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Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review: Right fit, bright sound

Anker looks to challenge more expensive brands with these earbuds.

Anker has been on to something with its Soundcore brand, particularly with wireless earbuds that aim to offer more for less. Undercutting the competition on price is nothing new, but when you do it in ways that add value to every dollar spent, some people will start to notice. That's really where the company wants to position the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro.

These feature-packed earbuds present well on paper, given everything they offer relative to what they cost. With fewer compromises and more reliable performance, striking the right balance is supposed to deliver something not all other earbuds currently provide.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro

Bottom line: Anker attaches lofty ambitions to the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro, but they're not misplaced, given that you have a high level of customization, along with support for hi-res audio through LDAC. If you can find the best fit for your ears, the sound quality will reward you in kind.

The Good

  • Excellent audio quality
  • LDAC works well
  • Plenty of customization
  • Adjustable audio profiles
  • Mono mode and auto-pause
  • Solid battery life

The Bad

  • ANC isn't exceptional
  • Fit and comfort isn't assured
  • LDAC comes with compromises
  • Not especially rugged

$170 at Amazon $170 at Best Buy

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: Price and availability

Anker launched the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro in October 2021, making them available for $199.99, though you can find them for less. Their availability should be consistent going forward, as Anker doesn't discontinue products all that quickly, so they should be sticking around with periodic price drops after a while.

They come in midnight black, fog gray, frost white, and dusk purple.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: What's good

Unlike the stem design in the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, the Liberty Pro series sticks to a thicker bud design that relies more on the different tips and wings that come with it. That's why it's no surprise the Liberty 3 Pro come with no less than four pairs of ear tips and wings. Anker is so keen on ensuring the best fit that it approaches the subject from two angles. First, you see basic fit instructions on the box, and then the Soundcore app helps further through its HearID test.

Any way you look at it, fit and comfort are critical to getting the most out of any pair of earbuds. Much less ones that bring extra bulk as these do. But it is possible to get a good fit — and in turn — a good seal to get the most out of the audio quality. It is worth taking the time to figure out which size tips and wings will suit your ears best because the mixes and matches lead to variances.

Anker uses what it calls a "coaxial dual driver," or ACAA 2.0 (Astria Co-Axial Acoustic Architecture), to power the audio. In practical terms, that means 10.6mm drivers and a more streamlined design that the company claims can pump out better bass, treble, and mids. That architecture does make these earbuds different from the Liberty 2 Pro, which already proved themselves to be excellent in their own right.

The Liberty 3 Pro aren't missing a whole lot on the spec sheet. They have custom active noise cancelation (ANC) through the HearID test in the Soundcore app. Anker separates HearID into two tests: one personalizes the overall sound, while the other does the same for ANC. Whether or not you feel they make a big difference is subjective, but I did notice a difference for me. I just didn't always agree with the test results. For some reason, it thought my ears preferred flat bass and mids and elevated highs, which is never how I adjust an equalizer.

Thankfully, the Soundcore app has over 20 presets and a fully customizable EQ to offset that, but if you love what is determined for you, you can always create a custom EQ preset based on those results. No matter what, a perfect fit will get you better audible results, so it is worth experimenting a little to find what works best.

To push things further, Anker added support for additional audio features. One of the big ones, at least to me, is support for LDAC, Sony's hi-res Bluetooth codec that promises to deliver three times the audio data of standard codecs. It's hard to quantify exactly how true that is for these earbuds, but the difference was noticeable to me. You do need to download and install a firmware update to enable LDAC, and once I did that, I tried listening to music on Spotify, Tidal, Soundcloud, and YouTube Music to gauge it. Tidal arguably showed the biggest difference under its HiFi tier, but tunes were louder and clearer on the other platforms, too. It's widely available on Android phones these days, so compatibility shouldn't be a problem.

LDAC does require some sacrifices, one of which is lower battery life and more unstable Bluetooth connectivity in busier environments. You also can't use it in tandem with 3D Surround for spatial audio playback — you have to choose one or the other exclusively. Switching in or out of LDAC also takes up to 10 seconds, so there's a noticeable lull when using it. ANC, Transparency, and the EQ all apply the same way, letting you still enjoy those features, either way. Moreover, wearing detection auto-pauses when taking off the earbuds, while playback resumes once you put them back on.

