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When I first got a hearing aid at the age of 24, one of my first concerns was how I would be able to listen to music. I couldn't use in-ear headphones, because one ear is currently occupied by assistive technology. I couldn't use on-the-ear headphones because the hearing aid couldn't pick up the sound and I couldn't hear the music in one ear. I couldn't use over-the-ear headphones (earmuffs) because they caused a ton of feedback or muffled my hearing in my ear.
So what is a music-loving hard-of-hearing person to do? The answer: bone-conductive headphones. I came across the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium completely by accident. I was tired of listening to my phone on full blast instead of through headphones in my office, and I searched "headphones with hearing aids" on Google. Of course, the first few results were for Bluetooth enabled hearing aids that I neither wanted nor could afford, but there on bottom half of the first page was my answer:
Bone. Conductive. Headphones.
This technology is not new. The military has been using it for some time to allow communication without cutting out ambient noise, which is important to hear for someone in a war zone. Otolarygologists also use the technology to test hearing on people who have no ears, but have the internal mechanics of an ear.
It's pretty simple: usually sound vibrations travel through the air to your eardrum. The eardrum vibrates which tells the cochlea to send signals to the brain, and voila! music. With bone conductive headphones, the vibrations bypass the eardrum and go through the jawbone to the cochlea. So, you don't even need an opening in the side of your head (ear); all you need is a functioning cochlea! Since my eardrum is all messed up due to fluid build up (thus the hearing aid), this was even better! No distorted music necessary anymore! Anyway, I read lots of reviews by runners, athletes, and regular music aficionados and decided I needed these headphones. My sweet parents-in-law bought them for my birthday, and I became obsessed. I literally wept the first time I used the headphones. So, with that long-winded intro, please enjoy my review of the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones.
Fit and Feel
These headphones come in two sizes: standard and mini. Aftershokz offers a size guide and printable sizing tool so you can figure out which size would work better for you. I am a petite female, and went with the minis. They are the same price as the standard, which is great. I love the way they feel. They are lightweight. They are not tight, but they also don't feel like they are going to slip off at any moment. The bar fits nicely between my hearing aid and my glasses (yes, I'm a mess), and doesn't cause any sort of issues with my hearing aid. They also don't push my glasses down my nose, which is a major plus. The only small issue I had was that I would have to make sure to put the headphones on outside my hair. It was long and heavy when I first got them, and would tug on the headphones in the back if I let it. Now that my hair is about shoulder length and much lighter, I don't have any issues.
Since the headphones connect to your phone via Bluetooth, there are no wires getting in your way and no pesky adapter needed to plug them into your phone.
The buttons are really easy to feel under your fingers. I have calluses from playing instruments, and I can feel the plus and minus of the volume control just fine.
Feeling the vibrations took some time to adjust to. After the first four or five songs though, I didn't even notice the vibration.
Sound and Voice Commands
When I first heard the music through these headphones, I cried. Wept, actually. I had never heard music so clearly through headphones in my life. Hearing it from a symphony or a radio is great, but there is just something about it taking over your whole world that is special. I had never experienced this clearly until these headphones. This is most likely because I had issues with hearing in general, but these headphones provide me with an experience I have never had before. The bass is balanced beautifully with the treble, giving you a surround-sound experience without giving you a headache.
Talking on the phone with these is great. The person on the other end can hear you clearly, and you can hear perfectly well. It is easy to give voice commands after pressing the button on the left speaker, and the microphone understood my sometimes-mumbly words well.
The website claims you can listen to six hours of continuous music or calls on a single charge. I haven't listened for six hours straight, but I can listen on and off at work for a few hours and go days without charging the headphones. They use a micro-usb connector to charge, which are easy and cheap to find if you need one longer than the one they provide with the headphones. When you turn on the headphones, the built in voice will tell you if the battery is high, medium, or low. Additionally, when the battery changes from high to medium or medium to low, it will inform you. I do wish it gave you an exact percentage when you turned the headphones on, but since they last so long it's not actually a problem.
The Trekz Titaniums come in five colors: black, pink, blue, green, and red. Except for the black, the colors are vibrant and not likely to be mistaken for any other color. The blue and green are both neon versions of the color, while the pink and red are rich and saturated.
The headphones are IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust, and moisture; although my hearing aid is not so I haven't had an opportunity to test those functions.
The AudreySays(TM) voice prompts are very intuitive and sound natural, rather than robotic.
At $99.95, these are actually pretty affordable. As a woman, the ability to hear my surroundings while still listening to music is comforting, adding to the value of the headphones. While that may be a little bit much to spend on your kids, these headphones are certainly worth the money for any music lover - whether you need to listen while biking, running, hiking, working, or just because.
I give these headphones a 5/5 stars. I will remind you that I have extra love for these since they are the only headphones that allow me to actually listen to music; but as someone who has been in love with music her whole life, the headphones really are great. Head to a tech store near you to try them out if you can!