Fitness-focused, sporty earbuds usually come with one of two solutions for staying in your ears: they either have wing tips to help anchor them in place, or there’s a wraparound ear hook a la the Powerbeats Pro.
With its new Soundcore Sport X10 earbuds, Anker opts for the latter. The $79 X10s have a bass-forward sound signature, IPX7 sweat and water resistance, and up to eight hours of continuous battery life. They’re available now in black or white, with a red color coming sometime later.
These under-$100 earbuds are gym-ready with a sound that’s big on bass. Anker says the rotatable ear hook lets you “adjust the wearing angle to ensure the earbuds nest comfortably in place to prevent them from falling out during vigorous workouts.”
In addition, the earbuds weigh 4.4 grams, far lighter than the Powerbeats or other competitors like the JBL Endurance Peak II.
While the Soundcore X10 earbuds are designed to be heavy on bass out of the box, Anker says you can turn off the default “BassUp” EQ setting using its mobile app and choose from over 20 other presets if you prefer something more balanced.
The X10s have “hybrid noise cancellation” to help eliminate background noise when running or exercising outdoors. And there’s also a transparency mode for situations where you need to amplify your surroundings.
Their IPX7 means the X10s can safely “be rinsed off under a faucet or water fountain after a workout,” With a total of six microphones on board, Anker seems confident they’ll handle voice calls quite well.
For $79, you’re losing out on features like wireless charging, in-ear detection, and other extras that typically demand a higher price. And their 10-millimeter drivers probably aren’t a match for the Powerbeats Pro or different higher-end fitness buds. On the other hand, you do at least get fast charging, which gives the earbuds two hours of playback time after merely 10 minutes on the charger.
Based on the performance of other Soundcore buds, the X10s should deliver energetic, gym-ready sound at a solid value. And the ear hooks should keep them right where you want them, no matter how intense your workout.
The case is nearly perfect. The soft-touch matte finish fooled me into believing this was a more expensive headset and made it a delight to use. Flipping the cover open or closed is easy with just one hand, and the earbuds fit well in their respective cutouts.
However, even a forceful wrist flick will open it, so be wary: the case will pop open if it falls on the ground. The base of the case bears a USB-C input and manual Bluetooth pairing button, while the front includes three LEDs to communicate the remaining battery status.
The earbuds track the same stemmed design as before, but this is far from a carbon copy. Soundcore settled the last model’s glossy finish, which enticed excessive fingerprints. The double iteration is more mature and doesn’t endeavor to garner attention with a shiny veneer.
The stems are comfortable griping, and the circular section emblazoned with the Soundcore logo serves as a multifunction touch panel on each earbud. The one downside to the branches is that earrings scrape against them and produce an undesirable sound, but this is better or less the point with all stemmed earbuds.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 is used to control auto-pause functionality, but it seems that Anker has silently released this feature. However, you can always double-tap the right earbud to halt and resume playback. Angled nozzles maintain things comfortable, and listened to the earbuds for four consecutive hours without any tiredness or irritation.
The Soundcore app has a handful of valuable features for those willing to download it, the most prominent of which is access to firmware updates. You can also carry a basic hearing test via the HearID feature, which tailors the sound profile to your hearing capabilities. It takes a few minutes to finish, but it’s just a matter of maintaining a virtual button down while you hear a tone and releasing it when it is no extended audible. You can toggle this shape and retest yourself at any time.
You may remap controls, check battery levels, choose EQ presets, and more. However, when you remap controls, the custom functions aren’t enabled during mono listening. So, for example, volume controls aren’t usable in the mono mode because they’re a custom command rather than the default.
A drawback to the Soundcore app is its limited functionality to just some of its headsets. While this doesn’t involve Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 users, anyone with the Anker Soundcore Life P2 won’t profit from downloading the app. According to Soundcore, more headsets will be invested in the future but haven’t delivered any specifics yet.
Like the more inexpensive Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo, these earbuds build a solid seal to the ear and generate low-frequencies half as loud as they’d otherwise sound.
The chart above demonstrates that passive isolation is good with the Liberty Air 2. Low and midrange sounds are roughly half as loud with the buds as without them, and the buds moist high-frequency sounds too.
It is great for commuters who don’t want to pay a premium for the noise-canceling true wireless earbuds. But, of course, to achieve this kind of isolation interpretation, you must accept the time to discover the best fit for you; Anker Soundcore equips listeners with five pairs of ear tips, so you should get a reasonable seal.