Aftershokz Bluez 2 Wireless Headphones review

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lately my Facebook feed has been full of questions about wireless headphones and bone conducting headphones.  Here is my review that was originally posted on the now defunct H2 Life Blog.

Thumping beats really help me keep my pace. However, my small ear canals make ear buds uncomfortable and they usually fall out. I prefer the old school headphones that slip over your head. True, they are not cool and get really sweaty but I don't have to worry about my run being disrupted so I can put my music back on. On the flip side, I worry about my safety. As a woman who usually runs alone, I always try to be aware of what is going on around me-cyclists, cars, pedestrians- I need to be able to hear my surroundings. It is a tough balance though when your music motivates you to keep going at a steady pace.

Aftershokz  Bluez 2 are a wireless 'bone conducting' headset that allow you to listen to audio tracks while running, cycling, cleaning, walking, etc.  I didn't realise how annoying wires were until they were gone. I wasn't getting tangled up when I swung my bum bag around or needed to remove my jacket. It was fantastic. If the volume is up too loud, the sound waves will make your cheeks buzz, but I took it as a sign that I need to turn the volume down. The sound quality is fantastic for both music and my Harry Potter audiobooks, however busy traffic can sometimes overpower the recordings. I did find on longer runs (10+ miles) the band around the back of my head would start to drop which would then need a bit of readjustment around my ears. The battery holds charge for at least a week between uses and the system will tell you (literally, it speaks) when it needs charging. It is also really easy to sync to your mobile phone.

SIde view of how they headphones sit

I should add that one night at dusk, I did not hear a man run up behind me. There wasn't any traffic and I was in my running zone with Podrunner playing. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall man running up behind me. I jumped and he apologised. He was out for a run too and said he was trying to be loud as he came up behind me. Lesson learned: even though your ears are uncovered, you might still be vulnerable and not hear your surroundings.

My husband is more of a cyclist than a runner (hence the recent ride to Paris).  To get another opinion on the functionality of these headphones, I asked him to try out the Bluez2 on a long bike ride.  Here are his thoughts:

Commuting in London (and I’m sure elsewhere) you often see those cool guys with their headphones weaving through traffic to get where they’re going, no doubt fuelled by some up-tempo beats. Craziness.  No doubt fun, but crazy all the same. Safe cycling really demands an awareness of what’s happening around you – hearing the sound of the vehicle approaching from behind can give an indication of its size, speed and, sometimes, likelihood of it trying to overtake you on that blind bend. So listening to music or the radio on closed headphones seems to me like a pretty stupid idea.

Although the Bluez2 seemed a possible way around this, I was initially sceptical. They have proven me wrong though and do a pretty good job of allowing you to listen to your favourite beats or radio show while still listening out for that traffic around you. On a couple of rides out from the suburbs of London in to the Hertfordshire countryside I listened to both a talk show - the irreverent Danny Baker Show - and music. At the moderate speeds I rode at I could hear Danny’s stories without too much problem, although much faster and on downhill sections the sound of wind past my head began to drown things out. Music wasn’t such a problem and the beats came through fine, but I imagine a windy day combined with moving at 30 km/h would make listening difficult.

The main issue for improvement I see is the need to better accommodate the wearing of sunglasses at the same time as these headphones. As they currently are you need to sit the glasses on the outside of the headphones - although not designed for this it works but after a couple of hours on the bike the sides of your head about the ear begin to ache.

Sunglasses vs headphones
Overall though I think these things are great. The Bluetooth connection means there’s no need to worry about wires and I can both listen to speech and music without too much problem, while at the same time feeling like I know what’s going on around me. Just beware; if the radio show is too amusing you might get distracted, and if the beats too big you might try to take that corner just a little bit faster than you might otherwise normally do.

Front view of me in the Blues2

For both a running and cycling viewpoint, the Blues2 worked really well for us.  If you normally wear sunglasses, a cap, a headband, or a big hairstyle when running or cycling, these factors may influence how well the Bluez 2 fits on your head.  You should also consider if  you will use it for dialogue or music and if wind speeds will impact in your ability to hear.  The toughest thing is remembering to charge them once a week, although the verbal reminder is quite effective.

What kind of headphones do you wear when you run or cycle?  What is the best feature about them?

Aftershokz kindly gave me these headphones to review.  All opinions are honest and our own.  This post contains affiliate links which cost nothing extra for the buyer and help support the running of this site.

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