Anker has managed to hold its own against giant tech rivals by delivering better-than-expected sound and cramming features into its Soundcore-branded wireless earbuds — all while priced lower than the competition. The Liberty 3 Pros are the latest example of this and show how far the company has come in audio product design.
At $170, the Liberty 3 Pros are the most advanced earbuds in the Soundcore lineup, with dual drivers in every button, active noise cancellation, wireless charging, plus added conveniences like multipoint and LDAC support. They offer a powerful, rich sound signature that’s a step above something like the Liberty Air 2 Pro, long battery life, IPX4 water resistance and more. They are also available in a range of colors including white, black, purple and the gray set I reviewed.
As for the ear and wing tips that come in the box, Anker tends to throw everything but the kitchen sink. With the unvoiced Liberty 3 Pro buttons, you get four of each. With so many size options, finding the right fit starts as a Processing while tinkering with different combinations. But the company takes credit for providing a bountiful selection when most major competitors throw in three pairs of earbuds and call it a day. While smaller than the earlier Liberty 2 Pros, these earbuds aren’t as discreet or small as some of the competitors, but at least they aren’t ugly.
The pebble-shaped charging case opens with a smooth slide and closes with a satisfying thump, so I end up wearing it myself while wearing the Liberty 3 Pros. It’s easy for these cases to feel cheap if they have loose tolerances or open too easily, but Anker avoids those pitfalls. Each earbud has an LED that lights up when properly seated in the case, which supports wireless charging in addition to topping up via USB-C.
Anker makes many big claims about sound quality, often saying that the Soundcore earbuds are recommended by 20 Grammy-winning experts. In reality, they sound quite dynamic – if not as refined as our favorite premium picks. One driver handles the bass, while the other focuses on mids and highs. The Liberty 3 Pros certainly have your standard V-shaped EQ curve and sound bright and punchy out of the box. Frankly, the standard bass response was too much for my liking and overly booming when I listened to Bleachers’ “Stop Making This Hurt”. That track also exposed the Liberty 3 Pro’s occasional habit of boosting the high frequencies over rough terrain. But you get extensive EQ controls if you’d rather dial in your own favorite sound.
Despite their support for Bluetooth 5.2, I have occasionally noticed audio cutouts during my use of the Liberty 3 Pros. It’s not a frequent annoyance and only happens once every listening session or two. But competitors like Sony, Samsung and others have become much more reliable in terms of connection stability.
The most unique thing about the Liberty 3 Pros is that they support both LDAC (Sony’s higher bit rate wireless streaming protocol) and multipoint Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to two devices at the same time. Even Sony’s flagship 1000XM4 earbuds don’t offer multipoint, but it’s finally more common on earbuds than Jabra’s.
It’s worth noting, though, that due to Bluetooth’s bandwidth limitations, you can’t listen in LDAC quality and take advantage of multipoint at the same time; Anker lets you choose one or the other in the Soundcore mobile app. During the workday, I preferred the convenience of multipoint. But if you’re relaxing and want to get the most out of higher fidelity songs from Amazon Music, Apple, Tidal, or Qobuz, the LDAC switch isn’t hard to find. Keep in mind that it negatively impacts battery life, reducing the eight hours you get on a charge (with ANC turned off) to just over four hours. I got about six hours of continuous playback with ANC when using the standard AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. The charging case contains enough juice to charge the earbuds three times.
Anker is getting better at active noise cancellation, but it’s still not at the same level that Sony, Bose, and Apple have reached. The Liberty 3 Pros do a good job of making your environment quiet, but the best noise-cancelling earbuds feel like you’re pressing a mute button to the world around you, and these aren’t here yet. The same goes for the Transparency mode, which is an improvement over previous models but doesn’t have the natural effect you get with the AirPods Pro or Bose’s QuietComfort earbuds. Those I spoke to on Zoom and over the phone said the Liberty 3 Pros made my voice sound clear, although background noise on my end occasionally broke into the conversation.
The Soundcore app for Android and iOS is a bit bloated and chaotic; Not sure who asks for mall section in audio accessories companion app. There’s a ton of features crammed in — personalized sound profiles, white noise audio, and so on — but it could use some streamlining and less tacky, in-your-face promotion from other Soundcore products. Using the app is a reminder that you went with a value brand, and not in a good way.
Looking at the whole package, the Liberty 3 Pros are an excellent value at $170. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when shopping for earbuds and only focus on the biggest brands. But if you’re determined to spend less than $200 on a new set of earbuds, these Soundcore earbuds come with a long list of features, enjoyable sound (after some EQ tweaks), and a comfortable fit, thanks to generous pack- ins. They are not best in class in one thing, but very good in several categories and a solid buy.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge