As audio technology continues to evolve, manufacturers are moving to develop relatively inexpensive products with an array of premium features. 2021 seems to be the year of affordable sound-canceling headphones, especially true wireless earphones. We’ve seen Oppo Enco X, Realme Buds Air Pro, Huawei FreeBuds 3i, and some more products offer active noise cancellation below and around the 10K price point. Now, Anchor’s sub-brand, Soundcore, offering its own ANC earbuds, Soundcore enters this lucrative space under Liberty Air Pro 2, 10K. Anchor is well known for its smartphone accessories but it is slowly but surely making its mark in the audio market with Soundcore. The Liberty Air Pro 2 is a mid-range ANC TWS earphone and faces stiff competition from the aforementioned brands. So, let’s find out if Liberty Air Pro 2 works well enough to beat our current favorite affordable ANC TWS, Oppo Enco X.
Construction and design
Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 not only provides affordable ANC but also pays considerable attention to design. The product is available in four colors – Onyx Black, Titanium White, Sapphire Blue and Crystal Pink, all of which are elegant to look at. We got the Onyx Black variant for review which is probably the most obscure-looking but also smooth and stylish of all colors.
The earbuds have a stem-style design with a silver-tone at the top of the stem as opposed to the matte black tones in the earbuds. The stem also includes a touch panel for control. Each earbud has three microphones for active noise cancellation and voice calls.
The tips of the earbuds are angled to create an in-canal, snag fit in the ear. The earbuds are lightweight and provide an array of silicone ear tips in boxes from Anchor XXXS to XL. Although these ear tips should cover most of the ear, it seems a bit difficult for the reviewer to find the perfect one. The bulb, or rounded part of the earbud, was a little too large for the reviewer’s ear, and the fit was not very comfortable, regardless of the ear tip used. So, remember, if you have small or unusually large ears, Liberty Air Pro 2 may not be the most comfortable TWS you use.
For earbud touch panels, they work quite well unless you are accustomed to their position on the earbud. By default, double-tapping on the left knob avoids a track, and double-tapping on the right makes it pause or play music. A two-second press on both earbuds switches between ambient sound and noise cancellation mode. Controls can be customized in the Soundcore app, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Moving on to the charging case, it is certainly one of the largest in the market but it is not too thick, so users can slide it into their pocket without making the case too swollen. The case has a silky matte, rubbery texture that feels good to the touch and quite gripio. The cover slides backwards and reveals the earbuds inside The sliding mechanism is smooth and quite unique because most TWS charging cases open upwards. It has a USB-C charging port and a reset button on the back and three battery indicator lights on the front. Moreover, the charging case also supports Qi wireless charging, so you can flip it over any compatible charging pad to charge the case.
Finally, the buds can be used independently of each other and are equipped with an in-ear detector for automatic pause / play of music depending on whether the buds are in the user’s ear. In our experiments, this feature worked most of the time without any errors we tried.
Features: Active Noise Cancellation, Soundcore app and more
The most elusive feature of the TWS earbud in 2021 is, of course, the cancellation of active noise. Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 offers this feature for just under 10K, making it an attractive product for those who want to experience the ANC without breaking the bank. These earbuds have three ANC pre-tuned modes – Transport, Indoor and Outdoor. There is also a custom mode that lets users select the level of ANC.
Active noise cancellation in these earbuds is decent but not very impressive. It doesn’t come close to heavyweights like the Sony WF-1000XM3 in this area, but we don’t expect them because of the price difference. However, the Oppo Enco X, which is priced similarly, does a more believable job of drowning out the surrounding sounds. While the Enco X has done a fine job of drowning out sounds like low-speed fans, the Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 leaves something to be desired in the area. There’s also a nice audible hiss that you’ll hear in all ANC modes when no music is playing Nevertheless, ANC performance should be satisfactory to most people, especially in the mode of transport, which we found to be the most effective of all the modes.
