As I swung the lawnmower around 180 degrees the handle caught the cord of my headphones and yanked the iPhone out of my pocket.
I’ve always loved the beautiful design of Apple products…especially the iPhone. They were made to be held…not reside in some bulky rubber case. And, so I’ve resisted wrapping these wonderful works of art in ugly protective casing. As a result, I’m super careful with my iPhone…even more careful than if it was in a case. I have to be.
A few weeks before the Mower Incident I figured out how to listen to podcasts while I was cutting grass. I have a pair of large ear covering headphones that, when the volume is cranked up, I can hear most of what’s being said over the lawnmower noise.
I was listening to Malcom Gladwell’s brilliant podcast, Revisionist History, when I swung the mower around and caught the cord of those headphones. The iPhone flew out of my pocket and landed face down on the brick patio.
Three things happened as a result. I have a new phone, my phone is now in a new case, and I have a new pair of wireless headphones.
You see…that wasn’t the first time a cord attached to my iPhone got caught on something. Usually, it happened as I was walking and my hand caught the dangling wire pulling the ear buds out of my ears.
For more than a year my wife, Ava, has been using a pair of Aftershokz Bone Conduction Headphones. They are wireless and fit snugly just in front of your ears. I was never interested because I didn’t see how headphones that don’t go IN or OVER your ears could really work well.
But, I was done with wires and ready to give the AfterShokz a try. They use bone conduction technology which means they deliver sound through your cheekbones…not directly into your ear. I don’t completely understand how that works, but it does. Ava had several pair of Aftershokz and let me try one. It didn’t take long. I’m hooked. In fact, the Aftershokz has forever changed my audio listening life. I love them! Here’s why:
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They Are Comfortable
I was skeptical about how they would feel. And, I was right. They took some getting used to. If I had made a decision based on the first five minutes I’d still be using wired ear buds. It took about 15 minutes of wearing the Aftershokz before it felt comfortable.
They are light and the tension engineered into connective band that fits around the back of your neck allows them to fit securely. I have never felt like they are about to fall off. That’s not something I could say about my ear buds. It was always a constant battle to get them to stay in my ears. That’s never a problem with the Aftershokz.
I’m Not Isolated
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this. I’m used to wearing headphones at work and ear buds at home. They close out the surrounding world and place me in my own audio bubble. I’ve always kinda liked that.
Removing the bubble, though, makes me safer. I can hear if someone, or something, is coming up behind me as I walk. I can also hear vehicles approach. I like this more than I liked being in the bubble.
Wearing the AfterShokz also makes me more accessible. It’s much easier to engage with others. They no longer have to yell or aggressively wave their hand in front of my face to get my attention.
I can now hear others at normal conversation level and a simple button-push on the left speaker of the Aftershokz pauses the audio so we can talk.
New Listening Options
Because I can now hear the world around me, I’ve started wearing the AfterShokz while I drive. Since I have an older car, it’s still a thing to get a podcast from my iPhone to the speakers in my Honda. But, with the Aftershokz listening to my favorite podcasts is so much easier while I commute.
And, because I’m not isolated I can hear sirens and horns and am still fully engaged in the most important task of driving…getting where I’m going SAFELY. The Aftershokz allows me greater audio options in the car without compromising my safety or those around me.
Of course, being able to hear the world around me has some downsides. I’m not sure how they would sound on an airplane. I suspect the ambient noise would make that experience less than perfect.
I love walking around cities and mostly the bone conduction technology is fine, but several times I’ve had to pause the audio while a noisy truck rumbles past, I’m walking by a construction site, or there’s a siren.
I also can’t use my these while cutting the grass. I’ve gone back to not listening to anything while mowing. That was my reality for many decades, so it hasn’t been a hard readjustment.
If you are looking for the BEST quality sound for music bone conduction headphones are not for you. I don’t use them for music, but my wife does while she’s running. She says the sound is OK, but not great. The advantages of using them for music while running or walking is that you’re not isolated. That safety precaution, for some, is more valuable that sound quality.
For podcasts, or audio books, the sound quality is fine. Several of the podcasts I enjoy are highly produced with music and effects, and the AfterShokzdelivers a great experience.
Listening More Than Ever
The Aftershokz has changed the quality of my walks. Because of how much I love these things, I’m listening to a lot of podcasts now. Almost every time I head out for a walk I’m wearing the Aftershokz and have a couple of podcasts ready to go.
I’m learning, being challenged, and motivated as I pursue fitness. It is a great use of time and I love it more than ever. The earbud experience was barely adequate for me and as a result I didn’t listen to much audio as I walked. Now I do.