Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth Headset

Already a satisfied S9-HD owner? Don’t know if you should upgrade? Wondering what the S10-HD offers over the S9-HD? Well, let’s take a look together at Motorola’s latest creative effort and figure it out.

Motorola is not breaking away from thebasic design and shape of their first S9 headset to try something new. Instead, they opted to making minor tweaks and changes along the way in hopes of improving it. These modifications have given the S10-HD a more modern look and feel than its predecessors, bringing it closer to resembling a wired headset. All the control buttons except the power button remain in the same place so there’s no learning curve for S9/S9-HD owners. The only real adjustment would be because the buttons aren’t as pronounced as with the S9/S9-HD so you may have to feel for them a little longer. The power button has been slight relocated to the center in the back underside of the headset along with the LED indicator light. The new miniUSB port has also been relocated to the left of the headset in the back (previously located on the underside of the headset). Motorola is taking the design to the next level by rotated the back portion of the headset (which contains the battery) 90° from vertical to horizontal. This not only looks better, sleeker and more symmetrical but also feels better in my opinion. The ear loops have also been slightly tweaked in the curvature which should make for a better fit and feel. I’d prefer some sort of adjustability in this department but Motorola will probably never do it. The new sealed design is very welcomed compared to the previous S9/S9-HD headsets. Although I haven’t tested the “sweat proofing”, I don’t see this headset shorting out with normal use during exercise. My only complaint with the current design is the white rubber on the earpiece. I can see this getting real dirty for those who use this for outdoor activities or any type of intense physical activities on a regular basis.


I’m not sure where to start. Motorola states these are “HD” and “brings your music to the next level”. The previous S9-HD not only has SRS WOW HD technology built-in but you could turn it on and off. There appears to be no implementation of either of these technologies inside the S10-HD. After listening to both both headsets the S9-HD out shines it’s successor by leaps and bounds. I never expect bluetooth sound quality to be on par with higher priced wired headsets like the Shure SE350, but I do expect decent full surround sound which the S10-HD fails to deliver. To be thorough I tested both headsets using multiple EQ settings on my iPhone 4 including custom variations I setup in iTunes then syncing them again to the iPhone. Even doing this I was not able to reproduce the same or similar sound as the S9-HD. Motorola missed the HD mark entirely. To make matters worse the volume for anything but voice related audio such as podcasts, audiobooks and phone calls is insufficient. I don’t need my ears blown out but the lack of volume is a real disappointment. Bass is almost none existent adding to an already unbalanced and just horrible listening experience. HD if implemented which is what is stated has been done totally wrong here.

I really wanted to like the Motorola S10-HD they have a good look and feel but their failure to deliver quality sound, sufficient volume, bass or abalanced EQ puts them in my don’t buy category. These headsets are only good for phone calls, podcasts and the music listener who doesn’t care about sound quality but just wants to hear their tunes without wires. I did not test the claimed run time of 8 hours because it failed sound tests so proceeding any further made no sense. If I can’t listen to it for 3 hours (which I did) I can’t fairly test it for 8+ hours multiple times to get a decent battery life average. Even at the $79.99 price point I can not recommend this headset to anyone who even remotely cares about sound. The S9-HD are still a better buy even though their more sensitive to sweat. For now I’ll wait to see if Motorola offers a second pair with better sound like they did with the original S9 by later offering the S9-HD. If not I’ll see what they do in 2011 with the S11-HD?


15 thoughts on “Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth Headset

  1. I’m an S9-HD owner and just bought a second S9-HD pair from Amazon for $54.99. I use them everyday and have read that they only last for 400 charge cycles I had this pair for 2 years now. Never had a problem with sweat and I sweat like a pig they are awesome really sad that the S10 suck. Thanks for the info would have hated to waste my money on them and the sound sucked.

  2. My S9-HD are still solid except for the rubber on the back that covers the power button. The double-sided tape they use seems to have lost it’s adhesiveness. Other than that they still sound great and I still recommend it over the S10-HD I reviewed.

    400 cycles sounds about right. Just remember that a “cycle” is when a battery is fully recharged after being completely discharged. Anything else does not count as a cycle. When you notice the headset runs out of power sooner than it use to, that’s when you know the battery is getting old.

  3. You are spot on with your review. I really wanted to like these headphones as well, but they just dont cut it. I did have a LITTLE bit of success getting better sound quality when i changed out the earpieces that were shipped on them with classic S9 earpieces. This helped a little bit, but not enough. Anyone who wants a quality sound needs to look for the S9-HD’s. They are really excellent and there is not anything on the market right now that can match them.

