Truly wireless earbuds have come a long way in a few short years, one of the companies that made one of the first truly great inexpensive earbuds was Anker sub-brand Soundcore with the Liberty Lite since then they’ve been getting better faster than anyone else. One of my favourite earbuds to use over the last year has been the Liberty Airs, they looked a little AirPod-y, but luckily I have the black unit, but Anker made a comfortable pair of buds, with great battery life, a slender and comfortable case that wasn’t super expensive, so now I’m checking out the Air 2s, and are they a worthy upgrade?.
- Sound Great
- Very comfortable
- Great connection to each other and phone
- Stunning Battery life
- HearID is great
- USB-C Charging
- Qi Charging
- No that much different from Last years.
- Bit tinny at higher volumes
- Magnet to close lid weaker than last year
Disclaimer: Anker provided us with these free of charge for the purposes of review, no money has exchanged hands between either party and Anker are not getting to look at this review before it goes live. The Liberty Air 2s have been used on my Huawei P30 Pro, BlackBerry KEY2, Samsung Galaxy Book and Lenovo YogaBook, they received no firmware updates in this time.
Whilst I was lucky to get the Black ones last time, this time I ended up with the white Liberty Air 2s so I can’t do a side by side to show you the generational updates as easily, but I shall try. Much like Airpods, The FreeBuds, the TicPods and the Liberty Airs from last year, these employ the “stem” type of truly wireless earbud design. There are many reasons why one might choose this design over a more compact one, one of those being more room for batteries, which is what Apple uses it for. Huawei chose it for the extra antenna length for a better connection and I’ve also been told that Anker chose it for the extra reach of the microphone for phone calls or more likely interacting with a voice assistant.
The Liberty Air 2s are slender with nice curves in a soft-touch matte white plastic, the backside, the piece facing out of your ear, on both the white ones and the black ones is a grey insert with a small red design flair on the bottom, inset in this grey panel is the touch controls used for the earbuds and I would tell you what they do, but they’re remappable in the app, so it can be what you want it to be. I much prefer this separate panel and texture over the glossy smooth plastic of last year’s model, it makes the touch controls much easier to use.
These are bigger in every way from last year’s model though, though they are more curved. I won’t say they are more or less comfortable, but the shape is noticeably different, and I think I prefer the external shape of the older ones, but the new ones do seem to fit in my ears a bit better. On the bottom of the stem is two pogo pins for charging inside the case as well as the main microphone, again being at the bottom of the stem makes the microphone closer to your mouth and is more likely to only pick up what you’re hearing.
Laying the buds on the back (so the touch sensor is on the table) you get to see one of the new improvements to the Liberty Air 2s, the IR proximity sensor, so when you remove the buds from your ear it pauses the music, sadly Soundcore haven’t implemented in the firmware that replacing the bud in your ear resumes the music, though that is something that can easily be added in an update through the Soundcore app.
Up top we have an open port, I’m not sure if this is for a secondary microphone for noise cancelling in calls (there is no ANC normally) or if it is a bass port for better sound, or if simply it is there to let the LED shine through, whichever it ends up being, there it is.
The case was one of the better parts of the Liberty Airs last year, and there wasn’t much that needed to be changed, and I think they changed too much and not for the better. The case is still very small, very pocketable and lightweight, but the shape has been changed to a rounded-off rectangle and it just doesn’t feel as nice in the hand. One of the most monumental changes that I am glad about however is the move to USB-C for the charger, my only real gripe with the Liberty Airs was the MicroUSB charger, now that has been fixed, Soundcore also included Qi Wireless charging, so you can top up without having to plugin, or if you’re on the go with a phone that supports it, you can do reverse wireless charging when you’re in a pinch. A slightly more subtle improvement is the button on the bottom of the case, basically, you press it and it shows you the battery status on the case, instead of you guessing or having to open the case like last year.
Opening up the granite-like patterned case you see the bright white reminiscent of the AirPods and are greeted with the buds themselves stored vertically, pulling them out shows the two magnets are is used to latch them into place securely.
