If you’re a runner or cyclist who wants to enjoy music on the go without completely giving up spatial awareness, then the Aftershokz Aeropex are a best buy. Clean and clear audio quality complements a long battery life with a comfortable, lightweight design.
- One of the best headphones for runners
- Clean and clear audio quality
- Plenty of battery life
- Basslines are lacking on the Aeropex
- The connecting band juts out a fair bit
- UKRRP: £149.95
- USARRP: $159.95
- Open-ear designFor spatial awareness
- Bone conductionTech plays music through vibrations
- LightweightFrame weighing just 23 grams
A solid soundtrack is essential to any workout, but so is spatial awareness – this is where the innovative Aftershokz Aeropex come in.
Aftershokz has been around for quite some time now, offering a different type of audio experience that doesn’t hamper your ability to keep tabs on everything that’s happening around you. The company’s philosophy revolves around the use of bone conduction technology as a means of getting music to your ear canals without blocking them outright.
The company has been developing this technology with each new headset, and now the Aeropex stand as the most premium sounding pair offered by Aftershokz. The question is – how do the Aeropex compare as a pair of workout headphones against current flagships with more traditional form factors? After several weeks of testing, I’m please to say that they hold their own and then some.
- Super lightweight at just 23g
- Easy to wear for long periods of time
- The connecting band can occasionally get in the way
As you’ve probably already spotted, the Aeropex don’t look like your typical pair of headphones. In order for the bone conduction technology to work, the device has to rest above your ears to keep everything in place, but the low weight of just 26 grams prevent the headphones from ever causing discomfort whilst worn.
The Aeropex can even (just about) fit into the palm of your hand, and with the included carry case you can throw them into a backpack and never have to worry about them taking up much space. Despite their small stature, the Aeropex have been designed with a rubberised shell that’s easily malleable to fit even the largest of heads.
The problem here is that in order to have a ‘one size fits all’ frame, the bridge of the Aeropex juts out a fair bit from the back of your head. For the most part, this wasn’t an issue during use but every now and then the bridge would get momentarily caught in my clothing if looked up. It’s for that same reason that I wouldn’t recommend them for all workouts, as I also encountered the issue when I had to lie down on a bench or yoga mat.
When it comes to everything else however, the Aeropex are about as sturdy as can be. I never found myself readjusting their positioning mid-run, allowing me to forget that the Aeropex were even there and just focus on my performance instead.
The control interface is fairly minimal in comparison to other headphones, as there’s only three buttons in total and no touch panel to speak of. There’s a large button at the front of the Aeropex to control playback and summon your smart assistant of choice, while two smaller buttons under the right-hand side control volume and power.
For any type of running headphones, I’m a firm believer that physical buttons are much easier to use (touch panels and sweat are a nightmare combination), and while the buttons on the Aeropex do have quite a tactile feel to them, I would’ve liked to have seen more controls on the device itself so as to avoid assigning multiple actions to individual buttons. There’s nothing worse than trying to operate timed/sequenced button presses while you’re running.
- Maintaining spatial awareness is a key sell for runners
- Users can take calls on the Aeropex with an included mic
- Smart assistants can be summoned with a long button press
Because of the open-ear component of the Aftershokz Aeropex, they’re noticeably more feature-lite from a tech-perspective compared to the competition, but that shouldn’t undermine the importance of their key selling point – particularly as it’s reason enough to own a pair of Aeropex.
While it’s always tempting to invest in one of the best wireless earbuds or best running headphones with active noise cancellation, doing so would ignore the responsible obligation on the part of any runner (at either the recreational or athletic level) to maintain an awareness of their surroundings. On too many occasions, I’ve seen runners land themselves into potentially dangerous situations because their earbuds have done too good a job of blocking out the sounds of cars or passing bikes.
