If you live beneath someone who combines a wooden floor with Cuban or high heels, you’ll know that sound travels rather well through solid objects. It’s on the exact principle of laminate floors and Jimmy Choos that the AfterShokz headphones are based – with the sound of your chosen playlist making its way to your brain’s groovy chamber via the bone of your skull rather than your ear. The wonderful result for cyclists is that your ear contraption remains available to listen out for things around you, like approaching vehicles and children shouting ‘go on Wiggo’.
Sound normally reaches the cochlea by way of the auditory canal and ear drum. With the AfterShokz the sound is transmitted to the cochlea along the temporal bone, i.e., the skull. This leave the auditory canal open and ready to pick up sounds being generated around you.
The system was originally developed for military use, where radio operators not only had to hear base calling for fresh pies through the radio, but it was also thought necessary to hear incoming dangerous objects and your comrades discussing “Strictly Come Dancing.”
Now the system is available for anyone to use and I love it! As around 98.1% of my training is done solo, long rides were rather dull without Michel Thomas Spanish lessons but normal bud earphones left me unable to hear traffic until it was dangerously close.
While using AfterShokz I can hear the contents of my iPod clearly whilst being completely capable of hearing traffic around me. The system has transformed long rides into pleasant experiences without compromising my safety. Why, only today a enjoyed a lovely bit of Elgar while on a long Peak district climb with sheep clearly vocal through my ear hole.
The sound quality is excellent, maybe not deep enough bass for gangstas, but perfect for the majority of users. I even heard some subtle sound layers on a few favourite tracks that I hadn’t heard before.
The system is charged via a USB cable, and one charge has lasted more than 2 weeks so far. Volume can be changed at the control unit that also has a clip for clothing. The Sportz M2 model on test also allows calls to be taken from a smart phone, with a microphone in the control unit – though no one has called me whilst I’ve been on a ride, and if they had I wouldn’t answer anyway.
In simulated tests it worked well and I’ve used the system over the top of a Belgian-style winter cap, keeping winter wind off my ears but the tunes still flowing. I only have one criticism (and it’s minor), in that the clothing clip lacks a spring so it’s hard to clip anywhere other than at the edge of clothing. Apart from that, I have nothing negative to say about the AfterShokz, although using ‘z’ in place of ‘s’ is never to be condoned.
If you enjoy riding with music but wish to remain aware of all that is going on around you, then look no further than this unique system. Highly recommended.