Ameya DalviJan 14, 2021 11:54:10 IST
We have two pairs of true wireless (TWS) earbuds from Soundcore (Anker) whose names sound alike; so much so that one was accidentally sent to me when I was looking to review the other. Since I had both at my disposal, I thought of trying them out and turns out they have little in common other than the parentage, 18 months warranty and the companion app. One of them even made it to our list of best budget TWS earbuds of 2020. Let’s take a closer look at Soundcore Liberty 2 and Souncore Liberty Air 2.
Soundcore Liberty 2 Review
The Soundcore Liberty 2 buds have quite an unusual design that’s hard to describe in words. They are a tad larger than average, but don’t look weird when you put them on. The buds are fairly light and fit snugly in the ear, thanks to the fins – or what the company likes to call GripFit tech. The fit is extremely secure yet comfortable, and they do not pop out even during jogs or workouts. You get different-sized fins (three pairs) and silicone tips (five pairs) to choose from for the perfect fit and good passive noise isolation. The default medium-sized fins and tips worked best for me.
You get an oval-shaped charging case with a cool slide-out cover, three tiny LEDs that indicate the battery level and a USB type-C port for charging. The buds are IPX5 rated water-resistant, and fitted with a sizable 10mm driver each. Soundcore Liberty 2 is Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and supports SBC, AAC and Qualcomm’s aptX codecs. Wireless range is good and goes past the advertised 10 meters with a clear line of sight, and up to 6 metres with a concrete wall in between.
A tiny physical multifunction button is placed at the top of the buds and not at the back, hence the buds don’t get pushed into the ear when you press it. This is the ideal placement of the button that 90% of wireless earbuds with physical buttons get wrong. A big thumbs-up to Anker. The button lets you adjust the volume, jump to previous or next track, play/pause tracks and bring up the voice assistant. However, you need to configure the controls from the Soundcore app. You can assign either of those functions for double-click and long-press for both buds. However, single click is reserved for play/pause function and cannot be altered.
The Soundcore app also lets you alter the sound profile, courtesy of an equaliser and loads of presets, some of which have been configured by a bunch of Grammy Award winning producers (so the company claims). The most interesting element here is something called HearID that maps your personal hearing sensitivity at multiple frequencies to create a personalized equaliser for you. It takes about three minutes in a quiet environment to create this; certainly worth a try. The good part being, whichever sound profile you choose from the app gets stored on the earbuds themselves, and even if you choose to use the buds with a different device without the app, the configuration stays.
The default sound signature of the Liberty 2 is quite impressive. The sound output is sufficiently loud at 60-70 percent volume, and pleasantly warm, with a good amount of bass that’s tight and doesn’t overshadow the mids. The vocals are clear and most instruments can be distinctly heard, but the lower mids do feel slightly subdued in bass-heavy tracks. The highs are perfectly tempered and still have ample sparkle. All three frequency ranges coexist reasonably well here with a nice warm undertone. There is good detail in sound with a fairly broad soundstage. These earbuds are suitable for a wide genre of music, and if you find the default sound warmer than you like, you can create and use the “HearID” profile or one of the presets to make it better suited to your taste.
The battery life of the Soundcore Liberty 2 is pretty good, with the buds clocking close to 7.5 hours on a full charge, and the case providing you with three more recharges, thus taking the overall battery backup close to 30 hours. The buds take about 90 minutes to charge fully, while the case and buds combined take close to two hours with a standard USB type-C charger. The company claims that if the buds run out of juice, 10 minutes of charge can give you close to 2 hours of music playback. The call quality is quite good, with both parties perfectly audible to each other. The extra microphones greatly help in reducing ambient noise when outdoors.
The Soundcore Liberty 2 is priced at Rs 6,999 with an 18-month warranty. It covers most of the bases from sound quality to battery life to configuring playback controls and sound profiles. Given the versatile nature of these earbuds, they are bound to impress a broader audience looking for a good balance between thumping bass and sound clarity. These are one of the best TWS earbuds of 2020 under Rs 7,500, in our opinion. The other alternatives in this budget would be the Lypertek Tevi if you prefer close to neutral sound, and the Creative Outlier Air that sounds a lot like the Liberty 2. If you prefer more modern features like wireless charging and touch controls, you will find the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 quite interesting. Read on to know more.
