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Aftershokz OpenComm – Can Bone Conduction Headphones jump from track to office?

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The OpenComm

Let’s get down to it. You use headphones for fitness. You have discovered that not have cables dangling around is tremendous. You’ve tried bone conducting, especially from Aftershokz, and you are sold. Then, a pandemic came and with it, most of us discovered that working from home was as effective as working from the office. In fact, even more effective as there were few inane conversations to be had!

We adapted to Zoom and Teams and got our work numbers routed to our laptops. The home office, became a powerful place to do business. Having headphones on all day and become uncomfortable and also, who wants to look like an airline pilot on a Zoom call. And, let’s remember that we need to get out for a walk in nature and a run, or cycle ride. Wouldn’t it be great to have one set of headphones that do everything?

Look no further? Read on…

For me, the disappointment with bone conduction headphones was the audio out. I’d be listening to a some focus music whilst working away and then make/receive a call and I’d get ‘…are you there Dave, I cannot quite hear you…’ I’d take an hour out on the turbo and it would be the same whilst chatting to teammates on Discord. In the context of the latter, the sheer noise coming from the turbo and accompanying fan, did not help the situation.

When the Aftershokz OpenComm arrived, I didn’t even need to read the manual. So simple are they to pair (Near Field Communication pairing), it is even easier than unwrapping a Terry’s Chocolate Orange!

The controls are very familiar and it was simple unbox, connect and go.

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My trusty Sennheiser headphones are a daily bird’s nest of complexity

When speaking to colleges and clients, there was never a comment about my audio – which is good. There was never an difficulty of hearing anyone. Even on the turbo trainer, I could hear people really well and they could hear me. This seemed like a hallelujah moment!

I ran a test, playing Eye of the Tiger by Survivor loudly, whilst recording audio. The OpenComm was used and then the in-the-box Apple wired headphones. What you can see the the images is the Apple audio looking louder – it was louder mainly because Survivor were there, very present behind my voice ever-inspiring Rocky. With the OpenComm, the audio wasn’t as rich (a little more nasal), however, Rocky wasn’t being loudly motivated in the background – it was just me – clear as a bell, with just the hint of Survivor.

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Apple’s wired headphones – a mixture of my voice and a music track playing from external speakers
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The Aftershokz OpenComm, mostly my voice

Summary so far; voice out on phone calls and Discord – they work and work very well. It’s worth noting that the boom microphone can be swivelled up and out of the way, for example, when you are exercising and you want to focus on nothing but listening. Wherever the boom is placed, it stays in place, which is good.

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Much neater, the OpenComm taking a well-earned rest

How about audio in – listening? As with other members of the Aftershokz family – impressive and especially when we consider that Aftershokz are bone conduction headphones. Alongside the village roads here, with the usual Chelsea tractors that occupy the lanes with their overly voluminous exhausts and I could listen to radio and podcasts – easily. Music is the same and whilst riding on my turbo, I could easily hear people on the phone, podcasts and music (and my drive train currently needs attention and is creating an unwelcome clatter).

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Old Faithful, my ancient MacBook Pro

A further summary: Audio out = very good. Audio in = very good, unless you are a massive hip-hop music buff with good hearing.

The next question I hear you ask is ‘How water resistant are they?’ It’s funny that you should ask. I walk every morning, no matter what the weather and I live in Derbyshire in the UK. It’s not known for long hot days! Using the OpenComm for two weeks of walking/plogging and almost daily turbo training and the Ingress Protection 55 standard holds up against the Derbyshire weather and my sweat!

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Merino Wool and a damp Buff and the OpenComm was fine

It’s water resistant, it makes phone calls, it copes with modern life when listening and lastly, what about the battery? If Aftershokz have a weakness it’s that the batteries last that long that you can become lackadaisical and forget to charge them. My usual habit is an end of the day charge.

Aftershokz own claims are: OpenComm provides 8 hours of battery life and 14 days standby time 
per charge. If you are using OpenComm as an input-only device (e.g. hosting a live streaming), it gives you up to 16-hours of talk time. Even for day-long meetings OpenComm will not quit – if you remember to charge it.

Charging from flat takes 60 minutes until fully charged. Even a 5 minute charge provides 2 hours of talk time. The charger for this model is magnetic.

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In the box is sturdy carry case, a charge cable and the OpenComm device.

How much? In the UK, the Aftershokz OpenComm retails for £149.95

What is the market for these headphones? For me:

  • Home workers
  • Office and industrial workers
  • Live-streamers
  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • Cooks, who wants to listen and chat with they are creating culinary greatness
  • Walkers who want to listen to nature/bird song and also keep abreast of the news/podcasts

If you have £150 knocking around and you want an cracking all-rounder – they are well worth the punt.

END.

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