Test of the Aftershokz Xtrainerz – get music under water

Aftershokz has kindly sent me one Xtrainerz, their last earphones, for a test and feedback session. This is their first earphones designed for swimmers to allow them listening music during long (or short) swim sessions in the pool or in open water.

Basically, those Xtrainerz are autonomous. They operate like an old mp3 reader: just upload your music and play; no phone needed to stream music from. So, we can exercise free of device, be open and light (well, we also need our outfit, of course 😃). For swimming, they are clearly smaller than other products in the market, so it should be easier to swim with. Ok, let’s try the Xtrainerz!!

I am very excited to test those Xtrainerz for few reasons:

  • I would like to run light, so without my phone and being able to listen music and podcast when I want to – and still hearing my surroundings, breath and steps;
  • having some music with me on the bike during those long rides alone outside, or on the turbo to avoid blasting music to my wife or neighbours;
  • Get some distraction and power songs while I am swimming. I have never swam with music before, so it’s a Premiere, but I always loved when the coach played music from loud speakers during training sessions.

I received a box with the Xtrainerz, but also a cool towel in a can, a swim hat and an Aftershokz pins. The Xtrainerz come also with a pouch for transportation and protection, which is very handy and waterproof (smart!), and the usb-charger.

The technology is based on bone conduction that generates miniature vibrations with travel through the cheekbones. Yeah, sounds a bit creepy at first, but the vibrations go directly to the inner ears, bypassing the eardrums. Therefore, there is nothing between the ears and the outdoor world, with two benefits: hearing music and hearing what’s going on around, which is very valuable when cycling and running outdoor.

Sound quality comparison: Because of the technological differences between bone conduction and air conduction, it is difficult for me to do a direct comparison with the different conventional earphones I have, like the AirPods and the in-ear Bose. In fact, the sound creating mechanism of conventional earphones converts electrical signals into a sound wave that the ear can understand, while bone conduction speakers transmit sound waves through the nervous system. That being said, I was very surprised by the sound, especially under water. While cycling and running in a quiet environment, this is very good quality as well. It was a bit more complicated in busy streets to get the music sound level correct, but this is mainly because I didn’t adjust the volume accordingly (I was more focussed on crossing the street without being hit by a car…).

Swimming test: I took the Xtrainerz for two swims this week: one in open water in Poland for a practice swim in the Baltic Sea before the half-ironman and another in the pool for an easy recovery swim. Well, I have to say that they don’t disappoint under water. Sound quality is amazing, it’s like you have stereo sound coming from the water and you get really immersed in the sound! I was very pleasantly surprised by this and I was still able to ear the water and the waves smashing my head. Also, I was still very focussed on what was going on around me, I needed to avoid all the jellyfishes 😂. Same exprience in the pool. Same sound quality and I can confirm they don’t move. I tumble turned each lane, so I was a bit worried that the Xtrainerz would not follow properly and actually they do. I didn’t feel them during my swims, except when practicing crocodile sight, the back of the neck touches the earphones, but nothing to be bother with.

Cycling test: I tested the Xtrainerz on the road and also on the turbo at home. My first test on the road was also surprising as I quickly forgot I had earphones on but I kept hearing the music. This was quite cool. It was raining during the test, and they didn’t move with the rain or the wind, so this is a great result. Obviously, the sound quality is affected by the wind and traffic around, but this is on purpose: being aware of your surroundings and listening some music in the background at the same time. I also wanted to try them on them during a sweaty turbo session. I usually blast music from my speakers because my other earphones slide with the sweat and the cable always mess up on the bike, but the loud music can be annoying for my wife or neighbours when I am on my terrace. So, great result as well, I have the music, I can still ear the sound from Zwift to pace myself, keep good relationship with my neighbours and wife and I can enjoy my sweat fest !

Running test: I took them on two outdoor runs exploring Lisbon. When running outside, I really like hearing the sound around me, either the nature or the city – I usually run early morning and find the sounds of the city that wakes up at sunrise very fascinating. So, having open ear earphones can satisfy my needs. Now, the music quality is the same than on the bike: very good, but this depends of your surroundings and the wind. This is more than enough for me, as I am not really focussed on the music while I am running! But one great thing is that I can listen my breathing and my steps, which is absolutely necessary if I want to monitor my fitness during my exercises (much better than only relaying on my watch features). That being said, I have not tried to listen podcasts, but I think this won’t be ideal in noisy conditions. With in-ear earphones, I cannot listen podcasts properly, I always miss some bits because of the noise around me; so I assume there will be no difference with those ones. Well, I just need to run in a forest to have no disturbing noise and I can enjoy my favourite podcasts! In addition, they might be a bit heavy on the ears for long runs, but maybe it’s because I am not used to them yet. They weight only 30grammes, so not much, but I’d be curious to compare them with the Aeropex which are specifically designed for running and weight only 24 grammes.

My top features:

  • they don’t move!: whether it’s running outside, swimming in the pool with tumble turns or on a bike with tons of sweat, they don’t move! They don’t slide out of the ears, of course, so this is clearly for me one of the most important point: as a heavy sweater, I usually lose my earphones after few minutes, or need to adjust them every so often. They also don’t hurt the inner ear and are fully compatible with swim cap, goggles, earplugs, hat, sun glasses, helmet and all the equipments I take with me when training for my triathlons.
  • Great sound quality underwater: I am not kidding, I was very impressed both in a open water environment and in the pool. Once the correct position has been found with my swim cap, that was a blast! Music is louder, clearer and I can still ear my own waves and inner thoughts (which I love to);
  • IP68 waterproof, so we can dive with it up to 2 metres and stay ni the water for 2 hours and sweat heavily without any fear;
  • 4GB of memory to carry hundreds of songs and podcasts! The only downside is if you don’t own digital music and use exclusively streaming services like Spotify or Deezer;
  • 8 hours lasting battery claimed. I have not experimented the battery duration, but I have swam, ran and biked with it all week long and have not charged it once since.

Overall: Well, I am very satisfied with this test, as I wasn’t expecting to find such quality under water and I thoughts they will move when running or cycling. Will I use them again? Yes, for sure. I am not a fan of listening music when swimming, especially that most of my swims are with my swim squad, but I may use it when doing some on my own recovery, easy sessions – just to enjoy the sound quality 😊. I will also use them on the turbo and treadmill for sure, they will be a strong choice for my sweat fest; and probably on some runs as well!

Positive points:

  • awesome sound quality under water;
  • don’t move when running, swimming, cycling;
  • no need to have a phone to stream music from;
  • no cable;
  • water and (heavy) sweat resistant;
  • very easy to use: controls buttons are very easy to use and super accessible when exercising;
  • you forget about them while swimming and cycling;
  • robust and no risk to loose them (as it could be with earbuds).

Room for improvement:

  • may be a bit heavy on the ears after wearing them for long while running only (especially with sun glasses, as I did for my 100min run); I’d love to compare them to the Aeropex that are designed for running;
  • cannot listen my favourite podcasts except if in a quite environment;
  • have no choice of the songs: just select next or shuffle, so if I want to listen something specific, I need to press many times until I reach the desired track.

If you want to get one Xtrainerz, you can order through here or at your favourite store.

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