These $149 earbuds solved my biggest problem with Apple’s AirPods

Soundcore Liberty 4 earbuds execs and cons Execs Earbuds are comfy to put on Permits for seamless multi-device switching and connectivity Wonderful microphone high quality for the worth Cons Closely reliant on the app for listening and well being insights Customized HearID isn’t essentially the most dependable Stress insights can appear directionless extra shopping for … The post These $149 earbuds solved my biggest problem with Apple’s AirPods appeared first on Ferdja.

May 25, 2023 - 22:00
These $149 earbuds solved my biggest problem with Apple’s AirPods


Soundcore Liberty 4 earbuds

execs and cons

  • Earbuds are comfy to put on
  • Permits for seamless multi-device switching and connectivity
  • Wonderful microphone high quality for the worth
  • Closely reliant on the app for listening and well being insights
  • Customized HearID isn’t essentially the most dependable
  • Stress insights can appear directionless

extra shopping for decisions

Anker’s audio arm, Soundcore, not too long ago launched the Liberty 4 earbuds which, at first, did not look favorable when stacked beside the AirPods Professional 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II hanging on my work desk. After spending every week with the $149 earbuds, although, I am glad I did not put it off as simply one other pair of wearables in what’s now one of the vital saturated markets in tech. 

For a way a lot the Liberty 4 prices, do not anticipate the earbuds to go toe-for-toe with the newest and best. As a substitute, the Soundcore buds excel in smaller points, together with well being monitoring and multi-device connectivity, taking small wins that add as much as a well-rounded expertise. And if these options occur to fall beneath your precedence record, then the Liberty 4 could also be top-of-the-line choices out there. Learn on. 



True wi-fi, In-canal, Lively Noise Canceling (ANC), Adaptive Noise Canceling


3 microphones per earbud


9.2 mm and 6mm twin dynamic drivers in every earbud 


Bluetooth 5.3


28 hours complete playtime; 24 hours ANC playtime 


Wi-fi and USB-C suitable 


Earbuds: IPX4


Bluetooth and AAC, SCC, and LDAC codecs


Midnight black, Cloud white 



Design and match

Contemplating the Liberty 4 earbuds have twin drivers, they’re impressively compact and sleek-looking. However with their brief stemmed design, it is arduous not to attract similarities between them and Apple’s AirPods. The inside design is straightforward, with copper-lined, translucent ear ideas. The gel ear tip has versatile twin layers, making them thicker than that of competing earbuds and even the Soundcore Area A40. 

The Liberty 4 has what I contemplate to be a hybrid match, counting on each the stems to hold in your ears and the ear tip cushions to mould to your ear canals. Collectively, the earbuds are very comfy. The thicker cushioning does take some getting used to, however as soon as the buds are on, they successfully lock into place. Sizing-wise, Soundcore affords the Liberty 4 ear tip cushions in small, medium, and enormous. Anybody who’s learn my earlier earbuds opinions will not be shocked to know that I opted for the smallest choice.


Sadly, the cushioned ear ideas don’t color-match with the precise earbuds.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Like most wi-fi earbuds, the Liberty 4 supply contact controls and a stem squeeze perform to change between ANC and ambient mode. My largest concern with contact controls is how delicate they are often, typically hanging up my calls abruptly or skipping a tune with the slightest faucet or brush-through. That is not the case right here. I appreciated that the Liberty 4 required a firmer contact enter and by no means ended my work conferences once I was merely readjusting the match. That is one facet of the Soundcore that I favor over different earbuds — and if you happen to’re simply as bothered by over-sensitive controls — you will in all probability like them simply as a lot. 

Overview: Soundcore’s new Liberty 4 earbuds with spatial audio can monitor your coronary heart price

Case designers, take be aware

Ever dropped your earbuds case and needed to look frantically for that one bud that completely blended along with your environment? Simply me? Whereas the Liberty 4 earbuds have no monitoring functionality, the case is cleverly designed so that you’re going to by no means have a misplaced earbud downside within the first place.

Relatively than flipping up from the highest like a pack of mints, the charging case slides outward  — much like old-school slide telephones. As a substitute of dropping the earbuds in stem-first, the Liberty 4 buds lay on their facet. The highest cowl’s elastic-like suggestions retains the case closed and earbuds from scattering upon influence — even from my 8-inch excessive desk. The slide case can be impressively compact for a way strong its battery life is. Soundcore says the case provides the earbuds a complete of 28 hours of playtime, which I can attest to after listening to them for 3-4 hours a day and solely needing to cost the case as soon as. 


The 2 earbuds match snugly within the slide-out charging case. 

Christina Darby/ ZDNET

Sound high quality: Much less is extra

The sound high quality on these earbuds isn’t market-leading by any means, nevertheless it’s nice for the worth. Whereas spatial audio isn’t as immersive as Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 and the earbuds haven’t got dozens of fancy certifications, the LDAC encoding is ample for wi-fi, lossless audio playback. Usually talking, listening to music and podcasts on the Liberty 4 is greater than satisfactory, particularly if you happen to do not contemplate your self to be an audiophile. You could not hear each particular person instrument or really feel the bass as you’d on higher-end earbuds, however coming from the AirPods — as did my colleague Sabrina Ortiz when she gave the buds a pay attention — there have been occasions once we discovered the Liberty 4 to sound higher than Apple’s providing.

