Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Review: A Great Affordable Alternative to Airpods
We like this
High quality sound
Premium Build & Features
Price point reasonable
Extremely tight fitting
Controls on board are clunky
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 has a lot to offer in terms of features and sound quality. If you are looking for wireless headphones, it is hard to find a better option.
So that our reviewer could fully test it and give us an honest assessment, we purchased the Soundcore Liberty Air 2. Continue reading to see our complete product review.
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 wireless headphones are an affordable option that offers true wireless sound quality at a reasonable price. Soundcore is a brand that excels in this kind of compromise. As a sister-company to Anker—a brand known for quality, affordable mobile accessories—it would make sense that these earphones aren't breaking any sound quality records, but also don't break the bank.
These earphones have a design that is very similar to the Apple AirPods, and a premium fit. The Liberty Air 2 was put through its paces, listening to podcasts, making Zoom calls and pumping music before going to bed. Continue reading to find out what I have to say.
Related Reading: Mpow Flame Review: Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones on a Budget
Although the Soundcore Liberty line is well-established, its first generation of headphones felt and looked cheap. This is mostly acceptable considering that the earphones were priced at an entry level.
Soundcore raised the quality and price of their second-generation product. These earphones look just like AirPods and have a round, one-inch long stem that hangs from your ears. To ensure a more comfortable fit, they have a rubber ear tip.
Soundcore made some great aesthetic improvements to the second-gen. The Liberty Air 2's matte black exterior is a welcome change from the overly shiny (and cheap-looking) plastic. Each earbud has a metallic, lighter gray outside. A few spots where some red is visible (a small opening at the base of the stem, and under the main driver opening beneath the gray rubber tip) give the Liberty Air 2 a premium appearance than one might expect for a price tag of less than $100. It also gives the entire package an interesting appearance with its matte gray cover.
Related Reading: Apple AirPods Review: Sound That’s Just Okay
In my earbud review, I stress the importance of personal comfort when reviewing a product such as this. Every person's tolerance of fit is different. Because they do not want the earbuds to fall out, some people cannot stand loose earbuds. Others, such as me, want more airflow and feel uncomfortable with tight fitting earbuds. This is where the Liberty Air 2 earbuds fit. You can customize them with 5 sizes. However, they were too tight in my ear canals due to the angle of the eartips.
It can be seen as an advantage, but it is also a disadvantage, particularly if you do not like the AirPods' precariousness. However, this helps isolate sound and gives you a strong bass response. Soundcore's eartips are made of soft, but sturdy rubber.
Another small detail that improves comfort is the soft-touch matte finish used inside the ear stems. This is in place of the high-gloss, tackier feel. The small piece that touches your earlobe feels more comfortable.
A soft, matte finish is used inside the ear stems to improve comfort. This is in place of the high-gloss material that can be a bit more tacky.
Related Reading: Grado GT220 Review: Audiophile True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
These earbuds are very attractive, both in terms of their premium matte finish and the high-quality rubber used for the tips. They not only make it look more professional, but also help build trust in its fit and finish. My confidence is that these earbuds' physical housing will hold up to a lot of daily wear.
Although the battery case looks great and matches the quality of the headphones, the price tag is a little higher than other options. Although the lid and earbud slot magnets are strong enough to provide the satisfying click true wireless listeners expect, the thin and light feel of this lid make me think Soundcore has skimped on production.
I am confident these earbuds' physical housing will hold up to a lot of daily wear.
Other points that I will make about build quality are the drivers and waterproofing. The earbuds are described by Soundcore as being 'diamond coated'. This is presumably their effort to build confidence in the drivers' durability. The sound quality section has more information, but I believe the diamond coating (much as the graphene similar to earphones) will ensure the driver won't erode as quickly over the years. Although I cannot confirm it, my gut says it will not have any effect. However, it's nice to see Soundcore trying new materials.
The earphones do feature IPX5 waterproofing, which will be more than enough for even heavy sweating and reasonable rain—just don't drop the earphones into a tub of water.
Soundcore Liberty Air 2s have Bluetooth 5.0 which means you will get good coverage even from far away. My prewar, 900 square-foot apartment was filled with plaster walls. I tried everything to make sure that the connection didn't break, no matter where I was.
The earbuds must be in pairing mode when you open the case. My phone immediately recognized them. The only time I had problems was trying to pair the earbuds with another device. Bluetooth 5 is meant to let two sources communicate seamlessly. However, even after I had my Air 2s and laptop paired, it was still difficult to switch between them.
