As always this will be a down and dirty type of review. It will be based in real world terms, not fancy marketing hype. Ready or not, here we go.
Disclaimer: None, this equipment was not provided to me by the manufacturer, I obtained it myself.
Common background information: I work-out a lot, I sweat profusely and I have shorted out at least 4 dozen headsets in my pursuit of sweat-proof earphones/headsets to use while I run, lift, and bike. If you have read my previous reviews, you will remember that I reviewed other Aftershokz products last year. Well my friends, we find ourselves at another Aftershokz review. I am happy to say that I have found another great headset that I can recommend. Like their predecessors these are a bit different than standard headsets/earphones in that they are an open ear, bone conduction type of headset. That means they sit on your cheekbones and send sound to your inner ear, not like tradional heatsets that go in your ear. So without further rambling, I present the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium http://www.aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/trekz-titanium
If you are unfamiliar Aftershokz, read on and maybe find a new must have. Read my previous reviews of their products, or visit their website. If you’re a return Aftershokz fan, welcome back. When I first came across Aftershokz, I was looking for bone conductive headsets. I knew they were out there but hadn’t ever found any Bluetooth ones before. Anyone who knows me knows I HATE, and yes that is a strong word, but I absolutely hate wired headsets and earphones when I exercise. My gorilla arms tend to flail about and get tangled up in the wires and rip things off my noggin. I was happy to find that someone had stepped up and created a Bluetooth BCH and couldn’t wait to try them out. I have never looked back and this headset is no exception to that rule.
Comfort: I cannot stress this point, enough, because they do not go in your ears, but rather sit on your cheek bones, they are extremely comfortable. I wore them for a total of about 10 hours the first day I had them, and just like the previous model, I almost forgot they were there, except for the constant rhythm I had in my head.
Fit: The Trekz fit like, most other wrap behind headsets, but because of the titanium wire-frame design they have a naturally snug feeling. If you’re worried about them falling off while you work-out, don’t. I know some of you out there are going to be like, “But I really workout hard/fast/violently/whatever…” Yeah I do too. I do 45-60 minutes of weight training followed by 60-90 minutes of trail/road running. In the course of my workout my head gets flung into many different positions, sometimes with a fair amount of force. Guess what, they stay in place just fine. They fit securely in front of your ears and have a silicone stabilizer wings (new to this model) that you can add if you have a smaller head. They have stayed in place so far for me, in excess of 10 hours of workout time so far. As a note Aftershokz has stated that they are coming out with a smaller version of these for children or those of you out there with smaller heads. If you’re wondering, YES, they are glasses friendly .
Sound Quality: If you’re looking for a headset that can be an audiophile’s wet dream, I’m going to ask you to kindly stop reading right here, as these are not the headphones you are looking for. If, however you are looking for a headset that has great audio, phone capabilities, and decent battery life, I’m talking to you. I was surprised by the sound quality of the Trekz, even compared to the Bluez2/Bluez2S models which were very good. They do a great job of reproducing the sounds that you would normally have going into your ears. The bass was bassy but not overbearing, the mids and highs were there and represented well. If you have them cranked all the way up you can hear the music coming out of them from a distance, but if you set them down on a hard surface they will shake and rattle all over the place, letting you know it’s vibration that you are hearing. They have improved on the “Leak Slayer” feature, which helps cut down on audio leakage, which was an issue for the originals. As far as call quality I have made a few calls with them and people say they can hear me nice and clearly and I can hear them very well too. They have an additional microphone for noise reduction, and it appears to work as advertised.
Packaging/Accessories: when most companies are trying to give you as little as possible when you buy their products, it’s refreshing to see one going a bit better. Like the Bluez 2, the Trekz are packaged well in a nice box. Inside that box is a semi-rigid carrying case, a charging cable, a warranty card, a quick start guide, a multi lingual instruction sheet and the ear plugs (for when you are say, on a plane or train, and can block out all noise). Unlike some of the other brands that give you throw away packaging and the headset, it’s nice to get the little extra touches with these.
