We’ve reviewed a ton of earbuds for Android throughout 2019, and we expect that to increase in 2020 as even more OEMs look to add their own hardware to the mix. However, they’ll have a tough act to follow in the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds.
The Anker subsidiary was most definitely not the one I expected to produce the best sounding earbuds of the year — but here we are. That’s not to say Anker makes poor products — far from it. My initial instinct was to be cautious as there is a growing list of companies claiming to have the ‘best-sounding earbuds’, I just didn’t expect it to be Soundcore.
People will like to overlook the design, the name on the box, and the fact that they are priced closely to more ‘established’ brands. But by skipping the Liberty 2 Pros though, you’ll be missing out on some of the most impressive earbuds of the year with a price-tag that puts some of the other ‘big’ players to shame.
That’s not to say they are perfect as there are some things you’ll want and need to consider.
Hardware & Design
Speaking strictly from the design perspective, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros are not what I would call the most attractive earbuds. They are large and bulbous, stick out quite a bit and remind me — for better or worse — of a dung beetle.
Each bud is large and completely at odds with the AirPods clones you tend to see everywhere else on the market. Like the AirPods, you can only pick up the Liberty 2 Pros in one color option: matte steel with black trim. It’s a pretty standard design but they do feel weighty and well put together in the hand. There is a fin to help you get a better fit in the ear too. I’m usually not a fan of these but the soft silicone seems pretty good in my testing.
I like the case but dang is this little slidey-pebble design is big. It will definitely fit in your pocket but it’s very noticeable that it’s there. I like the matte design and the only logo is pretty small. At the back, you’ll have to unplug a stopper to get at the USB-C charge port. I do like the plug though, as it means the port won’t get filled with gunk and dirt if you keep the case in your pocket or floating around in the bottom of a bag.
Placing each bud into the case is easy enough, although the orientation is confusing at first. The magnets will likely guide them into place and once the lid is slid closed, the buds are safe and secure — plus the sliding lid means it’s less likely to pop open and scatter your headphones around.
Comfort & Fit
I was trepidacious simply due to the design of each Liberty 2 Pro earbud. The fin design is not my favorite but the soft silicone means they are easy to maneuver and fix into your ear. The silicone tips on each bud are also similarly soft and fit snugly without discomfort. You can change both the fin and the tips though should they not be right for your ears straight out of the box.
Placing them in you can just twist ever so slightly to effectively ‘lock’ each bud into place. It doesn’t match the feeling of security you get with the Galaxy Buds twist and lock approach though. This really helps for isolation but it also helps seal in the sound exceptionally. Doing so also means that the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro buds don’t wobble or come loose — which is important if you’re particularly active.
Given the size, you may find that wearing them for mammoth sessions simply isn’t possible. I topped out at around two-ish hours of continuous wear before feeling the need to give my ears a rest and pop the Liberty 2 Pros out. Of course, your own mileage may vary significantly and will be determined by battery lifespan too — spoiler: you’ll get uncomfortable quicker than the battery drains.
Like many Bluetooth earbuds, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds can be paired in a couple of ways. You can go the easy route and just pair using Android’s in-built pairing menus or you can download the dedicated Soundcore app and connect to your buds and gain some extra controls and personalization tools.
It makes no difference which route you take though. Pairing is quick and painless, especially as the Liberty 2 earbuds have quite a good overall Bluetooth range of around 20 feet.
If you were to read the box-art you’d likely read the hyperbole of the sound “endorsed by 10 Grammy award-winning producers.” To be honest, I felt as though this must have been some paid-for promotion but while I don’t know who the producers are, they seem to have actually backed up the bold claims.
While I’m not particularly in love with the design, it does mean that the large drivers can pump out full, rich sound that I’ve not really heard on many other true wireless earbuds — and at least none in over the past 12 months.
The sound profile is pretty sublime. The soundstage is open, wide, and the bass really manages to thump. You get such good overall dynamic sound that handles the nuances of tracks exceptionally. Those larger drivers really help push the audio without crushing the extra details, while the passive isolation of the shape and fit means that tracks are bursting with life.
I’m particularly impressed at the separation in busy tracks, with vocals standing out clearly from the mess of audio underneath. It’s a pleasure to listen to just about any genre, while podcasts and audiobooks have extra detail and clarity. The fact that you can tune the audio experience of the Liberty 2 Pros using the Soundcore app is just an added bonus.
The Liberty 2 Pros also support Qualcomm’s aptX HD high-quality audio codec. That means you should see a major step up over cheaper buds that use AAC or SBC when streaming audio. Because most people now stream their music, that means you should see a difference when streaming Spotify at 320kbps or when using other services high-resolution audio streaming options.
Part of the improved sound is the inclusion of the impressive HearID feature. This is essentially a tailored EQ optimizer that allows you to tune the audio in to suit your particular listening capabilities. This is done using the Soundcore app and has you listening to various tones to help identify what your upper and lower hearing limits are to create a unique personal EQ setting.
The controls are one area that really let the Liberty 2 Pros down. Despite the large panels on the side of each bud, there are no touch controls. Instead, you’ve got one small physical button on each earbud that can do a few things.
It does mean that you don’t have to learn any tricky swipe and tap tricks but you only get two controls per bud. A single tap pauses and plays audio nothing, a double-tap on the right bud skips a track, a double-tap on the left bud skips backward. Holding either side will activate the Google Assistant on your Android phone — although you can change this to volume up or down controls.
That’s probably just enough for most people in actual fact, but the controls can nudge each bud out of your ear. Using buttons also means that you can get that awful clicky noise right in your ear canal. That said, even touch controls suffer from this and I’m not really sure what the best solution really is in all honesty.
Another very impressive area of the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros is undoubtedly the battery life. For starters, the lifespan of each bud is around seven to eight hours in-between charges. That far exceeds many of the other headphones and earbuds on the market right now — although not all. Some of that is, of course, owing to the slightly larger size but it really does mean all-day listening is par for the course.
The oversized carry case adds up to 30 more hours of listening, which in my experience has been pretty much what I’ve experienced. I’m so glad that Anker decided to go with USB-C and wireless charging, as 10 minutes plugged into a charger will give you around two hours or extra listening. On a wireless charge pad, it’s a little slower but it’s still nice to not have to think about cables if you prefer a wireless existence.
One problem I do have is that the battery indicator LEDs are a little basic as there are only three LEDs. To make it a little easier to understand, I worked on the principle that one lit LED would be approximately one full charge. However, I found that wasn’t always the case so my advice would be to just try and keep the carry case fully charged.
Given the sheer wealth of truly wireless earbuds out there, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro definitely have some stiff competition but they bat it away thanks to exceptional battery life and sound that just keeps me coming back for more. I’d love the see the case and bud size just shaved down a little but there is no denying that if you value sound quality and experience, Anker has totally and utterly knocked it out of the park here.
Touch controls will likely be a big miss, and phones calls are iffy but these are things that don’t ruin the experience — and really are secondary to the sound. The fact that the Liberty 2 Pros come priced under the established competition and beat them in the area that matters most is the reason why they are our favorite wireless earbuds of 2019.
Where can I get the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro?
The Liberty 2 Pros are currently available for just $109 on Amazon — which is an absolute steal for those that value audio over everything else.
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