After going through multiple sports earphones which eventually succumbed to sweat (even waterproof ones), I decided to switch my focus and give bone conduction earphones a shot. A quick search showed overwhelmingly good reviews for Aftershokz’s Trekz Titanium. Here is how it has performed over the past year.
- Bone conduction is great for outdoor workouts. Bone conduction earphones work as if two speakers are attached to the cheek bones area close to your ear. Aftershokz has executed this well. Bone conduction has worked great for me in two ways. First, it enables me to listen to music while cycling because I am able to still pick up traffic audio cues while on the road. This is impossible with normal earphones which renders them unsafe for cycling. Even when running, I can now hear what/who is coming from behind which allows me to be a more considerate runner. Second, I am partially deaf on my right ear as I was born missing two ear bones. Bone conduction seems to be able to bridge this gap more effectively than the usual air waves.
- Audio quality trade-off is acceptable. The trade-off for bone conduction is audio quality. Your ears are unsealed which is the whole point of being able to hear your surroundings. But this also means that it will be a lot harder to pick up the bass. Besides the near absent bass, the Trekz Titanium projects the highs and mids well. Voice quality is also excellent for both audio and during calls. There is an EQ toggle mode with just two options. I picked one that worked the best for me and never bothered toggling again. Nevertheless, this is a good feature given different audio preferences especially for bone conduction. Aftershokz also packages ear plugs for those who want their Trekz Titanium to sound like normal earphones. (Plug in the ear plugs and you can pick up the bass again.) It is a nice touch but I have never used them beyond the first try.
- Microphone is surprisingly good. I had low expectations about the microphone since sports focused earphones have always been found lacking in this area. But I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it has worked. I was able to hold phone calls while travelling at 40kmph in the wind. My callers did not complain of wind noise.
- Durable. I sweat a lot and wipe the earphones after each activity. The Trekz Titanium has continued to functioned well. There is no drop in volume due to water clogging. (I am looking at you Sony.) The product functions as well as it has since day one. The titanium band continues to work well and maintains it shape. This is important because a loose band will not conduct sound well through your cheek bones.
- Battery life. I get around six hours of audio playback easily which is akin to what Aftershokz claims. As most activities do not go past six hours, this works well for me. The battery has continued to hold its six hours charge even after a year of usage.
- Susceptible to Bluetooth interference. The Trekz Titianium is able to connect over longer distances if there are no obstacles. The moment an obstacles comes in the way, connection becomes spotty. Unfortunately, this includes your body. At certain angles, having my phone in my cycling jersey’s back pocket can cause some disruptions to audio quality. As this is rare and occurs only at awkward angles, I will not say that this is a deal breaker. Aftershokz should address this issue in the next iteration.
- No repeat last song button. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I like repeating certain tracks that I find inspiring especially when grinding out difficult intervals. The buttons on the Trekz Titanium can do a lot. In fact, they can perform a total of 13 functions. But none of them include a repeat last song button.
I was about to add the number of “z”s in the company’s name and product line name as a downside but that would be taking things too far. The Trekz Titanium is an excellent sports bone conduction Bluetooth earphone. I have no regrets purchasing this and continue to recommend it to my peers. I bought mine at Stereo Singapore at a then launch price of S$179. Prices have dipped by at least $10 now.