Controls: New to this model is a more simplified button set, consisting of just three buttons, down from four. They are: power on/volume up, volume down, and a multifunction button. The power and volume buttons are rubber coated/booted physical buttons. They work as intended and are easy to use. To answer a call you press the multifunction button on the left “ear” piece (when you are wearing them), this will pause any media you have running. To end the call you press the button again. To make a call a double press of the button gets you into the dialog for that. To play/pause your music you single press the multifunction button. Dead simple.
Battery: They claim a 6 hour battery life. I was able to get almost 10 hours out of them the first day I had them. The first couple of hours were at about 80% volume, while the rest was at 50% or a little below. I’m not sure what volume they have their number spec’ed for but, as always, your mileage may vary.
Multipoint Connectivity: A welcome addition to this model, multi-point connectivity is finally here. Unfamiliar with the term? It means the headset can be paired to more than one device at a time. Previous models could only be paired to one, like your phone. If wanted to use it for your computer or tablet as well you had to go through the pairing process every time you switched devices.
Warranty: They come with a 2 year warranty, that covers defects in workmanship and sweat damage. As a side note, they truly stand behind their products. I destroyed 12 pairs of the original Bluez, about that many of the Bluez 2 headsets with my overactive sweat glands. They happily replaced them no questions, no qualms. They even interviewed me about my experience with their customer service. This is a company that I can say honestly, really cares about their customers. The customer service staff that I have worked with have all been great. Always courteous, always genuine, and always eager to help me get my issue resolved.
Sound Quality: I know I just said this was in the good column, but there is something I need to tell you about that is neither Good nor Bad when it come to the sound quality. Remember these are an Open Ear style headset. That means you can still hear outside sounds/noise when you use them. For me this is a good thing, I often run along roads and busy streets, and being able to hear approaching traffic is always good. Also being able to hear your breathing and your foot falls while running can aid in your training efforts. While I enjoy the solitude that my in ear headsets give me, the safety factor takes precedence when running outside. Being able to hear ambient noises can be a strange experience at first, but you’ll adjust quickly.
Price: The Trekz have a MSRP of $129.99 but I imagine that street price will vary a bit once they are publicly available. The price point is not too outrageous for a Bluetooth stereo headset of this quality, but I know not everyone can shell out this kind of moolah for a headset. To date these are the highest quality Bone Conduction Headset I have had.
Comfort: Again, I know I just said this was in the good column, just hear me out. I had no discomfort with the Trekz but the following goes out to anyone who is new to bone conduction headsets. You will likely have no discomfort while wearing/using them. You may notice a strange sensation when you take them off. After being on your head for a long time, you may notice a weird tingling sensation on your face (no doubt from being shook for an extended amount of time.) and you will likely notice a sense of relief when you take them off. Because they put pressure on your face, it apparently builds up after a while. I only noticed it after taking them off and only the first few times I wore them. These days I am so accustomed to them that I never have any discomfort or after effects.
USB Flap: In order to maintain the Water resistance/Sweat Proof-ness they have a small flap that covers the USB port. It’s made of plastic and is held in place with a welded joint. I would have rather seen a flap with a slightly more rubber-like consistency, as opposed to the plastic they are using but that is neither here nor there. It has been ok so far but we will see how it holds up. All of the previous models have been surprisingly resilient, so I expect no less of this model.
Conclusion: The Aftershokz Trekz are a good buy, even if you have to pay full retail price. They have performed well for me so far and will be my daily driver (replacing the Bluez 2S model) for working out and running, assuming I don’t prove the sweat-proof claims inaccurate. If you are in the market for an open ear headset, (and you really should be if you exercise anywhere that situational awareness is a factor) give these a try. If the price point is outside your budget look at the previous models. The Bluez 2S or Bluez 2 are readily found for a fair amount less than these, while still providing the open ear benefits.