Laptop Mag Verdict
At $149, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 gives you high-end features like adaptive ANC and spatial audio for less than the AirPods Pro 2.
Satisfying sound and call quality
Plenty of audio customization settings
Impressive fitness features
Acceptable battery life
Subpar spatial audio
Some features need work
Carries the appearance of a cheap AirPods alternative
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Anker launches new wireless earbuds as fast as they release new portable chargers. It was only a few weeks back that they launched the $99 Space A40, inexpensive noise-cancelling earbuds that could arguably serve as the brand’s flagship true wireless model. Well, the company made sure to save their biggest release for the holidays: the Liberty 4.
Colors: Cloud White; Midnight Black
Battery life (rated): 5 hours (Spatial Audio); 7 hours (ANC on); 9 hours (ANC off); 15 hours (charging case with Spatial Audio); 24 hours (charging case with ANC on); 28 hours (charging case with ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3
Water resistance: Yes (IPX4)
Size: 1.21 x 0.88 x 0.96 inches (per bud); 2.31 x 2.22 x 1.15 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.53 ounces (charging case)
- Our expert picks for the best wireless earbuds, per budget and style
- Check out our Apple AirPods Pro review
- …and our Sony WF-1000XM4 review
This fourth-gen model builds on series staples such as customizable sound, personalized active noise cancellation (ANC), and stable connectivity. It also introduces features (LDAC, spatial audio, squeeze controls) normally found on luxury wireless earbuds. As enticing as it all sounds on paper, not everything hits its mark, and that’s OK.
Read on to see why the Liberty 4 is well worth the investment.
- Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 for $149 at Amazon (Cloud White)
- Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 for $149 at Amazon (Midnight Black)
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Availability and price
The Liberty 4 can be purchased for $149 at major online retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, or directly from Anker. Two colors are sold: Cloud White and Midnight Black. What’s in the box? A wireless charging case, USB-C charging cable, four different sizes of ear tips, and a quick start guide.
Those who purchase the black version through Anker will receive a free PowerLine III USB-C cable, while supplies last.
These are some of the more affordable spatial audio earbuds out there, listed much lower than category leaders like the AirPods Pro 2 ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279). The Liberty 4 also shares the same price point as the well-received Beats Studio Buds ($149). If this is too high for your budget, check out the Creative Outlier Pro ANC ($79), which is an inexpensive alternative with great ANC and 3D sound capabilities.
Be sure to bookmark our headphone deals page for the latest sales.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Design and comfort
For functional reasons, Anker went with a long-stem design versus the Liberty 3 Pro’s more attractive, flat oval-shaped design. Details are minimal with the logo and Soundcore branding printed on the front. The shiny gloss finish does give the buds a nice shine factor, but the overall look is very basic. I expected better, especially after the Space A40’s great reception.
Thankfully, build quality wasn’t compromised. The plastic wrapped around these buds is sturdy and built to last. An IPX4 rating keeps them protected from excessive sweat and heavy water splashing.
I’m glad Anker chose to keep the cool lid-sliding charging case, which is pocket friendly and displays the buds nicely when docked. Like the buds, it’s mostly built from plastic, but still feels durable compared to most other cases. The debossed Soundcore logo and thin LED strip to indicate pairing and battery level statuses are nice touches.
You’ll get acceptable comfort out of the Liberty 4. Some soreness will occur the longer you wear the buds, with the cavity pressing up against the concha after a while. I would wear them for two-hour stretches before giving my ears a breather.
Despite missing the Liberty 3 Pro’s flexible ear wings, the Liberty 4 maintains a stable fit. The extra sets of tips accommodate listeners with different ear shapes. Anker’s app also provides visuals on how to establish optimal fit. I would have suggested using the Fit Test instead, but the software isn’t reliable; receiving a “good seal” confirmation for both buds when the right bud was barely hanging from my ear says all you need to know.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Controls and digital assistant
Spatial Audio isn’t the only bold addition Anker introduced on the Liberty 4. The company went on to steal another popular feature from the AirPods Pro: the force sensor. There’s one installed at the bottom of each stem to execute a variety of different functions, including playback, call management, volume, digital assistance, and listening mode activation. You can assign these to single-, double- or triple-press commands in the Soundcore app.
Anker even gives you sensitivity settings for the sensors: softest, soft, normal, firm, and firmest. I was fine with the default (softest), though it felt like the settings were labeled wrong. Firmest was most sensitive to presses, while the opposite applied to softest. Either way, the sensors were responsive to input. I still prefer the AirPods Pro’s sensors, mainly because they support the long-hold gesture, something that is missing from the Liberty 4.
Wear detection is available to initiate auto-pause/play when removing or wearing the buds. It needs work. There were times when auto-pause wouldn’t activate, and if it did, there was a 3-second delay. Auto-play was less reliable. I tried calibrating the feature in the app, but that didn’t fix anything.
The digital assistant feature performed decently. Voice commands were handled better on Android devices. Anker’s mic array demonstrated strong speech recognition with Google Assistant and Bixby, plus both AI bots responded accurately to tasks and didn’t suffer from lag like Siri did (mostly on macOS).
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Audio quality
These are Anker’s most advanced-sounding wireless earbuds to date. There is a lot to discuss, so let’s begin with sound quality right out of the box. The dual dynamic driver system produces rich, well-balanced audio, and the default Soundcore Signature EQ adds oomph to the low end.