Hardware-wise the Liberty Air 2s are still small, lightweight and comfortable with a nice case, they’re just larger than last year with a slightly less ergonomic case.
Soundcore is trying something new this year with their higher-end Liberty Line up being the Liberty 2, Liberty 2 Pro and the Liberty Air 2s which is called HearID, think of HearID as a little hearing test that automatically tunes an EQ to best suit how you hear things, it’s pretty neat.
It’s important to note that these aren’t Soundcores top of the line earbuds, but that doesn’t mean these are slouches. The diamond-coated dynamic drivers have impressive clarity and they don’t distort until you go above 80% volume which is great. I spent most of my testing time with the buds on the HearID EQ instead of any of the others as I just preferred how it sounded, but I did also test out some of the EQ presets with their types of music, I.E Listening to Avicii if I had the Dance preset, or Latin if I needed a Shakira or Ricky Martin fix. They worked, but not massively so over just having the personalised EQ, and It’s kind of a faff to keep switching, so I just left it on HearID for the majority of my testing.
So, how do they sound? Honestly, not all that much different from last year, which is both good and bad, because last year’s sounded really nice, but the problem is that other buds have gotten much better or much cheaper in the last year when the Liberty Air 2s are rumoured to be going up in price. The place where the Air 2s suffer is with the rather narrow soundstage, there isn’t much in the way of spatial audio presence, If I’m listening to the John Williams Orchestra I can still make the stuff out, but I don’t hear the separation between the strings and wood instruments like I do on more expensive earbuds.
Weirdly, these seem to get a narrower soundstage the higher the volume gets. I’m not sure if this is a consequence of the Diamond coated drivers or the HearID EQ or whatever, but it was intriguing for sure.
Speaking of those Diamond coated drivers, don’t get too excited, this is just an extension from the graphene-coated drivers that Soundcore has been doing for a few years and at a molecular level Diamonds and Graphene are the same, it is just how the carbon atoms are organised. The diamond coating on the drivers is meant to make them more resilient and more accurate so you can push more power through them for more volume without damaging them but also get clearer sound and I think it works, but so did the graphene coating on last year’s buds. These definitely get louder, louder than I’m comfortable using, but whilst these do sound better, I’m not sure it is enough better to warrant an upgrade.
This is an easy one. Aside from the day one charge which I always do (though this time I used my Qi charger, because, why not) I haven’t had to actively think about charging the Liberty Air 2s, that’s over 3 weeks. I haven’t been using them every day until they’re drained, but I have been using them for at least an hour most days and I just checked now, the case is on its last bar or charge and the buds are over 70%, this is nuts! I’ll plug it in whilst writing the rest of this, it’ll likely be full at the end.
Battery woes were one of the first things to go from the early truly wireless buds, and I can’t think of any Soundcore buds I’ve used with a poor battery, this is just at the point of never even thinking about it, and if I do get caught out of forgetting to charge the case a few months down the line, well my phone can reverse wireless charge it, and if I’m anywhere with a charger, it’s USB-C like everything else I now own, this is the benefit of standards.
One of the things I’m looking forward to seeing more of is these earbuds coming with apps for easy firmware updating, to add features or fix bugs, this is one of the other benefits of the Soundcore App, not only can you pair your buds, check the battery and do the HearID EQ test you can also check for and do firmware updates, something that older Soundcore products do not do, much to my dismay.
So, do I like these? Hell yeah. Will I recommend them? HELL YEAH!, but if you’ve already got the Liberty Airs from last year, I cannot in good conscience tell you to upgrade to these, as there just isn’t enough of a change to warrant the money. The Liberty Airs still sound great, still have a great case and great battery, you lose out on the app, HearID, Wireless charging and USB-C, if any of those are really important to you then use your money and put it where your mouth is, but honestly, I’d be perfectly happy sticking with my gen 1 Liberty Airs if Anker wanted these back.