I’ve had a rough go at finding the perfect running headphones. Either they work well but short circuit after a few months due to “sweat damage,” or worse, they start falling out of my ears as soon as I start sweating.
Now, I don’t consider myself to be a particularly sweaty person, but apparently I perspire enough for earbuds to start slipping out as soon as I start to sweat it out. Even if the headphones were designed to wrap around my ears and not completely fall out, they would still get dislodged enough that I couldn’t fully enjoy my music on a run. And don’t get me started on over-ear headphones, which are cumbersome and would be drenched with sweat by the end of a run.
After going through approximately four different pairs of wireless headphones, I thought I was doomed to mediocre running tunes. That is until I discovered AfterShokz Titaniums at a Boston Marathon convention. These bad boys are superior to any other wireless headphones I’ve tried because, instead of sitting inside your ears or covering them, they actually rest in front of them.
Through bone conduction technology, AfterShokz deliver music through your cheekbones. No, really. The first time I tried them on I was shook. Despite not hearing any sound coming out of the headphones, as soon as I put them on I could hear music clear as day like some sort of black magic was involved. Not only does it result in good sound that passerbys won’t hear, but it also ensures your ears are still open to ambient sounds, which is essential for staying safe while running.
The best part? Because of this unique design, they cannot physically fall out of my ears—no matter how much I sweat—because they’re never actually in my ears in the first place.
AfterShokz recently released their latest model in their bone conduction headphone lineup called the Aeropex (also available at Amazon). They’re lighter and more attractive than the Titaniums I currently own, so when AfterShokz offered me a chance to test them out, I raced to my editor to pitch the idea of testing them out.
How does bone conduction work?
The open-air design of bone conduction headphones works by vibrating sound through the left and right side of your cheekbones. The sound then makes its way to your inner ear by this alternative route, allowing even those who have hearing loss to listen to some sweet tunes—which I found fascinating.
Because of these vibrations, though, it means the bass and overall sound isn’t as great, as say, noise-canceling headphones, but it’s still good enough for an enjoyable run. But Aeropex have been fitted with 30-degree angled transducers that reduce vibration and enhance sound quality compared to the Titaniums. So they sound better, but are nothing compared to Sony wireless headphones.
Testing out bone conduction headphones
After running, working out, and commuting with the Aeropex for a few weeks, I can say confidently that they are superior to the Titaniums I love so much and way more than any of the other running headphones I’ve tried.
Weighing just 1 ounce, these are the lightest bone conduction headphones, according to AfterShokz, and 30 percent lighter than the Titaniums and the difference was apparent the first time I put them on. A few minutes into my first run, I barely felt anything resting on my ears. It allowed me to get into the zone while still enjoying my favorite running playlist, unlike the clunkier Titaniums, which I could feel shifting around during my workout. Plus, not worrying about my headphones falling out is literally a blessing because I can actually focus and enjoy my run.
The open-air design of the Aeropex make them my ideal choice for running outside. Being able to hear cars or a potential snatcher while still jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack has been a game changer. I’m aware of everything around me, even when the headphones are at max volume, which makes me feel a lot safer when heading out on a run alone.
Connecting my phone to the Bluetooth was seamless. The power and volume controls are on the right side of the Aeropex and are easy to find and press, no matter how intensely you’re running. One gripe, though, it that every time you adjust the volume with the buttons on the headphones results in a quick beep that’s louder than whatever you’re listening to. It’s quite annoying, but can be avoided by using your phone to adjust the volume instead.
The best features of the Aeropex headphones
The Aeropex headphones have great battery life of 8 hours. Because I only use them for my workouts, I found that I can go more than a week without charging then, even when using them for daily runs. They last much longer than the Titaniums, which has 6 hours of battery, but don’t like as long as say the Powerbeats, which have 12 hours. But it’s still a happy medium.
They also have an IP67 waterproof rating, meaning they’re waterproof down to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. This basically guarantees that they’ll stand up to a rainy jog or some excessive sweating without a problem.
These headphones have also made the switch from Micro USB to a cable that magnetically latches to pins. I was initially worried about sweat getting in the exposed design of the charger and potentially short-circuiting the headphones. But the Aeropex will literally beep at you if you try to charge them when the charging port’s contact points are wet. AfterShokz was also kind enough to include two USB charging cables in every box, which is a major bonus and means you can charge them up in the office or have a spare if you use one.
What I didn’t like about the Aeropex
Although I loved that I couldn’t feel the Aeropex shift around too much during my runs, I do wish these headphones were adjustable. Personally, I would like to make them a little snug around my head or have the option to expand them if need be.
The open-air design of the Aeropex makes them especially great for outdoor activities like running and biking when you want to still hear what’s going on around you. But when you want to zone in during a workout or just tune out the world around you, they’re definitely not the best option.
When I wore them at the gym, I could hear the sounds of footsteps on a treadmill and the clashing of weights dropping, even at full volume on my headphones. Watching an episode on Netflix while on the elliptical also proved to be rather difficult—I could barely hear the show. But these headphones aren’t intended to block out noise, so I knew I had to give them a try in this setting but the results did not come as a surprise.
Are AfterShokz right for you?
This gives the Aeropex one real function for me: Running. Unless you’re a serious runner or biker or just want to walk the streets and listen to music while aware of your surroundings, I wouldn’t recommend them. They’re not great for the gym, so if you’re doing a multitude of workouts, it’s kind of a waste of money.
With a price tag of $160, it’s a hefty price to pay for a one-trick pony pair of headphones. But for running headphones that will actually stay in my ears and still sound good, they’re completely worth it for frequent runners like me.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.