AfterShokz is an American company that has been committed “to innovating unconventionally and making situational awareness a priority” since it was established in 2011. It specializes in making wired and wireless bone conduction headphones based on a patented bone conduction technology that was previously developed by Voxtech for military special operations and law enforcement. Its products feature an open ear design and multiple proprietary audio technologies that allow them to boast of a premium stereo sound, safety, and comfort.
Despite its name, the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 Open Ear Wireless Stereo Headphones is available in black and bright red. It fits comfortably over your ears and around the back of your head, without occupying or obstructing your ear canals. Readers who are unfamiliar with bone conduction technology should know that they transmit sound vibrations through your cheekbones to your inner ears (instead of air vibrations that travel through your ear canals to your eardrums). However, both forms of sound transmission will reach the auditory centre of your brain via the auditory nerve.
Bone conduction headphones like the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 are thus ideal for those with hearing difficulties (famed 18th century deaf composer Beethoven was an early adopter), as well as those who experience intolerable discomfort when using normal earphones or headphones. Like many of its competitors, the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 has been designed for athletic use. It fits comfortably below a cycling, skating or skiing helmet, allowing cyclists to pay attention to their surroundings as the cycle alongside busy roads. Bone conduction headphones are also useful for call centre employees, military personnel and professional police officers. Aftershokz promises that its headphones “don’t inhibit situational awareness in any way”, but points out that open ear headphones are not recognised by current laws. You may thus be cited by a police officer if you are caught wearing them while driving.
Finally, you should know that bone conduction headphones may not necessarily be “safer” or “healthier” than their air-conducted counterparts with regard to preventing against hearing loss in the long run. Since the sound waves they transmit will still be transduced by your cochlea, they do not actually prevent the risk of cochlear damage with prolonged use. They can prevent hearing drum damage vis-à-vis regular headphones, but this is only when you are using an MP3 player that has a sound output beyond 100 decibels (this is the proposed upper limit that has been recommended by the European Union Consumer Affairs Commissioner).
This Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 comes in a minimalist and fuss-free lightweight design. It measures at 2.4 x 5.9 x 6.1 inches and weighs only 1.44 ounces (41 grams). It costs under $90 from Amazon.
As its name indicates, the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity. It is made from material that has benefited from nanotechnology treatment, allowing it to repel the moisture and sweat it comes in contact with as you work out. You can use the tension strap to get a tighter or looser fit, depending on the situation.It is compatible with a wide range of sports, e.g. running, hiking, cycling, skiing, gym use, basketball, etc.
To increase or reduce its volume or alternate between tracks, you can turn to the multi-function keys on the side of the headphone. For additional convenience, you can also rely on your phone (Android or iOS) to control the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2.
The Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 features the company’s OpenFit technology, which promises “unmatched ambient sound awareness” while providing comfort over hours of use. Meanwhile, the PremiumPitch patented dual suspension transducers provide some of the best bone conduction audio quality available on the market today. Its dual microphones deliver crisp and clear communication to your cochlea, even when you are distracted by high volumes of noise from your immediate environment.
It runs on one lithium ion battery, which is included with the headphones. You can recharge this battery with the accompanying USB charging cable. On a full charge, you can enjoy up to six hours of music play.
The Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 bone conduction headphone comes with a breathable storage pouch (to let it dry it has become wet during your workout), a micro-USB charging cable, an adjustable tension band, and a reflective sticker.
- At under $90, the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 provides great functionality at a relatively reasonable price
- It comes in an elegant, minimalist and streamlined design (you can also choose between red and black)
- Weighing only 1.44 ounces (41 grams), this is one of the lightest headphones on the market
- Its moisture-resistant material makes it suitable for athletic pursuits
- You can enjoy up to six hours of music play on a full charge
- It excels at conveying speech-related audio (when listening to talk shows, podcasts, or when taking calls), even when used in noisy environments
- You have to pay extra for a protection plan (a 4-Year Protection costs $6.61, while a 2-Year Protection costs $1.28)
- In his review for TIME magazine, Matt Peckham notes that the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 performs poorly “at conveying even moderate details produced by higher fidelity audio sources”. You will have to sacrifice your music listening experience when using these headphones.
The Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 bone conduction headphone works well as a piece of wearable technology that you can use to enhance your workouts, or even your cycling trips to work and back. It provides a comfortable (and visually appealing) fit, while coping well with any stress or moisture it encounters while in use. It stays out of the way of your ear canals and helmet, allowing you to pay attention to your immediate surroundings while in use.
Though it works surprisingly well in conveying speech-related audio, you will likely be underwhelmed when listening to music. If your intention is to listen to podcasts or radio shows or take calls with the Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2, however, this makes for a great purchase.