Soundcore has been an up-and-comer in the audio world for several years, but we’ve somehow missed the opportunity to check out any of its products. Until now. Today, we’re looking at the Liberty 4 True Wireless Earbuds, and they’re so good, we’re left wondering how we possibly waited so long to check out this brand. At $149.99, they’re affordably priced for a pair of premium buds, are packed with top-shelf features, and have some of the biggest, boldest sound you can find at this price. Best of all, spatial audio makes a compelling choice for gaming too.
- Current Price: $149.99 (Amazon)
- Key Features:
- Crisp, Clear Sound via ACAA™? 3.0 Coaxial Acoustic System
- 360° Immersive Spatial Audio with Music and Movie Modes
- CloudComfort™? Ear Tips for Long-Lasting Comfort
- All-New Heart Rate Sensor with soundcore App
- HearID Personalized Active Noise Cancelling
- 9/28 Hours of Playtime for All-Day Listening
- Driver: φ 9.2mm+φ 6mm Dual Dynamic Driver
- Hi-Res Sound: Y
- Spatial Audio: Y, with music & movie mode
- Codec Technology: LDAC, AAC, SBC
- Heart Rate Sensor: Y
- