review

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Totally Wireless Earphones

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The convenience of a small size, no cables and portability makes totally wireless earphones a sound choice for many people.
If you are in the market for totally wireless earphones that are discreet and stylish, you will find these with the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air earbuds which have a long stem design reminiscent of a miniature mono bluetooth headset.
There are no physical buttons on the Liberty Air earphones, favoring instead touch controls which seamlessly compliments the high gloss plastic finish.
The lack of physical buttons on the Liberty Air means that there is no tactile feedback as such. You have to tap to operate the controls and tapping is not as intuitive as pressing a physical button, but the touch control does work as long as your fingerprint isn't too greasy to affect touch sensitivity.
The left earbud controls the skipping to the previous track, power on/off and mute. The right earbud controls the skipping to the next track, play/pause, answer call, hang up call and reject call. The tapping patterns aren't complicated but take a bit of time getting used to.
The very bottom of the Liberty Air long stem features one microphone and two pin grooves for making contact with the metal prongs inside the case housing which is magnetized to keep the earbuds securely in place. The Liberty Air charging case weighs 44 grams and measures 6cm long, 4cm wide and 2.5 cm thick.
The Soundcore Liberty Air charging case body is made of thermoplastic material so it has the feel of silicone rubber and the durability of hard plastic.
The front of the Soundcore Liberty Air charging case features three leds to indicate battery level. One flashing led means battery is less than 5% and three solid leds means battery level is above 70%.
The design of the Liberty Air charging case is ergonomic so it features curved edges although the top of the lid is flat so you can keep the charging case upright on a desk with the micro USB port upside down for charging.
Charging is done via the included 60cm long micro USB cable that you can conveniently hook to a portable power bank. If you need a longer charging cable, there is the PowerLine Plus which is 90 cm long!
The micro USB port isn't protected with a rubber flap so the Liberty Air charging case doesn't have a waterproof/ dustproof rating although the earbuds are waterproof with an IPX5 rating.
There is also a status led indicator on both Soundcore Liberty Air ear pieces which has a subtle brightness and will either flash red (to indicate low battery life) or show solid white, "breathing" white and steady white (during charging).
The Liberty Air bluetooth pairing process consists of the right Liberty Air earbud connecting to the device and the left Liberty air earbud connecting to the right earbud automatically. The Liberty Air bluetooth connectivity process is straightforward but doesn't allow both earbuds to be used independently so you can only make calls with the right (master) earbud only.
With some true wireless stereo earbuds, both earpieces connect to the phone directly, allowing you to use the earbuds independently from each other as two single mono earbuds. While you cannot use the Liberty Air as two mono earbuds, the audio call does go through both earbuds which amplifies the audio call.
The Soundcore Liberty Air ear pieces are in-ear headphones so they have passive noise isolation as the earphones insert and seal off the ear canal, blocking out background noise passively which makes the listening and calling experience better.

Earbuds that insert in the ear canal also have another advantage over earbuds that sit on the outside of the ear canal and that is more secure fit. The Soundcore Liberty Air earbuds also have an angled design and weigh just 5.5 grams each which makes their fit comfortable and even more secure so they won't fall out of your ears.
As well as passive noise isolation, there is also what's called, uplink noise reduction, which is a noise filtering technology usually found on Distributed antenna systems (DAS). Uplink noise reduction works similarly to Qualcomm CVC technology but instead of suppressing background noise internally by using a noise reduction algorithm, the Soundcore Liberty Air dual microphones filter out background noise via your mobile network while you are on a call. 
Liberty Air frequency response 20Hz-20kHz
As far as sound, the Soundcore Liberty Air 6mm drivers are coated with graphene, just like the Zolo Liberty earbuds, which has the advantage of being super light, allowing the drivers to be more efficient. The Liberty Air earbuds produce loud volume and clear flat sound with adequate balance between low and high frequencies although the Liberty Air favor the treble frequencies a little more.

each Liberty Air earbud integrates a 55 mAh battery
More efficient drivers and faster wireless connectivity (i.e bluetooth 5.0) equals better performance and reduced power consumption. The Liberty Air enjoys all of these advantages giving you between 4.5 and 5 hours of battery life from a single charge and a 12-meter wireless range.
When playing music on medium volume, you get close to 5 hours of playtime but slightly less talk time when talking on the phone. The Liberty Air also feature power saving modes if the earbuds aren't connected to any device (they shut off automatically in 2 minutes) or standby mode when connected to a phone but audio isn't playing. 
The Soundcore Liberty Air battery life is further extended up to 20 hours via the included charging case which has an internal 500mAh (1.85Wh) rechargeable battery that doubles as a portable power bank. There is no quick charge feature on the Liberty Air but charging time takes a reasonable 2 hours. 
The Soundcore Liberty Air are great all-rounders for listening to music but without aptX low latency and AAC support, you will notice audio lag when watching videos so the audio will be out of sync with the video. The audio lag isn't very noticeable when watching lossy compressed videos but the lag is more noticeable when watching lossless uncompressed video formats like  MP4, MOV or M4V format which is used by iTunes.
The Soundcore Liberty Air won't work simultaneously connected to two devices so if you want to use the Liberty Air with a second device, you have to turn off bluetooth connection from the first device.
There is automatic pairing though so the Liberty Air earbuds automatically connect to your phone when removing them from the charging case. You can pair to both android devices and Apple devices including the Apple Watch and iPhone X.
The Liberty Air earbuds come with standard silicone tips and while you can use third party foam tips you won't be able to fit the earbuds back in the charging case.

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