£79.95 via uk.shokz.com
Blasting out Spotify in our garage annoys Mrs NITP and probably the neighbours too. The sounds of our Zwift playlist echoing down the road is not something everyone wants to hear! So when Shokz offered over their Openmove headphones, it could change the mood of the street and people saying hello to me once again...!
We always look at the packaging these days when we're buying anything. We have been involved in some fly tipping clear ups lately so it's engrained in me to be really aware of what we're using and the importance of recycling and reusing. Some of you might be thinking just get to the headphones would you but love where you live, pointless plastics have no place in this world so thumbs up to Shokz for a cardboard container with a plastic lid, all made a home in our recycling bins.
Very subtle and slick was my first thoughts. Straight away you notice the magnet feature which keeps the buds together, handy so the whole structure doesn't lose shape. Best to point out that these are wireless so no hassle of untangling leads! These headphones do come in a small range of colours but I always wonder why brands not offer a custom option, I believe there's enough customers out there who would take up the offer of personalising their sound accessories.
Now, this is where I drop a confession. Shokz pride themselves on telling you about bone conduction technology. I didn't really have a clue what this was so I did a little bit of research and it's basically allowing sound to travel through bones rather than blocking the ear canal. This allows you to have a wider sense of awareness if you're out. What I didn't realise was that there are certain ways to wear bone conduction headphones and I didn't pick up on this until late!
So after that confession, my next points are kinda irrelevant but I have worn them properly since then! I wore them inside the ear canal (don't do this!). My first thoughts were they're not base-y. Well that's because you were wearing them wrong! One way of wearing them is placing the sealed buds (great for resisting the sweat!) on the tragus part of the ear. This is the pokey flappy bit at the front of the ear closest to your cheek. The difference in sound is evident straight away. Before, it was a very tinny sound like a cheap pair of headphones. But you now get a clearer crisp sound, even surreal because the headphones are technically not in your ear! I am now a fan of bone conduction!
I don't really wear headphones when cycling and still don't feel comfortable using these on the road although I expect they would give you better awareness than a closed pair but I just don't want to risk it. So the garage would be the test centre. Like I mentioned before, blaring out music through the TV wasn't an issue for me but guess anyone walking past the house would be wondering what kind of music festival I have organised in my own home!
The buttons on the side are relatively user friendly. Left side controls the pause and skip features whereas right side controls on/off, volume and bluetooth connectivity. You can also change the equaliser but I didn't feel this made too much different to the sound (was wearing it wrong at the time though!).
It was so nice not to worry about wires and you wouldn't want to when setting up something like Zwift and pedalling around wires would make a messy ending. One feature I was curious in was the sweat reduction. The sealed buds really make it hard for any moisture to creep in, I was very impressed. Best set of headphones I've used for training was a pair of wrap around Sennheisers. Loved them until the salt and sweat rusted the buds and it was game over. Other headphones have come and gone because they have fallen out whilst running or again, rust had it's way. But these feel solid, they feel a bit incorruptible. I have been wearing them around the house too, playing music whilst doing chores makes me forget I am actually doing chores!
I did though want to know what they were like out running and I am not a runner. But Mrs NITP likes to go for a weekend jog so she kindly accepted to give me some feedback. She is a keen podcast listener with her favourite being the podcast with Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett, I know when she is listening to it because she will be in hysterics spontaneously every few minutes. Pleased to hear that according to my wife, sound quality was very good when it came to the spoken word and they felt solid on the move, comfortable even.
If only I had worn them properly from the start! I see it as a good thing though as I could really feel and hear the difference when worn correctly. These have grown on me. At first, I was scoffing at the near £80 price tag. I couldn't see where that price was coming good from but I do now. It's still a little pricey but it's a price you will find won't be out of range compared to other brands in the exercise sector.
You get a solid wrap around (one size fits all so if you have a bigger head, I'm not sure what you do - maybe that's the only con?), when worn in the right position, you get a clear crisp sound but because of that bone conduction, you still get that awareness of what is happening around you. Not great if Mrs NITP keeps asking for more tea! Features are easy to remember and get on with and battles sweat with a passion. It's a decent investment and I haven't stopped wearing them. Did I mention that you need to wear them properly though?!