Ryan Thomason

AfterShokz Sportz M2 headset, Review

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I was excited, but skeptical, could they really work, especially for someone like myself that wears hearing aids? I should have been prepared with the outcome.

aftershokz

First, I want to put some perspective on these headphones and where I’m coming at from my viewpoint and why I may have a totally different set of reasoning than people with normal hearing. If you don’t know me, I have moderate to profound hearing loss. I’ve been like that my whole life because I have a degenerative hearing and sight disease called Usher Syndrome. My daily life can be broken up into two basic uses for headphones (much like anybody else) Work and Working Out. The difference for me, is that if I have to take a hearing aid (or both) out to use headphones/ear buds, then essentially I’m shutting out a portion or the whole auditory world to only hear what is coming through the ear buds. AfterShokz is a head phone that wraps over your ears and the speakers should rest on your jaw bone just before and a little above your ear canal. The AfterShokz headphones that I tested out were the Sportz M2 set that were given to me for review purposes.

Ok, Maybe I need to work on my Modeling Poses beyond "Magnum"

Ok, Maybe I need to work on my Modeling Poses beyond “Magnum”

Daily Life/Sitting in the Office Chair

As I mentioned before, wearing hearing aids at a job already has it disadvantages. Let’s start first with the phone. Now, I have a really damn good set of Hearing Aids in the Oticon Epoq P, while they have an automatic functionality that if you put a phone up toward the top of the Epoq hearing aid, it’ll make a quick beeping sound and adjust to a phone setting that turns off the other hearing and only picks up the telephone waves. Yes, it’s awesome. But I hate it. Yes, I should be using the giant Bluetooth device for the hearing aids, but I hate wearing it around my neck like some giant necklace, it’s too cumbersome and hasn’t worked fully for me. I always take my hearing aid out and put the phone to my ear canal, I can’t tell you why I prefer it better, whatever, this is a headphones review.

In a Nutshell, take calls on my mobile phone I either A) Take out a hearing aid to listen or B) Have to use an ear bud to handle a phone call. I listen to music, essentially all day long off of my smartphone (thank you Pandora Radio) So, I either was having one ear bud in my left ear listening to music, or both ear buds in to just shut out the outside world in a audio sense. So, if someone called my phone or was trying to talk to me at my desk, I’d never hear anything. If I DID notice someone was standing there. I have to awkwardly pull out the ear buds, put my hearing aids in, motion for them to wait, because it’s a good couple of seconds while the hearing aids power up, which is seriously the most awkward thing in the world when someone is looking at you annoyingly while you’re staring at them waiting to be able to hear them. Then a beeping noise and you can have a conversation. It’s almost enough to make you not want to listen to music and have hearing aids at work. In my case, the incredibly quite area besides my work phone nearly constantly ringing warrants I listen to music no matter what.

With the AfterShokz, amazingly, all of that BS just washes away like waves crashing onto a beach. Because I never lose any auditory sense with the outside world as my music plays through the really cool technology (patent pending) I don’t have to worry anymore about the little things that always bothered me about trying to listen to music by myself at work and being able to hold a pickup conversation at my desk. I don’t got to worry about putting in hearing aids, and the 15 seconds of looking like a dork, forcing someone to wait to talk to me. I just mute or pull off the headset to talk to someone because both of my hearing aids are in and on, easy peasy, huge bonus points for someone that wears hearing aids and wants to be able to have fluid conversations and still be able to listen to their music off of whatever device they use for that luxury.

Don’t Sweat it out

Wearing these things while working out has its obvious benefits, one, listening to music while you run outside, especially, you don’t have to worry about that disconnect to the outside world if you’re listening to music. Again, with my situation, if I was running outside for my training for races (Spartan Ultimate Beast in June!) I can’t have ear buds in to listen to music. Since I run around a Business Depo with moderate to heavy traffic on the roads, not to mention semi-trucks for a multitude of warehouses you can see why I’d want to hear around me. Since it’s Utah, and winter, it’s been too damn cold outside to run properly, but from my inside workouts, I’ve been loving having these things on. I’ve gone through probably at least four different sets of ear buds that have shorted out from sweat. At least, I hope it’s sweat and not something…else. Regardless, I go through a lot of ear buds when I’m at the gym.

