Recently picked up a pair of these at £31.99 thanks to an Easter discount code as I was in the market for a more portable pair of Hi-Res earphones for playback of a few 24bit albums I have accumulated, along with my normal 16bit lossless and 256kbps iTunes AAC (iPhone). However after a few days of use I have mixed feelings when weighing up the cost vs ‘audophile’ quality. First things first though;
In The Box:
-Anker SoundBud Digital IE10
-Small/Medium/Large eartips and in-ear earhooks
-Memory Foam Eartips
-Warranty and user manual
Earbuds comes in the black silver packaging which is becoming the norm for Anker’s premium level product range. Good fit in the ear (thanks to the mix and match tips and hooks) and they are more streamlined than past models when in use. Construction quality is top notch, as per Anker’s reputation, with gun metal grey earbuds and a rugged ribbed cable, which should hold up more than well for daily use. Lightning lead is also a very impressive length, allowing more than adequate movement without the buds falling out, even if your iPod/iPhone is in your back pocket (as mine normally is). Rounding out, you also have IPX5 rating (that’s sweat and splash proof, not submerge), a built in mic for phone calls/Siri support and a inline remote allowing volume change, DAC mode change and play/pause/skip (and Siri) functionality.
The IE10 SoundBuds, which are made for recent iOS devices only due to it’s lightning connector, do produce very decent audio, clear with good clarity and bass thanks to three mode settings for the DAC comprising of;
Balanced - Good clarity and some bass
Clear Voice - Not a fan of this mode, might be good for narration ebooks but for music just didn’t do much for me, made vocals sound off somehow
Super Bass - Much warmer bass without fully overshadowing the clarity of the instrumentals
However, now we get to the mixed feeling section. I’ve been a fan of the majority of Anker’s Earbuds, currently owning the NB10 and Slim models which get daily use depending on location, such as the gym or some chill out music while at home or during work break’s. Now I don’t consider myself an ‘audiophile’, you know the chaps who must be akin to our four legged friends when they say they can hear and/or not hear a certain sound or frequency in the song; but I do know when songs sound better, same or worse depending on what playback device I am using. Now after trying various genres of music for the past two days in lossless / AAC and 24bit 48kHz I can honestly say I failed to notice any difference in audio detail quality between the IE10’s and my Anker SoundBud Slims (aside from the louder volume). My Sony Pro MDR7506 studio headphones, which I use as a benchmark for Hi-Res testing despite their 3 year age, still outshined Anker’s IE10 offering (in my own opinion) with small details present on my Sony MDR’s which were not ‘as’ present on the IE10’s.
On the whole the Earbuds are quite decent, very good sound, loudness and nice bass. However where these fall quite short is in the Hi-Res department and the current price point of £39.99. For such a premium price (double that of the Anker NB10’s and Slim models) I would expect them to match or exceed my 3 year old MDR7506 headphones in audio playback quality, yet to my ears, they didn’t. Should price be brought more inline with Apple’s own offering, I think they would more than likely become many peoples preferred option.
It’s possible that future firmware updates to the earbuds (via the AppStore app your prompted to install at first connect) may improve aspects of the audio quality in the DAC but at present only time will tell.