Monday, August 12, 2019

End of Term Review: Aftershokz Trekz Air

If I start my review with /The best headphones I've ever owned in over 30 years/  you might perhaps think that you don't need to read further.  But humour me and carry on

An Apology
I searched the Blog for the initial review of these 1.5 year old headphones and I am ashamed that there is none!   I seem to have forgotten my promise to the offical UK importers whom I met at a Cycle show. They asked me to do a writeup.  So this is both an initial and end of term report, as you shall see:

The Big Deal
It is of course that these and other Aftershokz products rely on bone conduction technology to transmit the sound into your head.

That is to say that these headphones don't in any way cover your ears.  The vibrating unit sits under the ear and you hear via vibration not by a electrically moving diaphragm (speaker) moving air into your ear.

This is therefore the only audio technology that is allowed in UK Athletic sporting events. Covering of the ears is never allowed on any Open Conditions  (i.e. public track) race. So to anybody who does any exercise and who likes to do it to music this is a very very big deal

Of course, it's still upto any race organiser to allow audio players of any description onto a race, but if they do allow any then it is first and usually only Aftershokz bone conduction products.

Believe me, as somebody who not only trains with audio, but thinks it encourages me to go faster and longer, particularly on ultra events, this is a really really big selling point

 A very important point is that all the controls use physical buttons.  So if you are training in weather needing or preferring gloves then you can start/stop volume up/down, power on/off all by button presses

Additionally the micro USB port to charge is a standard shape.  Shame its not a USB-C and also shame that the rubber cover has decided never to go back to seal the unit.

Despite the cover issue it has never broken down even on Ultra events of over 24 hours, in hour upon hour of teaming rain.

 The bump carries the electronics and batteries.   These are headphones with no audio player onboard, they need connection to a Bluetooth audio source.  My 2 favourite ones are my Oneplus smartphone and my Garmin 945 Triathlon watch.   Both can store thousands of musical tracks and stream them over Bluetooth 4 to the headphones.

The battery life is about 3.5 hours, so a marathon and a bit then :-)

I think in 2017 these headphones cost about 150 GBP and conservatively have been used for 1 hour+ every other day.  So at least 365 days * 1.5 years * 0.5 = 273 hours.  So that works out at less than 0.55 GBP per hour of listening.  Very reasonable I would say.

Can I also declare that they have a very robust rubberised headband and flexible ear pieces.  They can be pressed and crushed and go thru may awful angles and tortures without breaking.

Lately these headphones have developed a faulty rattling left earbud which basically makes them unusable, or in fact usable but bloody irritating.  So I'm looking for the next big thing

The current UK Amazon price is down to 100 GBP at this link  Aftershokz now has a fuller range of bone conduction products including 3 ranges of bone conduction headphones for the road and 1 bone conduction waterproof player for the pool.

Beware though that at the time of writing not all products are available officially in your contry market so I advise you to check the UK website (or your contry) first to be sure.  This way you can register your product there in case of any breakdown within the warranty period.

Yes, the Trekz Air are the best headphones that I have owned in the last 30 years.

First they are allowed on UK races, pretty much, unless the race organiser is being awkward

Second they have button controls so use with gloves is just fine

Third, being open when used you get a mix of your sound source and the open air, so you can hear and interact with people, be safe on the bicycle or on the road.   

It is just a terrific product and I have no hesitation to recommend it, and for any serious athlete it is a total no brainer.