today is Aug 13, 2022

Anker Soundcore Sport X10 loose in front of case.

Anker Soundcore Sport X10

MSRP $80.00

“If you're looking to go for a run or work out at the gym, these buds will stay right with you.”

Pros

  • Comfy fit and stability
  • Rugged durability
  • Good sound quality
  • Solid ANC and ambient performance
  • Great app support

Cons

  • Wind can break through
  • No aptX support
  • No wireless charging

Anker Soundcore is no stranger to the wireless earbud game, but to date, the company has only dabbled in the fitness arena with two models: The earhook-based Spirit X2, and the smaller, lighter Spirit Dot 2. Both are good for those who need a rock-solid fit for active workouts  — the Spirit X2 especially so — but neither has active noise cancellation (ANC), a feature that’s more and more in demand by all types of earbud users.

To address that, the company’s newest sport model, the Soundcore Sport X10, comes in at the same $80 price as the Spirit models but adds ultra-flexible, rotating earhooks and, critically, ANC. We kept them on for long stretches to see how comfortable (and quiet) they could be.

What’s in the box

Fit and comfort are key parts of the story here, which explains why five pairs of eartips come in the box, ranging from extra small all the way to extra large. Apart from that, you get a USB-C charging cable and a quick start guide, including an insert explaining how to wear the earbuds.

Design

Anker Soundcore Sport X10 in case on an angle. Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

The earhooks stand out more because Anker designed them to articulate to varying degrees. Look at the earbuds in their case, and you notice how they wrap around the earbuds themselves. Pull them out and rotate the hook to expand their reach and make them ready to anchor onto your ears. The hooks rotate up to 210 degrees from their initial fixed position in the case, meaning they can fit well for a wide variety of ears.

They’re also pretty malleable, so whether or not you feel your ears are big for earhooks, you’re less likely to run into an issue with the Sport X10. Anker suggests placing the earbud with the tip in your inner ear (the concha) first and then wrapping the hook around your ear to secure everything in place. You don’t have to do it that way, but it is worth trying first in case it gives you a better seal for your inner ear. I found I could get a good seal either way, and you may draw the same conclusion. It took me several times to remember which way to rotate them so I could put them back in the case, but I never ran into any connectivity issues when slotting them in.

The IPX7 rating is foundational to what the Sport X10 are all about, letting you submerge them down to 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. The bottom line is you shouldn’t worry about lounging in a pool or sitting in a tub with these on. They’re not necessarily swimming earbuds, and you shouldn’t take them into salt water unless you’re going to rinse and dry them thoroughly afterward, but their durability is peace of mind for the gym or out on a run. Sweat buckets with these on and they’ll not only keep playing but also stay locked on to your ears because of the hooks.

Anker Soundcore Sport X10 ear hooks. Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

Anker also threw in familiar elements, including active noise cancellation (ANC), ambient mode, and an EQ in the Soundcore app. Physical buttons on the earbuds also make controls more simplistic, though Anker’s default setup may not work for you. By default, pressing once lowers the volume (left) or raises it (right). Double-click to skip a track (left) or play/pause (right). Hold the button for two seconds on either side to cycle through ANC, ambient, and normal modes.

You can adjust these in the app, albeit with limited options. Repeating a track is missing from the default layout, though you can add it to your controls in the app. Notably absent is a way to bring up a voice assistant — with one exception. If you use only one earbud in mono mode, you can access Siri, Google Assistant, Bixby, or Alexa (whichever one is prominent on your device) by holding the button for two seconds. It’s hard to argue against physical buttons, and despite some misfires in using them, they do what they’re supposed to do.

Last but not least, the Sport X10 will come in three colors. My review unit was the black version, and there’s an oat white variant, plus a red one that will come later in the summer.

Setup and Soundcore app

It’s easy to pair the Sport X10, and Google Fast Pair had me up and running in no time on Android. It wasn’t any different with iOS, where I made the connection quickly. Features aren’t quite as extensive as some of Anker’s other earbuds, like how the Liberty line offers more control options, for instance, but most of the same pieces are intact.

The EQ will look familiar, with 21 presets to choose from, plus a custom section using an eight-band equalizer to create your own. If you’ve created your own before, you could bring them to use with the Sport X10 when you log into your Soundcore account.

You can also choose ANC or ambient mode directly from the app, though I do think it was a mistake for Anker to push Wind Noise Reduction to the settings menu, rather than display it somewhere more prominent. I get that it wouldn’t be something available from the earbuds’ own onboard controls, but its presence isn’t immediately obvious. For activity-focused earbuds, it seems weird to me to put a setting like that in the same menu with firmware updates and the user manual.

