I run a lot. All the running takes time, and for me it is almost always in the morning. To make good use of the time, I take my iPhone X and often get some work done. This effort requires a good set of headphones. I have tried several and like each of them for different purposes.

Safety is important. I do not use the treadmill unless forced to by my environment. So, I need to be able to hear what’s happening around me, especially vehicles, because no runner ever wins a confrontation with an automobile.

I was a big fan of the Bose corded earbuds. They allowed me to hear ambient noises while delivering that beautiful Bose bass-rich sound. Unfortunately, their units, even those designed for sweat resistance, failed repeatedly. They are still good for listening, but the microphone is shot. To the company’s credit, they replaced my corded earbuds with their wireless SoundSport earbuds.

As a Bluetooth headset, the SoundSport work fine. However, they changed the design from “earbuds”, which rest on the outer concha ridge of the ear, to “in-ear” headphones placed inside the ear canal, effectively sealing out most ambient sounds.1 It also makes them less comfortable to me.

My most recent headset experience is the Aftershokz, TrekzAir, which uses bone conduction to transmit sound. Small transducer pads press against the cheekbone just in front of the ear, delivering sound while leaving the ear canal open. When you are not wearing them, they are silent. I’m not sure how their microphone works, but during running conference calls there have been no discernible problems. We shot the video using audio from it.

While this unit has become a favorite, its lack of bass response took some adjustment. It has just two equalization settings and I couldn’t tell the difference between them. Changing the Playback EQ to “Bass Booster” on my iPhone X2 greatly improved the sound.

The TrekzAir unit is great for running, but the band behind the head makes it impractical for use in any activity such as stretching or weight lifting where the back of the head rests on anything. They would pop off. And, transitioning from virtually weightless earbuds to an over the ear device takes some getting used to. After a couple of hours my ears can get sore. And, yes, I frequently run and work out for a couple of hours. That’s why it’s important to make use of the time!

During production of this article, the Bluetooth button on the unit stopped working. Using voice commands and Siri, I’m still able to use the TrekzAir and control the phone, but to do so I must take the phone out of my fanny pack. AfterShokz’s warranty department immediately shipped a replacement unit.

 

1https://www.cnet.com/news/everything-you-know-about-earbuds-is-wrong/
2In iOS, tap Settings, then Music, then scroll down to the Playback section and tap EQ to adjust the bass.

 

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