AfterShokz, has taken bone conduction technology—originally developed for military and law enforcement use—and made it available to everyone. Known for its unconventional, open-ear headphone design, AfterShokz has taken this design and applied it to Gamez: wireless, Bluetooth headphones for PC, Mac and mobile gamers. Open-ear headphones do not sit inside the ear like earbuds or sit on top of the ear, instead they rest in front of the ear, “transmitting sound through the cheekbones to the inner ears via mini vibrations, which bypasses the eardrums completely.” This design allows users to enjoy their music or game without losing any awareness of their surroundings. So, if you’re trying to beat the last level while in a crowded living room or you want to listen to your music while hanging out with a group of friends, Gamez are perfect for those types of situations.
What makes Gamez different from AfterShokz’s other products is that they are acoustically specific for gaming. They are “the only Bluetooth(R) stereo headphones that create an immersive stereo environment without tuning out the world.”
I am a huge fan of earbuds, so when I first heard about AfterShokz I was skeptical. How good will the sound/music be if it’s sitting on the outside of my ear? Will it fit right? Isn’t being able to hear my surroundings the exact opposite of what headphones are supposed to be used for? Surprisingly, I was blown away by theses headphones. Gamez may have shown me a new and more ear-friendly way to get the same experience I have with earbuds.
The fit is odd at first. Not only do the headphones rest outside of the ears, but they also curve around the neck. This structure hinders me from bending my neck backwards without pushing the headphones out of place. However, lying down with them on is not an issue. I can even lie down on my side, which can be super uncomfortable with regular headphones. I did get a slight headache the first time I wore them, but it lasted only a few minutes once I got used to the placement. I’m sure that has something to do with the vibrations from the sound. For people with smaller heads, like myself, included in the package is a rubber, adjustable tension band that you snap into the headset, making the fit a little more snug. Once I was used to wearing them, I kept them on for about three to four hours straight, with no problems. Really comfortable and lightweight headphones.
Sound quality was definitely a major concern. Do I get that in-ear experience earbuds provide? No, but it is definitely close. The sound quality is a lot better than I thought it would be. I can feel the bass—literally, you can feel it on your cheeks—and I can hear every little part of each song, as if I am wearing regular headphones. You would think because it sits outside of your ear the bass wouldn’t be as strong and the volume would have to be jacked up all the way, but that is not the case. I can still enjoy that deep, strong bass in my Dubstep playlist. Playing mobile games is the same experience: clear, high-quality sound. The vibrations do tickle my inner ear sometimes, but it’s not annoying or distracting.
I have a loud family who likes to talk over the already loud TV. I could still sit in the living room with them and comfortably listen to my music while doing some work on the computer. The loud background noise is not distracting at all, and I can still interact with people without missing a beat. AfterShokz is able to balance surrounding noise and the sound from their headphones, allowing users to enjoy both at the same time.
Using the headphones is simple and uncomplicated. The buttons can be accessed easily and pairing is quick. Just slip them on as quick as any other headphones. Exercising is not an issue, either; these things will not budge.
I wouldn’t recommend open-ear headphones for every situation. Because these are open-ear headphones, sound doesn’t travel directly into your ear, which means, any people around you will also be able to hear noise from your headphones. If you plan on going to the library, a quiet coffee shop or have to take a train ride, I’d say take your regular headphones instead—unless you don’t care about bothering others.
I can’t wait to see how far AfterShokz can take this technology. Could their headphones take over the market and become the norm? I hope AfterShokz’s next task will be to create headphones for console gamers.