Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
“Great sound quality and tons of features make these ANC Buds great value for money.”
Very good sound quality
Customizable sound and controls
Some functions still require phone access
So-so call quality
Much to the surprise of seasoned audio reviewers, Anker Soundcore has evolved from the depths of the Amazon brand basement into a manufacturer of great sounding wireless headphones, bluetooth speakers, and true wireless earbuds. In 2020, Digital Trends reviewed the $ 110 Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro and praised the wide soundstage and overall sound quality, despite some concerns about the overall design of the buds.
Now Soundcore is back with nothing less than its sights on dethroning Apple’s AirPods Pro for $ 249 at $ 130 Liberty Air 2 Pro, the company’s first true wireless earbuds to offer active noise cancellation (ANC). Can Soundcore deliver the same functionality as Apple for almost $ 120 less? Let’s take a look.
What’s in the box?
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Anker Soundcore continues to use way too much packaging for its true wireless earbuds. The Liberty Air 2 Pro comes in a glossy, book-style, printed box with the lid closed by magnets. Inside there is a lot of plastic and foam that surrounds the important parts: the earphones, the charging case, a USB-C charging cable, and some documentation. But as much as I dislike all of this unnecessary material, I have to give Soundcore props for nine sets of silicone earbuds. A good fit is critical to comfort, sound quality and noise cancellation. Having a variety of earbud sizes is key to a good fit.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
The Liberty Air 2 Pro, which comes in four colors (black, blue, pink, and white), certainly looks a bit similar to the AirPods Pro. This is mainly due to the elongated stem sticking down from your ear. But they are even more similar to Earfun’s $ 80 Air Pro and the $ 100 Edifier TWS NB2. All three use an ergonomically shaped main body that sits in your outer ear, a silicone-tipped horn that goes into your ear canal, and a pronounced stem.
It’s the only case design I’ve tried that can be effortlessly opened and closed with one hand.
Whether or not you like this AirPods-inspired shape is a matter of personal preference, but I think they look pretty good.
What I like most about the Liberty Air 2 Pro’s design is the wireless charging case. It’s light and relatively compact – albeit nowhere near as small as the AirPods Pro – and has the same sliding lid mechanism as the Liberty 2 Pro. It’s the only case design I’ve tried that can be effortlessly opened and closed with one hand.
The earbuds snap into their charging sockets easily and precisely, and can just as easily be removed – which isn’t always the case.
I can’t say if the sliding lid will be as sturdy as a traditional hinge in the long run, but it immediately feels very sturdy, which is a good sign.
Convenience, control and connections
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
The Liberty Air 2 Pro are very comfortable. I was able to find an earbud size (thanks to the wide choice) that provided a very good seal, which also helped the earbuds sit securely. I’ve found that stem-style earbuds feel less ear-filling than stem-less designs, and so does the Liberty Air 2 Pro.
Soundcore includes a small feedback tone for taps – this should be standard on all touch-based earphones.
However, the stems of these earbuds are longer than those of the AirPods Pro, and to me this meant they made contact with the side of my face. While this wasn’t a comfort issue in and of itself, it meant that the act of speaking gradually loosened the fit so I had to adjust it more often.
The Liberty Air 2 Pro uses touch sensors on both earbuds to control key functions. I prefer physical buttons, but I found the sensors were sensitive enough and almost always detected my tapping. I really appreciate that Soundcore includes a little feedback tone to let you know when these taps have been successfully detected – this should be standard practice for all touch-based earphones.
You can customize how the touch controls work using the Soundcore app. However, you need to prioritize which functions are most important as only four commands can be assigned. Double tap and long press control volume, play / pause, track forward / backward, voice assistant access and ANC mode. However, there aren’t enough gestures that you can use all of them. Fortunately, you can assign one of these options to control switching between ANC and transparency modes without going through the third (normal) mode without ANC, as so many other earbuds require.
Thanks to the built-in wear sensors, the music will automatically pause and resume when you remove and replace an earbud. That worked perfectly.
The Bluetooth connection was also very reliable as both the initial pairing and subsequent repairs went smoothly. Switching from one earbud to both (and vice versa) was also very reliable.
