Imagine sitting on a plane next to a screaming child in a five-hour flight. A noise-cancelling pair of earbuds, with plenty of battery life, would be heaven sent. But you don’t really have to venture far to find a more practical application; those working from home can find this tool useful when they need to cancel out all the noisy distractions in the house.
The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro is Anker’s first earbuds to feature active noise cancelling (ANC) and rightfully sits among the company’s more premium products. But with a price tag way below the other premium brands, it does look like these buds are punching above their weight – and actually hitting many of their targets.
Sound and noise-cancelling
From the outset, the Air 2 Pro produces a full sound and packs plenty of deep bass. It also offers more granular control of the sound experience with a full equaliser as well as multiple preset equalisers through the accompanying Soundcore app. They’ve even taken a step further with a feature called HearID, which creates a tailor-made sound profile that takes into account the user’s hearing abilities and deficiencies.
But in this category, it is really the active noise cancellation that sets the high-end brands apart, and the Air 2 Pro seems to be holding its own for much less money. There are three ambient sound modes – full ANC, transparency mode and normal. The ANC mode can be configured depending on where you are using the buds: transport cancels low-end frequencies, like the sound of engines or trains; outdoor; and indoor. There is also a custom option for manually setting the ANC’s intensity.
Transparency mode lets certain frequencies through so you can be aware of what’s happening in your surroundings. You can also switch between full transparency and vocal mode, which is useful when you need to have conversation while using the earbuds. When I tried it during a taxi ride, it was quite effective filtering out the noise, while allowing me to have a full conversation with the driver to relay instructions.
The level of customisation offered through these two modes is a big factor that makes these buds a great lifestyle accessory, as users can switch profiles depending on their activity – whether working, exercising, having a conversation or walking in the streets.
To fully enjoy the sound experience, particularly the noise reduction features, it is important for the earbuds to fit securely in your ear. The Air 2 Pro is bundled with nine sets of silicone tips to help find the best fit.
The accompanying Soundcore app even has a feature called "tip fit test", which tells if the eartip creates a good seal. While the eartips out of the box felt a good match for my ears, I took the "tip fit test" for a second opinion – and sure enough the app said they’re the right fit.
Standard now for premium earbuds are the touch controls. I did not encounter any problems with Air 2 Pro’s responsiveness. They’re quick and quite easy to use, and the controls on each side can be customised in the app. You can tap and hold for two seconds or double tap to control pause, play and skipping forward and backward, as well as toggle the ANC modes.
However, additional control options could have been helpful so I can have all the functions I need in one just side. (I set up the controls so I could play, pause and skip forward using the controls on the left side, but have to reach to the other side to play a previous song.) So it would be nice to have an extra triple-tap function, although perhaps not a single-tap option as in my experience this can easily lead to accidental skipping.
After pairing manually with my phone, the Air 2 Pro connects instantly once the case is opened. With Bluetooth 5.0, the device enjoys the perks of extended range and longer battery life. Connection has been reliable and I’ve not encountered any connection problem once the buds were paired.
But a more practical question for users working from home is whether it can maintain a stable connection when moving around the house. In my experience, connection remained rock-solid even when I was two rooms away from my phone.
The Air 2 Pro is rated IPX4, which means it is sweat resistant and splash proof, making it a good companion when exercising. The buds last up to seven hours in normal mode and six hours with the ANC engaged, according to Anker. The charging case provides an additional 26-hour battery life with ANC off and 21-hour battery with ANC on. The case uses both wired USB-C and Qi wireless charging.
A handy feature for people on the go is Anker’s fast-charging technology, which it claims can give you up to two hours of playing time from just 10 minutes of charging. I was not able to confirm the exact numbers, but I did get plenty of battery juice back after I charged one of the buds for a few minutes after it ran out of battery.
With an impressive list of premium features at a price point just over half of the Airpods Pro, the Liberty Air 2 Pro is certainly undercutting many of its big-name rivals. ANC is a significant step in the right direction for the brand, and combining this with the buds’ comfortable design, ease of use, decent battery life and good sound quality, users are sure to get more value for their money.
● Earbuds battery life: seven hours (ANC off) / six hours (ANC on)
● Charging case battery life: 26 hours (ANC off) / 21 hours (ANC on)
● Charging: USB-C and Qi wireless
● Touch controls: double tap / tap and hold for two seconds
● Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
● Waterproof rating: IPX4
● Colours: Onyx Black, Titanium White, Sapphire Blue, and Crystal Pink
● Earbud dimensions: 37.3 x 22.1 x 23.1mm
● Earbud weight: 5.2g each
● Charging case dimensions: 62.0 x 59.7 x 30.0mm
● Charging case weight: 50.5g
● Driver size: 11mm
● RRP: Dh529