It’s more and more onerous to face out within the wi-fi earbud market. You’ll find a pair of earbuds at practically each value level with a spread of various options sprinkled all through. Being inside a selected ecosystem, resembling AirPods for iOS customers or the Galaxy Buds Live for Samsung’s customers, is a straightforward manner to decide on earbuds which are best for you. Anker doesn’t precisely have a telephone of its personal to promote alongside its Liberty line of earbuds, so its technique is to ship fascinating options at a aggressive value.
The $129.99 Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional buds do plenty of issues nicely, however so do plenty of different earbuds at this value. It’s their aggressive energetic noise cancellation and well-designed app that helps them stand out.
The buds themselves are the identical stemmed design with a silicone ear tip as Apple’s AirPods Professional. (I assume the identify isn’t the one manner Anker took inspiration from Apple.) The Liberty Air 2 Professional have a gold fan-like cowl over their audio system, which serves no goal aside from trying cool, and a textured, matte end. They arrive in “onyx black,” “titanium white,” “sapphire blue,” and “crystal pink.” Included within the field are 9 different-sized silicone ear suggestions, starting from XXXS to XL, to create the very best seal and hopefully preserve motion in your ear canal from occurring.
Match is extraordinarily necessary in earbuds, not just for ANC but in addition for the very best sound high quality expertise, particularly within the decrease frequencies. To verify you could have chosen the best-sized suggestions, Anker has a Tip Match Check inside the Soundcore app. The app performs about 10 seconds of ringtone-esque orchestral music, then shows a “good seal” or “bad seal” outcome for every earbud. (Sure, it’s mainly identical to what Apple does with the AirPods Professional. Inspiration.)
There’s additionally an audio check referred to as HearID that claims to map your private listening to sensitivity at a number of frequencies to finest tailor the EQ settings for you. It performs about 30 completely different tones per ear and asks you to substantiate for those who can hear the tone or not. Subsequent, you’re offered with a graph of your outcomes and an EQ preset saved to the app. My check resulted in deep bass and fewer treble, which did make my music sound fuller.
Each the match assessments and EQ settings check are one thing a number of different earbud makers are doing lately, and though not everybody finds these assessments helpful, I recognize having the choice.
The case, massive and nearly stone-like in look, slides to open and shut with a satisfying click on. It most intently resembles the case of the Galaxy Buds Professional — it’s longer than it’s tall — however its bigger measurement makes it not as pocketable as most earbud instances. There are three battery indicator lights on the entrance and a button for pairing round again. Which will sound like a small element, however I’ve come to actually recognize earbuds which have a bodily button for pairing. It’s far simpler to make use of than tapping the earbuds to pair like you must on the Jabra Elite 85t.
Like most earbuds, the Air 2 Professional have faucet controls whenever you’re sporting them: double-tap on the left bud to skip the subsequent monitor, double-tap on the correct for play and pause, or maintain down for 2 seconds on both bud to toggle ambient sound modes. It’s nice that the buds reply shortly to my faucets, however I’m annoyed by how restricted the controls are. All of them could be custom-made within the app, however I want there was a single-tap and even triple-tap choice.
Both bud can be utilized independently of the opposite, and in-ear detection could be toggled on and off in Anker’s app. Take an earbud out of your ear, and your music will cease; put the bud again in your ear, and it’ll resume. The in-ear detection was a bit delicate for my liking. Once I had a hood on, for instance, each time the earbud was knocked by my hood, my music would pause even when the bud was nonetheless seated in my ear. A fast readjustment of the bud would get my music enjoying once more however in the end turned off the in-ear detection function totally.
The battery life is on par with different ANC earbuds. Anker claims seven hours of battery life with ANC turned off or six hours with it turned on. There are three further expenses within the case, which could be recharged wirelessly or by way of the USB-C port on the again. This was greater than sufficient juice to get me to the purpose of my ears needing a break from the buds’ tight, in-ear seal. There’s additionally 15-minute quick charging that may get three hours of listening time when the case is plugged into an outlet by way of USB-C.
The Liberty Air 2 Professional assist SBC and AAC audio codecs. They’ve 11mm drivers that create a extra treble-heavy sound. Whereas music felt full and immersive with crisp separation, I typically wished extra bass. Lifting the lows within the app’s EQ helped, however it wasn’t as clean-sounding because the bass within the AirPods Professional. 1970s funk and soul sounded nice, however extra up to date R&B felt a bit flat.
I used to be most impressed with the energetic noise cancellation on the Liberty Air 2 Professional. Exterior of Amazon’s Echo Buds, there actually aren’t many choices at this value that even embrace it, a lot much less do it nicely.
The Air 2 Professional have three ambient sound modes: full noise cancellation, transparency mode, and regular. Inside the full ANC and transparency modes, there are extra particular controls for managing the degrees of passthrough sound. You may allow a Transport mode for canceling low-end frequencies, resembling practice rumbles; Indoor mode for midrange frequencies; an Outside mode that Anker claims is finest for metropolis areas; or construct a customized mode for dialing in the very best setting for you. I set my ANC to Transport and left it there for many of my time and located it akin to the ANC within the Jabra Elite 85t, a set of earbuds that prices $100 greater than Anker’s.
The noise cancellation let the skin world fade away, however it wasn’t as isolating because the AirPods Professional or Galaxy Buds Professional. And though the transparency mode is serviceable, it doesn’t have the identical earbud-less really feel of the AirPods Professional both. There’s a Vocal transparency mode that takes out decrease frequencies whereas permitting larger frequencies, resembling voices, by way of. It was useful when listening for practice bulletins, however in the end, taking an earbud out to listen to an announcement was far simpler.
Most apps for wi-fi earbuds are so dangerous that I open them as soon as to set EQ settings and a few customized contact controls, and that’s it. The Soundcore app had me coming again to it time and time once more, although, principally to play with the entire completely different controls it provided.
Once I was bored on the practice, I’d open the app and begin testing out the entire transparency modes whereas strangers spoke to one another throughout the automobile. I additionally had enjoyable turning the EQ settings up and down. The app is full of pleasing colours and is simple to navigate, which is surprisingly uncommon within the earbud market.
In a wi-fi earbud market stuffed with worthy (and never so worthy) competitors, it’s more and more onerous to be impressed by a brand new bud. However the aggressive $130 price ticket of the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional introduced me in, and their true energetic noise cancellation and well-designed app stored me coming again for extra. They might actually use a bit extra bass and a smaller case, however Anker has made a pair of wi-fi earbuds that bridges the hole between a extra budget-friendly choice and a dependable, all-around nice earbud that I used to be excited to place into my ears daily.
Images by Becca Farsace / The Verge