The Aftershokz Reality
I loved them! Nothing like getting to the point… And yes I know I am a bit late to the party, the rest of the world already has them, but just in case you are still thinking about spending a few pennies then here are my thoughts.
I have not worn headphones for quite a while, but in this new Lockdown reality with no racing on the horizon I have been relieving the boredom of daily maintenance runs by listening to podcasts or even 80’s music. Luckily I still had a pair of really old wired headphones, enough to get me going. But with a definite break in the wire it was a bit hit and miss which ear might work and for how long. I decided to go nuts and invest in something better.
A quick straw poll showed that many of my circle of contacts seemed to be using AfterShokz. To be honest dear reader, none of the real benefits of the product resonated with me! I wouldn’t race with headphones on (can you imagine – British Tri would have kittens and choke on their own rule book!), I’m not in the slightest bothered about hearing all the noise around me and I can’t think of anything I am less likely to do than take a bloody phone call while exercising.
However, I have always struggled with finding ear bud type headphones that stay in. Over the ear work better for me, but they tend to be uncomfortable with glasses and cycle helmet and hard to get on. If they are easy to get on then they fall off!
But these looked like they might fix the comfort / secure problem. That, combined with the discount they offer to England Athletic members swayed it for me.
But which to buy? They seem to have several variations. One version is aimed at swimmers and is not Bluetooth enabled, so I could discount those as that is certainly not my use case. The basic choice then seemed to be go top of the range (better water proofing, slightly longer battery life, 10g lighter). Or go entry level and save some pennies. I was not convinced how well these would work, so decided to spend as little as possible! With hindsight they work really well, but actually 10g is not going to matter (it’s not a set of race wheels!!), I’m unlikely to need them for longer than three hours between charges and I would expect them to be light shower and sweat proof. Others might have different criteria, but I’m pretty certain the entry level will do everything I need.
First impressions were really good. The website was easy to use, the product turned up quickly and very nicely presented (if you are a fan of Apple then you are going to like these). What’s more they were fully charged (a small thing but always appreciated) and ready to go.
Pairing them to the phone was a doddle as you would expect with any Bluetooth device. The instruction manual and Quick Reference “Man Card” were all easy to read and told you all you needed to know. One very nice touch is that they have an audio message to tell you the state of charge and if they need recharging.
Wearing them for the first time was a little odd. There seemed to be a noticeable vibration. But to be fair, I had the volume on maximum and also this was only noticeable for the first minute or so.
Very comfortable even with glasses and a cap. In fact I didn’t even notice them. They seemed secure and even when pushing some effort they didn’t move. They really lived up to their marketing hype of being so comfortable you don’t notice them.
Not specifically planned but my route today took me around a lake; where I could hear the wildlife. But also alongside the A509 at a busy time, where I could still easily hear my podcast. No adjustment of volume needed and nor was I wearing the ear plugs they supplied. Just kind of worked in both environments.
The weirdest thing though. I ran past someone (I know… that is unusual for me, but they were going the other way and very slowly!) and we exchanged “Good Mornings”… It wasn’t till some minutes after that it dawned on me that I had actually heard them! It just seemed completely natural and all just worked invisibly.
It vanishes, you no longer notice it, it becomes invisible and just fulfils it’s purpose. Is that what great design is all about? In which case these AfterShokz are simply great design.
If you are thinking of buying some new headphones, and your budget will stretch, just buy them. I doubt you will be disappointed.