Anker continues its push in the true wireless space with the release of its first-ever noise-cancelling wireless earbuds: the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. Very similar to their predecessor, the popular Liberty Air 2, these buds share many of the same hallmarks such as ample battery life, dynamic audio, and great call quality. The one twist is that this new model comes equipped with active noise cancellation, as well as fresh intuitive features that personalize the listening experience.
- Our expert picks for the best wireless earbuds, per budget and style
- Check out our Apple AirPods Pro review
- …and our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
The Liberty Air 2 Pro has some stiff competition, which includes the category-leading AirPods Pro and other critical darlings such as the Sony WH-1000xM3 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. However, these buds have something that works to their advantage: price. And for only $130, Anker’s flagship buds undercut the competition, delivering a solid overall performance that places them in the same tier as some of the other true wireless greats.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Availability and price
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro are available for $130 at major online retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, or directly from Anker. These buds are sold in four colors: Crystal Pink, Onyx Black, Sapphire Blue, and Titanium White. Bundled with the purchase are a wireless charging case, nine pairs of ear tips, a user guide, and a USB-C charging cable.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Design
Anker has stepped up its aesthetics game, creating some fine-looking, well-built wireless headphones and earbuds over the past two years. Reference the Liberty Air 2 or recently launched Soundcore Life Q30 should you need a reminder. The Liberty Air 2 Pro feels more premium than the AirPods Pro and looks slightly better, despite copying Apple’s wireless stem design.
Not much has changed from the original model, except maybe two details. The touch panels on the front blend more into the design for a unibody appearance. Also, Anker chose to drop the IPX rating from IPX5 to IPX4, a move that is a bit puzzling, as the former offers stronger protection against rain, sweat, and strong water splash. That leaves you with the same water resistance as the AirPods Pro. On the plus side, the all-plastic casing is resilient, so you won’t have to worry about scratches or breaking the buds if they spill onto the ground.
Another area where the Liberty Air 2 Pro has an advantage over the AirPods Pro is the colors. You already know what Apple gives you (ugh, white). Anker offers four colors to choose from – Black, Blue, Pink, and White – each one bold and very attractive with a matte finish.
The charging case is redesigned this time around, featuring a pebble shape with a slide-up door that gorgeously displays the buds; notice the grip imprint to push open. Taking the buds out are as easy as dropping them in. Other details like the Soundcore logo on the top, LEDs for battery indication, and the pairing button on the back are nice touches as well. I also like the case’s lightweight feel and soft-touch finish, though the material does scuff easily.
How do they feel on the ears? Moderately comfortable. The larger angled sound port allows the buds to rest right on the concha for a good amount of time before fatigue sets in. I enjoyed about 2 hours of wireless listening before experiencing slight soreness. The tips provided a secure fit and strong seal, which helped with noise isolation and kept external sounds from entering the soundstage when having both listening modes turned off.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Controls and digital assistant
The Liberty Air 2 Pro support touch gestures and motion detection, though neither operates perfectly. For starters, there is latency with input. Performing quick taps isn’t very effective; you have to tap them gradually for the touch sensors to register. Also, on-ear detection operates on a delay, resuming/pausing playback within a 1-to-2-second time frame after removing or placing the buds back on your ears.
Anker gives you many programmed controls that can be assigned to each individual bud via a companion app. This includes playback, call management, voice assistant activation, volume, and cycling through the listening modes. Unfortunately, the buds are limited to two-tap and hold gestures, meaning you’ll have to be selective with the controls you assign or swap one out for another. Cheaper ANC models like the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC offer more extensive control customization, so there’s no reason why Anker can’t do the same.
Digital assistant support is one of the redeeming qualities in this section. Outside of the latency problems when firing up Google Assistant or Siri, Anker’s mic-array demonstrates accurate speech recognition to hear and answer voice commands quickly. But there is one thing that is absolutely brutal to deal with: the beep noise that confirms the feature is on. It’s harmfully loud, no matter what volume you set.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Active noise cancellation and transparency mode
ANC on the Liberty Air 2 Pro is impressive for the most part. Is it Bose or Sony quality? No, but it’s good enough to block out specific noises, mostly ones that you’ll encounter indoors.
Anker engineered four different ANC modes: Transport, Indoor, Outdoor, and Custom. The first three were made for specific environments, while Custom lets you adjust the noise reduction levels via an on-screen dial. I didn’t play around too much with it, but I got some great use out of Indoors during work hours, which helped cancel out voices and mid-frequency sounds. Distractions like my wife’s Zoom conferences and family members barging into my office were muted. My newborn was also quiet for the most part, at least until he started crying at the top of his lungs; no mode was capable of silencing him then.
When listening to music outside, I got some decent ANC performance. Transport actually provided better noise neutralization than Outdoor, minimizing typical droning noises like car engines, along with ambulance sirens and barge construction. It didn’t completely block out the fracas, but, again, it minimized it well enough to not pull me away from music.
What really stood out was the Transparency Mode. It does a fantastic job of picking up ambient sounds to increase environmental awareness. Also, Anker takes the feature a step further with two different modes: Fully Transparent to hear all ambient sounds and Vocal to make voices more prominent. Mainly those with detailed hearing will pick up on the performance differences between the two, but you’ll definitely hear them when enabling Vocal around a chatty crowd.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: audio quality
Anker’s efforts to enhance its sound signature haven’t gone unnoticed. Every new release in the Liberty lineup has produced dynamic results, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Liberty Air 2 Pro stay on-trend. The company's PureNote Driver technology helps to achieve a rich, punchy sound that lends itself well to most music genres.
