I’ve been fascinated by bone conduction technology for a long time and always suspected it could be wonderful for people with hearing loss and hearing disorders like tinnitus.
Because with bone conduction audio, the vibrations of sound are transmitted through the bones of the head and face directly to the inner ear.
Now you still need to have a functioning cochlea for this to work, but if you have partial hearing loss, it can help quite a bit. In fact, products like the BAHA bone anchored hearing aid are already use this technology to help the hearing impaired.
So I wanted to give it a try!
Last week, I went out and purchased the best pair of bone conduction headphones I could get my hands on: the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphones.
So what’s it like? Well, let’s get into it.
The User Experience:
After several hours of listening to music and podcasts, both in quiet environments and while riding my bike, I can safely say it’s a unique audio experience.
The biggest distinction here is the open ear design. Sound is transmitted as vibration through the cheek bones directly to the inner ear, leaving your ear canals wide open.
And yet, it still sounds like your wearing headphones. It’s wild.
This makes for an interesting experience as you’re able to maintain situational awareness, which is a good thing if you’re like me and you like to listen to music as you ride your bike, or if you like to exercise outside.
Another big difference is that you can feel the vibrations on your cheek while you listen. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it sometimes adds to the experience, but at the same time it’s something you have to get used to.
Here’s the bottom line: they don’t sound as good as a set of quality headphones.
And as a self-proclaimed audiophile, that kind of thing is important to me. But they don’t sound bad either. In fact, they actually sound pretty good, much better than I expected.
I haven’t tried any other bone conduction headphones for comparison, but in reviews across the internet, the Trekz Titanium is unanimously the best of the best of what’s available for consumers. So, it’s safe to say that this is about as good as it gets.
There is plenty of bass, and the treble comes through mostly clear. At higher volumes, however, it can become somewhat distorted. Though you shouldn’t listen at high volumes anyways. Like regular headphones, it will still cause hearing loss.
The Trekz Titanium are very light weight which ultimately makes them very comfortable wear. They wrap around the back of your head, over your ears, and sit just in front of your ears, pressing lightly into your cheek bones. I did not have any problems wearing them for an extended period of time.
The only possible issue here is that the wrap around headband will be bumped if you lay down with them on or sit back in a comfortable chair. I imagine wearing a jacket or clothing with a hood could be an issue as well.
But they are otherwise very comfortable.
The Trekz Titanium also have some additional features that keep it in line with the latest generation of wireless headphones. They feature dual microphones for taking phone calls, volume controls, and buttons to pause/play audio and answer phone calls.
This feature is great for people with partial hearing loss, especially if you have difficulty hearing the other person when you hold a phone to your ear. By transmitting the sound directly to the inner ear, you are more likely to be able to hear the conversation clearly.
And call quality is great through the headphones, though on the other end, it’s not perfect. My wife Megan said that it sounded like I was on speaker phone. Despite this, she could still hear me clearly.
Setting it all up is very easy too. Pairing the Bluetooth was a breeze on both my Samsung Galaxy s8 and Macbook Pro. There is a multi-pairing feature as well that allows you to connect it to multiple devices at once, which nice bonus!
The headphones are also completely sweat and weatherproof (though not waterproof), and the battery lasts about 6 hours on a single charge.
During exercise, I found that I had to make minor adjustments somewhat regularly to keep the contact points set in the right position. Also, sound leakage is an issue at higher volumes. In other words, people can hear what you’re listening to.
One other minor gripe is that when you wear them with glasses, it can affect audio quality slightly and make it more difficult to keep the audio transducers in the right place on your cheeks.
All in all, I have to say I’m impressed, and I would definitely recommend them.
It’s not what I was looking for in a daily set of headphones, but I can see how it could be a fantastic piece of tech for anyone with hearing loss.
It was also an interesting new way to mask the sound of my tinnitus. Because many headphones block out external sounds, it can make tinnitus sound a bit louder.
But with the Trekz Titanium, I could mask the sound of my tinnitus without covering my ears, much like playing music on a speaker. I could see this as an effective tinnitus masking solution for people working in an office setting.
All in all, it’s a completely different audio experience than what you’re used to, but again, that’s not a bad thing.
