Ever have an earbud fall out of your sweaty ear at the gym? I lost a somewhat pricey product that way once. And if you lose one of them, you’re probably not going to use the other one, even if it’s designed for occasional solo use.
The new Soundcore Sport X10 True-Wireless Earbuds, released Tuesday, aim to put an end to wayward earbuds.
Anker sent me a pair of the earbuds to try, along with instructions for using the Soundcore app for them in beta. Below, I’ll get into why I found the new product to be an excellent value at $79.99.
Soundcore Sport X10 True Wireless Earbuds review
Anker said it came up with the idea for its sporty new buds from consumer research showing people often have to stop exercising to adjust earbuds, mainly to keep them from falling out when they feel loose.
It appears the new buds are also meant to directly compete with Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds, which have a somewhat similar design; more on that below.
The compact, stemless earbuds X10 buds have “ear hooks” that rotate up to 210 degrees to help keep them secure in your ear. And they have an IPX7 water-and sweat-proofing rating due to SweatGuard technology “inspired by the structure of a submarine,” Anker said. So even if you sweat an embarrassingly huge amount, you won’t damage them.
And unless you’re playing a full-contact sport or diving into the ocean — neither recommended — these things aren’t going anywhere. The ear hooks look a bit strange, but they do their job well.
Even with glasses, I found that they fit comfortably and securely for a while, with just a touch of annoyance after a long period. Did I push it by also trying to wear a face mask with ear loops? No, I did not.
Good fit is second only to good sound
As I often say, after high-quality sound, fit is the most important factor with earbuds. If they feel weird or won’t stay in, you’re not going to wear them.
The hook loops around the bud in the sleek, rounded charging case. After putting the earbuds in my ears a few times, I found it best to rotate the hook first thing when I took one out of the case. That helps align to loop to hook over your earlobe from the front when you slip the bud into your ear.
While I don’t particularly like the idea of something looping over my earlobe, in this case it simply works. It helps that the earbuds themselves are compact and lightweight — just 6.6 grams.
You can feel them in/on your ears — as with most earbuds, you’re unlikely to forget you’re wearing them — but they seem comfortable enough for extended listening sessions.
You can see how to wear them and how they look in the image below, provided by Anker. Further down, you can see a features comparison chart showing the X10 against Powerbeats Pro (11 grams).
Solid sound quality
As for sound, the Sport X10 earbuds didn’t blow me away at first, but I came to appreciate them much more with multiple listens. They come across with plenty of bass, but not at the expense of an articulate midrange. I’ve tried more expensive earbuds that sound quite similar.
Anker said the Sport X10 delivers “a double hit of bass enhancement,” saying “the dynamic acoustic system is customized to produce sound with 2x more bass. Our proprietary BassUp technology analyzes sound in real-time and intensifies the bass to the max for more motivation during workouts.”
I wore the buds on walks. I don’t know if the bass changed in any especially motivating way, but it sounded fine via the buds’ 10mm drivers. And while all this emphasis on bass may make it sound like you could be in for too much of it — believe it or not, some people don’t want everything swamped in the low end — you can adjust it.
And as with various other earbuds I’ve tried, the sound is a little fuller with noise cancellation fully activated (versus normal mode with no ANC or transparency mode that lets some sound through).
Enjoyable app experience
And that brings me to the Soundcore app. I installed and used it on my iPhone 13 Pro in beta mode. Despite being in test mode, it looked great and worked well.
Most earbuds come with touch controls to adjust volume, advance tracks and answer and end calls. Some earbuds, especially at low price points, don’t even have an app.
But I prefer using an app to tapping the side of my head. And I especially like it when there’s an equalizer and automatic sound settings, which the Soundcore app has, in addition to other features.
Right at the top of the main page, the app shows you your remaining battery life for each earbud. It doesn’t show it for the charging case because the case isn’t wireless. So you can’t just place the case on a Qi charger, you have to plug it in via USB cable. That’s a drawback, but not a dealbreaker for earbuds under $100.
A Breathe feature takes you through a breathing exercise with warm-up, relaxation, decompression and custom modes. That’s an unusual feature.
The Equalizer section is fun. You can select Default with the BassUp feature or Custom (a manual equalizer with eight settings you drag up or down). The Default section has “Soundcore Signature” with a BassUp button. I found selecting both to be the best setting for most music, resulting in the most lush sound.
However, you can play with 20 other settings beneath that, including everything from acoustic to spoken word. Most are for music genres like rock and jazz, but you also get settings to reduce bass, boost or reduce treble, and one called “small speakers.” In each case, a graphic shows the sound frequency range in the form of a line.
In the Controls section, the app shows you how to use touch controls on each bud, complete with animations. And you can also change the settings to get a different result from “Press Once,” “Press Twice” and “Hold for 2s.”
For example, if you don’t want a double-tap on either bud to advance to the next track, you can change the double-tap to adjust volume up or down, go to the previous track, play/pause or activate ambient sound.
Strong Bluetooth, clear calls
One great thing I noticed with these earbuds is that the Bluetooth 5.2 wireless connection never dropped as I tested them. I’ve used Bluetooth 5.0 products where you could pretty much count on occasional interruptions.
The call quality with these earbuds proved to be clear. Three microphones in each earbud seemed to ensure I could hear and be heard quite well, with more focused clarity than I’ve experienced with some other earbuds.
And one last welcome detail: the USB cable that comes with these earbuds is twice the length of those often seen with earbuds, at around 20 inches.
You can get the Soundcore X10 Sport True-Wireless Earbuds in black or off-white colors. Anker said it will release a red version soon.
All-in-all, they feature good fit and good sound quality, especially at a price well under $100. And they won’t fall out at the gym.
Where to buy: Soundcore
Anker provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.