While the market for true-wireless gaming earbuds is remarkably small, it just got a little bigger with the addition of the Anker Soundcore VR P10. These earbuds have a lot in common with the typical Bluetooth options you’ll find on the market, but they bear the budget-friendly pricing of Anker’s other Soundcore products ($AU179.99), and they offer the hallmark feature of wireless gaming audio gear: a dedicated wireless transmitter. While they may not be a perfect product, they offer so much at such a low price that their merits easily make them a product worth having for those who want reliable audio everywhere they go and can’t always carry a set of over-ear headphones.
A unique pair of earbuds with familiar looks
Anker’s Soundcore brand has a ton of Bluetooth earbud options, and they’re invariably feature-competitive with earbuds that cost significantly more. So, it’s not much of a surprise to see the VR P10 buds coming in at a low price point for any pair of wireless gaming headphones, let alone ones that offer two different ways to connect. Though the stylings of the VR P10 earbuds sets them apart from some of Anker’s other offerings, the buds themselves have a similar shape to some of the other Soundcore Liberty earbuds, though with slightly shorter and stouter stems and more lighting — these are for gaming, after all.
Clean styling and a smart design
The Soundcore VR P10 earbuds come in a compact carrying case like most earbuds. The case looks amusingly like a robot out of the Portal game series, with a little round eye in front that lights up when the case is opened. That little eye also serves as an indicator for battery levels getting low. The case opens easily, but also pops open easily when dropped. USB-C charging is almost a given now, and the case has it, though it doesn’t offer wireless charging as some more premium options do.
The inside of the case is where Anker earns high marks. So many wireless gaming devices commit the sin of including nowhere to keep the wireless transmitter together with the gadget. That’s a recipe for losing the transmitter. Despite the incredibly limited space of the VR P10 case, Anker found room to fit in the dongle. It’s held inside the top lid with a strong magnet. That said, the magnet is almost too strong, and the dongle too snug, sometimes making it difficult to get the dongle out. Anker even had to include instructions on how to remove the dongle in its app, though even that didn’t prove the easiest way to get the buds out.
The buds offer an advertised 6-hour runtime, while the case carries a supposed extra 18 hours of charge to give a combined 24-hour battery life.
The buds are an in-ear style, plugging right into the ear canal with silicone tips. Anker includes 3 different tip sizes in the box. The buds combine white and silver colours for a subtle and elegant look. Three strips on the stem (somewhat akin to an Adidas logo) offer a bit of lighting, though only orange, pink, blue, or two shades of purple. As is common among Soundcore’s buds, the VR P10 offer touch controls on the stems of each bud. Despite the snug fit, they don’t hold in my ears quite as well as other buds, and they regularly fall out during workouts.
Ready, set, go
The VR P10 can function like your typical Bluetooth earbuds. You put them in pairing mode using a button on the back of the case, and then search for them in your phone’s Bluetooth settings. But the key feature is the buds’ support for their dedicated wireless transmitter.
The transmitter is a compact USB-C dongle that also has a USB-C port on it. This extra port is to allow for pass-through charging. While the Soundcore VR P10, as the name hints, is intended for use with the Meta Quest 2, the dongle supports connections to PC, PS5, PS4 (with a USB adaptor), Nintendo Switch, and more. The pass-through charging has limited potential, though. While it’s enough to keep a Quest 2 headset charged, it only lets enough juice through to my laptop (which uses a 65W charger) to trickle charge it when under a light load, and it actually saw the battery slowly sag while running the display at a higher brightness level and taking a video call. The connection doesn’t support data transmission either, though VR Link users can simply plug the dongle into their computer, then connect their VR headset to their computer separately.
Anyone who hates shuffling dongles between devices will be able to buy multiple dongles for the VR P10. It’s possible to swap connections to different dongles through the Soundcore app.
A new connection
The VR P10 is one of the first audio devices on the market to offer Bluetooth LE with the new LC3 codec. Curiously, LC3 is only used with the dongle, while a standard Bluetooth connection will use either SBC or AAC codecs. The dongle connection provides clean audio with little noticeable degradation and low latency ideal for gaming. The Bluetooth connection, stuck with weaker codecs, is less ideal for much beyond podcasts, audio books, and some casual music.
