Aftershokz OpenComm Headset review

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.

If you have read my previous reviews, you will remember that I reviewed other Aftershokz products. Well my friends, we find ourselves here again, another Aftershokz review. I am happy to say that I have found another great headset that I can recommend, this time for working, driving, and other low sweat activities. 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 traditional headsets that go in your ear. So without further rambling, I present the Aftershokz OpenComm

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. My gorilla arms tend to flail about and get tangled up in the wires and rip things off my head/out of my ears. 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.

Good:

Comfort: Like their predecessors, the OpenComm headset is ultra-comfortable. For these new headphones, the engineering wizards have once again managed to make them more comfortable than any other previous headset they have made, including the Air which are fantastic. If you are familiar with the Aeopex headset, then you know what to expect in terms of comfort, these fit the same way.  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; they almost disappear when you are wearing them. I have used this set for a total of about 40 hours and just like the previous model, I almost forgot they were there. They are so light that you can literally forget that you are wearing them.

Fit: The OpenComm fit like, most other wrap behind headsets, but because of the titanium wire-frame design they have a naturally snug feeling. They fit securely in front of your ears and follow the curve of the ear, to help ensure a good fit. The titanium band is very flexible and acts like a spring holding them snug to your head. If you’re wondering, YES, they are glasses friendly, I’ve worn them with both my glasses daily with no issues whatsoever.

Sound Quality: As with all bone conduction headphones; 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 outstanding battery life, I’m talking to you. I continued to be amazed by the sound quality of the OpenComm. 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 were plump and the treble was 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 its vibration that you are hearing. They have once again improved on the “Leak Slayer” feature, which helps cut down on audio leakage, which was an issue for all previous models, and while you’ll never get rid of it completely these are once again a step further in the right direction. As far as call quality I have made a few calls with them, using various phone apps like messenger, skype, google voice, fongo, and the phone app of the phone and people say they can hear me clearly and I can hear them very well too. The OpenComm headset has a new rotatable boom mic that makes sure you can be heard, putting them squarely in the productivity, not exercise category of headsets. Like all other AfterShokz products they feature noise reduction mics to make sure your voice is the most prominent thing people hear.

Packaging/Accessories: when most companies are trying to give you as little as possible when you buy their products, it’s still refreshing to see one going a bit better. Like the previous models, the OpenComm 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, and a multi lingual instruction sheet. 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: Like their older sibling the OpenComm use the same simplified button set, consisting of just three buttons. They are: power on/volume up, volume down, and a multi-function button. The power and volume buttons are bright orange physical buttons. They work as intended and are easy to use. To answer a call you press the multi-function button on the right “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 multi-function button. Dead simple.

Battery: They claim a 16-hour battery life for listening, 8 for talking. I got almost double that in my test, but then again it was a slow week in terms of ccalls and meetings. I’m not sure what volume they have their number spec’ed for but, as always, your mileage may vary.

USB connector: Previous models had a little flap over a micro USB port. This model adopts a new take on the magnetic connecter that the Aeropex have. This connector is both magnetic, and liquid sensing. This means no fumbling around trying to determine the orientation for the connector and they will not charge if the connection senses liquid, so no shorting out. The connecter is on the back of the right-hand control module. It will only connect one way, but since it’s magnetic it’s really easy to do so.

NFC Pairing: The OpenComm have upped the pairing this device game by including the ability to pair with a tap if you have a device with NFC. You turn on NFC on your device, tap the device to the NFC logo on the headset and it will ask if you want to pair. pretty slick.

Waterproofing: The OpenComm have a waterproof rating to IP55.  IP is the name of the standard that was drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to determine how resistant an electrical device is to fresh water and common raw materials – like dirt, dust and sand.

The first digit after IP is the rating the IEC assigned a unit for its resistance to solids. In this case, it’s six – which means no “harmful” dust or dirt seeped into the unit after being in direct contact with the matter eight-hours.

Solid Protection
IP CodeProtection
1Protection from contact with any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part
2Protection from fingers or similar objects
3Protection from tools, thick wires or similar objects
4Protection from most wires, screws or similar objects
5Partial protection from contact with harmful dust
6Protection from contact with harmful dust

Next, we have the water resistance rating.

There are two leading ratings at present – seven and eight, with the former meaning that the device can be submerged in up to one meter of fresh water for half an hour, and the latter up to 1.5 meters for half an hour.

Moisture Protection
IP CodeProtection
1Protection against vertically dripping water
2Protection against vertically dripping water when device is tilted at an angle up to 15 degrees
3Protection against direct sprays of water when device is tilted at an angle up to 60 degrees
4Protection from sprays and splashing of water in all directions.
5Protection from low-pressure water projected from a nozzle with a 6.3mm diameter opening in any direction
6Protection from water projected in powerful jets from a nozzle with a 12.5mm diameter opening in any direction
7Protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins
8Protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter (manufacturer must specify exact depth)

And that’s how IP ratings are formed.

To recap: IP55 means the unit can be withstand some light water like a gentle rain or similar Let’s be clear here: the rating the International Electrotechnical Commission assigns is strictly for fresh water. That means it doesn’t guarantee protection from other liquids – beer, coffee, salt water and soda, to name but a few. Basically you can use them in pretty much any conditions you may find in an office, or while making your way to/from your mode of conveyance and not worry about them dying on you.

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, 8-10 pairs of the Titanium, and 4 of the Air models 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.

Neutral:

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. Being able to hear ambient noises can be a strange experience at first, but you’ll adjust quickly.

Price: The OpenComm have a MSRP of $159.95 USD/209.95 CAD. 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 money for a headset.  Like the Aeropex these are the highest quality Bone Conduction Headset I have had, eclipsing even the Airs, which were my favorites. You can determine what your budget will allow, but the old adage of “You get what you pay for” is generally true for things like this.

BAD:

Comfort: Again, I know I just said this was in the good column, just hear me out. I had no discomfort with the OpenComm 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 subject to vibration for an extended amount of time.) and you will also 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 ever wore them. These days I am so accustomed to them that I never have any discomfort or after effects.

Conclusion:

TL;DR:

  • Bone conduction technology delivers sound through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds.
  • 8-16 hour battery life for music, calls, audiobooks and podcasts, or 10 days of standby time.
  • Complete wraparound titanium design provides a flexible fit for unnoticeable all-day comfort and stability.
  • Water resistant (IP55 rated)
  • Bluetooth v5.0 offers reliable connectivity for up to 33 ft (10m).
  • PremiumPitch 2.0+ delivers wide dynamic stereo sound and louder volume.
  • Re-angled transducers with significantly reduced vibration and enhanced sound quality.
  • OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear.
  • Dual noise-canceling mics minimize surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech for the call recipient.
  • Charge fully in 2 hours with magnetic charging cable. Moisture detection alert included for safe charging.
  • Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play and talk.
  • Hassle-free 2-year warranty included.
  • Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
  • Sensitivity: 105 ± 3dB
  • Microphone: -38dB ± 3dB
  • Bluetooth version: v5.0
  • Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
  • Wireless range: 33 ft (10m)
  • Battery: lithium polymer
  • Continuous play: 8 hours, continuous listening 16 hours
  • Standby time: 10 days
  • Charge time: 2 hours
  • Boom Mic for enhanced voice quality

Conclusion: The OpenComm are a great buy, even at full retail price. They have performed well for me so far and will be my daily driver for work, replacing the Aeopex headset I was using. If you are in the market for an open ear headset, give these a try. If the price point is outside your budget, there are several other Aftershokz models available that are less expensive.