    One final item I have an issue with is that they changed up the power supply so you cannot use your old S9 power plug. Maybe this is an inevitable enhancement to the micro size, but it still sucks for those of us that were “upgrading” to the S10’s.

  4. I also am very disappointed with the sound quality of the s10. however i learned that if have music download as HD, the sound is amazing! listening to regular music with these are like watching a 480 movie on a 1080p hd tv. if you have actual hd music on your device, these sound great. but finding hd music is not easy and expensive. Hope this helps…

  5. I don’t know, all my music is ripped from CDs to 320 AAC. I’ve never had an issue at that bit rate with any headset unless the headset actually sounded bad. While HD music is nice it’s also not the norm. Most people compress music in order to have more of it on their devices for listening on the go. HD requires lots of space which mobile devices don’t have. So I’m a little lost with your comment.

  6. Thanks for this review — while I do believe what you wrote was true for you I went ahead and ordered both versions from Amazon to do a little testing for myself (and I’m not even from the “Show me” state :>). I just find it very hard to believe engineers didn’t at least test the two against each other.

    If my experience is the same I’ll just send the SD-10’s back (the nice thing about Amazon — just say “didn’t work for me” and you even get free shipping back to them). But I’m REAL curious now.

  7. Yesterday I got the two headphones and compared — yikes, are you right! I tried all the various ear pieces but it was clear that the S10 HD has crappy sound. Not only is there zero bass (compared to the S9) but the volume at the max isn’t enough to be heard when there is any outside noise (and my ears are sensitive — on the S9 I can’t even turn the volume up 3/4 of the way without experiencing too loud a sound).

    How they could make such a terrible mistake in design is beyond me. It’s clear they either had no listening testing (as opposed to simply measuring frequencies with a device) or their testers were tone deaf.

    And this has nothing to do with “HD” music compared to MP3, as a reader commented above. Anyone doing side by side tests on the same music, regardless of the source, will clearly hear the difference. I’m just glad the S9 is still available (although I really wish the build of the S9 could equal the S10. But I am not optimistic that any future version like an S11 will be any better. Once a company loses the way audio wise they seldom come back).

  8. You are totally correct Mike. HD music will not make a set of headphones sound any better but the better the headphones the easier it is to hear the artifacts. Also some music as I’m now discovering while testing a new set of headphones is just recorded badly.

    As far as the S10 go like you I did like the build quality too. What I don’t understand is that Motorola could have just duplicated the S9-HD’s sound and tweaked it to make it better. What it seems like they did was to try something totally different. I hope their next set at least on par with the S9-HDs.

  9. I wonder if you are testing any Sennheisers? As much as I like the S9 (and I do and will keep them) I do think that I want something a little better for those times I’m just sitting around and listening (as opposed to the S9s, which I can use when I’m more active).

    I’m going to try either the 210 or 400 (or both) — while they are pricier the audio is supposed to be excellent.

  10. Let’s just say I’ve been listening to a wired pair of cans for my next headset article. I’ve been working on a few articles and I’m picky about what I write. So I you have some patience stay tuned. There’s more to come.

  11. I’ll stay tuned.

    I ended up ordering the Sony Ericsson Hi-Fi Bluetooth Stereo Headset that allows you to use ANY headphones with it (any that have a mini-jack, at least). It got terrific reviews at at only $50 or so it seems like a no-brainer. I already have some terrific wired cans in many various shapes and sizes, and the ability to turn them into bluetooth is a dream come true. Add on the ability to control my phone functions as well as a built-in microphone and I honestly can’t see any reason to look any further.

    If you happen to like what you’re testing you might consider this as well for wireless use.

  12. I bought these yesterday, replacing my S9’s which failed from “sweat” after 3 years. At first I also thought the sound was horrible. I tried all the different equalizer setting on my iphone and not much improvement. Then I turned the equalizer off and was blown away by the fact that the headphones came to life. Good base, treble, wide range and loudness capability went way up. I thnk these are just like the Bose earbuds where Bose warns not to use an equalizer because the headphones are designed to work best without one.. I was going to take these back, but now I will keep them. They aren’t my Sennheiser MM450 wireless, but those are too good and expensive to exercise with. Try turning of fyour equalizer and post if you hear the same difference that I did!

  13. I won’t pretend to remember exactly how the S10-HD sounded on every EQ setting but I do remember being very disappointed no matter which one it was on. So, I’m sure it being turned off didn’t help either at the time. The overall sonics which I believe is what it’s called is what was disappointing. I’m wondering if the set you and others recently purchased were improved over the one I purchased. Possibly a version 2 of the same headset. I may have to revisit this. The original set I had went right back to the store 2 days later so I’d have to purchase another one which I don’t know if I’m willing to do again but we’ll see.

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