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Tactical Headsets C10 Listen Review – Ultra-Compact Budget IEM

Pros –

Superbly low-profile fit, Great noise isolation, Clean and linear bass,

Cons –

Cheap fixed cable, Shouty mid-focused tuning, Minimal soundstage

Verdict –

The C10 caters well towards a particular niche but isn’t especially competitive in direct audio comparison to models around its asking price.


Introduction –

Tactical Headsets are an unassuming company but piqued my interest when they mentioned they develop their products in conjunction with the Swedish military and make headsets for first responders. In turn, the company promises a focus on function in addition to strong ergonomics and passive noise isolation. The C10 Listen is their budget-orientated model featuring a custom 9mm dynamic driver made by a Danish HiFi company. It is presented as a model for everyday and active use in addition to targeting budget-conscious audiophiles. The low-profile design appears well suited especially for sports and motorbiking, common use cases readers talk about when they ask me for recommendation.

The C10 Listen is available for $59.99 USD from Tactical Headsets. You can read more about it and purchase one for yourself here.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Carl from Tactical Headsets very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the C10 Listen for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Specifications –

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Distortion: < 2%
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Driver: Custom 9mm speaker element

Unboxing –

The C10 has a no-frills unboxing with a small hard box with basic art and specifications. Sliding off the lid reveals a nice zippered nylon carrying case that appears hard and protective. Within are the earphones themselves alongside 3 pairs of silicone tips and ear guides to hold the cable in place during over-ear wear.

Design –

With regards to design, the user is treated to much the same experience, this is a functional and lightweight package that is utilitarian over fashionable. The housings employ a 2-piece aluminium construction with long, fluted nozzles that offer excellent retention for ear tips. It feels incredibly light yet sturdy. The cable exits at an angle to promote a deeper fit in conjunction with the long nozzles. There are no orientation markers but the in-line remote does help at a glance. The cable, unfortunately, inspires less confidence. It’s a simple, thin rubber wire that you would expect more from a dollar store earphone and definitely cheapens the experience.

Tactical headsets did not mention any internal reinforcements here though, at the very least there are small rubber strain reliefs at all terminations. Still, competitors do provide a better experience here, some providing removable braided cables that will offer a much longer lifetime than a fixed cable, especially for active use. The upside is the in-line remote not so commonly seen on audiophile models. It’s also a 3-button remote and the quality is impressive with large, tactile buttons and great feedback. It also houses a small mic that delivered good call quality during my testing; Tactical Headsets did mention this mic is designed for use in noisy environments.

Fit & Isolation –

It’s here that the earphones excel, their diminutive dimensions and ergonomic design working much to their advantage. They are comfortable with zero hotspots after hours of wear, and very well sealing when worn cable down or over-ear; though do expect very noticeable microphonic cable noise when worn cable-down. The fit depth is deep and the seal is very strong, especially with the included dual-flange ear tips. They are also incredibly low-profile, barely protruding from the ear. I was able to sleep with them in with zero discomfort and, similarly, they fit underneath a motorcycle helmet with no issues.

This also appears to be a sealed design but there’s no driver flex and excellent passive noise isolation. Some BA monitor shells that fill more of the outer ear do attenuate a little more noise, but the combination between isolation and low-profile fit here is hard to find elsewhere for the size conscious. In turn, so long as you don’t mind the fixed cable and sound, these are a terrific choice for motorbiking, commute and comfortable daily use.

Next Page: Sound, Comparisons & Verdict

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