Anker are relatively well known for quality mobile peripherals and each of us on the MTT team have purchase, used or handled one of their products over the years. This time around we’re looking at their Anker NB10 Headphones geared towards sports use, with a compelling price.
We’re going to kick this review off with a brief overview of the product. You see, there are many hundreds of similar products out there; budget friendly Bluetooth headphones sporting marketing imagery for the fitness fanatics and stylish city hipsters alike, but few of them actually deliver well across the full range of criteria. Normally something gives way. PErhaps the audio is tinny, or the design is out there, or even the build quality is a little lacking.
Here’s with the Anker NB10, we have a mixture of that with only one redeeming feature unfortunately; the price point.
First off, the package contents. The headphones are of course included and are connected by a relatively malleable rubberised band, and some large (with medium and small included) silicon buds attached. On the right hand ear bud are the controls, with a volume up and down button set either side of the multi-function button which manages play/pause, answering/ending of calls and skipping songs functions. There’s also a nifty little carry mag and for the headphones with a drawstring, as well as a microUSB charging cable for the included USB port which sits on the bottom side of the right hand ear bud along with a noise cancelling microphone. finally, a spare adjustable rubber ‘FitClip’ is included in addition to the connected one out of the box. The Fitclip is a snazzy name for a piece of rubber that helps to secure the units behind the head to aid comfort.
Pairing is simple and is completed by holding down power just a little longer than usual. As a slight aside, when turning on the device there is a rather unusual startup sound which actually made me smile when I heard it. I’m used to hearing “power on” or “attempting to connect” or a simple “bing bong” noise. Here there’s something a little different. Not a value add, or a feature that brings a tangible benefit, but it obviously stood out on this unit enough for me to include it in the review.
Therein lies the issue. The sheer lack of any unique selling points makes this a lacklustre effort for the most part. Audio is devoid of mids and lows, with only highs coming through giving a vacuous sound when listening to almost any genre of music. Audiobooks strangely sound decent with this soundstage, and perhaps that’s due to the fact the highs are so prominent. No bass at all. I mean none. Nothing, nada, niente. It’s scary how little quality this unit has. these 12mm drivers pack zero punch.
Build quality is a little off also. Whilst plastic is to be expected, the rubber stretches and strains when worn and often gives a tugging feeling when turning your head, something most of us will be doing frequently when hitting the gym or going for a run; remember, the primary market this unit is aimed at?
When changing the included tips to slightly smaller ones to obtain a better fit (which actually helped to be fair) we noticed the driver grille was covered in glue, presumably from a poor manufacturing process when being assembled. Just not good enough when you can buy products for half the price and deliver a superior level of build.
The fit is however, thankfully, decent. The tips give an individual with any ear size to find a comfy fit and they actually deliver acceptable noise cancellation, although nothing that can compete with actual ANC, as well as keeping noise bleed down to a minimum.
IPX5 water resistance is included so the odd British summertime shower should be withstood easily, and the Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity manages to be on par with the other similarly priced headsets, although that’s not a good thing (read the other reviews!). Battery life is claimed to be at a distinctly average 6 hours of continuous playback and we managed only just shy of that in our testing. All these features get a pass.
So, it all comes down to the price right? At £20, this is perhaps the Anker NB10′ saving grace. They aren’t quite “throw away” territory, but they are cheap enough for those who dislike them a little upon delivery not to feel completely stung. Still, they are severely deficient in a number of areas and the fact that build quality is so distinctly average at best, and that the included 12mm drivers deliver zero depth may mean you look elsewhere. We can’t recommend those, and suggest you search for others on our site with EC Technology and the more recent dodocool offerings better options.