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Daniel Čejchan

Categories | Rubriky


Bone conduction vs in-ear headphones

A brief comparison between the Aftershokz Aeropex bone conduction and Samsung Galaxy Buds+ in-ear headhpones.

What I like about Aftershokz

  • They are more comfortable. Aftershokz are definitely more comfortable. Wearing in-ears is a little annoying for me, my ears get irritated after a while. When wearing Aeropexes, I barely even notice I have them on.
  • I am aware of my surroundings. This is of course a plus and a minus, but since I mostly listen when walking around, I prefer to hear a vehicle approaching or someone trying to talk to me. Galaxy Buds have a passthrough mode, but having it on all the time is not viable – it distorts the sound, there’s noise, it just doesn’t feel right, and I still don’t usually understand people through it. Turning it on and off is tedious and turning it on selectively defeats the purpose of the surroundings awareness. Usually, hearing the surroundings doesn’t bother me with Aeropexes unless there’s more serious traffic going around. Have only tested them when walking, no cycling or driving so far.
  • I don’t have to put them off to talk with other people. This is basically again about surroundings awareness. When trying to talk with people with Galaxy Buds I have to either put them out and hold them, or turn on the passthrough mode, which takes a few seconds of awkwardly touching my ear and doesn’t work that well anyway, giving me a hard time understanding people with it.
  • I can eat with them. Trying to eat with in-ears on is very annoying. I can hear every crunch resonating through my head, and I can’t even understand audiobooks because of it. I have no such problem with Aftershokz.
  • I can wear them under a cap. A hat presses the in-ears into my head, making them unbearably uncomfortable. Again, no such problem with Aeropexes.
  • I can wear them in the shower. Now there are waterproof earbuds out there so this is only an advantage against the Buds+.
  • Physical buttons. Now physical buttons on in-ears are a bad idea, because when you want to press them, it pushes the earphones into your head, plus the clicking sound right in your ear is pretty loud. Touch controls are better, but they are not ideal either. They don’t work that reliably, and they work even less reliably when the earphone gets wet (even false clicks and all that stuff). From what I know, the only in-ears that have this solved nicely are AirPods, where you have to squeeze the stem of the earphone. Bone conduction headphones don’t sit it your ears, so there is no problem with having a proper physical clicky buttons on them – and that’s awesome.
  • Better range. Probably because the bluetooth antenna isn’t obstructed by your ears that much, Aftershokz seem to have better range than the earbuds.

What could be improved on Aftershokz

  • Smartphone app. I would appreciate if there was an application for the headphones, allowing me to configure buttons, equalizer and so on. Currently, you cannot configure the button behaviour at all and only have two EQ presets sou can switch between by pressing both volume buttons simultaneously for three seconds.
  • Hard case with charging. Aftershokz came with this soft rubbery case. I don’t think it’s safe. I wouldn’t risk putting them into my bag in this case. A proper hard case feels like a must for transportation. It would be even better if the case also contained a battery for charging, that would be awesome.
  • Put-on sensor. Having to manually turn on and off the headphones is definitely a step down in comfort compared to the Galaxy Buds, which turn on by simply opening the case lid. Putting a sensor on the Aftershokz that would detect if they are on your head and would turn on/off the device accordingly would be great.
  • Control button on both sides. Aeropexes have the control button only on the left side. It’s not a big thing, but having the button on the right side too would be better.
  • Control button audio feedback. Aftershokz make the exact same “beep” sound when you press the control button once (play/pause), twice (next) or three times (back). It would definitely be a better UX decision to make them do a different sound so people immediately know if they the right action was triggered.
  • Volume. For most cases, the volume is enough, but they aren’t able to get louder for example than a truck passing by. I wouldn’t want to listen on such volumes all the time, but it would be handy for the cases where there’s a lot of noise around you. (EDIT: I’ve later discovered that it’s possible to get to higher volumes, but you have to max out everything PLUS I’ve had to use an amplifier feature in my audiobook player).
  • Dynamic volume adjustment. I’d say this would be a very handy feature. When activated, it would automatically adjust the volume of the headphones based on the surrounding noise level.

What I like about Galaxy Buds+

  • The sound better. While Aftershokz do the job (and are perfectly okay for podcasts and audiobooks and such), the music is definitely more clear and enjoyable through the Buds+.
  • Noise cancellation. While Buds+ don’t have active noise cancellation, they cancel a lot of noise simply by them being stuck in your ears. When you want an uninterrupted listening experience (or are in a noisy environment), in-ears are definitely much better choice than bone conduction.
  • Hard case with charging. Galaxy Buds have a compact, robust hard case that doubles as a charging powerbank. That and the fact they automatically turn on and connect when you open the lid makes storing, transporting and putting them on extremely comfortable.

What could be improved on Galaxy Buds+

  • More customizable button binding. Currently, you can customize some of the gestures for touch control. I’d like to be able to customize them completely and per headphone. For example, the double tap for next and triple tap for previous is hardcoded and the same for both earphones. I’d like to configure them so that double tap on the left ear would go to a previous track and double tap on the right ear would go forward.
  • Passthrough mode. Passthrough mode kinda sucks on the buds. It’s noisy, high on the trebles and breaks the 3D hearing. People sound kinda weird and I have trouble understanding them. And you have to hold your finger on the earphones for 3 seconds, so it’s altogether a better option to just put the earphones out.