Trekz Air bone conduction headphones review: Hear music through your skull! [Video]

Trekz Air bone conduction Bluetooth headphones offer the ability to listen to music without closing your ears off to the world around you. And at just $149, they offer excellent quality without an eye-watering price.

Runners, cyclists and other athletes rely on headphones to keep their tunes flowing during a workout.

As a runner myself, I personally love listening to audiobooks on long runs. I don’t need high energy to keep me going, I need fun action stories to distract me from the boredom of long runs.

But as my fellow runners, cyclists and other road-traveling athletes can confirm, the last thing you want to do when out on the street is close yourself off to the world. While many in- and over-ear headphones provide great sound – such styles are better for commuters on the bus and train. Those of us that are exposed on the road and trail need to be able to hear if cars, bikes or other pedestrians are coming up on us.

For the longest time, my solution to this problem has been to run with just one ear bud in, leaving me with half of my hearing still intact. It wasn’t elegant, though it was better than nothing.

But there are much more slick solutions these days. That’s where the Trekz Air bone conduction Bluetooth headphones come in. They use bone conduction technology to play your music, audiobook or phone call directly into your skull. That leaves your ears wide open for hearing the world around you.

Bone conduction headphones place the driver up against your cheekbones. The vibrations transfer the sound into your head without using your ears.

You know that old story about how Beethoven would “hear” his piano years after going deaf by biting it with his teeth? Same idea, nicer execution.

If you’ve never tried bone conduction headphones before, you’re in for a treat. The first time you use them is pretty trippy. You definitely still hear your music, you just don’t hear it. At least not through your ears. Once the vibrations transfer through your cheek bones, the audio sounds the same as if it entered your ears. Except that it didn’t enter your ears, it entered your head. Yea, I know. It’s weird. But trust me, it’s cool and it works.

While cheap products gave early bone conduction headphones a bad rep, good ones like the Trekz Air give you surprisingly nice sound quality that you hear without really hearing.

Video review

It’s a bit hard to describe, because you hear the sound as if its coming through your ears, but you’re actually feeling the sound. In fact, if you punch up the bass you might even notice a bit of tickling sensation as you get used to the feeling of sound through your skull.

Does the sound quality compare to noise canceling headphones? No, of course not. Plus, not only are these not noise cancelling, but they are the opposite. They allow you to hear all the noise around you in addition to your source audio – that’s the whole point. But even so, the sound is surprisingly good and more than you need for sports use. The bass and dynamic range won’t blow you away, but the sound is as good as listening to a nice surround system in a home theater. In fact, that’s a good way to describe it. It’s like hearing sound out of speakers in a room. You can hear the audio, but you can also hear a conversation happening in the room at the same time.

If you want to block out ambient sounds, Trekz includes a pair of foam ear plugs. But that kind of defeats the purpose, in my opinion.

In addition to their stated purpose of exercise headphones, I’ve been using mine for normal day-to-day activities. I’ve found them to be great for everything except high noise environments. While I’d love to use them on the subway, which is exactly where I want to hear the crazy dude coming up behind me with a screwdriver, the ambient noise of the tracks can overpower the bone conduction audio. So that’s the one environment I’ve found so far where I wouldn’t recommend these headphones. Though I will say that during stops, it’s nice to be able to hear the announcements without removing my headphones.

With IP55 water and dust resistance, the headphones are great for exercising and should stand up to trails, sweat and rain. The Trekz Air are also super lightweight at just 30 grams (1.06 oz).

A charge takes two hours but should last for six hours of continuous use or 20 days of standby time. There are volume adjustments on the headphones themselves, plus a large multifunction button that can be used for everything from playing/pausing/skipping music to answering or rejecting phone calls to initiating voice dialing or redialing. And with dual noise-cancelling microphones, they actually function well for voice calls.

The headphones are comfortable to wear and stay in place while running. And perhaps most importantly of all, they give you complete situational awareness.

While many people will consider these as sport-only headphones, I found that I like to use them all the time. When I served in the military we were forbidden from wearing two earbuds in at any time due to the lack of situational awareness. You never know when something unexpected is going to happen around you, and the last thing you want is to not hear it coming. That’s one of the many lessons that I took back with me into civilian life. No matter where I am, I’m never oblivious to my surroundings with both ears cut off. But now with the Trekz Air headphones, I don’t have to do the one-earbud sneak anymore. I can hear my music, books and calls easily while still keeping tabs on the world around me.

These have become my go-to headphones any time I’m heading out for a run or just hopping on the bus. No matter whether it’s a car running me down or if its my day to be the hero when a deranged serial stabber chooses my bus, I’ll hear ’em coming!

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