While this headset is in contact with my ear bud destroying sweaty head of destruction, I’ve noticed no issues after doing my workouts in the last two weeks of having the Sportz M2’s.

More importantly, I can actually hear what’s going on around me, while that may not be great listening to the dudes grunting when they’re lifting weights. Once the weather warms up, I’m going to be kicking some serous butt on my run times outside since I’ll be confidently listening to music. Also, when I have the Sportz M2’s on, the arms actually make my hearing aids rest against them on the outside (hearing aids not making contact with my skin) just that little space gives me enough reason to work out extra hard and not have to worry about my hearing aids getting sweaty (really, it’s super annoying when they get even slightly wet, aside from the paranoia that you broke them).

Three can be a crowd

I’ve only had issues in a couple of places with the headset. The first being that three can sometimes be a crowd in the ear area with hearing aids, Sportz M2 and Glasses all competing for the behind the ear slot. Now, my Gunnar Glasses that I wear at work, the Sportz M2 and Hearing aids all have a very limited issue when it comes to overcrowding, I think it’s because the arms on the Gunnar glasses are thinner and more flat against my head than my at home prescription glasses I wear when my contacts are out. If I’m trying to wear the headset at home (in case one of the kids/wife wake up and I can hear them. Or if I need to put on my mean face and beat down an bad guy breaking in, Ok, maybe I read too many comic books.) Anyways, at home is when I find the overcrowding issue. Because my glasses arms are a little thicker, the space is only so limited behind the ear that something has to give. So, instead of my glasses being straight on, they’re slightly up at an angle. I could fit everything if I wanted to, but it would push the speakers on the headset down below optimal positioning and you get a diminished quality, not bad by all means, but I want to hear things the best I can.

Final Thoughts

In all honesty, I’ve put all of my other Ear Buds into my tech junk drawer after wearing the AfterShokz for the last couple of weeks while I’m at work, at home and at the gym. While the stated battery time is 12 hours after a 2 hour full charge, I’ve had no issues with having the system dying out on me, typically charging the headset simply when it’s not in use (Lunch break) has given me nearly all day music playing. The Sportz M2 are comfortable, don’t slip during workouts and the clip on volume/call/everything device keeps all the wires away from flailing arms that may rip out the cord from your device. Seriously, if you have flailing arms issues, you might want to get that checked out regardless of if you have this clipped on right or not.

For those of you that are Hard of Hearing and use hearing aids (If you use the old ear cones, you may need to upgrade from that Old Timey tech) these headsets are an essential for you. I can listen to music at any of my daily life situations and never have to worry about the awkwardness of having ear buds in and waiting for my hearing aids to turn back on. I can’t vouch for what it’s like using these without hearing aids. I tried, I can’t hear anything. Seriously. I took out my hearing aids and put the speakers everywhere they could possibly fit on my head. I got no music unless I pushed really hard and the speakers were closer to my ear canal. If you’re nearly deaf without hearing aids/cochlear implant or deaf these aren’t going to make your ability to listen to audio any better, they require you have some hearing ability for the technology to work, and at that, hearing aids or probably Cochlear Implants I’d assume work as good as hearing aids but I could vouch for sure since it’s not my situation.

Though, after talking to fellow WPR Senior Editor Ryan Wilson, who paid for his pair of AfterShokz (sucker.) he absolutely loves his Sportz M2’s. So, for you norms, they’re probably even better for you since you don’t have so many things fighting for space behind your ear.

AfterShokz headsets are an amazing tool for those of us that just want to listen to music, podcasts, or whatever it is you like to violate your ear holes with at obscenely loud decibel levels (we all do it, it’s OK to admit that). At work, at play, and At (Insert anywhere but underwater here), I can’t imagine not using these things from here on out, at least until I get cyborg ear implants, maybe then I won’t need them. Until then, I’ll be wearing AfterShokz from here on out, they’ve won me over in the headset division.`

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