Do you know what the most overused word in consumer tech is?
It’s “pro.” Brands love to attach those three little letters to their products in the hope it’ll make the general public salivate with desire. And far too often it’s entirely unjustified.
Anker’s gorgeous new Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro wireless earbuds are an exception. Retailing at $150, they’re perhaps the most compelling buds in their price-point, boasting excellent sound performance, wireless charging, and impressive battery life.
Although we’ve been impressed with Anker’s previous efforts in the truly wireless space, we believe this is the company’s best effort yet. Read on to find out why.
To match its name, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro has a refined, more aspirational aesthetic. This attribute is particularly apparent when looking at the stylish pebble-shaped case.
Unlike other earbud cases, which use a hinge mechanism to open, the Liberty 2 Pro slides open with a gentle press of the thumb. In the grand scheme of things, this is relatively small design quirk, but it makes the buds feel more premium than their price would otherwise suggest. Furthermore, in my experience, it also makes the buds less prone to fall out when inelegantly thrown into a backpack or handbag.
Regular readers of TNW know that we review a lot of Anker products. For the past few years, we’ve continually griped about the company’s apparent reluctance to adopt the new USB-C standard, which has gradually replaced MicroUSB. Although MicroUSB has served consumers well for the past decade, it’s retirement is long overdue.
Fortunately, the Soundcore Liberty 2 breaks that bad habit. It includes a full USB-C charging port, which comes concealed behind a small protective flap. This addition is a huge step forward, allowing users to charge their earbuds with the same cable they use with their laptop or smartphone.
As we’ve come to expect with Anker’s audio gear, the buds have a muted, somewhat conservative design. But what they lack in flair, they more than compensate in terms of comfort.
They also hold their position well. In our experience testing the buds, they didn’t once fall out of this reviewer’s ears, even when performing moderate physical activity.
With the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, it’s evident Anker has tried to tick off most items on people’s wishlists.
Like the latest-and-greatest AirPods, the Liberty 2 Pro comes with wireless charging. Drop them on a charging pad, and you’ll quickly see the device’s power LEDs start to oscillate. The Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro also comes with fast charging, allowing you to get two hours of listening time from just ten minutes plugged in.
The latter feature is almost definitely a result of the long-overdue switch to USB-C. Just one fast-charging standard supports MicroUSB, and that’s the relatively obscure MediaTek’s Pump Express 2.0. In comparison, several quick charging standards support USB-C, including Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, MediaTek’s Pump Express 3.0 and 4.0, and Huawei SuperCharge.
Let’s talk about battery life. Users can expect 8 hours of continuous listening, augmented by the charging case, which offers a further 32 hours of battery life. By the standards of wireless earbuds, that’s exceptional.
In comparison, Apple’s AirPods 2 provides a mere 5 hours of continuous listening, plus 24 hours of juice from the case.
So, let’s move swiftly on to audio performance. I was impressed with the Soundcore Liberty 2’s ability to mitigate against external noises, which is thanks to the addition of Qualcomm’s CVC 8.0 noise cancellation technology. Although it wasn’t as effective as the noise cancelling on the venerable Sony WH-1000MX3, it held its own against the hum created by passing cars.
By default, the Soundcore Liberty 2 pro has a slightly bassy profile, which lends itself favorably to R&B, hip-hop, and dubstep tracks, like Skrillex’s 2011 track, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” or Billie Eilish’s hit “Bad Guy.”
Users can also tweak the equalizer settings via the HearID feature on the Soundcore app, available for Android and iOS.
This tool comes with dozens of presets geared towards specific genres, like classical and dance music, to the spoken word. Most users won’t use this, but it’s certainly a feature that’s nice to have, and offers more control than typically is available.
Who is the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro for?
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro headphones are excellent and compare favorably against offerings from more premium rivals, like RHA’s fantastic TrueConnect earbuds. Crucially, it’s got pretty much everything you’d want from a pair of mid-range earbuds.
Do they sound good? Check. Can they filter out outside noises? Yeah. Is the battery life any good? Yep. Does it have USB-C and wireless charging? Hell yes.
And most impressively, Anker has managed to achieve this at a relatively modest price point. As I mentioned earlier, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro costs $150, which is nothing short of a steal. Compare that to Bose’s SoundSport Free earbuds, which retails at $200, or Sony’s WF-1000MX3, which costs $230.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro is an absolute revelation. For the time being, it’s my default answer to the question: “what wireless earbuds should I buy?” If you want to get a pair yourself, hit up the Soundcore website here.
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Published October 7, 2019 — 08:18 UTC