The snares on the Police’s “When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around” had some nice punch to them. However, it was the synthesized drum effects during the hook that showcased the Liberty 4’s sonic depth; this is a subtle nuance made more transparent. I also liked how warm and pleasant the bass guitar plucks and vocals sounded.
I was surprised by how well the Liberty 4 handled frequencies on Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” a record known for its monstrous low end. The pounding drums dominated the soundscape without creating any distortion and left enough room for the cymbals to shine.
Anker offers multiple ways to tweak sound in the Soundcore app. Hallmarks like the 8-band custom EQ and numerous, well-engineered presets remain intact. There’s the HearID Sound feature that gauges your hearing sensitivity to create a sound profile; mine helped improve the low and mid-range. Hi-Res Audio comes part of the package through LDAC codec support, allowing for lossless streaming with compatible music services (e.g., Tidal, Qobuz).
The newest feature introduced is spatial audio with headtracking, which places the Liberty 4 in line with upmarket releases like the AirPods Pro 2 and WF-1000XM4. If only it worked as well as it does on other models. Music Mode creates bloated bass that ruins most contemporary tracks. Movie Mode is more immersive and suitable for watching action movies. Unfortunately, Anker’s headtracking technology isn’t on point; sound didn’t always travel from one ear to another when moving my head left to right or vice versa.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Active noise cancellation
Anker continues to build on their ANC technology, this time offering adaptive noise cancellation via HearID ANC. It tailors noise neutralization to your hearing by examining the sound levels in your environment and assigning one of three modes: Weak, Moderate, or Strong. The feature did an adequate job of automatically adjusting to my environments, though I preferred the manual setting since it let me hear the differences in ANC performance between each mode.
Strong performed the best and minimized high-frequency sounds, but also let in some low-frequency sounds. Weak did the complete opposite, whereas Moderate suppressed low and mid frequencies well.
There is a Normal noise-cancelling mode available, and it’s the more well-balanced of all options. It’s great for silencing common distractions around the house like iPhone ringers, loud TVs, and talkative spouses. Blaring noises like my son’s cries and juice blenders were unavoidable and broke my concentration. Nothing changed outdoors. Pedestrians and the droning sounds from truck engines were silent, while sirens and whistles made their way onto music tracks.
Wind resistance has improved from past Anker models and greatly reduces the harsh whisking effects produced in gusty conditions.
Transparency mode comes with two self-explanatory modes: Fully Transparent and Vocal. Fully Transparent came in handy during strolls with the baby, allowing me to keep tabs on traffic and any incidents occurring in the neighborhood. Vocal demonstrated strong vocal capture, which made it easy to communicate with the missus from across the living room.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: App and special features
As with all Anker audio products, the Soundcore app is the hub for extended functionality. A plethora of features await you, many of which have already been discussed in detail. These include Ambient Sound, EQ, Fit Test, HearID ANC/Sound, In-Ear Detection Calibration, LDAC, and Spatial Audio. Anker didn’t stop there though.
Wellness monitoring features were built into the buds, including 24-hour heart rate tracking and a manual stress test. They work surprisingly well, but the results you’d get from an Apple Watch or Fitbit device are more reliable. The Soundcore app can track any activity you want in the custom workout setting, or you can keep things simple by selecting the brisk walking or running option. Stats like duration, calories, and bpm (beats per minute) are logged, with the latter used to determine your heart rate zone over the course of a week. My recorded data was convincing enough to take Anker’s audio feedback seriously.
I found the stress test most useful. My stress levels are often high heading into the holidays, and the sensors picked up on my edginess, especially after a few espresso shots.
An auto power off function, firmware updates, user manual, and battery level indicators for both buds and the charging case round out the app.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Battery life and charging case
Battery life ranges depending how you use the buds. According to Anker, you’ll get 5 hours when using spatial audio, 7 hours with ANC on, and 9 hours with ANC off. These are accurate playtimes. Keep in mind that high volume can decrease them by about 45 minutes. I was satisfied with ANC playtime, resulting in 3 days of moderate use (est. 2.5 hours daily) before recharging. I would have loved to enjoy 3D listening for longer stretches, but what Anker offers is on par with the AirPods Pro.
The charging case supports wireless charging and holds up to 28 hours, translating to 4 additional charges when using ANC. That’s short of the AirPods Pro 2’s case (30 to 34 hours), but higher than most cases in its price class.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Call quality and connectivity
Another area where Anker shows progression is call quality. The Liberty 4 delivers loud, clear-sounding calls. Most people I spoke with were impressed with the vocal clarity and noise reduction on my end, barely hearing any background noise when walking past bridges and construction sites. Wind resistance wasn’t as serviceable for calls; any contact with the mics often resulted in muffle.
These are some of the newer buds to come with Bluetooth 5.3, and the technology operates flawlessly. Pairing to iOS/macOS and Android devices were a breeze, though I wish one-tap Google Fast Pair was available. Range extends up to 60 feet.
Multipoint technology isn’t advertised, but it is available (check the Dual Connections setting in the app) to pair the buds with two devices simultaneously. It works well and makes switching between devices seamless.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 review: Verdict
Stronger sound, smarter ANC, and surprising features that work much better than you’d expect, the Liberty 4 is a compelling purchase for those seeking a solid AirPods Pro 2 alternative on a budget. Anker needs to polish a few things, specifically spatial audio, and some of the controls. More thought could have been put into the design. Nonetheless, it’s hard to pass up on adept noise-cancellers with this much sonic versatility.