The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pros are an upgrade to last year’s Liberty Air 2s, most notably now with Active Noise Cancellation. They retail at around £130 or $130 which isn’t cheap but is more affordable than many earbuds sharing their range of features.
I’ve been testing them over the last month or so, comparing them mainly to Apple AirPods Pros, LG’s FN7s and the non Pro Liberty Air 2s. I’ll let you hear for yourselves how they sound and how effective their ANC is. And you’ll be able to hear how their microphones compare to the AirPods Pros for phone calls in both quiet and noisy environments.
And as usual I’ll run with them to see just how secure their fit is.
In the box you get the earbuds themselves, the charging case, a USB-C charging cable, no less than 9 sets of ear tips including the ones already fitted, and a quick start guide.
As well as the white earbuds I have, they come in 3 other colours: black, blue and pink.
The charging case is on the large side partly to accommodate the larger than average stem based earbuds. The case with the earbuds weighs 62g with the earbuds weighing 10g – about the same as the AirPods Pros and the Liberty Air 2s. It’s the case that’s around 10g heavier than the other two. But they’re still a little lighter than the Liberty 2 Pros.
The case has an attractive matte finish with a smooth sliding action to open and close. There’s the USB-C charging port around the back with the pairing button beside it.
The front has 3 battery status LEDs that indicate the remaining charge of the case when you slide it open.
When you open the case for the first time the earbuds will turn on and enter pairing mode, ready to pair to your device. If you want to pair to another device, make sure the earbuds are in their case and the case is open. Then press and hold the pairing button for 3 seconds until the earbud LED indicators flash white.
You can use either earbud separately in mono mode, simply by returning one earbud to its charging case. This is a feature I use a lot for listening to podcasts or making phone calls.
You can reset the earbuds if you have any connectivity issues by returning them to their case and with the lid open, pressing and holding the pairing button for 10s until the earbuds’ LEDs flash red 3 times and then turn white.
Like most true wireless earbuds they can’t pair with multiple devices simultaneously but unfortunately they also don’t have any intelligent handover between devices like for example the AirPods Pros. So you’ll have to manually switch between, for example your phone and tablet. But they do use the latest Bluetooth 5.0 and I found the connection was generally reliable and their range was above average easily making it the next room over 10m away.
Charging the 500mAh case with a USB-C cable takes around 2 hours and the case supports wireless charging which takes around 3 hours, via any compatible Qi charger. They also support fast charging, with a 15 minute charge of the 55mAh earbuds providing three hours of playback.
A full charge provides around 7 hours of playtime with ANC off and the case can provide up to 3 additional charges. This is more than the 5 hours of the AirPods Pros but around the same as the Liberty Air 2s and a little less than the 8 hours of the Liberty 2 Pros.
I got a little less than 7 hours, but then I usually had ANC or transparency mode on, and the volume at around 80% or higher when running with them.
The earbuds are a little larger than average with a full length stem and a slightly oversized head.
They’re similar to the Liberty Air 2’s just with a more bulbous head.
But a fair bit larger than the AirPods Pros or LG’s FN7s both with their shorter stem which I do prefer the look of.
They have an attractive design though and feel well made like their case. And their fit in my ears is good – although I had to experiment a little with the huge range of supplied ear tips.
The latest firmware just introduced an ear fit test which actually worked pretty well and did fail when I deliberately inserted them incorrectly in my ears.
They fit better than the Liberty Air 2’s and I could even use these for running – something not possible with their predecessor. Although they wouldn’t be my first choice – they didn’t fall out but didn’t feel as secure as LG’s FN7s or Apple’s AirPods Pros – perhaps because they’re larger. They do have an IPX4 sweat resistance rating.
Their touch controls work well and are configurable in the accompanying Soundcore app. By default a double tap of the right earbud will pause and resume playback and a double tap of the left earbud will skip a track.
A double tap of either earbud will answer a phone call. A long press of either earbud with switch Ambient sound mode or end a phone call. If you’re only using one earbud by default a double tap is Play / Pause and a 2s hold activates your voice assistant.
You can choose in the app whether you’ll hear audible prompts when you control your music or change Ambient modes. For the Ambients modes it might have been nice to have an option for a spoken prompt, since it’s not easy to determine which mode you’re in from the audio prompt alone. You can change which Ambient modes you cycle between with the long press. By default they cycle between ANC and normal mode. It makes more sense for this to be ANC to Transparency mode which can easily be changed. Ambient modes aren’t available if you’re just using one earbud.
If you want to be able to control volume or activate your voice assistant, you can easily customise any of the touch controls in the app. These custom settings don’t apply when you’re using a single earbud in Mono mode, but you can customise Mono mode separately.
