Head2Head Review – Skullcandy S2WIHX-448 XTplyo vs. Aftershokz Trekz Titanium
It’s the third and final head2head review of our sports and training headphone series. This time we have the in-ear and wired Skullcandy S2WIHX-448 XTplyo going up against the open-ear (you read that correctly) and wireless Aftershokz Trekz Titanium. This pairing sees what I would see as a ‘traditional’ set of gym or running headphones going up against what might just be the next evolution in exercise sound…so let’s see how they match up!
Skullcandy: To contrast with the overly technical name, the Skullcandy’s are one of the simplest sets of headphones that have gone into this competition series. Being wired, there’s no battery life to worry about (except of the device you’re using) and with no Bluetooth to set up they’re literally just plug and play. But don’t let this simplicity deceive you, these are a really well thought out set of headphones to move around in, they have all the sweat resistant cabling you’d expect and nicely designed 3-button mic. They also have what’s called ‘Tiplelock Tech’ which translates to an odd looking collection of rubber that goes in your ear to give a secure fit while you’re working out. (Score:6.5)
Aftershokz: Clearly the biggest feature of these headphones is that they’re not in, on or over your ear in any way. They use an ‘OpenFit Design’ that then delivers the sound through your cheek bones/skull to conduct the sound to your ear…yes, it vibrates the audio into your head leaving your ears completely open to hear the world around you too.
Despite it going through your bones, the headphones still claim ‘Premium Pitch+’ stereo sound quality and two dual-noise cancelling mics to pick-up what you’re saying while out and about. It’s also made from a light weight titanium and with all the necessary sweat proofing,
while delivering about 6 hours of active battery life. (Score:9)
Skullcandy : They just work. It’s really hard to fault these headphones in any way, because they do what they say on the tin. Even the weird looking ear pieces are actually really comfy once you realise exactly how they go in. They’re really secure, the sound is solid and the cord doesn’t feel heavy or like it’s flapping around while you’re moving. So while it has no ‘fancy’ bells or whistles, the Skullcandy’s just get on with they’re job so you can get on with your training. (Score:7)
Aftershokz : I have to admit that I was amazed when I first heard about these headphones. I thought they sounded bizarre, incredible and ridiculous all wrapped into one. When I tried them for the first time on my morning commute it was an incredibly odd experience actually, they played my morning collection of podcasts, but I could suddenly hear everything going on around me too…I really didn’t like it. However, when it comes to training or listening to music they really are amazing, as you can still hear what’s going on around you while having your chosen beats there to keep you going too. So while they took some getting used to it’s the idea and the execution really are something special. The only downside I’ve found is that the microphone is not a great fan of me riding at anything beyond about 1 mph, but that’s true of all the headphones tested to be honest (Score:9)
Skullcandy : At £38 the Skullcandy’s are quite pricey for a set of wired headphones it has to be said, especially when you think there are some in this group test that are less and wireless. Having said that they do feel like a pair that will last well. They don’t feel brittle or like the cables could start to come loose at any moment and they perform better than a bog standard £15 pair from your local electrical store too. Are they too expensive though? Probably, just a bit. (Score:5)
Aftershokz : Despite being the ‘new tech on the block’ these bone conducting marvels are not the most expensive headphones in the group test at £110. But that’s still over 100 for a set of headphones, which for a cheapskate like me is always going to feel like a lot of money. If you’re a runner, cyclist or workout regularly in a pretty busy gym I can’t help bit think the ability to have your tunes while genuinely hearing the world around you is invaluable. So with that in mind I think plenty of people would be willing to pay for a set of these – especially once they’ve tried them once! (Score:7)
All things considered, I don’t think the Skullcandy’s ever really stood a chance. They’re going up against something that just has that ‘wow’ factor when you first hear about them and ultimately, the Aftershokz go on to deliver on that promise too. So despite putting up a good fight, it simply has to be the Aftershokz that are our third and final winner. We’ll have to wait until next week to see how they get on in the final!