I have noticed some weird connectivity behaviour from the buds. One is intended but unfortunate behaviour: any sound that comes from the Bluetooth connection will override the dongle-connection, even just the unlocking noise of a phone, and it will take a few seconds to switch back to the wireless dongle’s signal, disrupting any gameplay experience coming through the dongle. The buds support simultaneous audio streams if the Bluetooth source is a voice call (including Discord), but the balance of the volume can be a little off, and the quality of the audio drops in the process.
The other issue has occurred on several different occasions. If I change the volume on my computer while it’s connected using the dongle, it can interfere with any sort of playback — cutting out audio from Winamp and or completely freezing playback in YouTube, requiring a tab refresh. It’s a strange effect that I can’t necessarily blame on the earbuds, but also something I’ve only experienced with this pair.
Fine, but not dazzling audio
The Anker Soundcore VR P10 earbuds are doing something fairly special, but nothing magical. The reality of the earbuds is that their audio quality just lands on the safe side of acceptable. They put a little extra emphasis on bass, with a rather flat mid and treble mix.
Listening to Of Montreal’s False Priest, the ear buds struggle to keep up with the immense dynamism of the album. Throughout the opening track, the bass line swells in and out, and whenever it comes in, the rest of the track loses some of its vibrancy. The bass feels heavy, but because the higher end is drained, some of the character of even the bass line is lost. Even when the bass cuts out, the mids and treble don’t have much bite.
On the plus side, the dongle connection avoids any of the glaring compression issues I’m used to encountering on a basic Bluetooth connection. Even in the most chaotic moments of an Of Montreal or Wakusei Abnormal song, I don’t detect any audio degradation.
The lack of balance in the EQ makes the buds less than ideal for competitive games, where split-second decision making and the ability to pick up on every audio cue in your surroundings is crucial. I played several hours of Overwatch 2 wearing the buds, and didn’t feel as tuned into everything happening as I usually am with over-ear headphones. But I find them plenty adequate to feel out my surroundings as I played through Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and they worked seamlessly with the Quest 2 to enjoy the charming puzzles and soundtrack of The Last Clockwinder.
The earbuds lack much sound isolation, letting ambient sound slip in. It’s not enough to distract from most experiences, especially since the buds can get plenty loud, but it makes them less ideal for listening to content while out and about. Of course, it does make them a little safer to wear while playing in VR.
Earbud mics only go so far
The microphones on the VR P10 buds do well enough in a small, quiet room. They effectively pick up my voice with enough clarity to plainly make out what I’m saying. However, beyond that, they’re not delivering much to get excited about. In a large room, the mics don’t pick up as much volume, as they’re more likely to gather echo.
They lack any fullness, and they don’t have nearly the same clarity that a well-positioned boom mic can provide. They also do little to cut down on the clatter of my keyboard or mouse clicks while gaming. Though they eliminate some background noise, such as a fan I often have running, the noise manages to get mixed in with my voice when I speak.
While these shortcomings are fairly common among earbuds, it’s still worth considering if you plan to use the buds for much beyond casual gaming.
A simple and effective app
The Soundcore app manages the buds and includes the controls for changing the lighting effects and colours, switching dongle connection, applying a custom EQ, changing the touch controls, updating firmware, and toggling Super Hearing, Game and Talk, and the microphone. Super Hearing is designed to boost gunshots and footsteps in FPS games while the Game and Talk feature is what allows simultaneous audio from a game and a voice call. The app is simple but intuitive, and thankfully doesn’t require a user account to use.
Should I get the Anker Soundcore VR P10?
The VR P10 earbuds aren’t delivering killer audio, but they are delivering killer value. For the price, you effectively get a pair of Bluetooth earbuds and a low-latency wireless gaming headset in one. Over-ear headphones easily have the edge in mic and audio quality, but the VR P10 buds offer broad support and more convenience than I’d expect at the price. I wouldn’t recommend them if audio quality is your priority. But if you know you want gaming earbuds, these are the ones to get.