In March 2021, we tested Lucyd Lyte Bluetooth sun shades, a pair of shades with built-in off-ear headphones. Lucyd Lyte did not fairly impress—largely as a result of their tiny built-in audio system are almost as audible to everybody round you as they’re to you. Immediately, we’ll check out two fashions of bone-conduction headphones urged to us in that assessment’s remark part—the AfterShokz Titanium and AfterShokz Air.
I bought one every of the Titanium and Air in early March and have used them often within the months since. Bone-conduction headphones are undoubtedly not for everybody—however they’re implausible for individuals who want the actual mixture of consolation, consciousness of environment, and improved hygiene they provide.
Open, comfy ears
AfterShokz Air & AfterShokz Titanium
The primary query it is advisable reply when reviewing merchandise just like the Titanium and the Air is “why?” At $80, the older Titanium mannequin is already fairly costly when in comparison with $40 wireless earbuds from Skullcandy—and it solely will get worse if you’d like the newer AfterShokz Air mannequin, at the moment going for $120.
The large draw for the Titanium and the Air is that they go neither in nor in your ears. They’re worn one thing like backward sun shades, with a loop becoming excessive of every ear and a small band wrapping round behind the top. For those who undergo from near-terminal ear sweatiness with typical earbuds and/or headphones, it is a huge consolation and hygiene win.
AfterShokz’s bone-conduction design can be a major purposeful enchancment for individuals who have to preserve listening to their environment. With unobstructed ears, it is a lot simpler to converse with these round you, discover necessary site visitors cues whereas jogging or driving a bicycle, and so forth.
On the flip facet, ambient noise can, after all, distract you out of your content material. That is much less of an issue than you may suppose—one thing concerning the bone conduction “facilities” the sound perceptually, and it was usually very straightforward to tell apart between ambient audio and content material, with little problem ignoring the previous and concentrating on the latter.
If it is advisable block out the surface world, each fashions of AfterShokz ship with foam earplugs—however that diminishes or fully cancels the value-add of the headphones’ open-ear design. For simply diminishing the occasional loud intrusion—an unmuffled truck driving by, a barking canine, or an unusually loud close by dialog—flippantly urgent a fingertip over the ear closest to the annoyance was adequate.
Sadly, neither AfterShokz mannequin holds a candle to standard earbuds and headphones in terms of music. The AfterShokz headphones get loud sufficient to groove to, and the audio is completely clear—however the bass response is extraordinarily restricted, and the general impression that full-range music delivers on an AfterShokz is undeniably flat and unimpressive.
Happily, the headphones’ audio profile is completely suited to reproducing regular human speech—so podcasts, phone calls, audiobooks, and voice navigation all sound nice on both mannequin. Distinguishing between content material and ambient noise is less complicated than you may count on as a result of the bone-conduction transmission makes audio playback really feel centered “inside” your head.
The mic high quality on each fashions is superb. In my testing, calls picked up nearly no ambient noise—considerably lower than our Pixel 2XL’s built-in mic does.
Strong battery life
AfterShokz lists “six hours of steady music + calls on a single cost” for the Air and Titanium fashions alike. I simply exceeded that in my testing, with the cost degree happening about 10 % per hour whereas listening to podcast after podcast on lengthy automotive journeys.
Standby time can be good—AfterShokz claims as much as 20 days of standby time, which once more appears a bit conservative. After leaving a Titanium headset off the charger for per week, it nonetheless registered 90 % cost. A totally discharged headset requires a bit lower than two hours to fully cost.
Very similar to the audio, this is not even near “very best quality” and even “finest worth”—the identical $40 Skullcandy wi-fi earbuds we talked about earlier supply 24 hours per cost. However the AfterShokz fashions are simply adequate for many use circumstances.
The Air and Titanium share the identical controls—a big “multifunction button” on the facet of the left earpiece and energy/volume-up and volume-down buttons beneath the correct earpiece. The charging port is sealed beneath a comfortable rubber flap simply behind the volume-change buttons.
