Soundcore Life Q30 Review Hybric ANC Headphones With Carry Case

Friday, December 18, 2020

Going head to head against the anc big boys, Soundcore makes a sound judgement by releasing the Life Q30 - a feature-packed pair of anc headphones that sets the bar high in the world of budget anc headphones, while simultaneously putting the big boys on notice!
The top side of the earcups have large vent ports (small meshed openings), as well as pinholes, containing the active noise cancellation (anc) microphones. There are a couple more anc microphones inside the earcups; hence the Soundcore Life Q30 has a hybrid anc setup similar to the new Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, as well as Sony and Bose anc headphones. At the budget price point the Life Q30 headphones come in, most anc headphones tend to only have a feedforward anc setup (with anc mics outside). There is also a feedback anc type with the mics inside the earcup, which is not as common.
The hybrid type anc used in the Soundcore Life Q30 is a couple of levels above budget anc and about 80% as good as premium anc. The Life Q30 anc cuts out rumbling type noises and humming, as well as some higher frequencies and people chatter. Because of the hybrid anc set up, the Life Q30 anc is also liable to experiencing hiss noise from wind, which you don't get with feedback anc. 
That said, because the anc microphones are also located on the outside of the earcup, the Life Q30 also benefit from a nifty feature called transparency mode, which lets ambient noise in. This feature works extremely well, letting in a lot outside sounds into the earcups with clarity and detail. In terms of passive isolation, the Life Q30 do a good job, although not as good as the Vortex headphones, which have thicker earpads and deeper cups.
The Life Q30 internal earpad measurements are 5.5cm wide and 6cm high, while the external measurements are 9.5cm high, 8cm wide and 1.5cm thick. The earcup depth is 2cm. The Life Q30 memory foam earpads have a true over-ear design with a round, slightly oval shape to them. The large hole opening exposes large R and L markings printed on the thin fabric covering the speaker drivers.
The Life Q30 earcup hinges and headphone yoke are made of quality plastic that doesn't squeak under stress. The earcups have good amount of up and down tilt, as well as swivel motion so, the earcups can be laid flat (inward direction only) to carry them comfortably on the chest. The earpads are really squishy and covered with soft leather-like material, which really seals the ears with very little sound leakage bleeding out.
Being leatherette material though, the Life Q30 earpads do heat up the ears when it's warm outside. The Life Q30 headphones are as lightweight (265 grams) as the Vortext headphones but they're more comfortable to wear for longer because of the Life Q30 large hole opening, which properly envelopes the ears without pressuring them. 
The Soundcore Life Q30 folding mechanism is made of plastic and operates smoothly without making any squeaks. The Life Q30 headband has a peculiar design, featuring a metal band on the outside that slides on the inside of the plastic headband. The metal band has a polished brushed aluminium finish with an aerated side opening for ventilation. The headband has a notched sliding mechanism, which is smooth and easy to operate while wearing the headphones.
The Life Q30 pair easily via nfc or bluetooth 5.0 and shows a blinking led status when connected and while playing audio. The bluetooth connection disconnects automatically when plugging in the charging cable; hence you cannot listen to wireless audio and re-charge the Life Q30 at the same time. You can re-charge them and listen to audio at the same time when using the audio cable though, which is convenient. However, the aux port is active, meaning it needs power in order to work, unlike the passive port of most wired-only headphones. This means, you cannot use the Life Q30 when the battery is flat.
There is an audible beep when max volume is reached, as well as voice prompts for battery level, anc and transparency mode. The voice prompts are loud and clear even at 100% volume. When set to 100% volume and turning on anc, the bass frequency experiences some distortion (watvh video below), which is only noticeable when the bass kicks in. This does not happen with anc turned off or during transparency mode even at 100% volume.
In normal mode and/or transparency mode, the Life Q30 40mm drivers have a natural sounding, deep bass. The vocals come in clear, while the instrumentals are clean. The Life Q30 sound signature seems more on the treble side but, you can adjust it from the Soundcore app, which gives you access to an 8-band equalizer so, you can tinker the sound to your liking. 
The Soundcore app has a skip option so, you aren't required to signup, which is nice although, you will need an account if you want to save EQ settings since they don't get automatically saved to the headphones.
The Soundcore app has several sound presets to choose from and, you can customize your own. The Soundcore app also allows you to update the Life Q30 firmware (the latest version is 1.80) and gives you access to three anc modes: transport, indoor and outdoors, which work like an anc equalizer slightly adjusting the anc to the conditions. This type of app support really sets the Soundcore Life Q30 apart from the anc headphone competition and, the Soundcore app even has a "sleep" feature, which plays relaxing sounds to help you sleep.
Another useful feature added to the Life Q30 package, it's multipoint pairing. This feature works well, allowing you to simultaneously pair two devices (i.e. two phones) so, you can listen to music on one device and answer calls on the other device. Even more neat, it's the fact that multipoint automatically switches seamlessly when receiving a call so, you don't have to do it manually. The Life Q30 has two further noise cancelling microphones for calls, which deliver lean and bright sound.
The Life Q30 battery performance with anc turned on is much better than previous Soundcore anc headphones, namely the Soundcore Life 2. With volume set to 60%, the Life Q30 is able to get a runtime of 39 hours with anc on and 58 hours with anc off. The Life Q30 charging time is 2 hours with 5 minutes fast charge support, which provides 4 hours of runtime. There is no 7.1 surround sound built-in, which is nice for gaming but, if you have an Xbox One and Windows 10 computer, you can enable Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic to create a similar spatial effect. There is no aptX support like in the Vortex headphones, only SBC and AAC, which means you may notice lag on android devices.
Compared to the Soundcore Life 2, the Soundcore Life Q30 have improved on almost every department, aside from the physical buttons, which do have a lovely tactile feel but, they're made of thin plastic and are easier to activate by accident. The buttons on the Life 2 headphones are large and rubbery so, they feel more solid. That said, the Soundcore Life Q30 has another trick up its sleeve and that is being able to control the anc and transparency mode by covering the right earcup with the palm of your hand. There is nice gold-detail engraving on the front side of the earcups.
Lastly, it's the accessories. The Life Q30 ship with a snazzy shard shell case made with close-knit, soft fabric material. The outer shell nor the zip are waterproof, although the zip is concealed so, the coil teeth are hidden, which prevents dirt ingress and slows down water ingress. The metal zip slider has a metal pull tab and there is also long webbing loop designed to be used as a lanyard.
The inside of the Life Q30 hardshell case is lined with soft, spandex-like material and features preformed cutouts for the headphones, as well as an elastic close-knit mesh pocket for storing the included cables. The hardshell case is branded with a metal Soundcore engraving. The included cables are a charging USB-A to USB-C cable and a 1-meter long audio cable with 3.5mm male connectors on both ends. Total weight of the travel case, cables and headphones is 507 grams. The travel case alone weighs 186 grams and the audio cable weighs 12 grams. You can buy the Soundcore Life Q30 on amazon. Check out the review of the Spirit Dot 2 true wireless and the new Soundcore Life P3 hybrid ANC earbuds and Soundcore Space Q45

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