The Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros from Anker are true wireless earbuds with probably the best sound I’ve heard from earbuds under $150 or £150.
Their accompanying app has a feature to test your hearing for a personalised EQ profile, and also lets you configure the earbuds’ controls to your preference. And they have USB-C fast charging and wireless charging, up to 32 hours or battery life with their charging case, and they support the higher quality aptX codec.
But they are missing a couple of features which may or may not be important to you, and they have a lot of competition with far cheaper earbuds offering similar features.
Inside the box you get the earbuds themselves with their charging case, an Anker branded USB-C charging cable, no less than 7 sizes of eartips and 3 sizes of ear fins including the ones already fitted, and a quick start guide.
The charging case is on the large side measuring 78mm by 57mm by 30mm – almost twice the size of the AirPods Pro case. It needs to be this size to fit the earbuds which are also pretty big. The case with the earbuds weighs 69g with the pair of earbuds weighing 17g.
The Liberty 2 Pros come in black or white – I’ve got the black version.
The case has a matte black finish and slides open and closed very satisfyingly.
Around the back there’s a USB-C charging port with a rubber flap and a pairing button.
When you slide open the lid the earbuds pair with each other and then the right earbud’s white LED will flash quickly indicating it’s ready for pairing. Tap on Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro in your Bluetooth settings. If your device supports it, you’ll then be prompted to accept a pairing request for the left earbud so you can use either earbud later in mono mode.
To pair to another device, with the lid open press and hold the pairing button for 3 seconds until the right earbud again flashes white quickly, indicating the earbuds are ready for pairing as before. If you want to switch back to a previously paired device, again press and hold the pairing button for three seconds, and then tap on Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro in your previously connected devices list.
If you remove both earbuds, they’ll work in true wireless stereo mode. If you return the left earbud and close the lid, the master right earbud will continue playback. If you return the right earbud and close the lid, playback will stop as your device pairs automatically to the left earbud. You’ll need to manually resume playback. You’ll notice an additional Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro-L entry in your Bluetooth device list.
You can turn off the earbuds without returning them to the case, with a 5 second press of the multi-function button.
You can factory reset the earbuds and delete all pairing records with a 10 second press of the pairing button with both earbuds in their case. Both earbuds will flash red. Close and reopen the lid to start pairing.
You can charge the case either with the included USB-C cable, or wirelessly with any Qi compatible charger. With a wired connection a full charge of the case’s 500mAh battery takes around 2 hours. The earbuds themselves take around one and a half hours to charge.
The earbuds have an impressive 8 hours of playback with a full charge and the case will provide an additional 3 full charges for a total of 32 hours of usage.
With faster USB-C charging, a quick 10 minute charge conveniently provides 2 hours of usage. With the supplied USB-C cable I measured just under the quoted 0.5A charging current.
The 3 LEDs on the front of the case indicate the case’s charge status whilst it’s charging and when you open the case. When you close the case, the left and right LED flash to indicate the earbuds are fully seated and both charging.
The earbuds are a little tricky to remove from the case – I grab them by the side of their ear fins. And dropping them back in their case requires a little concentration. I try to remember to grab them from my ears by the top of the ear fins which orients them in the correct position for returning to the case.
The earbuds do feel premium, in line with their price. They have a matte black finish with a gunmetal face and a white status LED towards the bottom. They don’t have any touch controls, just the small multi function button. Each earbud has two microphones for suppressing noise during voice calls. Unfortunately the Liberty 2 Pros have no active noise cancellation playback and even more disappointingly they don’t have any transparency or passthrough mode, to let you hear your surroundings. I’ll come back to this shortly.
The earbuds come with medium ear tips and fins already fitted which should fit most ears. If they don’t, they have a whole range of sizes to try. The ear tips are easy to change.
The ear fins are too but they are sided and have a little notch that has to be matched to the earbud, so you have to pay a little more attention.
Fitting them in your ears does take a little getting used to. They are labelled left and right – just grab them with your thumb on the charging contacts and index finger near the multi-function button, with the ear fins pointing upwards. They should be angled so the bottom microphone points towards your mouth, with the fin just tucking inside your outer ear.
The fitted tips and fins provided a comfortable, secure fit in my ears, but I preferred the larger ear fins when running for an even more secure fit. And with these additional fins, the Liberty 2 Pros are the most secure in-ear earbuds I’ve tried so far and if only they had some passthrough mode, these could be the perfect set of running earbuds. The most likely way you’ll dislodge them, is trying to control them with the small multi-function button.
But they are also the least discreet earbuds I’ve tried. They noticeably stick out from your ears and it’s difficult to not feel self conscious.