To get the headphones to change between devices, simply put them back in pairing mode. This is easy enough—just pop the buds back into the case and hold the bottom button for a few seconds. This is an annoying part of the Air 2s in a world with so many earbuds intelligently switching between devices.
Soundcore claims that Soundcore's second-generation will bring a significant improvement in sound quality. Soundcore has brought out the best: high-quality Bluetooth codescs and fancy drivers.
The sound quality of these headphones impressed me for the most part. I found that bass-heavy music was a great choice for my workouts. Podcasts and calls were easy to listen to thanks in part because of the 4 microphone array. Some of this is thanks to the solid driver construction—while I think that 'diamond-coating' the speakers can't have much of an effect on the inherently lossy quality of Bluetooth audio, it's clear that Soundcore has taken time to focus on the performance of the drivers. Qualcomm aptX allows you to compress your Bluetooth audio with less loss through Bluetooth.
None of these gave me an extremely dynamic soundstage to work with. These earphones sound just like a decent Bluetooth headset. Although you won't get the rich, full spectrum that you might expect from more expensive earphones you can be happy with how your audio is being presented. Soundcore's HearID software allows you to customize and have more control. The software maps your hearing and ear to provide the best audio possible. Overall, the sound quality was not as balanced and nuanced, even though it had a powerful and impressive raw sound.
I enjoyed the bass-heavy music during my workouts. However, when it came time to listen to podcasts or make phone calls, the audio and the 4-mic array provided me with plenty of details.
Somehow Soundcore has managed to pack a full 7 hours of use into the earbuds themselves with the Liberty Air 2—an impressive feat when you consider that most earbuds settle for around 5 hours. The battery case adds another 30 hours to the total. This battery lasts a lot longer than its cost. The earbuds' battery life is accurate. However, it drains much faster than what the manufacturer claims. While you will still be able for more than 24 hours, it is possible that your battery case may not last as long.
Soundcore also aims to provide premium quality at a more affordable price with the Liberty Air 2, which charges in a different way. You can charge the USB-C port quickly with an appropriate brick. This will give you approximately 2 hours of playing time on one 10-minute charge. My tests showed that charging the entire battery case took only 10 minutes. The battery case also has wireless charging capabilities. This is an impressive feature. Given how small true wireless headphones are, it's surprising how common this feature is. You can get Qi wireless charging for less than $100 even though Sony has the best-selling product.
On paper, Soundcore seems to be offering all the right things—a robust app to customize your sound, simple touch controls to interact with your devices, and a four-array microphone setup to interact with your voice assistant.
Everything is a bit awkward in practice. For example, the touch controls don't seem to register well. Although most touch controls take some time to adjust, the Air 2s didn't work for me. The software allows the earbuds work with your smartphone if you are able to get past those mis-presses. However, many of the features in the software seem like extras rather than practical functions.
Although the HearID hearing test can be a useful tool, I'm not sure it will significantly improve sound quality. Although the 22 EQ settings can be useful, I feel that Soundcore could do more if they had spent more time perfecting each one. While I definitely applaud Soundcore's effort here—especially at the entry-level price point—I feel like they did too much, and didn't do anything terribly well in the 'extras' column.
Anker and Soundcore are always price-conscious brands—they aim to offer excellent value for high-quality products. The Liberty Air 2s are a great value at an average price of $99 They are comparable to Apple AirPods. Even the original-gen AirPods will set you back closer to $130 without the case or the firm fit. Anker did cut a few corners to get the price below $100—namely on some of the fit and finish and on the interface features—but all in all, compared to the rest of the budget AirPod copycat market, these are a real steal.
The Liberty Air 2s' design is clear. Soundcore beats Apple on price. AirPods are not defyable by the Liberty line's fit and finish. The convenience and status of being an Apple product, as well as the ability to pair your AirPods with Apple operating systems via the H2 chip are what you will not get. The Air 2s, however, will provide wireless charging and a better audio experience (partially due to the tighter seal inside the ear) for $30 more.
Wireless Bluetooth headphones are a solid choice.
The Liberty Air 2 is a great option for those looking for wireless headphones but don't want to pay Apple or Bose. They tick a lot of boxes, including wireless charging and aptX codescs. While they have their flaws, some parts of this offering are more expensive than others. However, at the lower end of the price range you will not find many things to be unhappy about.