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Anker Soundcore hands-on: Gunning for the AirPods
Anker doesn’t just make batteries anymore. Under the Soundcore brand, the company has consistently impressed us with bang-for-your-buck audio gear.
The company has now released six new pairs of earbuds, and we’ve been able to spend some time with each one of them. All the new earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.0 and USB-C fast charging, which is great for anyone who is tired of carrying around a MicroUSB cable. There’s a lot to discuss here, so let’s get into all the gear that Anker announced today.
Also read: The best true-wireless earbuds you can buy
Anker Liberty 2 Pro
The big news today is that the company is getting into the premium earbud game with the new Liberty 2 Pro true-wireless earbuds. The company clearly emphasized that its goal is to make the best sounding true-wireless earbuds, which is difficult given the limits of physics once you start talking about spaces small enough to fit into your ears. To get around this, Anker created a new 11mm hybrid driver system which handles the mids and the highs, and another that handles bass response.
They feature Bluetooth 5 and have a slick charging case that slides open to reveal the earbuds. Anker promises eight hours of constant playback with the case providing four extra charges. In my limited use, they seemed fairly comfortable and sounded really good, but we’ll have to wait for a full review to see if they live up to the price of $149. Buttons on either earbud let you play or pause the music, skip tracks, and access your devices personal assistant but volume controls have to be done on device.
If HearID works as advertised, it could be a very big deal.
Anker is also doing some processing magic with something it’s calling “Hear ID,” which it says will be a custom sound profile tuned to your liking. If this works as advertised, it could be a very big deal.
You can pre-order them on September 26 via Anker’s website, or pick them up on Amazon or Best Buy on October 8.
Anker Spirit 2 Series
The Spirit 2 series consists of three new pairs of earbuds, two of which are true-wireless and one that’s a regular pair of earbuds. These focus almost exclusively on those looking to use their ‘buds in the gym, and they have some extra specs specifically for that purpose. First is a feature Anker is calling “BassUp.” Try to guess what that does.
Anker claims its BassUp technology analyzes your audio in real-time and can increase bass response by up to 43% depending on the song. For anyone who relies on that extra thump to keep them going in the gym, this is a welcome feature. Even more helpful is the new SweatGuard technology that specifically protects the earbuds even further against sweat and water. It’s a special seal that allows it to resist corrosive sweat more effectively than if it just had an IP rating.
Spirit 2 Bluetooth earbuds
The Spirit 2 is the standard pair of Bluetooth earbuds. These have 10mm drivers in each ‘bud and come with an IP68+ rating and 14 hours of constant playback. The quick-charging feature will also give you two extra hours of listening time with just five minutes on the charger. The control module has buttons for controlling music and they also come with ear wings to keep them securely in your ears.
The Spirit 2 Bluetooth earbuds will cost $49 and are available today.
Anker Spirit Dot 2 true-wireless earbuds
If you want the tiniest and most low-key true-wireless experience, the Anker Spirit Dot 2 is for you. These are a discrete pair of earbuds with an 8mm diamond-coated composite driver that, according to Anker, provides 15% more frequency bandwidth. I doubt that’s a number we can test even if we had them for a month, but in the quick hands-on I found they sounded fine and fit pretty much perfectly in my ears.
These also have a sleek charging case that slides smoothly. Not that I was expecting the experience to be janky, but there was clearly some attention given to the charging case which is definitely an underrated part of the overall experience. These also have Anker’s SweatGuard tech on top of an IPX7 rating, so you know they’ll be okay with living in your gym bag. On a single charge, Anker claims you’ll get about 5.5 hours with the case providing an extra 16 hours if you need it.
These will run you $79 when they’re released in October.
Anker Spirit X2 true-wireless earbuds
The last pair of ‘buds announced in the Spirit 2 series is the Anker Spirit X2 true-wireless earbuds. Similar to the Powerbeats Pro, the Spirit X2 feature an around-ear hook design for a more secure fit. Unlike the Apple Powerbeats Pro, however, the Spirit X2 has a flexible earhook for a more comfortable wearing experience. This is good news for anyone who tends to have trouble finding ‘buds that fit their ears as these won’t go flying to the floor while you’re working out.
Besides also having the new SweatGuard hydroseal, these are IP68 certified and have nine hours of constant playback. Once they die you can toss them back in the case for an extra four charges. The Spirit X2 is also the only earbuds in the Spirit 2 series with aptX compatibility.
These will also be released in October and will retail for $99.
Anker Liberty Air series
The Soundcore Liberty Air true-wireless earbuds were reviewed at our sibling site SoundGuys at the end of 2018 and left a fairly good impression. Now, Anker is releasing two new products for everyday carry that it hopes will be the ‘buds you throw in your pocket on your way out the door. Both of these options are going to be available in October for $99.
Anker Liberty 2
The Anker Liberty 2 are the classic true-wireless earbuds. These are slightly larger than the Spirit Dot 2 true-wireless earbuds and manage to fit 10mm driver in each earbud which should hopefully result in better sound quality. They get eight hours on a single charge and the case will give you another four charges, but it’s the HearID custom sound software that will hopefully really make these shine in everyday use as they will basically EQ your music to what sounds best in your ears.
The Liberty 2 also have an IPX5 rating and are sweatproof as well, but you won’t find the SweatGuard hydroseal on these as you will on their Spirit 2 line of workout earbuds. These are also optimized for voice calls with four cVc noise cancelling microphones to make your voice sound clearer to the person on the other end.
Anker Liberty Air 2
The follow up to the original Liberty Air, the Liberty Air 2 have a slightly new design covering a re-worked interior. We still have to get these in for a closer look, but just holding these in hand gives the impression that Anker really worked out the kinks from the originals. The case (especially the white one) has a grippy texture that no longer looks like it will be a fingerprint magnet, and it snaps open perfectly to reveal the earbuds.
These also feature noise-cancelling microphones for clearer vocals and the HearID software for custom sound, both of which should make a nice improvement to the overall experience over last years model. Better yet, these come in a wireless charging case and have aptX compatibility along with an IPX5 build. In here though, you’ll only get 6mm drivers instead of the 10mm found in the Liberty 2.
Too good to be true? We’ll see
Anker made it a point to say that the goal of the company is to print great sound down to lower price points that everyone can enjoy. Basically all of these options seem like great alternatives to some of the more expensive options you can get right now, but a spec sheet doesn’t always translate to a great experience. A big part of the experience is how well the earbuds connect to each other and how well they auto-connect to the phone. Neither of which we were able to really test in the hands-on area. That said, I am excited to get my hands on these for full reviews.
Which one of these appeal to you the most? Are you looking for premium sound, a pair of workout ‘buds, or just a pair of earbuds to grab on your way out the door?