The Aftershokz Bluez 2S are a different type of headphones, headphones that will let you run or cycle whilst still being able to hear what's going on around you. The Aftershockz are wireless but they don't go in or over the ear. They actually conduct the sound via your cheekbone which is really weird but the technology is really cool and also really works.
When I first heard of the concept a while back, perhaps two or three iterations before this one, I thought this would be another kickstarter style flash in the pan. Yet two years down the road they've stuck around and continually iterated on the product line.
Granted, communication from the company has been non-existent, despite Tweets and emails for review gear. That hasn't stopped me bugging my cycle shop to try on a set though. After a few days of real life testing I've come away very positive about them.
The best application for the Aftershokz Bluez 2S is definitely in the realms of biking. Heading to the gym and working out on weights, or taking them out for a run, they bounced around a little bit too much for my liking. I found myself always adjusting them to keep them fitted nicely.
It's biking where these really excel. Not only do they allow you to hear what’s going on around you but also don't restrict head movement like wired cables can.
Legality-wise check before you go out on the streets. Some countries laws don't allow the wearing of headphones in a car if both ears are covered. As these are open you might be OK, but check. Don’t say you weren't warned.
Comfort And Fit
In terms of fit it's pretty good. Exceeding my expectations. I thought they were going to be uncomfortable from first looks. They sit just over the ear nicely and don't tug down at all from testing on smooth and uneven surfaces and they fit nicely against the face without too much pressure. They seem to slice the sound so you do hear some of the wind noise, but I could hear the audio clearer than I expected I would and heard less of the wind noise than I first thought I might.
There is an adjuster that you can put on if you want to keep them tighter against your head. I didn't use that because for me the fit was pretty good.
You will be adjusting them now and again as they do slide down a little, but not too much. It's a small price to pay given the fact that they connect via Bluetooth. Any reason not to have to deal with cables is a plus point in my opinion.
In addition to all that they are sweat proof, standing up nicely to a recent hard cycling session.
Battery life And Calls
During testing battery life has been impressive getting around six hours or just under. That’s pretty good. The headset is micro USB rechargeable and with these cables being common and in plentiful supply all over the place, you shouldn’t ever struggle to keep them charged.
You can make calls with the in built microphone and, according to people I talked to on the the phone, microphone quality was fine. I came through clear enough and I could hear the voices in my head from the other party pretty clearly as well.
There are some limited control functions on the headset. Some of these may change depending on your device. On my iPhone starting and stopping tracks worked with no problem however.
The one thing I struggled with is how to go back a track. You can skip tracks and pause tracks but I simply couldn't work out how to go back to a previous track. There was nothing in the manual to help with this and it seems a silly omission if this isn't possible. If you know how to do this please do leave a comment below and enlighten me!
The Bluetooth connection was pretty stable. If I walked outside outside about 20 or 30 feet away from either my iPhone or iPad the signal started to drop. Some headphones like the Plantronics Sport will advise to carry your phone on the right arm as that’s closer to the receiving bluetooth unit in the headphones and prevents drop up. The Aftershockz were happy wherever my phone was placed, even in the sometimes black spot which is the back of my running shorts.
Being able to keep your iPhone on your cycle mount or in a protected rucksack is the way forward. After crashing my bicycle I was glad the phone wasn't on my body as I hit the cement.
Don't expect to be blown away by the sound quality. These are using resonation through your skull to produce sound. It will sound a bit hollow, a touch tinny, but you will get a smidgen of base and it's certainly not a bad listening experience. It is just not the best. However the sound is stereo and you will notice left and right channels.
You are paying not only for a relatively new field of technology but also to be able to clearly hear what is going on around you.
Also these aren't easily stowed away in a bag or rucksack unlike other corded headphones you can wrap up and put away somewhere. Take care to put them away carefully so as not to break them.
Price And Availability
Available on Amazon for £74.99 or $99.00 at the time of writing, these aren't the cheapest of earphones; and given the sound quality I'd say try and get in the sales and see if you can’t get them at a discount. [asa2_collection tpl="Columns_layout" associate_id_set="my_amazon_accounts"]3[/asa2_collection]
Overall On Aftershokz Bluez 2S
I was impressed with the Aftershokz Bluez 2S. My expectations for them were really low but they definitely delivered. I can see myself using these plenty when I'm out riding my bike (safely and still observing traffic around me I might add).
If you can find a sports shop where you can trial some I would heartily suggest you do so before purchasing. It is a new experience to get used to and you probably need listen to experience how they work and the sound quality for yourself before making a decision. You won’t be purchasing them for the audio quality more the ability to deliver sound without blocking the environment.