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At first glance, I wasn’t sure what to think of the Sportz Titanium headphones from Aftershokz. While I enjoyed their wireless version, I wondered who would want the wired version. But after using them for a while, it became clear that the wired version has some advantages over wireless. And though that may complicate matters for some people, it’s just a matter of comparing the two in regards to your needs. Because both are great choices.
First, Aftershokz is known for their bone-conduction technology. So these headphones don’t actually go into or even over your ears. Instead, they sit just behind the ear canal, and transmit sound (vibrations) to the inner ear. Obviously, that’s a huge advantage when you need to hear what’s going on around you. This makes them ideal for running, walking, cycling, and other activities. Pretty much any time you don’t want to completely shut out ambient sounds. That makes them one of the few options that we can endorse for cyclists, for safety reasons. But I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Only how to listen to music and take calls with good sound and voice clarity.
Another feature of Aftershokz headphones is the titanium band running through them. It’s covered in some hard rubber, or soft plastic. Although I’m not sure which, I do know that it looks good. Also, this gives them shape, and allows them to fit most heads snugly, but not too snug. I’ve worn them for hours at a time, with no complaints. Thanks to the titanium, they are light, and flex, with no worry of the band bending. And because they loop over your ears (with a single wire), they stay in place, no matter how active you get.
As far as the rest of the Sportz Titanium, there’s an inline mic with some audio control buttons, and a lithium-ion battery just a few inches after the plug. Despite the tiny buttons, I can change the volume easily enough, even with my fat fingers. While I was first put off by the size of the battery pack, it’s needed to drive the transducers. After two hours of charging, it provides about 12 hours of run time. To turn the unit on or off, there is a single low profile button. Color options are Ocean (blue), Onyx (black), or Lava (red).
Despite the ease of Bluetooth pairing, there is something to be said for wired headphones. Plug them in, and you’re ready to rock and roll, literally. First test was with my iPod Shuffle, which does not have Bluetooth. After listening to some classic rock, old school R&B, and plenty of Metallica, I was impressed. If it’s due to the bone conduction, I cannot be sure. But I definitely feel like the sound quality is cleaner, and crisper. Could it be due to the driver against skin, transmitting vibrations into your inner ear? Again, I’m not sure. Thanks to the transducers, and Aftershokz’s PremiumPitch technology, it sounds rich and full at all volumes. If there is a downside, it’s that you can feel the bass against your skin at the highest volumes.
Next test was to make a few phone calls. Although your phone and signal strength plays a big role in the sound quality, the Sportz Titanium won’t be the weak link. For calls between my Nexus 6 and my wife’s iPhone 6, the Aftershokz sounded much better than the built in mic and speaker. Of course, I expected that to be the case. It’s worth noting that the Sportz Titanium is available for a little less money, without the inline mic. Unless you really never expect to use it for calls, the extra $10 is worth it.
So, how best to sum it up? Well, unless you have an iPhone 7, the Sportz Titanium is awesome. Because it will work with just about every phone or audio player you own. And it will provide outstanding sound quality. As mentioned, the battery adds a bit of bulk, but it’s not cumbersome by any means. If that or the wire itself is an issue, you can get the same audio quality in the totally wireless Trekz Titanium. But for less than half the price, the Sportz Titanium will not disappoint. Find them all at Aftershokz.com.
I’d like to thank Aftershokz for providing their Sportz Titanium headphones for this review. With all the choices out there, it’s great to be able to present this option to our readers. Because very few quality headphones will let you run, ride, or train, while hearing what’s going on around you.