On the other hand, Anker chose to make a point by including a breathing exercise section within the app that is actually better than you might think. It pales in comparison to what an app like Calm gives you, considering all the other content such apps provide, but it is there if you want to integrate it into a workout. It splits things into warmup, relaxation, decompression, and a custom mode of your choice. Tap the settings in the top-right to change breathing settings, like how long to inhale or exhale, for example.

I didn’t mind using it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice, especially if the workout I’m following already has a breathing exercise as part of the warmup. I found better utility in using it in situations where I wanted to mellow out a bit after riding my bike or work on my breathing after an intense workout.

Sound quality

Wearing the Anker Soundcore Sport X10 earbuds. Ted Kritonis / Digital Trends

Anker went with 10mm dynamic drivers and tuned them to deliver extra bass response, as befits a set of workout earbuds. There’s no doubt these play with a rumble to them, though you won’t quite hear it right away.

As always, Anker sets the EQ to its own signature preset. Maybe to add to the company’s confidence in the existing bass response, it removed the Bass Booster preset (Bass Reducer is still there), though you can get similar results with Deep. Customize your own if you really want to push the bass, but however you go about it, you should find there’s a thick sound signature here when tinkering with it.

Even if you’re not into bass as much, you will find a more agreeable sound, if not with one of the presets, definitely with a custom one. The Sport X10 aren’t quite at the level of the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro, but I found the fit helped make the most of the solid sound quality coming out of these earbuds. Strong lows meet warm highs, with passable mids to create a likable sound profile that works in the conditions you would probably wear them in. Unlike some other Soundcore buds, however, these don’t support aptX, so Android users will lose out on that, though AAC is in here to go with SBC.

Closer view of Anker Soundcore Sport X10. Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

Regardless, other features come into play to help the cause. ANC performance is pretty good, except it doesn’t do as well to cut down wind gusts — something I routinely noted when riding my bike with them on. The Wind Noise Reduction toggle on the app helps, but I would’ve liked a more pronounced effect. It helps if, say, you’re running or cycling faster and just feeling natural aerodynamics, whereas, on a windier day, those gusts will find ways to penetrate.

Phone calls are very good in an indoor environment, owing to the six-mic array (three on each side) that helps cancel out some of the background noise and enhance voices at the same time. In quiet settings, calls were nice and clear. Outside or in noisier environments, I’d have to raise the volume to hear voices, but I could still make a call work. Anker says it cleared up vocals when transparency mode is on, but that also depends on just how loud the background is.

Battery life

Overhead view of Anker Soundcore Sport X10. Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

Anker rates battery life at eight hours per charge with ANC off. Leave it on, and with higher volume, you’re looking at six hours or less. Volume levels will have a bigger impact anyway, so if your style is to pump it up a little outdoors or in a gym, you will end up charging them more often. The case gives you another three full charges.

You won’t get wireless charging here, leaving you with USB-C as your one option. Fast charge is available — a quick 10 minutes nets up to two hours of playback.

Our take

Anker left out some features to cut down the price to a sub-$100 tag, leaving value from a cost perspective, but also from a functional one. The durability is here, as is the flexibility in fit and comfort. Solid app support, good sound quality, and respectable battery life round out a nice package for sporty earbuds that don’t break the bank.

Is there a better alternative?

Sporty and workout earbuds do come with a budget in mind, and one option that may work is the Tribit MoveBuds H1, so long as you’re cool going without ANC and don’t plan on talking much on the phone. They’re super stable to wear and sound good but are made for active situations where you’re not doing much talking. Sticking with the earhook theme, the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC come with very similar qualities to the Sport X10, albeit with poorer call quality and a much bigger case. You do get plenty of bass, with solid app support and outstanding battery life for a good price.

If your budget does allow for an extra $40, the Jabra Elite 4 Active are superb in so many ways, taking much of what makes Jabra elite in the earbuds space and applying it to these buds. Excellent durability, great sound, good ANC, and solid app support round out a solid choice.

How long will they last?

Anker made these tough, but you can’t take the Sport X10 for granted. Rinse off the salt from sweat or water and dry them before putting them back in their case, and they should be fine. Anker offers an 18-month warranty to cover malfunction issues, but not for water or sweat damage.

Should you buy them?

Yes. Not only because the price is right, but also because Anker has a good track record for supporting its products with updates. These earbuds do their job well, and that’s all you can ask for when getting more for less.

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