass. To start with I tested out a podcast and the voices sounded rich and clear. I was running down a country lane at this point, so it was funny to be able to hear them talk clearly, whilst it also sounding like some birds had invaded their studio. Getting used to parsing both the streamed sound and your environment was tricky for about 10 minutes but then it became very natural. I then tested them out with some Music and again it really surprised me. The sound was great. For a pair of headphones that don’t go in your ear, it’s surprising how little difference there actually is. For the discerning audiophile I’m sure you may have an issue with the sound, but for a runner who wants to hear their music outside, it’s near perfect to me!
- Fit and Feel – The Trekz Titanium are sleek and modern, getting the Titanium name from the frame they are built on. This allows them to be extremely strong but also incredibly flexible. They slip on easily over the ears and rest comfortably around the back of the neck. Whilst running I cold barely feel them and there was no rubbing on the top of my ears. Being Bluetooth there was no need to fight wires through the run. Both my girlfriend and my Dad tried them on and due to the intuitive design, meant they got then in place first time without instruction. There was no slippage due to sweating, and as they are certified sweat and weather resistant, you’d have no issue facing the elements in them either. They also work well with Glasses so running in them is no issue. I’d say put on your glasses first before the headphones just to get a comfy fit.
So far so good. But these are Bluetooth Wireless headphones, so other than sound and fit they do have other features we should look at.
- What’s in the Box
The headphones come boxed with a carry pouch, USB charging cable, earplugs and silicone fit bands. The pouch looks classy and great for keeping the headphones safe in your bag. The earplugs are for if you want to use the headphones in a safe environment where you can block all external noise. I think it’s a handy addition but I can’t see people using these headphones as your normal around the house headphones. The fit bands are for anyone who needs the extra support around the band and act as spacers to ensure a tighter and comfier fit.
- Headphone Features
The headphones have 3 buttons that can be used when running. The volume up and down are situated on the right arm of the band, and a multifunction button is found on the left ear piece. The volume down also acts as your power button.
The Trekz Titanium support Bluetooth and pairing is nice and simple. When powering on you keep the button held down and it goes into pairing mode. Then in your phone’s menu just tap on the Trekz Titanium headphones and you’re good to go. Next time you use them, just power on and it will automatically connect. You can even pair 2 devices and use whichever you wish on your run (maybe you have multiple phones or music devices etc).
The multifunction button is your play/pause/skip etc and works with different press combinations. You can even use this to take calls as the headphones do include noise canceling microphones, although running on a call may not be the most fun thing for the person on the other end.
There is also an LED light on the underside of the headset that denotes pair mode and battery level
- Battery and Charging
There is a rubber flap on the band that removes to find the micro USB port. Charging takes about an hour for a full charge, and this should last you for 6 hours run time, long enough for your daily run or even a marathon if you wished. (Just remember to charge them up beforehand!)
Being able to hear your sounds, the road, and your body when running is totally worth it in my book. Although yes, the price of entry is high, these seem strong and sturdy and should last the most grueling of runs (they come with a 2-year warranty too!) Being Bluetooth is great to avoid wires completely, but charging them needs to be part of your post-run routine. They sound great for music and podcasts without compromising your comfort. If I had to give this review pair back to Aftershockz, I’d be ordering these again straight away.
If you have any questions or want to know more please do get in touch!