Music whilst running, can be a sensitive subject that divides the running community – some people seem to go potty over – not a ‘proper runner’ if you listen to music….if you think that, stop reading and go do one!

When I first started running, I had to listen to music – I mean ‘had’ to. I tried a few variants, from my big over the head headphones, teeny-tiny in-ear buds, to wireless Bluetooth ones – all did a decent job and had positives and negatives to them and I used a pair of MPow Bluetooth in ear buds for a while, but they got annoying after running for more than 30mins and the cord linking the two earpieces would snag and be quite restrictive.

When I first started I ran with a group that utilised the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal and along the River Trent – great for running along and not too busy and no traffic to worry about. That was until, being a slow(er) runner – I was getting in the way of cyclists and runners and I remember once them having to go onto the grass to get around me because I didn’t hear them coming. Also on a few occasions people catching me up who would offer some support – however, I wouldn’t hear it and would shout hello once they’d gone past 20 yards.

Once I’d got into my running I started to run along the road more and I didn’t feel safe running with my earphones in as being a partially sighted runner I need as much of my sensory awareness as possible.

A few weeks ago I met the Aftershokz guys at the London Expo and we got chatting away about Twitter and IG and blogging and they gave me a contact if I was interested in working with them – so, yes, they did send them to me and I didn’t pay for them, but as always my review is honest & all my own opinion.

What are they?

Earphones, those things you use to listen to music and podcasts to while commuting, running, in the gym etc.

Haha, funny Carl, but why are these different?

They utilise something call bone conduction – this is the way they send the sound to your ears. Instead of playing the sound directly into your ears, these send vibrations into your cheekbones and hence sending the sound down to the eardrum – sounds weird right?
What this means is that you can hear whatever you are playing and still hear your surroundings because your ear canals are not blocked by anything – sounds great right?

Tech and Features

Below is taken directly from the product website with some pretty interesting info – I am especially impressed with the play time of 6hrs – this may make them a potential to come to Berlin with me because I’ll still be able to hear all the support on course.

Speaker type: bone conduction transducers

Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz

Sensitivity: 100 ± 3dB

Microphone: -40dB ± 3dB

Bluetooth version: v4.1

Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP

Wireless range: 33 ft (10m)

Battery: rechargeable lithium ion

Continuous play: 6 hours *(how good is that?)

Standby time: 10 days

Charge in: 1.5 hours *(pretty quick)

Weight: 1.27 oz (36g)

 The device itself is really simple with just three buttons, but its amazing what you can do with them.
It took me a while to work out exactly how to pair it and how to pause and play music but once you’ve read the manual (yeah, I know typical bloke, only read it yesterday) there is a whole world you can do with just three buttons…


 
You may be asking what the heck AudreySays is – good, because writing this I asked myself the same question.
I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s basically information read out to you on request, it tells you when the device is in pairing mode, when it is paired and how much battery is left on the device – great idea.
The other great thing about the device is that it doubles up as a hands free device. 

You can make and receive phone calls via your mobile, you can ask it to change tracks, anything you would normally ask Siri to do for you. I have only tried a couple of these features at the moment and I don’t tend to use Siri, but when I have it has worked perfectly

What’s in the box?

The box and packaging is spot on – looks really nice and professional and like a real decent product. Once you’ve got in – and it is a bit of a struggle to get in you really see how simple the product is – no complicated wires or hooks, just the headphones, pouch to keep it safe (which I should definitely be using more) cable for charging, fitbands which are adjustable rubber bands to help it fit better for people with tiny heads, a short user manual and ear plugs…..ear plugs?. Yes Earplugs – I haven’t tried this yet but they’re for times when you don’t need spatial awareness (aeroplane, treadmill, for example) and you can still block out any noise but listen to your music – great idea, yet to see how it works in a practical example!

 

Real-world trial

As soon as I got them I popped them on and used them around the house and I couldn’t get enough of them – the sounds was fantastic, they were really comfortable and they didn’t interfere with my glasses – one thing I did wonder about.

The vibration/bone conduction does tickle a little bit after first but you soon forget about it.
I wanted to take them outside to see what they’re like with real world conditions so I could see (or hear) what it was like. I live on a really busy road and I was pleasantly surprised. I was playing some music, which I had to have on a little louder than I did in the flat due to the noise of the cars but that is to be expected.
You really can hear what is going on around you, but don’t be under any illusions that you can hear perfectly, that’s never going to happen. I would say you can still hear 75-80% of what is going on around you,  compare that to the 100% non-sensory awareness you have with traditional headphones and you’re onto a winner.
Getting ready to leave again, I found the Bluetooth connectivity was tons quicker second time around and I was off straight away and listening.
The fit was great, I didn’t have to adjust them for fidget at all, straight over my head and they’re good to go. These were the the titanium version so they’re incredibly lightweight. You don’t even notice them and for me I found they sat really comfortably. I wear my glasses which are quite thick but it really didn’t bother them and they still sat in position fine – if they are too small you can use the rubber fitbands to secure it better.
The next day I went for a trail run to really try them out properly. Again running they were great, didn’t move about fitted perfectly, no wobbling around or need to make adjustments to them. I was particularly impressed when turning my head to look around it stays into position brilliantly and gives that extra bit of confidence to look around and see properly. 

The sounds is great on the trails where you have no cars or traffic and you can just relax and enjoy your run.

I took them out on Parkrun today, it’s a busy parkrun albeit no traffic. But it is laps and you need to be able to hear when the leaders are coming through and especially people closing on the tighter sections. Rocking out to Queen at the start and I could clearly hear the tail runners coming to catch me and even had a conversation with Colin while running & listening to my music.


By the way – everyone should experience crossing the finish line of a race to the Top Gun Anthem!!

The one and only downside I have found with them however was while I was running – I couldn’t hear my breathing as clearly. Lately, since I’m now able to run distances I run based on my breathing, if I think im breathing too heavy I slow down and visa versa.
I have since listened to both music (all different kinds – I won’t go into detail) and also listened to a few podcasts including MarathonTalk & Tough Girl Challenges with the lovely Sarah Williams and the sound is just as crisp with vocal word as it is with music. 

Speaking of podcasts I want to wish Sarah good luck as she gets ready to walk the whole of the Appalachian Trail! 👍🏻 


Apart from not hearing my breathing on runs, I really cannot fault them my favourite things about them:

– Lightweight

– Stays in position

– Great sound

– Can hear surroundings well

– 6 hours playing time

– Quick charge

– Simple to use

I’ve been really impressed with the product and worn it several times on runs. I wore them the other day when I knew I would be overtaken by the 10k leaders on their second lap – I could still hear them coming from a fair distance behind me. 

Would I wear them on my commute/general wear – probably not, there is no really need to wear them and there is a little bit of sound creep and I don’t really want everyone knowing I’m listening to Don’t Stop Believeing by the cast of Glee (joke obviously….).

For £109 they’re not the cheapest Bluetooth headset you’ll find, but, they probably are the best & the best suited to runners.