Single-pressing the multifunction button pauses or resumes audio playback, solutions or ends a name, or solutions call-waiting and places the present caller on maintain as acceptable. Double-pressing the button skips to the following track or skips forward 30 seconds in a podcast or audiobook, and long-pressing it for 2 seconds rejects calls, begins voice dialing, or solutions name ready and hangs up on the present caller.
Lengthy-pressing the ability/volume-up button for 2 seconds turns each fashions on or off; long-pressing it for 5 seconds allows Bluetooth-pairing mode. Urgent each quantity buttons without delay mutes the mic if on a name or modifications the equalization profile (between open-air and earplugs-in profiles) if listening to music.
Air vs. Titanium
There are two fashions of AfterShokz bone-conduction headphones—the Titanium and Air. The Air is the newer, upgraded mannequin—but it surely’s not a lot of an improve, and a few individuals may very well favor the older, cheaper Titanium, as I do.
The Air and Titanium each supply the very same audio high quality and battery life in my intensive testing. The main distinction between the fashions is a thinner, lighter band on the Air that some customers favor. Additionally, the beep when adjusting the quantity is considerably louder on the newer Air mannequin—sufficient in order that I discovered it a bit painful.
Though the Air does really feel perceptibly lighter than the Titanium, it felt much less adjustable. When sporting both of the headphones for longer than two or three hours constantly, some customers will wish to sometimes shift the strain level of the headset to attenuate irritation. I discovered a higher vary of positions wherein the Titanium could possibly be efficiently used, which in flip made it a better option for long-term consolation than the Air mannequin. Paired with the quieter quantity adjustment beep, that made the Titanium the higher alternative for me.
After all, completely different customers may have completely different opinions—I initially purchased one Titanium and one Air, and my spouse and daughter (who finally bought her personal) most well-liked the Air.
For those who do not strongly dislike typical earbuds or headphones, it is onerous to make a case for both the Air or the Titanium—they price extra, have much less battery life, and do not supply a full musical vary of audio copy. However they’re excellent for audio duties centered on a comparatively regular human talking vary, and their battery life is sweet sufficient for even heavy day by day use.
Most significantly, they keep out of your ears fully—which is the large characteristic that drove me to purchase them on an experimental foundation within the first place. AfterShokz headphones do not go away you with sore or sweaty ears after hours of steady use. The consolation issue is not excellent—I discover myself desirous to wiggle the headphones round somewhat after three or extra hours—but it surely’s a particular enchancment.
AfterShokz’s bone-conduction expertise does not intervene with regular listening to in any respect, making these the polar reverse of noise-canceling headsets. With AfterShokz headphones in, you may hear each dialog, automotive driving by, or kid-mischief happening round you. I do not really feel secure bicycling with earbuds in, however each fashions are nice for combining a motorcycle commute with the most recent episode of a favourite podcast or serially printed audiobook.
The Air and the Titanium are additionally useful with house faculty craziness—my spouse can pay attention for questions and/or shenanigans from children whereas podcasting, audiobooking, or taking calls, and my daughter finds them considerably higher for sophistication interviews and required multimedia consumption than the normal headsets all three children already had.
- Hear every little thing happening on the earth round you whereas audio is taking part in
- Glorious copy of human speech
- Glorious separation of speech and ambient noise within the onboard mic
- Simple pause, resumption, and time-skip of content material with massive button on left facet
- No person else can hear your AfterShokz audio—even at very excessive volumes
- Regulate quantity, pause, skip ahead, mute, reply, disconnect utilizing bodily buttons on the headset
- No sweaty/uncomfortable ears after hours of use
- Hear every little thing happening on the earth round you whereas audio is taking part in
- Mediocre-at-best musical copy
- Much less battery life than most fashionable wi-fi headphones supply
- No on-the-headset “rewind / skip again” button
- A bit on the expensive facet ($80 for the Titanium, $120 for the Air)