Aftershokz Xtrainerz Bone-Conducting Headphones Add Safety As You Rock Your Run

I spent the summer swimming laps in our pool as often as the weather permitted. The water is nice. The swimming is boring. Most days, I would take one of my UE Boom speakers outside and fire up the tunes. It made the swim less boring but wasn’t optimal. I wish I had the Aftershokz Xtrainerz wireless MP3 headphones.


I tried headphones with bone conduction technology that delivers music through the wearer’s cheekbones a few years ago. They sounded terrible. In fact, when Carly showed me her bone-conducting headphones during the summer, I made some snarky comments. When the $149.99 Aftershokz Xtrainerz arrived, I was unconvinced the experience would be any better than my last time with the technology. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they found pretty damn good. But I’m getting ahead of myself.


After a few weeks of swimming this summer, I almost bought some waterproof headphones. I was that bored. The problem was, waterproof headphones are great, but they still lose their Bluetooth connection when submerged. That means they are basically useless. The solution, of course, is to have waterproof headphones that have the audio tracks onboard. That way, they don’t rely on a Bluetooth connection.

That’s exactly what these headphones offer. With an IP68 rating, they are fully waterproof up to 6 feet. They have 4GB of onboard storage for up to 1200 songs and can handle MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and FLAC files. No, they don’t support the music you have downloaded to your phone through a subscription service such as Apple Music, but that’s far from a dealbreaker.


The Xtrainerz uses bone conduction to deliver sound. That means nothing blocks your ears. That’s especially great if you are wearing the headphones while walking or running on a busy street. As they explain, the “OpenFit design ensures bud-free, pain-free listening.” Also, they have the company’s “PremiumPitch 2.0+” technology to deliver surprisingly good audio.

The headphones charge via a special cradle that comes in the package that connects to the contacts on the inside of the headphones.

It can fully charge the device in two hours. and the headphones deliver eight hours of playback per charge. The cradle is also the means through which you load songs onto the device, and doing so is simple. Once the cradle is snapped around the device, you plug the USB cable into your computer. I have a MacBook Pro with USB-C connectivity, so I had to use a USB-A to USB-C adapter. The headphones show up in Finder as an external drive, and you drag the tracks you want to the device. You can also make folders on the device, although switching between them while listening to music requires a bit of a learning curve thanks to the minimal buttons and controls.

The Xtrainerz wrap around your head and the audio pads that deliver the sound sit just in front of your ears. I’ve found that adjusting where they sit on my head has a significant impact on the quality of the sound. The band that wraps around your head is made from titanium. It is light, it is just flexible enough, and it is surprisingly comfortable even after wearing the headphones for an extended period of time.

And because Xtrainerz don’t have Bluetooth, there’s no loss of audio when submerged. Of course, the lack of Bluetooth means you can’t stream from your phone or tablet, but the tradeoff makes sense to me. Moreover, these aren’t headphones I would wear when I’m hanging at home chilling. These are for swimming, running, and other types of outdoor activities.

Take open-ear listening to new depths with Xtrainerz wireless MP3 headphones. Xtrainerz is an innovative solution for consuming audio in and out of the water while you’re cross-training toward your new PR. The open-ear design removes the limitations of traditional swimming headphones, and the 4GB memory stores up to 1,200 songs, allowing you to take Xtrainerz on any adventure; no wires, no devices, no limits. (Not Bluetooth compatible)

Features:

  • Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds.
  • 4GB of built-in storage to hold up to 1,200 songs with full track and volume control at the touch of a button.
  • Supports MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and FLAC files (not Bluetooth compatible).
  • Enjoy eight hours of premium audio stroke after stroke.
  • Fully waterproof (IP68 rated) to withstand complete submersion in up to 2 meters of water.
  • Simply connect to a computer via the USB cradle to drag and drop your favorite songs.
  • OpenFit design ensures bud-free, pain-free listening.
  • Complete wraparound titanium design provides a flexible fit for unnoticeable all-day comfort and stability in and out of the water.
  • PremiumPitch 2.0+ delivers wide dynamic stereo sound and louder volume.
  • Charge fully in two hours with the USB charging cradle.
  • Audrey Says voice prompts guide users through power, play mode, and more.
  • Hassle-free 2-year warranty included

The controls on the headphones are limited to a “Mode Button” on the back of one of the earpieces, Volume Up and Down buttons, and a Multifunction button between the two. With this limited number of buttons, you can still control your music to a pretty significant degree, but it takes a bit of time and attention to figure it all out. I mean… check these out…

I’ve found that the best approach is to only load songs I want to hear while I’m running or swimming and simply let the music play. It’s just not worth the effort for me to select folders and jump tracks. This, like the lack of Bluetooth, is a bit of a limitation; since these are for a specific purpose, I don’t see it as an issue.

Specifications:

  • Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
  • Sensitivity: 98 ± 3dB
  • Compatible profiles: MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC
  • Maximum charge voltage: 5.25 V
  • Speed impedance: 8.50 ± 20%
  • Battery: Lithium
  • Continuous play: Up to 8 hours
  • Battery capacity: 183 mAh
  • Charge time: < 2 hours
  • Weight: 1.06 oz (30g)

I gave Carly a hard time when she waxed poetic about her Aftershokz headphones. After using the Xtrainers for a while, I owe her an apology. You see, Carly and I were comparing apples and oranges. For me, headphones are about getting the most comfort and best sound. For Carly, it’s all about having some music during a run. As she told it. “One of the reasons the open-ear headphones are favored for running and biking is for safety,” adding, “I think sometimes people don’t make that connection, and it’s the main reason to trade off on sound quality.” I get it now and am happy to report than with the new Aftershokz Xtrainer headphones, that trade-off is smaller than. It used to be. Check them out here.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Comfortable; Decent battery life; Let’s you hear everything around you which makes wearing them far safer when running or biking; Ideal for swimming thanks to waterproofing and onboard audio rather than Bluetooth; Includes earplugs

What Needs Improvement: Improved audio but still bone-conducting and therefore still just “okay”; Need to use a dongle for charging and loading tracks


About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.