Three headsets for sports or how I love bone conduction

    I have long wanted to make a comparative review on sports headphones and express a few subjective thoughts about their choice. And then there was an opportunity. This summer, I tried to lead a relatively sporty lifestyle and even began to make small runs and long cycle walks.

    In my deep conviction, running and driving with music (in my case, hard and quite rhythmic) is much more interesting than without it. During my runs and bike trips, I tried 3 pairs of headphones that fell in the price range from 3 to 8 kilorubles. Summing up the summer ended, I am ready to share my subjective experience and thoughts on the topic of sports headphones.

    JBL Endurance Sprint

    So, the first pair tested was JBL Endurance Sprint, which were chosen due to a relatively low price, fast charging and battery options, and the ability to work 8 hours in playback mode.

    The ergonomics of the device pleased: nothing crushed, did not rub, did not interfere. Headphones were felt on the ears, while not causing much discomfort. Endurance Sprint does not fall out of the ears while running and riding a bike and fully justifies the promises of marketers JBL.

    I practically did not use the magnetic clips with which the headphones were supplied, preferring pockets. I would venture to suggest that for those who do not have such an ossified habit of wearing “ears” in their pockets, these magnetic clips will be comfortable.

    The sound, as well as in the majority of other intra channel systems, was bass, and also showed a failure on the average and accented HF. There was a feeling that someone (as is often the case) picked up high bass and treble on the equalizer and failed average ones. This explains the acoustic design, which often contributes to the allocation of the low-frequency spectrum. Measurements confirm my subjective conclusions.

    In addition, it is clear from the THD measurements that the harmonic distortion is more pronounced in the LF and MF range, where they slightly exceed 1%.

    Testing this pair, I had to go once in the rain and seriously sweat. I can confirm that the device has water protection conforming to the IPX7 standard. Under the influence of splashes and jets of water, as well as drops of sweat, nothing happened to them. It is naturally impossible to swim in them.

    The device implements a simple gestural (tapa) touch control. Management does not cause difficulties and complaints, you can easily answer calls, control playback and volume.

    When running at a stadium, the isolation, which is almost like a full-size studio monitor in this model, is especially good, it helps a lot. During the cycle walk, especially outside the cycle paths, it hurts more. The fact is that in relatively dangerous areas, where there is a risk from the car, tightly blocked ears can become a big problem.

    Fans of super-quality sound reproduction should understand that the headphones work with SBC and AAC codecs, and “real hires” cannot be heard through them.
    At the same time, the price of 3000 rubles for all this happiness of an athlete cannot but rejoice.

    Pioneer SE-E7BT

    The SE-E7BT - as well as the previous model described - is an intra-channel headphones with additional fixing handles. Constructive difference from other analogues is to use a hinge, which allows to reduce the pressure on the ear.

    This is reflected in ergonomics, I practically do not feel them, my ears adapt very quickly. In a number of promotional materials I came across information that the correct position also improves the sound. However, it hardly seems to me that the position in the ear can be wrong for an in-ear earphone.

    In these headphones, the sound was especially pleased, the frequency response was quite flat, without obvious humps and dips. The device uses the Qualcomm aptX codec.

    Sound characteristics deserve special mention:

    • frequency range from 5 to 22 000 Hz (+ - 2 dB);
    • harmonic distortion: 0.1%;
    • sensitivity, dB / W / m: 100.

    With the battery, everything is not so smooth. Of the 7.5 hours stated, the SE-E7B works no more than 6 hours and 50 minutes, which is generally not bad either, but the sediment, as they say, has remained. The claimed IPX4 splash protection seems to be present. I did not get into these headphones under a tropical downpour, but they withstand a little rain and excessive sweating.

    The control is made in the form of a separate remote control with traditional buttons and a built-in microphone. Seeing the remote on the connecting cable, I thought that it would interfere and I would constantly feel the asymmetry in the pressure on the ears due to the pulling console. As a result, it turned out that for headphones with a total weight of 20 g, this is absolutely not critical.

    Headphones well isolate the user from the external environment, which, as I said, is good when running through the stadium, but it is dangerous when crossing the roadway. On a bicycle, I tried to cross dangerous areas by removing the headphones.