As a hip-hop fanatic, there was no better place for me to start than with some DMX. Blasting “What’s My Name” at max volume was an adrenaline rush, as the pounding drums weren’t too boomy and maintained a bouncy resonance that stimulated neck-breaking head nods. While the low end is emphasized on Anker’s sound signature, the bass was well balanced on this track and blended nicely with X’s furious vocals for an energetic listen. Much of those vibes carried over onto Green Day’s “Basket Case,” with the crashing cymbals and snares having an impactful presence.
Switching over to Jazz, I picked up on a few of the Liberty Air 2 Pro’s sonic deficiencies. Highs were lacking, as exhibited on piano solos like Mal Waldron’s “All Alone,” which weren’t as pleasant-sounding as on the AirPods Pro and WF-1000xM3. The keys sounded a bit hollow, and high-pitched notes weren’t striking enough for my taste.
Video content sounds really good on these buds. Watching the latest The Falcon and Winter Soldier trailer was exciting, with sound effects like explosions and Falcon soaring through the skies being clear and detailed. Dialogue-heavy clips were also audible, though you will want to set the volume to the max because they can sound very low.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: App and special features
The Anker Soundcore app is one of the best in the category, offering multiple ways to extend functionality, from sound customization to optimized fit. There is much to play with.
Most users will immediately flock to the EQ, which can be manually tweaked to your hearing and comes with 22 music presets that accommodate specific content and music genres. You would be doing yourself a disservice by not sticking with the default (Soundcore Signature), but the majority of these do perform well and are worth checking out, depending on what you’re listening to. There is also the HearID feature that will map and analyze your hearing sensitivity at multiple levels to create a sound profile. Personally, I didn’t find it necessary to use, but it could come in handy for those with hearing issues.
Next up is the Tip Fit Test, Anker’s answer to Apple’s Ear Tip Fit Test. According to my results, the standard tips provided a “good seal” on both ears. Then again, several other tip sizes said the same thing, so I have to question the feature’s validity. I didn’t expect it to be as accurate as Apple’s test, and even that isn’t perfect. Still, Anker’s version is a work in progress that can be useful with some fixes.
Something else Anker recently integrated into its app is the LÜM music service that offers listeners access to thousands of independent artists. It’s an interesting partnership, as well as a nice bonus for those who love discovering new musicians.
Rounding out the app are battery level indicators for each bud, toggle controls for wearing detection and voice prompts, firmware updates, and live chat/phone support if you require troubleshooting assistance. The only thing missing is a Find My Buds feature, something we hope could be added in a future update, or at least Google Find My Device support.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Battery life and charging case
Anker rates battery life at 6 hours with ANC on, 6.5 hours with Transparency mode on, and 7 hours with both modes disabled. Realistically, all playtimes are about 35 minutes shorter than advertised, which is still longer than the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) and Sony WF-1000xM3 (6 hours) with ANC on. Using the buds for 2 hours daily, I got about 3 days’ worth of entertainment before having to toss them into the charging case.
Speaking of which, the charging case holds up to 26 hours, equating to three full charges. Quick charging is also available and expedites the process by generating up to 3 hours of use on a 15-minute charge. Anker claims the case supports wireless charging, though I couldn’t get it working on my Qi-enabled wireless pad. That isn’t to say the feature doesn’t work, it just didn’t on my charger.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Call quality and connectivity
The Liberty Air 2 had some surprisingly good call quality, and its successor is no different. Expect clear-sounding calls on both ends, along with really good noise reduction. When taking my wife’s calls outside, she praised how loud and crisp I sounded, and how well the buds blocked out external sounds. Wind resistance could be better, as she did hear some wind and cars zipping by the house.
Connectivity remains a strong point for Anker. The Liberty Air 2 Pro is exemplary, establishing reliable connections between devices to create a respectable range of 10 meters (est. 35 feet). This was long enough to run to the bathroom across the house and still hear music; taking a few steps past that mark does cause serious stuttering. The initial pairing process is simple and quick, and re-pairing to known devices is even quicker. Anker also lets you use the buds in either stereo or mono mode if you prefer to use a specific bud individually.
My only complaint is no multipoint technology to pair the buds to two devices simultaneously.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: Verdict
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro are a great AirPods Pro alternative at half the price. You get superb audio performance and a variety of features that enhance the listening experience. The multiple ANC and transparency modes are greatly appreciated and work really well compared to many cheap buds and some sub-luxury models (above $200). Other notables to consider here are the clear call quality, dependable connectivity, and sufficient playtimes from both the buds and charging case.
All compliments aside, the Liberty Air 2 Pro aren’t perfect by any means. The controls still need a lot of work, as the touch gestures suffer from latency issues. And as great as the sound is, the high end doesn’t shine on these buds.
For the extra bucks, you can get better noise cancellation and fuller sound from the AirPods Pro or WH-1000xM3. However, Anker’s new flagship buds are a well-rounded performer that gets you more bang for the buck.