Earphones come with clarity mode that allows users to listen to their surroundings. You can switch between full transparent and vocal mode in the Soundcore app. There is also a general mode without applying any enclosure or word cancellation. The app makes it easy to switch between these modes. Surprisingly, this app also has a nifty widget that allows users to switch between these modes without having to enter the app.
As we mentioned in the last section, the Soundcore app also allows users to customize the controls. Users can customize single tap, double-tap and long pressure for both ears, allowing volume control and voice assistant triggers to be added that are not present by default. The app has an eight-band customizable EQ where users can add different custom sound profiles. HearID also has a dubbed feature that measures your personal hearing and adjusts audio accordingly. We chose to stick to the default soundco signature sound profile for review purposes, but it is better to have a metal of the customization option.
The app allows you to test a tip fit that basically plays a sound and analyzes whether the ear tips you are wearing have a good seal. We tried the experiment with a bunch of different tips and it helped us shrink to a weird combination of best fit, XS and S (different sized ear problems), so we urge you to take the test and find out. As well as the best fit because it will give you the best sonic experience possible in these buds.
In addition to the Active Noise Cancellation and the accompanying app, the Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 is a highly featured pair of TWS earbuds. The earbuds come with voice assistant support, IPX4 sweat and water resistance rating, Bluetooth v5.0, in-ear detection, mono mode and Qi wireless charging support. The buds support SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, although this is a bit disappointing given the lack of support for advanced codecs like aptX. Even the Oppo Enco X LHDC comes with codec support. Although the LHDC codec is only supported by a few Oppo and Xiaomi phones, it is better not to support any advanced codecs. There are no multi-point connections, so you can only connect buds to one device at a time.
The Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 has an 11mm dynamic driver and has a somewhat V-shaped sound signature with rich, punchy bus response and stressed treble. The alloy reaction is dominant, round, and complete without being interrupted by medium and high altitude. On pop or rap tracks, the bass swells and complements the sound with dynamics but does not cover vocals and mid-range instruments, which is quite impressive. Inside Godzilla By EminemAt the beginning of the track there is only a low base rumble with Eminem’s vocals, both sounding extremely detailed without going into each other’s toes.
Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 (Blue) vs. Reference IEM (Orange) Raw Frequency Response
However, a little too much emphasis on treble can make some tracks sound harsh. Here is an example The hunter By Bjork Where the high-hats sound a bit screaming. This, however, is a rare occurrence and has not bothered us too much. The Liberty Air Pro 2 is well tuned and provides a fair amount of detail which is rare at this price point. Now, the Oppo Enco X offers much better, cleaner sound, of course, due to its coaxial dual-driver design. The Enco X also has a bit more emphasis on treble, not as much as the Liberty Air Pro 2, so critical audiences may lean towards the Oppo Enco X.
Although not audiofile-grade earphones, for the general public, both earphones have a good sound profile and you really can’t go wrong at this price point. However if you are a bass lover you may like the sound profile of Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 a bit better as it provides a bit more punch in the base response.
The call quality in these earphones is quite decent in most cases. Although we haven’t been able to test them extensively outside, the earphones do a good job indoors despite having a high-speed fan in the background.
The battery life of the Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 is quite decent, but nothing extraordinary. If the ANC is off, you can get up to 26 hours of play time, including 7 hours from earbud on a single charge. When the ANC is turned on, earbuds have about 4.5 hours of play time on a single charge, and the charging case is able to drop three times as many buds. This gives you a total battery life of about 18 hours, which is quite decent for this price range.
There is also fast charging support where 15 minutes of charging will give you about 3 hours of play time. You also have Qi wireless charging support, as we mentioned earlier, which is a rare feature below 10K.
If you’re looking for a mid-range TWS with premium features and good tuning, Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 is easy to recommend. It faces stiff competition in this segment, especially from the stellar Oppo Enco X, but it may differ due to its hard-hitting but controlled bus and its unique design. You’ll also find IPX4 sweat and water resistance which means these buds can easily become your workout companion if you find the perfect, snag fit. Priced at Rs 9,999, the earphones offer good sound quality, solid build, unique design and decent battery life.