It's annoying when during a really good endurance run your in-ear headphones suddenly slip out of your ear canal and fall to the ground. With many true wireless headphones, this can hardly be avoided, because they are not fixed solidly enough to your ears. The Powerbeats Pro are completely different, with a sturdy bridge and a rubber claw that clings to your ears. But if the price that Apple charges is too high for you, then you should consider the Soundcore Spirit X2 from Anker, which realizes this concept for less than half the cost.
- Secure and comfortable fit
- Weatherproof (IP68)
- Long battery life
- Good sound with powerful bass
- Chunky design
- Cumbersome remote control
- No wear detection
Soundcore Spirit X2 release date and price
Anker's Soundcore Spirit X2 have been available in Europe since June 2020. The true wireless headphones cost £99.99 in the United Kingdom. This clearly undercuts the Powerbeats Pro, which Apple currently sells for about £220. Another difference: the Soundcore model is only available in black, while the Apple model is also available in pink, yellow, green, light or dark blue, red, and white.
Soundcore Spirit X2 design and build quality
The Soundcore Spirit X2 are explicitly aimed at fitness fans. Therefore a sporty comparison is allowed at this point. If the headphone specimen were a soccer player, then it would probably be a closet-wide, endurance-strong defensive player, who clings to his opponent like a burdock and seals his playing area watertight.
Figuratively speaking, the Soundcore model also embodies these characteristics. These are bulky in-ear headphones that nestle firmly against the ear canal by means of silicone attachments directly on the loudspeaker and separate silicone wings in front of them. For additional support, there is a bar-shaped housing that fits in front of the ear and ends in a silicone claw that you guide from top to bottom behind the ear. In view of this, it is very unlikely that the Soundcore Spirit X2 will leave their position even under the most intense physical exertion. Because there are two attachments and wings of different sizes in the box, you can perfect the fit in your ear.
Not visible from the outside are further seals that keep the technology inside away from dust and moisture. The Spirit X2 are IP68 certified. Therefore, the Soundcore Spirit X2 are absolutely dustproof and immune to water damage.
In addition, a moisture-repellent nanocoating is intended to protect the housing from the corrosive effects of salty sweat. Soundcore calls the process "SweatGuard" and claims to have copied it from submarine construction. Whether it works, however, is not tested and approved according to any general standard. Therefore you have to trust that your sweat will not harm the technology in the long run.
The downside of the three-part bracket plus dust and water protection is a relatively high weight: each earphone weighs 11 grams. Together with the charging case, these come to 105 grams. That is double the weight of most true-wireless headphones. In practice, however, the weight does not affect comfort. Even after a longer period of wear, the technology does not sit uncomfortably.
Operation and functions
The Soundcore Spirit X2 work with Bluetooth 5.0 or older versions of the wireless standard and therefore work with common Android smartphones and iPhones. However, iPhone users have to do without one of the core features of the Apple Powerbeats Pro. You can't switch between several playback sources as easily as with Apple accessories. Apple does not license the H1 chip, which is the reason for this, to third party manufacturers. Therefore, the Soundcore Spirit X2 cannot be operated differently than any other Bluetooth headphones.
However, you'd think that the voluminous headphone construction offers enough surface area to place a full-size remote control on top. You thought wrong. Instead, Soundcore has opted for a common minimum of multiple buttons. T he manufacturer is giving away the potential to stand out from the switching aids of other brands that are prone to operating errors.
You operate the Soundcore Spirit X2 on each earbud with a rocker that has two buttons. Depending on whether you press the buttons briefly, twice, or for one to five seconds, you can activate different functions.
With the plus button on the right earphone, you can increase the volume or switch to the next song, with the minus button on the left earphone you achieve the opposite in each case. The two identical triangle buttons on each earpiece allow you to switch between play and pause, answer, reject, or hang-up calls. The triangle buttons also activate the bass boost, the Voice Wizard, and turn the headphones on and off.
This is an overwhelming amount of functions for very few keys. It's not intuitive. You have to memorize the assignments. Besides, the keys are so small that even in a quiet moment it is difficult to make the right decision blindly. Especially in motion. The functions cannot be changed. There is no app that allows you to personalize the key layout according to your preferences.
I also missed sensors that allow the Soundcore Spirit X2 to detect if you are wearing the headphones or not. They continue to play senselessly if you take them out of your ear and place them on a table. Instead, you have to switch them off by pressing one of the triangle buttons for five seconds or put them back into the charging case and close the lid. Then they deactivate themselves.
Soundcore Spirit X2 audio
The sound is one of the strengths of the Soundcore Spirit X2. For this price class, the Soundcore headphones offer very good, very balanced sound with clear highs, detailed mids, and deep bass. If you want, you can even boost the bass at the push of a button, but for my taste, this is too much of a good thing and not necessary.
The Spirit X2 transport the low frequencies powerfully enough even in standard operation. This is ensured by drivers measuring twelve millimeters in diameter, which are considerably larger and thus more powerful than in many other true-wireless headphones. In addition, Soundcore has also stated that it has made a point of equipping the model with sound enhancement software that automatically raises low frequencies at the appropriate point.
If it were up to me, Soundcore would intervene less boldly in the listening experience with sound enhancement algorithms. I hear a little too much-amplified treble in addition to the boosted bass. This provides a crisply tuned, but somewhat unnatural sounding result. Balancing on the narrow ridge of tuning is not easy and separates Anker's sound performance from the best in the audio field.
The fact that the Spirit X2, on the other hand, do without the ANC technology in favor of a low sales price, I find tolerable. The passive shielding of external noise by the silicone attachments provides enough silence to enjoy music undisturbed.
Soundcore Spirit X2 battery
Short battery life is the Achilles' heel of many affordable true-wireless headphones. Not so with the Soundcore Spirit X2. With nine hours playing time on one battery charge, the Spirit X2 last a long time. And not only for the price range, but also compared to more expensive devices. In the charging case, there is further power for 27 hours of playback. So the manufacturer has used the space of the bulky headphones and charging case very sensibly.
How much energy is still left in the earphones you will find out shortly after switching them on, a voice gives you a rough estimate with the remark "Battery high" or similar. What the charger still has in stock is indicated by three LEDs under the lid. If the battery of the case is eventually drained, you can recharge it via USB-C cable. If you only have time for a short pit stop before you have to go out, ten minutes of charging is enough for two hours of playback time.
Soundcore's concept behind the Sprit X2 is not a bit original. It shamelessly uses the Apple Powerbeats Pro design. But how the manufacturer realizes most of the features at a much lower price is quite respectable. At a very affordable price, the Soundcore Spirit X2 offers a very secure fit even during intensive sports, good sound with especially powerful bass, and very long battery life. As a downside, you have to live with a bulky design and comparatively high weight. Negatively, the missing wearer recognition and a complicated operation by unnecessarily few multi-function keys are noticeable. An app, with which the keys can be assigned according to your own preferences, would have been good for the ease of use.