Back in 2011, I was almost run over while I was running on the side of the road. To be fair it wasn’t the car’s fault – I had a pair of in-ear headphones on at the time, which completely robbed me of situational awareness, Childish Gambino’s voice drowning out the panicked horns of a car behind me until it was (almost) too late. From then on whenever I run or bike on the side of the road, I never take along headphones since listening to myself pant like an asthmatic Golden Retriever is better than becoming roadkill. But runs without music are sad and lonely, and nothing gets me going like rap music – so I was pretty happy when AfterShokz Philippines sent me their Bluez 2S wireless headphones to test.
The Bluez 2S solves the biggest dilemma of runners and bikers when they’re out on the road: listening to music that you like without robbing you of your situational awareness. The Bluez 2S solves this by transmitting your music via your cheekbones. Bone conducting headphones like the Bluez 2S allow you to listen to your music without covering up your ears, so you’re still able to hear vehicles and people around you, which is vital if you’re biking or even running in a country that has a ton of undisciplined drivers.
Wrap-around design is great for keeping it on your head, but it could be a little bigger
The Bluez 2S is a wrap-around design, which allows it to stay on your head even if you’re running or biking full tilt. Just for fun I tried using it during my airsoft gamedays to see if it could withstand a day of me running, climbing and diving in the dirt, and to its credit it stayed on my head firmly through all of that.
Button placement could be a little better – most of the relevant controls, including volume and power, are all located underneath the left side of the headset. On the left side of the headset, near the transducer sits the multi-function button. Because of the placement of the volume rocker and power button, you can’t help but move the headset whenever you change the volume, for example. Simply moving the buttons on the side would have fixed that issue.
As for comfort, the Bluez 2S is comfortable enough for normal use, though people with bigger noggins (like me) will find the transducers (the bits that actually transmit sound) digging into the side of their heads with extended use. We would have liked the Bluez 2S more if it was adjustable.
Pairing the Bluez 2S is pretty simple – simply push the power button for five seconds until the small LED near it starts flashing. From there, connecting to it is as simple as finding its name on your phone’s screen.
Listening using bone conduction tech feels weird
Listening to music via the Bluez 2S is a pretty weird experience at first, as it was pretty unnerving listening to my tunes while hearing all the ambient noise around me. Bass-heavy tunes would constantly cause the the transducers to slightly tickle the side of my head, which was, again, a weird experience, but after a while you get used to it.
How about the actual sound quality? I found that the sound quality to be generally good, sometimes a little bass heavy, which caused the tickling that I describe above. Other in-ear headphones would probably beat it when it comes to sound quality but again, these headphones wirelessly transmit sound via your cheekbones so a little hit in overall performance is expected.
Call quality is crisp and clear, and people I called while wheezing like geriatric did not complain about the quality of the call.
The multi-function button on the side of the transducer answers calls, and pauses your tracks when the music is playing. Holding it down for two seconds launches the voice dial functionality, while pressing it twice redials the last number you called.
As far as battery life goes, the Bluez 2S is rated for around 6 hours on a single charge, which is pretty much what I got from using the thing. It charges via a covered micro USD port located near the volume rocker, and charges from 0 to 100% in two hours.
Verdict: A great buy for runners and bikers
All in all the Bluez 2S is a very good buy for people who wants to listen to their tunes while running or biking without losing situational awareness. It’s a little pricey at Php 4,990, but if you value your tunes (and your life) it’s a good investment.