Extra: The perfect wi-fi earbuds you should buy proper now

A lesson realized about ANC

With energetic noise cancellation (ANC) turning into a sizzling commodity for wi-fi earbuds, it is no shock that the Liberty 4 ticks the function field. However simply having the audio expertise isn’t sufficient, particularly if you happen to’re searching for ANC earbuds in particular. The ANC right here is efficient at blocking out lighter sounds, just like the buzzing of my AC unit, however typically struggled to mute the car-honking symphony outdoors my window.  

In hopes of enhancing the sound expertise, I attempted Soundcore’s HearID ANC, a customized take a look at that adjusts the noise-canceling ranges based mostly in your how effectively you may hear sure pitches and frequencies. The take a look at took about 5 minutes to play via a sequence of beeps and tones so, naturally, I used to be anticipating a noticeable distinction after the very fact. Sadly, the one main distinction I seen was how way more echoey the music sounded. A retest did not make issues higher. 


The cushioned ear ideas’ passive noise cancellation is extra helpful than HearID ANC.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Microphone high quality

For a lot of, together with myself, wi-fi earbuds aren’t only for audio listening however for calling. To me, microphone high quality issues — and Soundcore delivers on that finish. With the Liberty 4, I can hear the particular person on the opposite finish of my name clearly and have not gotten any complaints from my coworkers throughout Zoom calls — or the harshest microphone critic of all: my mom. To my disbelief, there was no, “I can hear all of New York Metropolis within the background” remark this time round. 

Overview: These spectacular earbuds are additionally self-sanitizing

Monitoring wellness

Whereas wellness wearables have been on the rise currently, the Liberty 4 earbuds are among the many first to incorporate coronary heart price monitoring. As an Apple Watch person, I used to be curious to see how the sensors from the $149 earbuds would maintain up towards the $399 monitor on my wrist. Curiously, each reported my resting coronary heart price equally, from me sitting at my desk at 65bpm to 95bpm throughout my out of doors walks. The hole in value did not make as massive of a distinction as I anticipated.

app view of soundcore liberty 4 buds

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Together with studying your coronary heart price throughout relaxation and train, the Liberty 4 earbuds supply stress degree evaluation. Primarily based on Coronary heart Charge Variability (HRV), the earbuds can detect and show your stress degree on the Soundcore app. My quibble with the stress function is that it merely notifies me of my stress somewhat than coupling the info with a suggestion or two for how you can destress. If I do know I am careworn however haven’t got an answer to alleviate it, I simply begin stressing about stressing! Whereas I recognize Soundcore’s intention, I feel they missed a chance to offer a extra useful in-app “stress reliever” expertise. 

Overview: Apple Watch 8 is a sleeper hit, even when it would not match Samsung’s sensors

Handy connectivity

Here is in all probability Anker’s largest win over competing producers, together with Apple: I can join the Liberty 4 earbuds to my laptop and my cellphone, and seamlessly swap between the 2. As soon as I’ve paired the earbuds through Bluetooth, I can shortly transition each the audio and microphone performance from one gadget to the opposite with out worrying about disconnections. 

If I am listening to my classical playlist as I churn out an article, however abruptly notice that I’ve a Zoom assembly that is about to start out, I can simply pause the audio on one gadget and be part of the assembly from one other while not having to reconnect the earbuds. 

Overview: AirPods Professional 2 supply two massive upgrades however connectivity chaos hasn’t been tamed

Concerning the Soundcore app

With the added well being options, the Soundcore app is the cornerstone of the Liberty 4’s listening and purposeful expertise. There are pluses and minuses to that. On the optimistic facet, the app is the important thing to accessing coronary heart price and stress degree knowledge, adjusting EQ, and the ANC HearID take a look at. It provides you higher management over what the earbuds do. On the opposite finish, the heavy reliance on the service can take away from the purity of simply popping on a pair of earbuds and listening to them for what they’re. 

Backside Line

Soundcore’s Liberty 4 earbuds execute the corporate’s promise of high quality sound at an reasonably priced value. With straightforward connectivity, a cushty design, and coronary heart price monitoring, the Liberty 4 earbuds are simply totally different sufficient to warrant your curiosity. Given the considerate design of the earbuds and the case, the distinctive microphone high quality, and, the truthful value of $149, I will be retaining the Liberty 4 earbuds on my desk for the foreseeable future. When you’re on the lookout for a strong pair of wi-fi earbuds, Soundcore’s Liberty 4 might not be game-changing, however additionally they will not disappoint. 

Alternate options to contemplate

In addition to the Soundcore Liberty 4, listed here are three different wi-fi earbuds that you need to contemplate: 

The post These $149 earbuds solved my biggest problem with Apple’s AirPods appeared first on Ferdja.