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I’m not much of a sports person. Sort of the opposite of that. Too opposite. I’m pushing maximum density here. But I’m getting better at getting moving. Part of that is traveling, which I do a lot. Well, did a lot. A bit of a break for the last few years for obvious reasons, but I’m back at it. So Geoff, I can’t hear you asking, why are you reviewing earphones that literally have “sport” in the name? Well, dear reader, they’re not just sports earphones, they also have noise canceling. Noise canceling is the bread-and-butter of any tech-savvy traveler. So for that, and for reasons I’ll get into, I’m always on the lookout for well-fitting and comfortable true-wireless earphones. Spoiler: these are those.
Soundcore’s Sport X10 earphones ($79.99, all prices USD) share an obvious familial resemblance with the company’s other true-wireless earbuds, from their overall design to the ovoid case. It’s not unheard of to find sports true-wireless earphones with noise canceling, but it’s not quite common either. I would assume they’re for someone looking for an all-in-one type of product, or someone who works out at a particularly noisy gym. For the price, it’s hard to fault something that offers IPX7 water resistance, sweat resistance, and the ability to make the world around you quieter.
Each earbud has a single 10mm driver. Connection-wise, there’s Bluetooth 5.2, which should help keep the music going even if your phone isn’t on your person. In a nice change of pace, there are three colors available: Black, Oat White, and Red.
In the box
Typical of inexpensive true wireless headphones, there’s not a lot in the box. You get four sets of black silicone tips and a USB-C cable.
Like most good sports earphones, the X10s are more than just tiny wireless earbuds. In the case, they look like coiled tadpoles, with the tail wrapped around the body. I admit, when I first tried to put them on, I was a bit perplexed. They don’t uncoil, or even pivot, like you’d expect. You rotate the end of the tail towards you, so it looks like a squashed question mark.
The now-revealed hook goes forward to loop back over your ear. And I’ll tell you, the fit is fantastic. As someone with average-size ears but below-average-size ear canals, I always struggle to get true wireless earphones to fit comfortably and securely. I’m constantly worried they’ll come flying off into oblivion. I run only when chased, but these felt secure enough that I could. Secure but comfortable.
To put them back in the case, the process reverses, pivoting the hooks back in place. They fit well in the case, and during my testing I didn’t have any issues with an earbud not charging because it wasn’t seated against the charging pins.
Speaking of the case, it’s not too big and not too small, it recharges via USB-C, and it should charge the X10s fully three times, giving a total of around 32 hours of playtime combined.
The Soundcore app is laid out well, though it often asked me to breathe. Like, literally breathe. Not sure if it was sensing that I had stopped (possible), it was trying to get me to relax (yeah, right), or it was part of the included wellness aspect of the app since these are sports headphones (likely). Either way, jokes on them: I stopped entirely.
There are two equalizer settings: Default, which provides what Soundcore describes as Soundcore Signature sound, and Custom, which provides what the company describes as “Custom.” Within the Default setting, you can fine-tune what that means. There’s a BassUp toggle, which, as we’ll discuss, is not needed, as well as presets for Acoustic, Bass Reducer, Classical, Podcast, and no less than 16 other options. If you click on the names, a graphic shows what the EQ preset looks like. Whatever mode you decide on is the new Default to select from the main Equalizer menu.
If these weren’t enough, Custom gives you an eight-step graphical EQ to adjust certain frequencies +/-6dB. You can then name and save your EQ creations to recall at will.
Each earbud has small but physical buttons on the top. Once you know they’re there, they’re easy to find. These are programmable within the app for things like volume changes, track changes, and so on.
Lastly, you can adjust the noise canceling. There are three modes: Normal, which has no noise canceling; Noise Canceling, which you’ll be shocked to learn enables noise canceling; and Transparency, which boosts certain frequencies so you can hear your surroundings better. I’d rate the noise canceling as “average,” which isn’t bad considering the price. I’ll dive more into the specifics in the Comparison section below.
Overall I’d describe the sound of the X10s as pleasant but not remarkable. I was never annoyed with them, but they were never the earphones I reached for first when I headed out the door. For the price, and the fact that they’re sports earphones, I’d actually call this quite a win.
Unless otherwise noted, I used the default Soundcore Signature EQ mode.
I’m rather notorious among my fellow headphone reviewers for liking more bass than most. However, I’m fully aware of this preference and make a concerted effort not to let that bias affect my reviews. So when I say the X10s have a pleasant amount of bass, this is what most people would consider “a lot.” If you’re really a bass fanatic, you can enable the BassUp mode, which even I’d call too much. The bass is a little sloppy and ill-defined. You’re very aware of the low bass from, say, a tuba, but identifying it as a tuba is a little harder. You can, alternately, dial back the amount of bass easily by using a different EQ mode. Bass Reducer, for instance, is far more neutral. The mushiness remains, of course.