Ultimately, it was hard not to like the audio performance here, regardless of codec. Anker has been steadily getting better at this, and it shows with these earbuds. Thumping bass, strong mids, and vibrant treble will make themselves very clear as you keep listening to them. Finding the right fit is critical to getting that kind of sound, and when you do, you won't be disappointed. ANC and Transparency

The Liberty 3 Pro won't match Jabra's earbuds on phone call quality, but I never had anyone complain while I used them to talk. It's just that in a noisier environment, they don't pick up voices quite as clearly. The onboard controls are OK, and it's nice to customize them considerably, including adding volume controls. You just have to make decisions on what takes priority. Do it carefully, and you should be able to squeeze in every setting.

Call controls are slightly different and not as customizable, though you benefit from using either earbud in mono mode. You can also pair with two devices at once, letting you listen to music on one, while ready for calls from the other. The only time you have to give that up is if LDAC is enabled.

Anker rates battery life at up to eight hours per charge, albeit with ANC off. Leave it on, and you're getting closer to six hours, which isn't terrible. The case provides another three charges on top of that, and fast charging for 15 minutes (when low on power) can push playback up to three hours in a pinch. It supports wireless charging, too, which is nice and convenient.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: What's not good

Despite their extra girth, the Liberty 3 Pro aren't exactly rugged. Their IPX4 rating makes them unsuitable for rigorous and sweaty workouts, not to mention that the fit may be less secure if you're going out for a run. These earbuds protrude more than others do, and for that reason, I wouldn't recommend them if you're looking for something to be active. The Jaybird Vista 2 are the better choice, in my opinion. The fit is possibly the most divisive part of these earbuds because their size may make comfort less assured.

And even though Anker is aiming high with these buds, ANC performance isn't in the same league as the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4. Not that it's bad, just that it's not as impactful as you might think when the app offers a hearing test to customize it for you. If Anker is going to go to those lengths, the results should stand out more. I liked that there was a wind noise reduction option, though its ability to muffle wind is relative to what you're doing. Ride a bike on a typical day, and it's fine. Walk on a windier day, and your mileage really varies.

Even though Anker is aiming high with these buds, ANC performance isn't in the same league as the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4.

I mentioned that battery life depended on ANC being on or off, but LDAC also plays a key role. With both LDAC and ANC on, I got closer to five hours of playback at volume in and around 60%. Not awful, but a big caveat when looking at the Liberty 3 Pro and its main features in a broader context. You do have to weigh how you listen to these earbuds with how long they play.

With 3D Surround, you get a spatial effect when listening to music, but I couldn't discern as much of a difference when watching a show or movie. Anker doesn't mention head tracking as part of the technology inside, and probably because it doesn't apply. When I moved my head around with it on, I didn't notice anything change. As is, it's a nice feature to have, but don't look at it as anything groundbreaking.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: Competition

The Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro wouldn't be out of place among the elite in the best wireless earbuds, but competition is tight in this price range right now. The Jabra Elite 7 Active are an example of a pair that cost about the same, with the one advantage of being more ruggedized for active use cases. Even Anker's own Liberty Air 2 Pro would make an interesting alternative at a cheaper price tag, especially if you're partial to a stem design.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro aren't that much more expensive, yet offer better ANC and spatial audio. If you have a preference for aptX Adaptive support over LDAC, then you could always consider the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless as an option.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: Should you buy?

You should buy these if ...

  • You like thicker earbuds
  • You care about audio fidelity
  • You want active noise cancelation
  • You want LDAC support

You shouldn't buy these if ...

  • You want to spend less
  • You want even more durability
  • You want a smaller pair to wear
  • You are particular about ANC performance
4 out of 5

It's not just because there are so many features and custom choices that make the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro intriguing. It's also that excellent sound anchors them all together. LDAC support isn't easy to find in wireless earbuds these days, and Anker is giving that to you at a lower price, which is also appealing if you're a stickler for hi-res playback. You have to contend with features that don't push the envelope as much, like ANC and 3D Surround, but the level of customization is easy to appreciate.

The key sticking point is how well they will fit in your ears. You're golden if you can get comfortable with a tight seal, but if not, you're more likely to forget all the good these offer and complain about where they sit. But, for what you're paying, they are worth taking a chance to find out.

Taking liberties

Anker pulls out a lot of stops to make the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro stand out, and it's not just the way they look, but also the sheer breadth of features and options that come with them. Want LDAC hi-res support, along with custom ANC and audio profiles? You get that and more wearing these.

$170 at Amazon $170 at Best Buy

Source: androidcentral

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