AfterShokz Aeropex Mini Review: A Pretty Big Deal for Something So Small

Evaluation:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute hot garbage
  • 2 – Sorta warm garbage
  • 3 – Strongly imperfect design
  • 4 – A few advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Excellent, but not the best in its class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Conception Nirvana

Price: $ 160

The Aftershokz Aeropex Mini on a desk with a phone in the foreground and Leatherface Pop in the background
Cameron Summerson

There is exactly one life, in July 2019, I proclaimed my love for AfterShokz Air bone conduction headphones. I have used them on almost every workout, indoors or outdoors, since then. Well, until now. The newer, more modern and (best of all) smaller Aeropex Mini, which was originally announced at CES 2020, has been on my head for a few weeks. And i love them even more.

This is what we like

  • Excellent sound quality for bone conduction
  • Long battery life
  • Smaller cut
  • IP67 rated

And what we don’t do

  • Owner charger
  • Ambiguous equalization parameters
  • Only available in black

What is this “mini” business?

If you’ve been researching bone conduction headphones recently, you’ve probably heard of the Aeropex from AfterShokz. These have been the de facto standard for the best bone conduction headphones since their release about a year and a half ago. The Aeropex Mini are the same headphones, just smaller.

Well, the group is smaller. Like, that’s it – just a half inch shorter. The headphones themselves are the same size. But the smaller band has a bigger impact on the overall fit than you might think. I’m a bald guy so I don’t have hair to fill in the extra space left by my AfterShokz Air which makes the Aeropex Mini a great choice for me. The fit is much “tighter”.

Aeroepex vs Aeropex Mini size comparison
AfterShokz

Of course, you might be wondering what size you should get. Good news: AfterShokz has a guide to help you understand this. If you have a big oily head or a lot of hair, you probably want the full size. But if you have a smaller head, not a lot of hair, are a kid, or want a tight fit, the Mini is the jam.

Oh, there is one other minor difference: Aeropex Mini is only available in black. Classic Aeropex are available in red, gray, blue and black. It’s a shame if you like colors and have a small head, but hey, you can’t win them all.

Otherwise, you get a standard, familiar layout here: multi-function button (play / pause, answer / hang up, open Google Assistant, etc.) on the left pad, volume +/-, and charge port on the right side behind the d hook. ‘hear . That’s it. Unlike most other AfterShokz, which charge via USB of some variety, the Aeropex uses a proprietary magnetic charger. I guess they went this route to get better waterproofing and higher IP rating (IP67), but that might be a bother for some. Don’t lose the cable!

Cool, so… Bone conduction?

Aeropex Mini being worn to show where the conduction pad rests
Kori summerson

While our sister site How-to Geek has an excellent explainer on how bone conduction technology works, i’ll give you the quick and the dirty. Basically, they bypass the outer ear to pump sound directly into the inner ear. How? ‘Or’ What? By your cheekbone. Almost as they use bones at conduct the sound.

It’s a cool and unique experience, but it’s not shocking. You don’t have to get used to it. But using bone conduction headphones is also different from using other types of headphones that they don’t use or in your ear. This has a few advantages, but most of the time it doesn’t block your hearing, so you have full situational awareness.

A close up of the pad
The cushion that rests on your cheekbone. Cameron Summerson

This makes them great anytime you need to hear what’s going on around you, like biking or running. Or any other activity that you want music or a podcast in but still need to be able to hear.

I generally compare using bone conduction headphones to being in the same room with a TV playing. When you watch it, it grabs your attention and you focus on the TV sound, but you can still hear other things. If someone starts talking to you, the TV sound will play in the background so that you can focus on that person’s voice. Bone conduction headphones do essentially the same thing. It’s incredible.

But Cam, what’s the sound quality?

I’m going to tell you a little secret: Bone conduction headphones don’t sound as good as headphones or earphones. But that doesn’t mean they sound bad either. And the Aeropex (Mini) sound is better than any other bone conduction headphone I have ever heard.

