When you walk around any of the show floors at CES, you never know what you’re going to find. One of the most interesting things I found was a set of headphones that you don’t actually put in, or on, your ears. Being something of a headphone geek, I had to check them out, and the Aftershokz people were kind enough to give me a review unit of their Bluez 2 bluetooth bone-conducting headphones.
Bone-conduction technology isn’t exactly new, but it’s not something that I can recall being applied to commercial headphones before. Basically, bone-conduction headphones don’t send the sound into your ears directly through the auditory canal, but rather sit on the bones in front of your ears, and conduct the sound through those bones to your inner ears, completely bypassing the ear drum.
So, what’s the perk here? Well, if you’re not plugging up or covering your ears, you can still hear the ambient sounds around you. While that may not be optimal for a perfect listening environment, it does mean you’re safe from things like cars if you’re out on a run or biking.
But to me, there’s another big perk for parents. Consider the parent working in the kitchen on, say, dinner, with kid(s) in the family room, playing and watching some kind of age-appropriate show with colorful singing creatures. But said parent would really like to catch up on the 4th season of Game of Thrones without muting out the entire world. What to do?
Well, throw the show on an iPad, listen with some Aftershokz Bluez 2s, and the parent can enjoy their show while still being fully-available to the kids for any needs.
I’ve been using my Bluez 2s for a couple weeks now, and I’m pretty much in love with them. I’ll admit, the bone-conduction took a little getting used to – especially wearing them in front of your ears. I had a little tenderness for a couple days before I got used to them. But now I use them to listen to podcasts every day. Music sounds fine on them, though they won’t beat any good on-ear headphones for serious listening. But being able to work, walk, or drive while still being able to hear what’s going on around me is fantastic.
I think the only significant drawback I see with them is that because they all sit over-the-ear, they don’t allow a person to wear sunglasses, which can be a negative if you want to go outside. But I don’t mind.
And they work great as a phone headset as well, with noise-cancelling mics built-in.
My bottom line is that I strongly reccomend them. At $99 retail at Amazon, they sound good and promote safety, which is pretty awesome.