Having used the Aeropex now for several weeks, I don’t ever see myself going back to a dedicated pair of over-ear headphones or earbuds as the greater understanding of my surroundings has allowed me to run with more confidence. The gym is a different story as the ongoing radio station pretty much overpowered the Aeropex at most volume levels, but when it comes to running, the Aeropex are an essential piece of kit.
Still, this doesn’t mean that the Aeropex are completely bereft of smart features. On the contrary, a long press of the playback button will summon your smart assistant of choice, giving you the chance to pose queries or change to a specific track without taking out your phone.
There’s also a built-in microphone so you can take calls directly on the Aeropex. The mic quality is far from high end, but the person on the other end of the line will still be able to pick up what you’re saying even with a degree of background noise.
With an official IP67 rating for water and sweat resistance, you won’t have to worry about the Aeropex battling the elements either, although if you need an open-ear pair of headphones for swimming then you’ll have to look at the Aftershokz Xtrainerz instead.
Aftershokz claims that the Aeropex can last for up to eight hours on a single charge, but in my testing I found that the headphones were able to go quite a bit beyond that. For instance, after six hours of music/podcast playback at a low-medium volume, I still had roughly 75% left in the tank which had me thoroughly impressed. When the Aeropex actually do need topping up, they’ll let you know via a handy audio notification.
- Bone conduction technology can create clear, impressive sounds
- Vocals and rhythm come through brilliantly
- Basslines are lacking, and bass-heavy songs aren’t at their best here
Blame it on the fact that I had just finished reviewing the disappointing Fauna Audio Glasses, but ahead of testing the Aeropex, I was sceptical about the audio quality of any pair of headphones that don’t offer an in-ear or over-ear experience. Luckily for me, it soon became very clear that whatever issues Aftershokz had with earlier iterations such as the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, the company had made huge strides in the proficiency of bone conduction technology since then.
The sound quality produced by the Aeropex is so clean that it can easily be compared to certain mid-range earbuds like the LG FN6. Listening to a summertime hit like Holiday by Dizzee Rascal, the rhythm comes through clearly, as the vocals and mids are given equal attention without ever feeling in competition with each other.
The Aeropex can also be loud enough to suit most preferences, and I never found myself missing parts of a song on a run due to the general ambient noise of my local park. In a huge boon to commuters, the Aeropex also lack any discernible sound leakage. In fact, the only time I was able to pick up on the Aeropex’s presence from afar was when they were placed in a quiet room – and even then, it was a light hum at medium volume.
The only letdown to be found on the Aeropex is in how the device conveys bass tones during playback. For the most part, the bassline of any given song can be heard, but it lacks any sort of oomph to match the clarity afforded to other layers. This means that songs like Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow – which relies on a heavy bassline – doesn’t come across with the same impact that can be found via a more premium pair of headphones.
If you can get past that minor transgression then I think you’ll be impressed by what the Aeropex have to offer, not just in sound quality but in being a great alternative to traditional headphones for any fitness enthusiasts.
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Should you buy it?
If you’re a runner: maintaining spatial awareness is key if you’re running outdoors, and the Aeropex give you that ability whilst still offering fantastic sound quality at a reasonable price.
If you’re an audiophile: at present, bone conduction doesn’t offer quite the same level of audio quality found on proper wireless earbuds and headphones, so audiophiles should look elsewhere.
For any runners or cyclists out there, the Aftershokz Aeropex are an essential buy. The additional sense of safety and security that you get with the open-ear design doesn’t come at the cost of audio quality, as songs come through clearly – letting you enjoy your favourite playlists with additional spatial awareness. Audio purists will probably be better off with more premium wireless earbuds, but it’s clear that bone conduction technology has come a long way and I’m eager to see where it can go from here.
Bone conduction uses vibrations to send music to your ear canal simply by making contact with nearby bone structure.
During my testing, I encountered no discomfort with the Aeropex’s bone conduction technology.
he Aeropex are waterproof with an IP67 rating, but they cannot be worn whilst swimming