Just a little while ago, we reviewed the Anker Soundbuds Slim — a highly recommendable, highly-affordable Bluetooth headphone designed for sport. Anker recently sent us the Soundbuds Surge, a refresh of the Slim. The Surge has more similarities to its predecessor than differences, making it just as easy to recommend.
Like the Slim, the Surge is a lightweight IEM running on Bluetooth 4.1, with only the SBC audio codec supported. Its cylindrical driver housings have magnets hidden inside, making it possible for them to hold firmly together around the neck and reducing the risk of accidental loss when not in use. A three-button control pod just below the right earbud works as expected, and all its functions integrate nicely with iOS.
The Surge is claimed to be “sweatproof”, though Anker does not list its exact IPX water resistance rating. Also like the Slim, the Surge comes with a nice set of accessories — four sizes of ear tips, three sizes of wings, a storage case, a charging cable, a shirt clip, and a cable shortener. The wings are indexed to ensure that the driver housings don’t rotate while in use — a handy feature given the angled sound tubes.
Unlike the Slim, the Surge comes in only one color — black. Its driver housings no longer have a polished metal chamfer, and are slightly longer than those of the Slim. This setup looks a little sleeker, but does nothing to alleviate the howling effect we heard when using the Surge while cycling or while walking in windy days.
Surprisingly, its battery lasts one hour less than that of the Slim — just 6 hours on this model — but we still think that’s adequate given the Surge’s size and weight. The Surge’s ear wings have been redesigned — instead of a single silicone spike, the Surge’s wings are more springy and flexible, which we think is an improvement for comfort. Finally, the Surge’s sound, although on par with that of the Slim, seems to have even more of a bass emphasis. Although this can be fun on some tracks, the Surge did seem to distort on songs with very heavy bass, like James Blake’s “Limit To Your Love.”
In our testing, the Anker Soundbuds Surge performed as advertised and, in general, very similarly to the Slim. The Surge is new, but not all-new.