If I was being picky I would have liked to have seen an additional single or triple tap option for more flexible configuration, but I can understand that a single tap often gets activated accidently adjusting the earbuds in your ears, and a triple tap can get a bit complicated. The only change I settled on was configuring a long press of the left earbud to activate my voice assistant.
There’s also ear detection which automatically pauses and resumes playback when you remove and reinsert either earbud. You can turn this off if you like but it works pretty well.
With every Soundcore earbud release comes a new driver technology – what they’re calling this time PureNote . The 11mm drivers do sound good with a crisp, rich sound and a decent amount of bass for in-ear earbuds. For a lot of music I actually preferred their sound to my AirPods Pros which are significantly more expensive. I found for some tracks I would have liked a little more detail in the mids and in its default Soundcore Signature EQ mode there was some sibilance at higher volumes.
The Soundcore app offers an almost overwhelming amount of customisation and it’s worth experimenting with the various EQ modes depending on what music you like to listen to.
You can not only create your own custom EQ profiles, but it’s also possible to configure an existing preset to your tastes.
And on top of that there’s the HearID feature that lets you personalise the earbuds based on your hearing. The app guides you through a quite rigorous hearing test for each ear and even lets you adjust this curve and integrate it into the existing EQ presets.
This feature has improved since I last tested it, and I’d recommend giving it a try – but for my own hearing I didn’t notice that much difference and left it switched off when I wasn’t testing it.
The earbuds don’t support the higher quality aptX codec like their predecessors the Liberty Air 2s, only the standard SBC codec and the still higher quality AAC codec.
Audio sync was pretty good, but I could still notice a small amount of delay watching YouTube videos on iOS – something many true wireless earbuds struggle with.
Sound leakage with their snug fit was minimal but then these aren’t the loudest earbuds I’ve tested.
In the accompanying video, you can listen to a sound test and hear for yourself how they sound with different EQ profiles and compared to the AirPods Pros and the Liberty Air 2s. Ideally you’ll need to listen with decent headphones for the best experience.
ANC and Transparency mode
A very welcome feature at this price point is both Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode. In-ear earbuds are never going to achieve the isolation of over ear headphones but these earbuds did a lot better than I was expecting and were comparable to the AirPods Pros. And they have an impressive amount of customisation in the Soundcore app, with three modes all targeting different frequencies: Transport, Indoor and Outdoor.
And there’s a custom mode where you can spin the dial to try and filter out the most distracting noise. You’ll need to experiment depending on your surroundings, but there are subtle yet noticeable differences between the modes.
As you’d expect they’re not as good as over ear headphones like the Soundcore Life Q30s I reviewed recently but they’re not far off and whilst they don’t eliminate background noise, together with their passive noise isolation they certainly dampen the background noise significantly.
And the transparency mode that lets you hear ambient sounds works well too, sounding fairly natural. Even this is configurable with both a Fully Transparent mode that lets in all ambient sounds and a Vocal Mode that attempts to focus on amplifying voices.
Again, you can listen to a sound test comparing the Liberty Air 2 Pros ANC and Transparency modes to the AirPods Pros in the accompanying video.
The earbuds have a total of 6 microphones for phone calls and call quality was comparable to the AirPods Pros, which are my benchmark earbuds for call quality. That is to say they sound really good.
Not only did they sound clear in a quiet environment, but even with the background noise of a simulated coffee shop and with a large gym fan pointed directly at me – a tough test for any set of earbuds – the numerous microphones did a decent job of picking out my voice from the background noise. My only very small criticism is they can sound a little quiet sometimes.
The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pros sound good and have an impressive range of features. Their ANC is pretty effective for in-ear earbuds and they handle phone calls, even in noisy environments, remarkably well. The Soundcore app gets better all the time and allows a huge amount of customisation with an attractive and easy to use interface.
I like their design and build quality, but I would prefer they were a bit smaller with shorter stems. They are the best fitting stem based Soundcore earbuds I’ve tried so far, but they’re still not as secure in my ears as the AirPods Pros or the LG FN series and wouldn’t be my first choice for running or other sports.
I would have liked to have seen some smart device switching like the AirPods Pros have, but if you mainly use them with just a single device, that won’t be a big deal.
I think their ANC and transparency modes makes them worth the extra money over the Liberty Air 2s – and they have a much more secure fit too – in my ears at least. If you don’t need ANC, I would consider the LG FN4 or FN6s which are cheaper. If you do want ANC and you prefer a slightly more discreet design also consider the LG FN7s which have similar ANC and a smaller charging case, but they’re more expensive and have inferior call quality – if that’s important to you. I’ve reviewed most of these earbuds so take a look at the on-screen cards or the links down below.
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