The earbuds are controlled via the single multi-function button on each earbud. By default, a single press will pause and resume playback, a double press on the left and right earbud skips back or forward a track respectively. A long press activates your voice assistant. By default you can’t control volume, but this is configurable in the accompanying Soundcore app that I’ll discuss shortly.
I found the button a little small to quickly locate, and I’d prefer a softer activation. It would also be more natural for me for the button to be on the opposite side, so you could press it with your thumb. At least the button isn’t on the face of the earbud, which would uncomfortably press the earbud further into your ear.
At this price point I also would have expected ear detection, so that playback would automatically pause when you remove either earbud.
You can optionally download the Soundcore app for iOS and Android. This will let you install any firmware updates, customise EQ and configure the multi-function button.
From the Home screen you can check the battery level or each earbud by tapping the L or R.
If there’s a firmware update, you should be prompted to download and install it when you open the app. But you can also tap on the 3 dots at the top right of the screen and tap on “update firmware”.
The equalizer screen offers an exhaustive list of options. By default the “Soundcore Signature” EQ profile is selected, but you can create custom EQ settings by tapping on Custom and dragging the graph to your tastes. You can create multiple profiles and name them and organise them as you like.
There are also a number of so-called professional Custom EQ profiles you can choose from.
And if you tap on the Default option there’s a huge choice of more familiar EQ profiles.
Finally there’s the HearID feature, which basically conducts a hearing test on your left and right ear, to determine a custom EQ profile tailored to your specific hearing. This takes a few minutes.
I’ll discuss how these profiles sound shortly.
If you return to the Home screen and choose the Controller screen, you can customise the multi-function button’s double and 1s press. I prefer configuring a 1s press on either earbud to control volume. These settings only apply if you’re using the earbuds in stereo mode, otherwise they’ll revert to their default settings.
Audio quality and performance
The Liberty 2 Pros use what Anker market as “Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture” for their driver configuration – a combined balanced armature and dynamic driver. That’s a lot of jargon but they do sound very good, far better than I was expecting.
By default they have a bright sound with excellent clarity, whilst still providing good bass. Treble can sometimes sound a little harsh, but only at louder volumes. Compared to AirPod Pros costing significantly more, they have a more immersive sound, partly due to their almost perfect fit – in my ears at least.
They also have support for the higher quality aptX and AAC codecs.
I preferred the default Soundcore Signature EQ profile across a range of music I tested them with, but there is enough customisation via the app to suit most tastes.
I found the HearID feature an interesting concept, but overall I still preferred the default profile.
Unfortunately these earbuds don’t have any active noise cancellation, which would be nice to see at this price. But their passive noise isolation is very good and you don’t need to have your music overly loud even in noisy environments. Sound leakage is pretty limited too.
The downside of this is it’s hard to hear your surroundings. I’d really expect earbuds at this price point to have some audio passthrough and without this feature I have trouble recommending them for running. I also found because of their weight, although I didn’t feel them physically move around in my ear whilst running, I did find each time my foot impacted the ground there was some minor disturbance to the music.
They are now my go to earbuds for the cycling turbo trainer though. I again use the larger ear fins. These ensure the earbuds stay put even with a sweaty indoor workout, unlike the AirPods Pro which tend to fall out – even though they’re secure enough for outdoor runs. They do fortunately have an IPX4 sweatproof rating and they coped fine.
The four microphones, 2 on each earbud have Qualcomm’s Clear Voice Capture 8.0 for voice calls and I found the quality very good. Not just in a quiet environment, but also in a noisy coffee shop. Listen to the microphone test in the accompanying video.
Battery life is quoted at 8 hours at 60% playback volume. I got around 7 hours, but often playing back at slightly louder volumes.
The earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 and they were quick to connect to and their range was good, easily maintaining a connection even when my phone was in the next room over 10 metres away.
If you’re after a great sounding set of true wireless earbuds for under $150 or £150 the Liberty 2 Pros should be on your shortlist. I was really impressed with their immersive, bright sound and they were still able to deliver decent bass too, helped by their precise fit.
The accompanying app allows enough EQ customisation for even the most critical listener and being able to configure the multi-function button to your own preference is welcome.
Although they have good build quality, I’m not a fan of their look, sticking out too far from your ears for my liking. But this design does at least seem to provide very good voice call quality.
They have decent passive noise isolation, so I can forgive them for not having any active noise cancellation. But I would love their next iteration to have audio passthrough so you can choose to hear your surroundings, a feature the comparable Jabra Elite 65 and 75t’s have.
I also found the multi-function button a little small with a quite firm actuation, which made controlling them a little fiddly, especially when working out.
But they still have some great features including excellent battery life, USB-C fast charging and wireless charging, and aptX support. And I’d keep an eye on their price. Anker are often reduced around Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.
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Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro: https://amzn.to/2R0TlqB