    The cost of the device: 7000 rubles.

    AfterShokz Trekz titanium

    So, a characteristic feature of AfterShokz Trekz titanium - as many know, is the use of so-called. bone conduction. The principle of their work has already been repeatedly described in articles on Habré . So now about the impressions.

    Ergonomically, these headphones I liked the most. They sit tight, while you stop noticing them after 2-3 minutes. Other devices that I described above require more time to adapt.

    Regarding the sound, I can say that it is extremely peculiar. Getting some reliable measurements and sound data is problematic. I am not familiar with the methodology, which allows to measure the valid indicators of bone conduction headphones. Moreover, it is likely that this will require a special stand.

    In this case, subjectively, I am ready to characterize the sound as unusual. I can not say that it is bad, but I would not listen to music in these headphones at home in a relaxed atmosphere. Contrary to some reviews, the volume of the sound is more than enough, both for talking and for music. According to the passport data of the device, it has the following characteristics:

    • frequency range: 20-20000 Hz;
    • sensitivity dB / W / m: 100 dB;
    • THD: unknown.

    Regarding non-linear components, again, I can only share my personal impressions. THD are likely to be present at the level of subtle second-third harmonics. There are intermodulation distortions, especially at the border of mid and low frequencies, since with a complex musical signal in this band the sound is “blurred”. Therefore, the sound does not leave feeling of crystal clarity. Medium and high sounds definitely good, the bottom is also present, but at high volume it starts to tickle the temples and is subjectively perceived as unnatural.

    People who have listened to other bone conduction products say that AfterShokz Trekz titanium is significantly superior to others. This is probably due to the Premium Pitch + technology, which allows achieving high volume, increasing fidelity and providing the necessary dynamic range.

    Also, the developers promise that, despite the principle of operation, people around you will not hear your music thanks to the use of LeakSlaye technology. I can see that at high volume at a distance of 20 cm from the device you can even hear words in an unfamiliar song. At a distance of half a meter one can understand that some sound comes from the headphones, but to determine that it is no longer possible and only at a distance of a meter the surrounding people will not hear anything. What is interesting, about both technologies (Premium Pitch +, LeakSlaye), the developer says very poorly, which is somewhat alarming.

    AfterShokz Trekz titanium is equipped with microphones and an active noise cancellation system, which does not completely eliminate external noise, but significantly limits their influence when talking and listening to music. For remote control, one multi-function button is used (call answer, pause / play). Also in the headphones there are voice prompts in English for Audrey Says, which are quite annoying with phrases from the category “Welcome to Trekz Titanium!”.

    Perhaps the weakest point of the headphones is the battery. Its capacity allows the device to work in music playback mode for 6 hours and 10 minutes. In talk mode, this time can be much lower. In my case, even when using headphones in this mode for 20 minutes, the total work time was reduced by half an hour.

    Swim in the headphones can not be upsetting, given the use of bone conduction. The device is protected from moisture according to the IP55 standard, this protection saves from sweat and rain. Special attention is given to the titanium case, which, on the one hand, is light enough for sports, and on the other hand, it is unlikely to have analogs in strength both in its price segment and among more expensive devices.

    Headphone cost: 8000 rubles.

    When using the device, the ears are completely open and therefore you can hear everything that is happening around and at the same time enjoy the music. For me, it was a bit unusual, and perhaps many would not like the lack of isolation, but for security, this is what is needed. In my case, these are ideal headphones for use with a bicycle.


    I find it difficult to name the best among these devices, each of them is worth its money. At the same time, I was always skeptical about bone conduction and did not understand why this was necessary.

    Using AfterShokz Trekz titanium, I was surprised that they are capable of sounding loudly and reasonably well. As headphones for the cyclist, they have become a real discovery for me, but I strongly do not recommend them to people who do not like the sound of open headphones, such as the KOSS Porta Pro.

    I would appreciate your opinions on sports headphones in the comments. I am personally particularly interested in hearing about KOSS and Plantronics products, since I wanted their headsets, but did not have time to evaluate them. I would also be grateful for participating in the survey.

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