Smaller is certainly higher. Generally, the tiny earbuds are extra comfy. They’re often lighter and so they match higher in your ears with out protruding too far. Nonetheless, the compact stature provides corporations much less room to work with parts, and generally this results in sacrifices in audio or options. That’s not the case with the Spirit Dot 2. Anker designed these buds for exercises, proper right down to the IPX7 sweat and waterproofing. To maintain your power up throughout these actions, you want thumping bass. The corporate says the Spirit Dot 2 employs “bass-enhancing drivers” and a so-called BassUp algorithm to optimize the low-end tone in actual time. Anker says the driving force design is optimized for max bass output, a declare which it delivers on. These small buds pack a punch.

You’ll have to make some sacrifices on features, but the audio quality is stellar.

Billy Steele/Engadget

All of it provides as much as one easy factor: the Spirit Dot 2 sounds surprisingly good for an $80 set of earbuds. I’ve examined low-cost fashions earlier than, and whereas they sounded fantastic, there have been apparent sonic sacrifices. With the Spirit Dot 2, I usually forgot I used to be listening to a sub-$100 choice. Anker crafted a giant and boomy low vary that doesn’t overpower. And whenever you issue within the small measurement of the buds general, that feat is much more spectacular. 

Run the Jewels’ RTJ4 sounds simply as massive and loud because the artists meant, because of that low-end tone. But it surely’s not all concerning the bass with the Spirit Dot 2, there’s respectable depth and good readability to the sound profile as effectively. The audio is well-rounded, so along with hip-hop, genres like rock, steel, bluegrass and extra all sound nice on these earbuds. Don’t get me incorrect, they’re not as immersive or stuffed with element as Sony’s WF-1000XM3 or Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2. However the Spirit Dot 2 are an excellent choice for people who simply want some respectable sounding earbuds and don’t wish to spend an excessive amount of on them. 

You’ll have to make some sacrifices on features, but the audio quality is stellar.

Billy Steele/Engadget

And it’s good that these don’t require any EQ tweaks in an app, as a result of that’s not an choice. A few of Anker’s earbuds work with a companion app, however the Spirit Dot 2 isn’t considered one of them (neither is the Spirit X2). That software program presents a HearID take a look at that customizes the sound on your ears, should you go for a mannequin just like the Liberty 2 Pro. What’s extra, you’ll be able to make use of over 20 presets or manually tweak the EQ your self. It’s probably not shocking that Anker would forgo the app for a extra reasonably priced set of buds, however it’s best to know what you’re lacking to avoid wasting $70. 

The contact controls on the Spirit Dot 2 are one other space the place Anker made some cuts. First, there’s no single faucet to do something. Every thing is a double faucet or an extended press. On the suitable earbud, you double faucet for play/pause. On the left, that motion skips to the subsequent monitor. There isn’t a capacity to return to the earlier track. You possibly can summon your voice assistant with an extended press on each earbuds concurrently… and that’s it. There’s no on-board quantity controls or the rest. I can take care of the constraints, however the assigned actions aren’t intuitive to me. I don’t recall ever utilizing earbuds that don’t enable a single faucet for something.

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In relation to battery life, Anker guarantees 5 and a half hours however I averaged about an hour much less. I used to be listening at full quantity, so it is smart I might get barely lower than the said determine. However a full hour is slightly regarding. The included case presents two full prices for a complete of 16 hours of playtime when mixed with the earbuds. Most true wireless choices as of late are nearer to 10 hours on a cost, however they’re additionally costlier. And I don’t learn about you, however I not often take heed to a pair of earbuds for greater than 5 hours in a single go. Whereas it’s on the low finish, the battery life on the Spirit Dot 2 will suffice for many customers. Plus, a 10-minute cost provides you with an hour of use should you’re in a rush. 

Spirit X2

You’ll have to make some sacrifices on features, but the audio quality is stellar.

Billy Steele/Engadget

The Spirit X2 is a wholly totally different proposition — at the least by way of design. These true wireless earbuds are extra just like the Powerbeats Pro and different around-the-ear hook fashions. Like AirPods, the aesthetic is a matter of non-public choice, however there are execs and cons to the shape issue. Most notably, it gained’t work with glasses or should you prefer to put on a hat throughout your exercise or run. Nonetheless, the hook does assist hold these in place, which is one thing you would possibly think about should you’re primarily utilizing these for working or different bodily exercise with a lot of intense motion. They’re additionally IP68 rated in opposition to mud and water, and Anker says its SweatGuard tech protects in opposition to the corrosive results of perspiration. 

Because of the design of the Spirit X2, Anker situated the controls in a considerably awkward spot. They’re on the entrance fringe of the buds, going through ahead and away out of your ear. It took a while for me to recollect the buttons weren’t proper on my ear like so many different true wireless fashions. Even the Powerbeats Pro had controls on the portion of the earbud that’s proper by your ear canal. Anker once more put its personal spin on how the controls are organized, so there’s a little bit of a studying curve there too. 

