Anker Soundcore is a brand making waves in the Wireless earbuds market at the moment. Sales of earbuds show little sign of slowing down and new brands are popping up all over the place.
By Mark Sparrow
Soundcore is a headphone sub-brand of Anker and has been around for a while now. The company’s latest pair of true Wireless earbuds with Hybrid ANC go on sale today and I’ve managed to get my hands on a production pair for this review.
Soundcore has already made some great earbuds at sensible prices and the brand always offers consumers a bit more for your money. The new Soundcore Life P3 earbuds have the latest Hybrid Active Noise Canceling (ANC) technology and support high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs and a battery life that has sufficient stamina for a couple of weeks’ worth of commuting or visits to the gym. The Life P3s come in a choice of five fashionable colors: Black, Navy Blue, Oat White, Sky Blue and Coral Red.
With multi-mode ANC and dual transparency mode, the earbuds are great for travelers, sporty types or anyone who simply loves music. The P3s support Qi wireless charging and offer a lot of features for the money. To make use of all the advanced features of the Life P3, users need to download the latest version of Soundcore’s free smartphone app which is available for Android and iOS devices.
Once fully charged, the Life P3 can play for up to seven hours of playing time with ANC turned off. Users can expect a little less playing time with the ANC function turned on.
The charging case can hold up to 35 hours of backup power and can be recharged using almost any a USB 5V charger with the supplied USB-C cable. Alternatively, by popping the charging case on a Qi-compatible charging mat, the battery will top up in a couple of hours.
Inside each of the Life P3’s earpieces are some robust 11mm dynamic drivers that work in tandem with Soundcore’s BassUp technology which boosts the lower frequencies of music without crushing the more delicate mid-range and treble frequencies. If you like your bass large, you’ll love the Soundcore Life P3s.
The bass is big and bold but the detail in the music is never swamped or pushed out of balance. It’s more of a subsonic effect that enhances the bass frequencies and it’s particularly noticeable when watching movies with action soundtracks or when playing games.
And speaking of games, the Life P3 earbuds have a special Gaming Mode that offers super-low latency so that movie or game soundtracks are always in sync with the images on the screen.
To invoke the Gaming mode, the user just needs to tap the touch controls three times on either Wireless earbuds or switch the mode on using the Soundcore app. Once engaged, it’s game on.
Soundcore’s smartphone app is a neat piece of software engineering that enables the user to select a range of ANC settings. The default setting is Off and there’s also a dual Transparency Mode that allows a certain amount of ambient sound to mix in with the audio signal so that the user can listen out for travel announcements or simply be aware of traffic if they are exercising by a road. One of the Transparency Modes is for concentrating on voices while the second mode is for general noise like traffic.
With the ANC function engaged, there are three noise-canceling modes on offer: Indoor, Outdoor and Transport. The maximum setting is Transport mode and is designed to filter out the invasive low-frequency noises created by, for example, aircraft engines.
The Outdoor mode is used for blocking out general street noise and traffic, while Indoor mode is for reducing the sound level of voices and background noises. The Indoor setting would be ideal for use in the office where there may be phones ringing, colleagues chatting or air-conditioning humming away.
It’s not quite adaptive ANC but it does use hybrid technology with feed-forward and feed-back filtering. This technology is particularly good at preserving the upper frequencies of music. All three modes are surprisingly effective, although possibly not quite as effective as a pair of classic over-the-ear ANC headphones.
The Soundcore Life P3 earbuds are fitted with six microphones – three in each Wireless earbuds– and are used for picking up the user’s voice for phone calls as well as for monitoring the sounds that need to be processed and canceled.
I’m not normally a fan of using true wireless earbuds for making phone calls or speaking on video chats, but with the Gaming mode turned on, the sync with Zoom or Skype is good and small earpieces are much less intrusive than a full headset.
The Soundcore app is a nifty piece of software that extends the functionality of the earbuds with some special features. The Tip Test feature can measure how well the Life P3’s silicone ear tips fit in the listener’s ears.
The app measures the effectiveness of the acoustic seal and warns the user if they aren’t fitting correctly. Changing tips to a different size takes just a few seconds and makes all the difference to the sound, especially with bass frequencies.
The app also includes a Superior Sleep function that will be particularly welcome to sufferers of tinnitus or anyone living near a busy road. Superior Sleep offers a selection of digital sound effects including gentle rain, birdsong, wind chimes, flowing water, ticking clock and many more besides. Each of the sounds can be mixed to varying levels to create a custom sleeping sound that will have you snoring in no time.
For example, you could dial in the sound of a babbling brook with some pitter-patter gentle raindrops before introducing some windchimes to create your personal soothing lullaby. It’s by far the best of its kind I’ve used so far.
The app also has a graphic equalizer for reining in the bass if necessary and there’s a customization setting to assign different actions to the touch controls of each earbud. This is particularly useful if you are used to different button presses on your previous pair of earbuds for doing things like skipping tracks or adjusting the volume levels.
With the customization function, you can change the settings instead of learning a new sequence of button presses. Finally, should you mislay your Life P3 earbuds around the home, the app can play a sound that’s loud enough to locate the earbuds wherever they were put down.
Verdict: These great little earbuds from Anker Soundcore have a lot going for them. Their sound is superb and if you love a big dollop of earth-moving bass, you’ll love them.
The mid-range and upper frequencies have enough definition to create an authentic stereo soundstage, while the ANC function works surprisingly well. The support for the AAC codec is also welcome and the IPX5 waterproof rating makes them great for sport. The use of six microphones in the hybrid ANC set-up adds to the effectiveness of the ANC.
The mics work well in picking up the user’s voice convincingly when talking on the phone or taking part in a video chat. Perhaps the best feature is the Gaming mode which switches to a low latency signal that ensures films and games always have audio that’s in sync with what’s on the screen. Highly Recommended.
- Driver: 11mm dynamic
- ANC: Multi-mode hybrid with Transport, Indoor and Outdoor settings
- Transparency modes: 2
- Audio codecs: SBC and AAC
- Battery life: 7-hours with ANC off and 6 hours with ANC on
- Charging case: up to 35-hour reserve charge
- Fast Charging: 12 hours of playing time from a 10-minute charge
- Microphones: 6 with noise reduction
- Touch controls: Customizable
- Voice assistant: Siri compatibility at launch with others to follow
- Eartips: Five sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
- Bluetooth: Version 5.0
- Waterproof rating: IPX5
- Colors: Black, Navy Blue, Oat White, Sky Blue and Coral Red
Originally published at Forbes