The Liberty Air 2 Pro sounds really good. They offer strong bass response, a well-balanced midrange, and highs that are clear and never sizzling. What’s impressive is that the bass isn’t just a boom – tracks like Hans Zimmer’s Time show both warmth and subtlety while also offering the deep resonance you need to appreciate the complexity in the lower range. Better still, this low end doesn’t trample the chant. Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, a song that is a torture chamber for a headphone’s ability to separate lows and highs, comes into its own. Eilish’s whisper triggers ASMR-like tickling, while the persistent, booming bass beat remains anchored to the floor.
The Soundcore app allows you to tweak the EQ using a variety of genre-based presets and save your own custom EQ settings. The app also offers you the option of activating the HearID hearing profile system, which can be used to compensate for any frequency losses. I didn’t find it improved my sound enjoyment so I left it off.
The Liberty Air 2 Pro doesn’t just block outside noise.
The Liberty Air 2 Pro have a richer, more punchy sound than the AirPods Pro, but they don’t display the same ultra-expansive soundstage as the Liberty 2 Pro. Even so, I think most people will really enjoy the Liberty Air 2 Pro sound.
Modes for noise reduction and transparency
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
The Liberty Air 2 Pro’s ANC performance is solid. This effectively canceled the most intrusive noises outdoors, such as traffic and construction, so I could hear podcast voices without having to turn up the volume. Unlike some cheaper ANC earbuds, there’s a noticeable difference between ANC on and ANC off, which shows that the Liberty Air 2 Pro can do more than just block outside noise.
In the Soundcore app, you can activate four different ANC modes: Transport, Indoor, Outdoor or Custom – each with its own focus on different frequencies. The transparency setting has two modes: fully transparent and vocal mode.
I like the choices this gives you, but I have a feeling that most people will just choose transport and full transparency as these are the most noticeable differences.
The fully transparent mode lets in a good amount of sound, but isn’t quite as clear as on more expensive ANC earbuds like the Jabra Elite 75t or 85t or the AirPods Pro.
When listening to music, the Liberty Air 2 Pro’s ANC goes well with the AirPods Pro, but when the music is turned off, you’ll find that the Liberty Air 2 Pro has a noticeable noise, unlike the AirPods Pro, which produces almost noticeable noise Noise shows an eerie cone of silence.
Soundcore has a battery life of six hours when using ANC and seven hours when the device is switched off. The charging case brings these numbers to 21 or 26 hours. I didn’t fully run the Liberty Air 2 Pro during these cycles, but after each listening session I checked the Soundcore app’s battery gauge and found these claims to be spot on.
Those numbers are okay, but not exceptional. The AirPods Pro might not last as long on a single charge (4.5 hours with ANC), but their case extends that time to almost 24 hours.
The quick charge is fine, with 15 minutes in the case of adding three hours to the game time.
The call quality on the Liberty Air 2 Pro is a mixed bag. The noise cancellation of the six microphones is impressive. Passing cars and even noisy trucks were almost completely undetected, and wind noise – often a challenge for earphones – was handled perfectly. However, that same noise cancellation also tends to muffle your voice, especially when those other noises are around.
You can still make your voice heard, but it’s rarely a crystal clear experience for your callers.
It’s great when you can hear yourself on a call while in transparency mode. However, unlike the AirPods Pro, you need to turn on transparency before making or answering a call. Once you make a call, you cannot switch.
The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro offers a really compelling alternative to AirPods Pro at a much cheaper price.
Is there a better alternative?
If you are looking for a great set of noise canceling true wireless earbuds, the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro is hard to beat at this price point. The two closest models are the $ 80 Earfun Air Pro and the $ 100 edifier TWS NB2.
I think the Liberty Air 2 Pro has better sound quality and ANC than these two models, and the Soundcore app has a ton of customization options for sound, controls, and ANC. They also offer wireless charging, which neither the Earfun nor the Edifier have. That means they have a slightly better battery life and the Earfun Air Pro has a bit more water resistance (IPX5 versus IPX4 for the Liberty Air 2 Pro). I think the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro definitely justify their higher price.
How long will they last?
The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro comes with an 18-month warranty and lifetime technical support that is above the industry average. They appear to be very well built so I assume they can be used all the time, as can many similar models at this price point. The sliding lid on the charging case could be a weak point over time, but so far I haven’t seen any complaints about the Liberty 2 Pro using an identical design.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro offers great sound and a very good ANC at a price that is well below that of many similar products.