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There are two bodily buttons on either side, each of which settle for both a single, double or an extended press. On the suitable aspect, the highest management handles quantity up with a single push or skips tracks ahead with a press-and-hold. On the left, the highest button quantity down and skipping songs backwards — with a single or lengthy press, respectively. The underside controls on each side will play/pause, regardless of which one you hit (there’s no computerized pausing function). Additionally they each flip the BassUp function on or off with an extended press. Lastly, to activate your voice assistant, you double press the underside button on both earbud. When you study the format, these controls all work effectively, and I by no means encountered points the place the Spirit X2 didn’t settle for my presses — or confused a double for a single. 

You’ll have to make some sacrifices on features, but the audio quality is stellar.

Billy Steele/Engadget

Just like the Spirit Dot 2, the Spirit X2 enhances the exercise options with highly effective bass. That features algorithmic BassUp tech working alongside a so-called BassTurbo acoustic chamber for elevated resonance. Once more, there’s a lot of issues Anker has placed on paper right here, however the easy reality is the bass is spectacular for a set of $80 earbuds. 

BassUp handles the boomy drum beats of RTJ4 a lot better right here than on the Spirit Dot 2. This isn’t shocking given the design particularly created to boost low-end tone, however the distinction is critical. There’s an excellent quantity of bass already, however the BassUp function takes it up a couple of notches. Actually, it’s an excessive amount of for me at occasions, however I recognize that this could be precisely what some people are on the lookout for. Plenty of true wireless earbuds wrestle with bass, and those that do a good job nonetheless aren’t this bombastic. If you happen to like quite a lot of low-end throughout your exercises, these will definitely serve you effectively. 

The readability of sound can be good on the Spirit X2. Much less bassy genres sound good, with albums like Watkins Household Hour’s folky acoustic Brother Sister having the airiness that pricier headphones give the songs. As an alternative of compressing a group of guitars, fiddle, bass and drums to flat noise, you get a way of dimensionality. You possibly can hear particulars like string noise and choosing within the guitar taking part in, and the entire devices truly sound like they’re in a giant room collectively quite than only a collection of ones and zeros smashed collectively on a pc. Total, I favor the sound high quality on the Spirit X2 to the Spirit Dot 2 for its higher bass efficiency and elevated depth of sound. 

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You’ll have to make some sacrifices on features, but the audio quality is stellar.

Billy Steele/Engadget

The Spirit X2 can be higher fitted to calls. Whereas the Spirit Dot 2 actually works for that objective whenever you want it to, the Spirit X2 has cVc 8.0 noise discount that isolates your voice. If we ever return to the gymnasium, that may very well be helpful. It is also useful should you’re working in a loud neighborhood or one other loud spot. Certainly, each of those Soundcore fashions cowl the fundamentals by way of name high quality, however like general audio, the Spirit X2 is the higher alternative. 

Anker says the Spirit X2 will final for 9 hours on a cost. Very similar to the Spirit Dot 2, my checks got here up quick: round eight hours and 15 minutes. Once more, not superb, however the discrepancy wasn’t fairly as unhealthy as what I encountered on the Dot 2. And, after all, I used to be listening at full or virtually full quantity more often than not. Not everybody will try this, so your mileage might fluctuate. The case holds sufficient juice for an extra three prices or 27 hours value of play time. Just like the Dot 2, it has lights on the skin that offer you an estimation of remaining battery life.

The apparent comparability right here is the Powerbeats Pro. Although the Beats mannequin is ceaselessly on sale, it is going to nonetheless value you round $180-$200 ($249.95 full value). Whereas hands-free Siri and Apple’s fast pairing are good, and the Powerbeats Pro have higher audio high quality, you need to determine if that’s value an additional $100. And the case for these Soundcore buds is far smaller than the absurdly massive accent that holds the Powerbeats Pro. Plantronics additionally presents a decently reasonably priced hook design with the BackBeat Match 3150. Battery life is strong there, and the corporate covers the fundamentals, however the value is $150 — $70 greater than the Spirit X2.

Wrap-Up

You’ll have to make some sacrifices on features, but the audio quality is stellar.

Billy Steele/Engadget

Anker’s Soundcore line has two extra compelling and reasonably priced choices with the Spirit Dot 2 and Spirit X2. The latter undoubtedly outshines its sibling by way of audio high quality, however the hook design gained’t work for everybody. You actually should commit and be comfy with the extra apparent design when sporting the X2 for extra common use. Nonetheless, each of those fashions are value contemplating for $80 because the all-around efficiency is strong and dependable, even when there are a couple of options lacking.