Review VocalSkull Alien 5 polarizing sunglasses with Bone Conduction headphones for $95
For me, these glasses are already the ultimate summer gadget – and we have just the beginning of spring. Everything about the quality of the lenses, the speakers and the feeling of good mood that comes up when wearing the VocalSkull sunglasses in our review.
- VocalSkull Alien 5 Sunglasses
“What exactly are these glasses anyway?” some might ask. After all, we already had glasses here with a built-in camera, with a fitness tracker function and Bluetooth or even glasses without lenses. The Alien 5 from VocalSkull are sunglasses with polarized lenses and integrated headphones with so-called Bone Conduction technology.
What does Bone Conduction mean?
Bone Conduction is a technology in which sound is not transmitted through the air (as with classic headphones), but directly to the bones through vibration. The sound then reaches the inner ear via this channel, but the sound is just as clear as with ordinary headphones. Here the two headphones are located on both sides in the temple of the glasses just before the bend, i.e. behind the temple just before the ear.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t hear a sound if you don’t put on your glasses. They are nevertheless small loudspeakers in the glasses – in a quiet environment, the people around you will also hear your music, albeit quietly. How much of the sound here is Bone Conduction and how much is classical speaker, it’s hard to say.
Advantages and disadvantages
The most obvious advantage of Bone Conduction is that you still perceive your surroundings. While in-ear sounds are suppressing ambient noise, Bone Conduction headphones allow you to talk without any problems.
However, the same effect is also a decisive disadvantage, because you can’t drown out or fade out your surroundings. The maximum volume is limited, and next to a busy road the traffic noise drowned out the music from the loudspeaker.
Not every pair of glasses suits everyone. You also have to like the look of the Alien 5. All in all, however, one stays here rather plain with a completely matt black design. The lenses of our version are blue and highly reflective, but there are different versions, among others also with “normal” dark tinted lenses. A second pair of clear lenses was included in the box. (But in our box there were two right glasses included, which of course weren’t usable that way.)
When it comes to wearing comfort, the glasses don’t differ much from other models. It’s nice that it’s relatively light at just 34 grams, at least compared to comparable models with built-in electronics. The surface feels slightly rubbery, but is pleasantly smooth. Altogether the VocalSkull Alien 5 sits comfortably on nose and ears.
It is also nice that the glasses remain narrow despite everything. The temples are not bulky plastic boxes, as was the case with similar glasses. Without the three buttons on the underside of the left temple, you wouldn’t realize that these are not normal sunglasses. The Alien 5 definitely passes as such and can easily be worn without the headphone function.
As already mentioned, there are several glasses in different colors. There are strong coloured and reflecting lenses in blue or green as well as dark tinted, classic sunglasses or colourless lenses. All models are polarizing lenses that filter light better thanks to a special coating. Particularly disturbing reflections from larger angles of incidence are faded out in this way.
You can’t expect too much here. Bone conduction as a technology is firstly still in development, and secondly the transmission via the skull simply needs more energy than via the air. The sound quality of good in-ear headphones is not nearly as good as that of glasses, nor is their volume. But provided this restriction is met, the sound of the Vocalskull is not bad. Especially the bass stays a bit flat, the treble definitely sounds better. But I would compare the sound with cheap in-ears. With the difference that this is less negative, because the listening experience is different. Don’t forget: The ears remain free, you can still have normal conversations even when the music is turned up.
This becomes particularly strange if you also use your glasses to make phone calls, and instead of the telephone you pass on the glasses with the words “Here, it’s for you”. This is also possible thanks to a built-in microphone in the nose bridge. The person you are talking to understands you clearly. The other person’s voice over the Bone Conduction headphones is a bit distorted and noisy, even if you understand every word.
Altogether the VocalSkull Alien 5 can’t replace your headphones. Good in-ear headphones are better for listening to music while travelling by bus or train, when learning or working and also when doing sports. What is the advantage of sunglasses? When sunbathing in your own garden, in the swimming pool or by the lake, perhaps even at beach volleyball. It simply provides a kind of background music for the summer without fading out the rest of the world. It is also waterproof (IP67), so it can even be kept on in the water.
Price & Conclusion
Both the built-in headphones and the polarizing lenses provide the price of just over $90. In return, you get good sunglasses that are both comfortable and good-looking – depending, of course, on your personal taste. But the Bone Conduction headphones are the real highlight. On the first sunny days it was already a cool experience; listening to music with your glasses outside and enjoying the beautiful weather is simply beautiful. And everyone who is shown the glasses for the first time is really enthusiastic about the technology, after all, most headphones have never tried them before. For me, the VocalSkull Alien 5 is already THE summer gadget this year, where only the price might discourage some from buying.To the gadget