In this Aftershokz Trekz Air Review we will take a close look at these sport-specific headphones
Surprisingly, the Trekz Air could even be used for cycling as the bone conducting technology that Aftershokz use means that nothing goes inside the ear and you are still able to hear environmental sounds.
Aftershokz Brand & Range
Aftershokz make both wired and wireless headphones. The Trekz Air is the ‘wireless brand’ which has the premium AIR model and the base-level TITANIUM model as well as a mini version.
Trekz Air – What You Get
As well as a nicely made box you get a rubberized carry pouch, micro USB charging cable and some foam earbuds. Oh yes, and lots of pieces of legal paper that you will never read
I’m not entirely sure what the foam earbuds are for. Perhaps to block out environmental sounds.
Aftershokz Trekz Air Review of the Technology
Bone conduction involves a vibration on your cheek bone being transferred to your inner ear and there recognised as sound. Other companies use this technology – for example, COROS use it in one of their smart cycling helmets.
Trekz Air – Around the Headphones
The controls on the Trekz Air are super simple. The device pairs up to your smartphone super easily…well, it did to mine. They also should pair to most, if not all, running watches that support music and bluetooth headphones
Here are the volume controls and charging port
Here is the black multifunction button. Most simplistically this plays/pauses music but also: skips to the next track and answers calls. There are other functions it performs too (see manual link, below)
The two holes in the other part of the headphones (above) are for the microphone.
Trekz Air – Wearing & Usability
Take a look at this slide show. There are 6 images showing various aspects of wearability. Some obvious, some less so. And I will point out those aspects of wearability in the next section.
- The wire around the back of the head does NOT touch the neck/skin, even if you have a large head (small-headed person shown!).
- The device is held in place around the ear. It actually works well in that respect and after 5 minutes or so you don’t know you are wearing them.
- People with long hair may experience some mild annoyance if their heavy hair keeps pushing down the wire to the rear. Although you could equally wear over the hair to the rear (the person shown has a LOT of hair)
- It seems best to wear glasses/sunglasses on top of the Trekz Air above the ear. But they can work either way around.
- Similarly with the straps of a bike helmet, the straps can go over or under the Trekz Air. With the Trekz Air touching the strap, rather than the skin, audio quality must have been affected but the difference was not noticeable to me.
- The headphones are a unique design, then again so are the Apple AirPods. Either you like them or you don’t. It’s a personal thing. I’ve had them called both ‘cool’ and a tentative ‘unusual’
I am specifically looking at headphones this year to complement my search for the best running watch with music. Which means I’m mostly looking at sports headphones. The Aftershokz Air definitely fall into this category.
- I was a little sceptical about their suitability for running. I imagined they would bounce around a fair amount. I used them in one fast 5x1km interval session and they were perfectly fine for running FAST. Over several longer, steadier runs they were great.
- I am somewhat loathed to recommend them for cycling. You REALLY shouldn’t be listening to music on the road and you are inviting your early demise. On the other hand if you are going to listen to music these must be marginally safer than earbuds or headphones that cover the ear. The Trekz Air specifically let you hear environmental sounds such as that approaching car. Perhaps there is an argument for using them as you take and receive calls? Perhaps. You should still pull over.
- The buttons were probably slightly better to use than those generally found on true wireless earbuds in that with the wireless earbus often pressing a button can mean pressing the earbud further into your ear, which can be uncomfortable at times. This is NOT the case with the Aftershokz ie a relatively pain-free button pushing experience!
- The Aftershokz Air do actually vibrate. You can FEEL the audio vibration as well as hear it. Different audio frequencies are more readily felt. Sports watches could make good use of this by sending a vibrate alert, for example, when you have reached your next autolap (or other alert state).
The audio quality was a little muted compared to in-ear headphones.
By design, other sounds are INTENDED to get into your ear and this is one aspect of why the music quality appears to be lessened. Thus you may find that using the supplied foam earbuds will enhance your audio fidelity experience.
Generally, other people can’t hear what you are listening to. Sure it depends on the volume, but in an up-close-and-personal scenario in, say, an elevator then others CAN hear what you are listening to.
Music When Running
If you have the AfterShokz and wnat to know what sports watch will send your songs to it then look no further than this detailed guide to the best running watch with music.
Aftershokz Trekz Air Specifications
Resource: Trekz Air Manual (link to pdf on shopify.com)
Multipoint pairing is possible – ie two saved Bluetooth 4.2 pairings are possible and either can be active.
Available colours are Forest Green; Midnight Blue ; and Slate Grey
Other Features & Specs
- 20% lighter than the titanium model.
- IP55 certified for protection against dust and sweat.
- Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
- Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
- Sensitivity: 100 ± 3dB
- Microphone: -40dB ± 3dB
- Bluetooth version: v4.2
- Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
- Wireless range: 33 ft (10m)
- Battery: rechargeable lithium ion
- Continuous play: 6 hours
- Standby time: 20 days
- Charge in: 2 hours
- Weight: 1.06 oz (30g)
Aftershokz are the market leader.
Other companies to look out for with directly competing product technologies are: Vibrabeats with the Vidonn; and Panasonic with the RP-HGS10-G.
Failing that you will have to revert to the usual wired, wireless and true wireless options. Here are a few to consider for running with music.
- Jabra Elite Active 65t $170/£150 Sweet
- Jabra Elite Sport £125/£110 Inbuilt heart rate monitor #Clever
- Bose SoundSport FREE $199/£160
- Jaybird X3 Wireless $120/£100
- Jaybird Run $159/£140
- Bose SoundSport Wireless $199/£180
- Sennheiser PMX 686G Sports $35/£30
- Optoma NuForce BE Sports3 $63/£/Eu54
- JBL Under Armour Sport $120/£100
- LifeBEAM Vi $250/£210
- Apple AirPods $160/£140
Philosophising and Physics
Sound waves are just amounts of energy that vibrate atoms, causing bouncing from one atom to the next. There is absolutely no reason why this can’t happen through the atoms in your cheek bone or atoms in the air. Part of the issue that arises from that is what other sounds might get mixed up with the sound you want to listen to.
If you have a NON-AfterShokz earbud wedged into your ear, the sound quality has the potential to be better but that is to the exclusion of potentially ALL other sounds. One reason why they sound good is another reason why they could be dangerous ie regular earbuds might be dangerous in many modern-day environments ranging from pedestrians in cities to cyclists anywhere.
Philosophising where this is all going, it’s clearly the case that our technology can be isolating us from the world around us. The Aftershokz Trekx Air Review ed here certainly bucks that trend in a useful and positive way.
Price, Discounts & Availability
The RRP is £150 and that seems to be the same price as on Amazon. In the US they are slightly cheaper at $160 or about Eu170 in the EU.
This AfterShokz Trekz Air review found a safety-focussed sports headphone that works well and is hard to beat in its intended target market.
In a previous life I was a bit of a wannabe audiophile and that’s what I look for most when I listen to music for pleasure. However, when running with music, I see the music as more of a distraction. I am also personally concerned that I am aware of my surroundings when running. I tend to run where there are no cars but more likely there will be bikes. So I still need to hear what’s coming from behind me.
So I’m torn. I want awesome quality music but I don’t want to get hurt by a third-party. If your concerns err YOU towards the latter then I’d definitely say go for the Aftershokz Air.