AfterShokz Bluez 2 bone conduction headphones review
A few weeks ago I took a set of bone conduction headphones out and, although they did they job, I wasn’t totally convinced. Shortly after that, AfterShokz said that I should try their Bluez 2 set. So, like a good journalist, I did.
The Bluez 2, at a quick glance, looks pretty much like the Marsboy headset but does that mean that it will perform just the same? Well, only one way to find out I guess.
AfterShokz Bluez 2 design
The Bluez 2 follows the ‘near your ears, not over or in them’ design and use that clever bone conduction tech to deliver sound to your inner ear without needing to be in your ear or covering your ear.
This design means you can still hear what is going on around you while you are listening to music or taking calls. The unit wraps around the back of your head with two hook like arms that sit over your ears, this places the speaker part just in front of your ear near your temple.
If you look under the right arm of the Bluez 2, this is where you’ll find the volume buttons as well as the on/off button. The volume buttons can also be pressed simultaneously to change the equalization of the sound when listening to music. They are fairly easy to find once you get used to how the unit sits on your ears and head. The volume up button offers a small raised nodule to keep you from needing to pull them off to figure out what is what.
On the outer edge of the left side is your multifunction button. As you’ve probably already worked out, this small silver clever-clogs does a variety of things. You can use it to answer or end calls, reject incoming calls, mute and unmute the mic, redial the last number, activate voice dialing or pause and play your tunes.
It’s not as tricky or confusing as it sounds – it’s just a matter of a few small long holds for some of the tasks depending on the situation. For instance, long pressing it for 2 seconds will activate the voice dial function. Whereas long pressing for 2 seconds while on a call will disconnect it.
[youtube id=”NsQMlG6_xnE” ]
The plastic band that holds everything together wraps around your neck. This allows for some gentle flexing in order to fit wider heads and, should you be more svelte of skull, there’s a rubber insert bundled in with the Bluez 2 that will make them fit a bit more snugly.
The AfterShokz Bluez 2 are covered in a “nanotechnology coating” – this sci-fi sounding shield is there to protect the headset against sweat and water during heavy workouts or rain storms. This doesn’t mean you should go swimming with them though as they aren’t built to take a proper dunking.
AfterShokz Bluez 2 performance
This is the point where I have to remind myself what the Bluez 2 has been designed to do. There is no way that you’re going to get the precision, clarity and soundstage that you’d get with some closed-backed cans.
It’s also worth noting that you might get some odd looks on the tube as, once you get above a certain volume, they are leakier than rap being played on some iPod earphones.
But, for running, jogging or cycling – strap yourself in for an odd but engaging experience.
Where a good set of headphones will put you in amongst the performance, the AfterShokz make you feel that you’re imagining the music. You know when you get your internal jukebox going, or you have a song stuck in your head? Kinda like that.
Maybe it’s because you’re not using the external bits of your ears so the lack spatial positioning confuses your brain – especially as you can still hear the noise of your surrounding environment clearly at the same time.
If you’re not worried about the audio leakage because you’re running or cycling then you are able to crank them up and still hear the music clearly as well as traffic noise and even hear people clear enough to hold a conversation. When the music sounds incredibly loud to you, other people will be able to hear it a little bit too – but not as much as you’d think.
For my first time out with the Bluez 2 I put them on the table and turned the volume down until I couldn’t hear it from about 3 feet away. I put the headset on and the music was decently clear and audible. It wasn’t until I was on the noisy underground that I needed to turn up the volume and only then was it the person sat right next to me looking confused. You see, I have long hair so the headset was completely hidden and there were no wires to give away that I was listening to some music. When I looked at my fellow passenger they gave me one of those looks and glanced over at a young lady with white chords dangling from her ears and tutted. I smiled and just said “yeah”, and looked back at my paper.
Wearing them in the office was an odd experience. Obviously, I didn’t need the volume very loud to be able to hear the music in a quiet workplace but I could enjoy my tunes whilst being able to hear my colleagues completely. Not bad going at all.
Walking around London and using Google Maps from my phone with its voice prompts was like having a very clued-up angel on my shoulder telling me where to go. Of course, I have used this with my usual headphones but being able to hear the world around me and then my ethereal guide chipping in when I need to turn was pretty cool.
Taking calls on the move was easy enough as you only need to use one hand to tap the multi-action button on the left pad. A single click picks-up and hangs-up phone calls. Give it a double-tap and you can skip tracks.
The on-board volume controls tucked behind your right ear took a bit of getting used to before I felt like I could access them safely while riding at speed, especially when you’ve got to navigate around helmet straps, but they’re prominent and easy to use.
The Bluez 2’s battery life lasts almost a week with commuting wear and is recharged via a micro-USB port which is hidden by a water resistant flap.
AfterShokz Bluez 2 review conclusion
Are the AfterShokz Bluez 2 the last word in audiophile sound reproduction? No. Are they just the thing for cyclists and joggers to be able listen to music whilst still being aware of their surroundings? Yes.
The sound quality is pretty darned good, but you do have to have them ramped up a bit else they’re a bit bass light.
The Bluez 2 are comfortable to wear for a long time as they’re just resting there near your ears. The sensation does take some getting used to, kinda like having contact lenses for the first time but you still go to adjust your glasses.
If you’re a cyclist, runner, walker or public keep-fitter of any kind, I would suggest you try these. They will allow you to get on with what you’re doing whilst still being aware of your surroundings.