I try to avoid relying on listening to music when I’m training. Headphones are banned in all triathlon events, as they can prevent you from hearing what’s going on and pose a hazard to yourself and other athletes. It makes sense to get used to going without music in training. However, there are a few training sessions where I feel I need that extra motivation that music provides.
I have been intrigued by bone-conducting headphones, as they are the only earphones that are approved for use in all road races under the UK Athletics Rules of Competition. They work differently to traditional in-ear headphones, as they leave your ears uncovered so that you can hear sounds around you. Aftershokz are one of the leading bone-conduction technology brands and I had the opportunity to try out a pair of their Trekz Air headphones for the past few months.
How do Aftershokz Trekz Air work?
The small speakers (transducers) of the Aftershokz Trekz Air rest directly above your cheekbones and as you play music, they vibrate sending soundwaves through your bones to your inner ear. Our eardrums convert sound waves to vibrations and transmit them to the cochlea, so these headphones basically bypass the eardrums completely. It’s a strange concept that we can actually listen to music through our bones.
The wraparound design fits around the back of your head and the speakers hook over your ears to sit just in front of your ears. My immediate impression was how lightweight and comfortable they are to wear. They’re easy to pair with your device using Bluetooth, so there are no tangled wires to worry about.
The buttons to turn on the headphones, control volume and skip songs are located behind the left speaker. They are easy to use, although quite small and placed close together. You can check the battery life via your device and the headphones charge by USB.
What is the sound quality like?
The sound quality is very good, although not as clear as listening through regular earbud headphones. The bass quality is diminished, so they work very well for listening to podcasts and audiobooks, but not as well for music with heavy bass.
I used the headphones when running through noisy areas with construction work, and found that I needed to push them in closer to my ears to fully hear the music. The louder you have the volume, the more they vibrate which can feel quite tingly on the face! They are also quite audible to other people at maximum volume, as the sound ‘leaks’ out.
Do I rate the Aftershokz Trekz Air?
This was the first time I’ve used wireless headphones, so it was a huge improvement to not have wires getting tangled and caught. As I’ve got a few ear piercings, putting earbuds into my ears can be uncomfortable so the Aftershokz Trekz Air worked much better for me. The only downside is that when wearing these, I can’t tuck my hair behind my ears or wear sunglasses!
They seem to be robust in terms of dealing with sweat, especially after sweaty Wattbike sessions! My husband has gone through countless pairs of headphones which have broken quickly after getting sweaty.
As mentioned, I don’t use headphones on every training session- most of my runs are with my club so it’s a bit antisocial to run with music, but for longer solo runs I’ve really enjoyed using the Aftershokz Trekz Air.
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I was gifted the headphones, but all opinions are my own.
Have you ever tried bone-conducting headphones? Do you prefer to train with or without music?