- Pleasantly warm and detailed sound output
- Controls and sound profile can be customised
- Correct placement of multifunction button
- Support for aptX codecs
- IPX5 water resistance
- Comfortable to wear with a snug fit
- Very good battery life; close to 30 hours with charging case
- Good call quality
- Lower midrange reproduction could have been slightly better
- Relatively large in size
- No wear detection
Price: Rs 6,999
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Review
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 earbuds look strikingly different from the Liberty 2, and offer a different set of features, but they do have a handful of things in common. You get the same set of codecs including aptX, IPX5 water resistance, similar wireless range and loudness, USB type-C charging port, customisable controls and sound profiles with dozens of presets and “HearID” here too. In addition, you also get wireless charging support, touch controls and wear detection. The wear detection here is half baked – the music stops when you remove either of the buds from the ear but doesn’t resume on its own when you put them back.
Anker has opted for the popular stemmed design on the Soundcore Liberty Air 2, as is the case with all Liberty Air series buds. The mixture of black matte, gloss and a hint of red looks classy, and the buds are well built too. The touch controls are responsive and customisable through the Soundcore app, however, unlike the Liberty 2, there is nothing assigned for single tap. You get to choose any two from volume up/down, previous/next track, play/pause and voice assistant for double-tap and long-touch on each of the buds. I wish there was a triple tap option too in order to cover the entire gamut of controls.
Pairing the buds is generally a straightforward process, when they are placed in the compact charging case with the lid open. If you leave them out of the case for a few minutes and then try to pair them with the phone, only one of the buds connects. This is true even if you have paired them with the same phone before. You need to disconnect the bud, place both back in the case and reconnect, and then they work fine. The earbuds are extremely comfortable to wear, offer a good fit and excellent passive noise isolation with the right pair of silicone eartips.
The default sound profile of the Liberty Air 2 is noticeably brighter than the Liberty 2. Though the bass is adequate and tight, the warm undertone is not as distinct as in case of the latter, possibly because of the smaller 6mm drivers here. The mids are a bit more distinct in comparison, but highs aren’t tempered enough and can sound a bit too bright at times. The soundstage seems a touch narrower too, but the detail in audio is at par and quite impressive. Those who like their sound a little on the brighter side instead of warm will like the default sound profile of the Soundcore Liberty Air 2. The rest can tweak it to their liking using the Soundcore app.
The battery life of these buds can be considered good, despite clocking a few hours lower than the Liberty 2. The buds last for about 6 hours with 70 percent loudness, and the case can charge them thrice more, taking the overall battery backup into the 24 hours ballpark. As is the case with all Soundcore TWS buds I have tested to date, the call quality is good, with both parties perfectly audible to each other indoors and outdoors. A bit of ambient noise can be heard when outdoors, but the extra microphones do a great job of reducing it significantly and keeping the conversation in focus.
The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 TWS buds are priced a thousand Rupees higher at Rs 7,999 with 18 months of warranty. It is a fair premium to pay for the extra features. However, I personally liked the Liberty 2 a bit more for the warmer sound signature and better battery life. But as you know by now, sound preference is a subjective matter, and to each their own. Also, the accompanying app offers some excellent sound adjustment options to make these earbuds appeal to broader tastes. So no matter which of the two Soundcore products you buy, you won’t be disappointed.
- Detailed sound output
- Customisable touch controls and sound profiles
- Support for aptX codecs
- IPX5 water resistance
- Comfortable fit with wear detection
- Wireless charging support
- Good call quality
- Good battery life; close to 24 hours with charging case
- Can sound a bit too bright in certain tracks
- Limited playback control gestures on the earbuds
- Wear detection is half-baked
- At times, only one bud pairs with the phone
Price: Rs 7,999