Earbuds are pretty commonplace, and Bluetooth powered ones, even more so. What’s no so common, or well understood, are earbuds that don’t go INTO the ear, but instead lie up against the sides of the head. So how does the sound get to the person? It’s done through what is called bone conduction — the sound travels literally through the skin and resonates through the cheekbones structure of the head and makes its way safely into the brain’s reception for audio.
All this sounds pretty Sci-Fi, but it’s well established tech. What it isn’t is commonplace, and that’s party due to the higher cost and the lack of understanding that bone conduction headphones (earbuds) can be superior to the regular stuck-into-the-ear models. That’s certainly the case with the AfterShokz Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones.
The 2s possesses some nice features, so let’s deal with that before getting to the bone business. It obviously has Bluetooth, since it’s cordless ,and includes 2 microphones for increasing its use for taking calls on smartphones or issues commands to personal assistants. Noise-canceling tech is built in too, again making for less “leakage” of noise and better understanding of what you are saying.
For listening, first there’s voice prompts to help and this has been gaining a lot of traction so get used to becoming even more lazy than before. The (obvious) stereo sound is accompanied by equalization presets so as to make for a more personalized experience – but the most important part is the quality that the audio drivers (actually they’re transducers) contains and which results in the sound you hear, once it’s been “pushed” through your head. It sounds good and clear and crisp — especially if you’re playing reasonably high quality audio files. Just don’t expect it to enhance low-rez MP3 files, although low-end voice audio does benefit form the bone conduction process as regards to making it more “clean” to the ear and less “hissable.” Much of this overall comes from a technology in play that helps to keep the sound resulting from the bone conduction from “leaking” out to the world.
Finally there’s the actual construction — the physical appearance of the 2S, which is sort of like mating a black headband with two flat pads. You don’t wear the 2S with the headband facing towards the sky, instead it encompasses the back of your head so that the two pads, one on each side of the head, make contact with the area just ahead of the ear. As should be extremely obvious, this means the ear doesn’t get covered so extraneous noises (ambient sounds) can make their presence known: a security issue and safety concern when out and about running or such no longer removing one of the senses for keeping out of the way of potential trouble). They’re also sweat-resistant, good to know for those who wear it while exercising, with a rating of IP55 which is pretty much up there. There’s some additional material covering up the electronics to guarantee they’ll stay dry too.
And just for fun I guess — the fact that it’s called Bluez doesn’t count because it’s a matt black (but there is a reflective sticker so it’s not a total black hole experience). Maybe it’s a pun on what could happen if you had been waring regular earbuds and running in traffic (i.e., ending up black and bluez…)
AfterShokz’s Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones makes for a comfortable fit, with the controls right up in the headband to avoid dangling.The rechargeable battery easily lasts over 4 hours at a clip (the company says “up to 6” but who knows), and jumping into the world of bone conduction listening can be yours for a total of $99.95 retail.