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Aftershokz OpenMove Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

8
£79.95

VERDICT:

8
10
Light, effective and comfortable wireless phones that don't block traffic noise – and attractively priced
Can still hear morons coming
Very light
Comfortable with glasses and helmets
Overwhelmed at speed
Struggle with bass
Can still hear morons coming
Weight: 
29g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The AfterShokz OpenMove bone conduction headphones are extremely light, very comfortable and don't block your ears or, as a consequence, the ambient cacophony of traffic stupidity. This new version is half the price of both the Aeropex and the earlier Trekz models, but while you're largely getting what the Trekz offered, they lack the full waterproofing of the Aeropex.

Few, if any, of the issues I anticipated with the OpenMoves actually came to pass. The headband – titanium-sprung for a secure yet gentle grip that weighs next to nothing – is non-adjustable and just lies about on the back of your neck, so I expected collar clashes while riding. In fact they sit easily without snagging, and I never had an issue with them being shoved around by head movements, such as when turning to see why the driver of this Audi thinks a blind bend is so great for overtaking.

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They also have no problem wrapping around helmet straps and cycling glasses at the same time – they're well shaped to loop over specs and sit comfortably without touching them. Plus, the loose-feeling fit and gentle pressure of the headband don't actually struggle to stay put at all.

2020 Aftershockz OPENMOVE Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones - worn4.jpg

They never feel less than secure, though deathgripping through rough stuff off-road may challenge that. At just 29g, though, it would take some serious rattling to rip them away.

The main benefit of these for riding is that they leave your earholes completely unplugged, so shouts of 'Get off the road!' and 'Get off the pavement!' can sail right in. There's nothing to block ambient sounds, and you can still hold a conversation quite easily while The Damned hammer New Rose into your skull. It's actually quite a strange sensation.

2020 Aftershockz OPENMOVE Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones - worn1.jpg

Should that bother you, AfterShox includes a set of foam earplugs, but that kind of negates the whole point. The OpenMoves are perfectly good for off-bike, use, however – and at lower volumes are almost inaudible to others, so they can be very useful if you actively don't want to hear what's around you in a bus, train or other circle of hell.

They pair easily via Bluetooth with a single long button press, and connected rapidly and without fail to my iPhone each time after that. With only three buttons, operation is simple, and status information is provided (mostly) not by lights, but by Audrey.

2020 Aftershockz OPENMOVE Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones - buttons.jpg

Audrey is the extremely American ghost who lives inside the OpenMoves, and says things like 'Welcome to AfterShokz', 'Battery low', or 'Charge me' when prompted. Once your muscle memory learns where to prod behind your ear, it's very easy to check battery status, skip or pause tracks, or change modes. It's not so easy in full-finger gloves (especially winter ones) as the buttons are inevitably pretty small, though the two main ones do stand usefully proud of the surface.

The third button is integrated almost invisibly with the grey stripe on the left ear, and deals mostly with phone calls ('I'm on the bike!') and track selection. It's hard to feel the button actually activate, but easy to prod successfully despite that.

2020 Aftershockz OPENMOVE Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones - worn2.jpg

The battery life of around six hours is very usable, and the two-hour charge is OK too.

I suppose I should mention how they sound. As Dave noted in his previous reviews, they struggle with reproducing bass tones. This is because they're actually vibrating your skull, and your skull is more drum than bass. How much bass you get is actually affected by exactly where they sit (fleshy bits seem better) and, curiously – like much of 2020 – if you stick your fingers in your ears it improves.

I personally found the audio more than acceptable, so I'm obviously less concerned about high fidelity than some. To me it's entirely worth the trade-off over normal headphones to have my earballs left wide open. Music is entirely listenable with no sections simply missing from the range. The bass is just low.

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Wind noise, however, can blot music out completely by the time you reach 25-30mph. An automatic, noise-sensitive volume control would be good (perhaps the twin mics could be used for it), because going to 100 per cent to combat it for descents leaves it way too high the rest of the time.

Then again, these are the entry-level model, and appear very similar to the Trekz that cost £150 just a couple of years ago, so you can't really expect massive sophistication.

Unfortunately, that means they lack the serious waterproofing of the Aeropex version, too. With an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 55, the OpenMoves allow 'limited' dust ingress (but no harmful deposits), and 'limited' water ingress too. They're protected against low pressure jets from all directions, though, and in the real world are fine with sweat and light rain. The charging port is well sealed by a rubber bung. The trouble is knowing when rain is light enough.

At £79.95, the 7th-generation OpenMoves are considerably less than the 8th-gen AfterShox Aeropexes at £149.95, and less than the 5th-gen AfterShox Airs at £99.95 too.

Then again, the R9 bone conduction headphones are around £30 on Amazon – we compared them to the Aeropexes in this video.

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The OpenMove headphones are great. They leave ambient sounds unblocked, which feels far safer on the road than plugged-up ears. They're easy to use, comfortable even with helmets and glasses, extremely light, and can handle rain showers without instantly euthanising poor Audrey and conking out.

They still can't handle heavy bass or wind roar well, but given the significant price drop in recent years, the technology's becoming seriously appealing – as are these headphones.

Verdict

Light, effective and comfortable wireless phones that don't block traffic noise – and attractively priced

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Aftershokz OpenMove Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

AfterShokz describes these as: "Best in class entry level bone conduction headphones."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

AfterShokz says:

-Open-ear comfort

-6 hours of music+calls

-IP55 sweat resistant

-29g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Solidly built yet light.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Very easy to use and do the job well.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Nothing about the build raises concerns.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

A barely-there 29g.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

Sit secure yet without pressure, don't hurt your ears and fit well with helmets and glasses.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Not the best sound quality, but don't block your ears – the trade-off is well worth the price.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Comfort around glasses and helmets, ease of use.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Can take rain... up to a point. Which is a risk.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

At £79.95, the 7th-generation OpenMove is considerably less than the 8th-gen AfterShox Aeropex at £149.95, and less than the 5th-gen AfterShox Air at £99.95 too.

Then again, the R9 bone conduction headphones are around £30 on Amazon – we compared them to the Aeropexes in the video linked in the review.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

If these were properly waterproof, so you never need fear for them in heavy rain, they'd be exceptional. As they are, they're well designed for listening to music while riding (safely), and a solid 8.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

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