In a lot of situations, I found it quite nice to be able to hear what was going on around me.
And the price is entirely reasonable. The wireless version I reviewed here is only $100 on Amazon, and considering these are the best of the best when it comes to bone conduction music, that’s a steal.
Though Aftershokz also offers a wired version (Image below) for as little as $60 if you want to give it a try.
I hope you enjoyed my review!
If you have any experience with bone conduction headphones, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Hi glenn, nice video. We are LUCYD, an innovative eyewear provider. We have a bone conduction pair of glasses that has seen some success with the hard of hearing. We would like you to do a video review if possible, of course we can make a donation to your cause. Let me know!
Hi Harrison, I’d love to test these out and would be happy to publish a review. I will email you directly at the email address you used when you left the comment, but in case you don’t receive it, you can reach me directly at email@example.com
As a tinnitus and pulsitile tinnitus sufferer, I’m very interested in these. Thanks for addressing this issue.
I am 93 years old with moderate hearing impairment. I find little problem while talking to somebody on android phone. The talk from other is sometimes not clear. I am NOT interested in hearing music. So will the trekz aftershokz WITH MIC AND WIRED BE HELPFUL TO ME. I am from India.
I imagine it very well could help you hear conversations more clearly on your android phone, but it’s hard to say for sure.
I have an expensive pair of aids always going wrong/ I can only pick up half the words people are saying unless I am in a lift
I bought aftershokz imagining that I could link up with blue tooth chest receiver but people only talk about listening to music …Any one who could fix the system up for deaf people for eating out or at meetings would make a fortune
very interested in this type of solution as well…..bone conduction headphones to capture conversation and ambient sounds! did you come up with a solution? firstname.lastname@example.org
GLENN, THANK YOU FOR THIS REVIEW!! I HAVE SUFFERED FROM CHRONIC TINNITUS SINCE 1985 AND I WAS IN THE marine Corps. I spent hundreds of hours a month on the rifle and pistol ranges so tinnitus was the result of trying to practice practice to be the best at my job anywhere in the world!! I have a disability rating from the VA DUE TO THE SEVERITY OF MY TINNITUS. SOME DAYS IT’S SO LOUD IT SOUNDS LIKE A JET TAKING OFF RIGHT NEXT TO ME, I HAVE EECIEVED THE BEST CARE AND HEARING AIDS THE VA has to offer but it never really helped. After r eating your review and your mentioning the bane of my existence on earth Tinnitus. I was almost in tears just thinking about the possibility of some kind of relief even if I t’s only a distraction from the high pitched sounds that my ears and mind are bombarded with 24/7/365. If I could get t 10 minutes a day of at least some distraction my life would be 100% better!!! I hope somebody will come up wit a way to adjust the pitches so they could be used like a white noise generator and one could just adjust away the sounds of tinnitus( copyright 2020 mad viking designs) lol!! Thank you so much again for thi review I think you might have just helped out a very desperate vet who was coming to the end of his rope with the constant screaming in my head!!!! I’ll let you know how they work and working on the adjustable white noise generator for them to connect to. I personally can’t wait until we finally have a working prototype that I can use at bedtime so once again I can hear absolutely nothing and sleep through the night yet being freaked out and awoken by loud noises all of t h e sudden going off!!! Horrible way to live!!! Have a good day my friend wish me luck I’ll be in touch soon I hope!!!
I am hearing impaired, and I want to listen to other people talk. Will this product magnify human speech?
I know that this is an old story….. .
But I have tinnitus 24/7 after a car rear ended me, but I just bought the Aeropex Blue Eclipse because I put the demo pair as my wife was about 15 feet away from me getting new shoes in a very busy store.
So I’m standing there getting ready to do the demo because this 24/7 rear ringing is driving me crazy, I put on the Bone Conducting Headphones, and couldn’t believe it, I was hearing my wife’s conversation and suttle soft music all at the same time. It about brought tears to my eyes, but that was short lived because I had just asked about the price of them and now the hard part…… pay for them.
Hi David, if price is an issue, you can get a $38 pair of wireless bluetooth bone conduction headphones on Amazon that work really well!