review: Listening to music can make exercise more tolerable. Witness the huge market for sweat resistant armband cases, cases and earphones. Listening to music when you’re outside running, biking, or exposed to environmental hazards (ie, cars, trucks, and other motorized vehicles) can be dangerous to your situational awareness. aftershokz, a company that specializes in bone conduction headphones, has several offerings that can mitigate these dangers. the latest is a product: the aftershokz xtrainerz bone conduction mp3 swimming headset review: fill your underwater world with sound. this is a set of earphones that include memory and controls with a built in mp3 player. I was sent one to try in the black diamond colourway, which is a dark base color with white fleck accents. (They also come in a blue sapphire).
Reading: Mp3 headphone review
what is it?
aftershokz xtrainerz bone conduction mp3 swimming headphones are bone conduction headphones with integrated sound file storage and playback.
what’s in the box?
- aftershokz xtrainerz bone conduction mp3 swim earphones
- silicone storage case
- usb-a charger/transfer harness
- waterproof earplugs for the ears
- 8 hour battery life
- ip68 waterproof
- comfortable under a swim cap
- supports mp3, wav, wma, aac and flac
the transfer/carrying harness hooks around one of the temple pads
design and features
the aftershokz xtrainerz bone conduction mp3 swimming headphones are encased in a rubber material and are fully sealed against water and dust. the only surfaces without rubber are the contacts that connect to the charger/transfer harness. If you’ve never worn bone conduction hearing devices before, it can be a bit of a shock: the tonal pads sit right in front of your ear canal, hooked over your ears for stability. they don’t enter your ear canal at all, so your environmental awareness only slightly decreases when listening to music. other noises, conversations, etc. they will be audible unless you have the volume turned up very high.
volume, playback, and other functions are controlled by a set of buttons grouped around metal contacts that connect to the charger.
While other products from Aftershokz have Bluetooth connectivity, these do not – they can only playback files that have been uploaded to the unit via the USB-A cable included. Like other waterproof devices I’ve used, sealing them against water and using them underwater prevents usage as a typical Bluetooth headset. (If you need Bluetooth connectivity, rather than waterproofing, I highly recommend their OpenComm Bluetooth headset – I purchased a unit with personal funds in January after they were reviewed here. I was working at home at the time, and they were fantastic for my eight-hour shifts doing phone support.)
Configuration is very simple. put the headphones on the headgear, connect the usb connector to your computer and drag the compatible files to the “xtrainerz” drive that appears.
The sound while biking and generally working around the house and garden was excellent. it was nice not to have my music interrupted by mileage announcements or other notifications, while still getting those notifications on my iphone.
While the sound of the aftershokz xtrainerz bone conduction mp3 swimming headphones is clear and full, the bass response is muted, compared to external speakers or even over-the-ear headphones, for reasons obvious. however, if you can live without heart-pounding bass, you’ll enjoy the experience as well as any other in-ear or supra-aural product. to get good bass response, all you have to do is move air, and that requires a certain size woofer.
Due to scheduling changes caused by the pandemic, I’m not currently a member of a pool, so I wasn’t able to test them during a swim like I did with the last waterproof headphones I tried. hopefully the new year will bring relaxed restrictions and, for me, a less busy schedule, so I can get back to regular laps. If that happens, I’ll be sure to come back and update this review with performance, should there be any obvious items of interest. I don’t anticipate any, but then no one anticipated a global pandemic and shipping crisis, right?
what I like
- improves safety for cycling, running and other outdoor exercises
- high fidelity sound
what would you change
- wish i could connect this to my audible account
- would also love to use this with apple music
We are an audio-saturated culture. from the radio in our cars to the background music in every store, to the gas pumps that play music, it’s everywhere. Customizing this constant barrage is something we’ve been doing since Sony’s first Walkman was released. Having this capability while swimming and playing other active sports requires a bit more of a device than what you get with the latest headphones on your everyday driver phone. The AfterShokz XTrainerz Bone Conduction MP3 Swimming Headphones, offering onboard storage and full IP68 ingress protection, have a great product here, at a very competitive price. however, alongside our move from tapes, records and ipods has been our move to streaming services. although i can download apple music files to my devices, these files cannot be dragged to the xtrainerz. only files that i ripped from cd or bought online can be converted to the proper format and installed. while that’s a big dent in usability, at this point, many of us still have files from our “rip, mix, burn” days. but I don’t think that will last too long in the future. If there was a way to get files through existing subscription services more easily, I’d find this device much more useful. As is, it’s still great, but my listening options are a bit limited without much work.
price: $149.99 where to buy: company web store and amazon source: sample of this product was provided by aftershokz.