Review: Aftershokz Aeropex – user experience

The bone conducting Aftershokz Aeropex headphones. I heard so much about them, many runners I know or ‘know’ through social media are amazed by them and show their enthusiasm. Is it true? Are they as awesome as they seem? Will they work for me? I had my doubts, but after unsuccessfully entering a few winning contests I finally gave in: I bought them. So, do they live up to the hype? I’ve been using them for about four weeks now, let’s me share my thoughts.

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How do they work?

So, these headphones are supposed to allow me to hear music without covering up my ears or pushing sounds in that direction. How is that possible? According to the Aftershokz website, they use a patented bone deducting technology to send mini vibrations through your cheekbones directly to your inner ear. The device sits right before your ears on your cheek leaving your ears open to let in other sounds. 

What’s included?

The Aftershokz Aeropex comes with two charging cables, a carrying case and their own creative solution to noise cancellation: ear plugs. The main selling point of the device is that you are able to listen to music, podcasts, etc. without shutting yourself off from the outside world. In case you do want to shut yourself out, the ear plugs can help with that. I thought it was a funny addition to the package, but haven’t used them yet.

Sound quality

The sound quality of the headphones is better as I expected. It’s not comparable to any in- or over-ear headphone in the same price range, but when I’m out for a run I have no need for perfect sound quality. I am no audio expert, but for me the music sounds like it should sound. 

I did notice the volume of my music changing when I move my jaw around, but I only discovered that during a very hard run as I was having difficulties catching my breath. 

Comfort and experience

As the picture below shows, the Aftershokz Aeropex sit just in front of the opening of the ear. It’s surprisingly comfortable. There is a thick cable that ensures the device stays firmly in place. It’s not adjustable and comes in only one size. For me it sticks out at the back of my head for about 3 centimeters, but that has no impact on how they stay in place. 

The vibration of the device is slightly noticeable, especially on higher volumes, but doesn’t bother me. I find myself adjusting the volume quite a lot though, depending on where I am. I have trouble differentiating multiple sound sources, which is probably the main reason I held off on buying these for as long as I did and why I asked the question “will they work for me?”. When I’m in a grocery store or on a busy road, it feels as if the volume of the device has gone down and I find myself wondering if my music is still playing. But, when I’m on a quiet trail in the woods, I am able to hear the music perfectly at that same volume level. This is more confusing for me as it is an actual issue. It’s not a bad thing that I hear my surroundings better when there are noises around and if I choose to block them out I can just increase the volume. Or use those earplugs that are still in the packaging. 

Battery life

The battery life is stated to be 8 hours. I have not checked this thoroughly, but after using it for four weeks I’ve only had to charge it twice so far. With about 4 hours of running per week, that adds up pretty good. 

Controls

The device has three buttons: one button on the left side and two buttons on the right side that are more hidden away. These buttons are how you control your music, adjust the volume, pause, skip, etc. For me personally, the button control doesn’t feel natural just yet. But maybe I still need to get used to using actual buttons again after using the touch controls of my previous headphones. 

One thing about the buttons I don’t understand is that the power on/off button is the same button as volume up. Volume up is a short press and volume up/down a long press. For some reason though, this means that when I’m trying to turn my headphones off, the volume goes up first which is the opposite effect of what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve tried solving this by pausing the music first, but that has somehow led to the headphones remaining on for half a day, which I didn’t realize until I received a call. I guess that means the device doesn’t automatically turn off when not in use. 

Aftershokz Aeropex – Blue Eclipse
Also available in Cosmic Black, Lunar Grey and Solar Red

Summary
These are very good headphones for anyone who still wants to be able to hear their surroundings while listening to music (or anything else). I’ve read many reviews claiming these are the best bone conducting headphones on the market today. Personally I don’t have any experience with other bone conducting headphones, but I am very happy with my purchase. 

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