Since these are exercise earphones, this tuning makes perfect sense to me. Maybe you listen to Vivaldi’s Harpsichord Concerto in A Major while you’re working out, but I sure don’t. Not that I work out. But friends who do typically listen to something with a big, fast beat to keep them moving.
On the more acoustic side, Aimee Mann’s “Goose Snow Cone” (Mental Illness, 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, SuperEgo/Tidal) has a light bell at the start, along with layers of acoustic guitars and, of course, her voice. The X10s do better with this than you might expect. The bell wasn’t piercing, as it easily could be, and her voice was front and center. There was even a decently wide soundstage for tight-fitting earbuds. There seemed to be some lower midrange missing, and the treble wasn’t as delicate or clear as I’ve heard, but they were quite well balanced for sports earphones.
Of course, the X10s’ bread and butter is going to be something with a bit more kick. Chvrches’ collaboration with Marshmello’s “Here with Me” (single, 16/44.1 FLAC, Republic/Tidal) is a good example. It’s got a big bass sound, with Lauren Mayberry’s voice smashing through the synth wall. The sampled clap sound was a bit more forward than I’d like, but I didn’t immediately reach to turn down the volume, which is a good sign. It makes me think they’re voiced to play loud, without piercing your brain with treble. Wise, that.
Just to make sure I wasn’t ignoring old-school ravers, I checked out “Sandstorm” by Darude (Before the Storm, 16/44.1 FLAC, Groovilicious/Tidal). I mean, why not? I could almost see myself doing some CrossFit or even getting out of my chair. They sounded big and played loud. I toggled on the BassUp, and for this style of music it of course worked. Bigger, bassier for sure. At high volumes it all held together surprisingly well.
For something a bit different, next up was “That’s the Way” (Led Zeppelin III, MQA, Atlantic/Tidal). Lots of guitar layers at the start for this one. These lacked the clarity and definition of a higher-end, more audiophile set of earphones. They were a bit smeary, sounding less like guitars and more like, well, I’m not sure what. Like a copy of a copy of a guitar. It wasn’t bad, of course. If the main limitation of the X10s is that they can’t be considered audiophile earbuds, I think it’s hard to consider that a fault.
In terms of sound, I compared the X10s to my beloved B&W C5 Series 2 earphones ($180). These are older, more expensive, and decidedly wired, but I’ve compared myriad earphones to them, and they’re effectively my baseline.
The C5s are notoriously bass-heavy, which, as mentioned above, I typically like. However, it has to be well-defined bass. I want bass drums to sound like bass drums, not blurry mush. The C5s do this well. The X10s, in Soundcore Signature EQ mode, had a similar amount of bass, but it was not as tight or well defined. That said, for half the price and true wireless, it was quite reasonable.
I also checked them against the Beyerdynamic Free Byrd earphones, which Brent Butterworth recently reviewed. Specifically, I A/B tested them while playing “That’s the Way.” The sound of the Byrds was far more open, the guitars more delicate. I could make out Jimmy Page’s strums against the strings in a way that just wasn’t apparent with the X10s. They’re three times the price and don’t fit as securely, so as with anything, there are tradeoffs.
For noise canceling, I compared the X10s to another of my old standbys, the Bose QuietComfort 20 earphones ($199). These were, and still are, benchmark noise-canceling earbuds. Again, they’re way more expensive, so I wasn’t expecting equal performance. I tested them on a Boeing 787 crossing the Pacific, and with various loud air-conditioning units during a recent trip to Australia. I’d call the X10s’ noise-canceling performance “average.” It worked better than many other NC earphones and headphones I’ve tested (across a variety of prices), but not as good as what the the QuietComfort 20s provide. The X10s offer more than 30 percent of the performance that the price difference would imply, so I’ll call that a win for the X10s. This is especially true when you consider that noise canceling isn’t the main point of these earbuds.
Judged on sound alone, I doubt the X10s will be anyone’s favorite earphones. They’re most decidedly “fine.” However, once you include excellent comfort and fit and decent noise canceling, all for an impressively low price, the X10s are worthy of attention. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive pair for the gym or when out for a run, the X10s are worth a look and listen.
. . . Geoffrey Morrison
- Smartphone: Google Pixel 5
- Laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 8
- Other source: Apple iPod Touch
Soundcore Sport X10 True Wireless Earphones
Warranty: 18 months.
Phone: (800) 988-7973