Like I said earlier, I wore the AfterShokz Air almost every time I was on the bike for over a year. The sound quality of these is good – after all, I’m more interested in just having music for my workouts than getting the best sound quality – but the Aeropex (Mini) is on another level. Where the air may seem muddy or stuffy, the Aeropex sounds alive – crisp and clear. Articulate.

Of course, you need to keep your expectations under control here – you’re not going to get serious defined from a bone conduction set, for example. They tend to be heavier in the midrange, which provides the widest frequency coverage. You know, the most “bang for your buck” so to speak.

A close up of the multifunction button
The multifunction button Cameron Summerson

That said, each set of AfterShokz also comes with a pair of earplugs, which dramatically changes the overall audio experience. The Aeropex Mini has two equalizer settings to match – the default profile is designed for open-ear use, so it pumps out as much bass as they can handle. With earplugs, however, it looks like pure mud. Toggling the other EQ profile by pressing and holding both volume buttons for three seconds dramatically reduces the bass so it sounds better. But in reality, you can use either equalizer whenever you want. It all depends on what is best for you.

But that also brings up my biggest issue with the Aeropex (and Air, for that matter): When you toggle between the two settings, the voice response says “EQ changed” with no indication of what profile you’re on. I gave a pass on the Air over a year ago, but I thought AfterShokz surely fixed this on the newer models. Nope. I wish it would at least respond with “EQ 1” and “EQ 2”. In fact, this is exactly how it works on OpenMove– they have three audio profiles, and it announces each of them (standard, voice amplifier, earplugs mode) when activated).

A close-up of the exclusive charger and volume buttons, Leatherface Pop and Google Nest Hub in the background
The exclusive charger and volume buttons Cameron Summerson

But, frankly, I still use my AfterShokz as an open-ear headset, so I literally never change audio profiles. But that’s me – you might want a pair of headphones for all uses and like the idea of ​​pairing earplugs with bone conduction. In this case, the OpenMove could be a better choice for you. Just keep in mind that these are “lifestyle” headphones, so they aren’t as rugged (IP55 vs. IP67) and don’t last as long (6 hours vs. 8 hours of battery life).

Finally, I want to talk about the quality of calls and communication. I recently did a 4.5 hour indoor cycling event using TrainerRoad’s group training feature (which supports video and audio), and the Aeropex Mini was amazing. They sounded good and everyone could hear me perfectly. This is a huge win for anyone looking for a way to talk on the phone without covering their ears.

If phone calls and voice conversations are your main concern, however, you might be more interested in the OpenComm, which appears to be similar to Aerpoex, but it has a boom mic for better call quality.

Conclusion: the best bone conduction experience, only smaller

The AfterShokz Aeropex Mini with a focus on the pads
Cameron Summerson

The whole time I looked I only used them on the bike. But since testing the Aeropex Mini, I find myself searching for them quite regularly, both on the bike and outside. I wear them all over the house. I wear them while I work. I wear them to the store. I wore them as I walked around the city center taking pictures for the IPhone 12 Mini review.

Of course, regular headphones or earphones sound better. But the advantages of the Aeropex Mini outweigh the (very few) disadvantages. They’re lightweight, last all day, are incredibly comfortable, and don’t get in my way. They are quickly becoming my favorite headphones for almost any use.

Having said that, I also realize that there is an entry cost of $ 160 (they are on sale at $ 125 at the time of writing) to get a set of Aeropex or Aeropex Mini on your dome. If you are looking for something to work out with and need it to last all day, then this is your best bet. And between the Aeropex or the smaller Aeropex Mini, they are available for a range of head sizes. But if you’re still not completely convinced of the utility for your life, then something like the more affordable OpenMove might be a better choice, although it’s only available in one size.

This is what we like

  • Excellent sound quality for bone conduction
  • Long battery life
  • Smaller cut
  • IP67 rated

And what we don’t do

  • Owner charger
  • Ambiguous equalization parameters
  • Only available in black

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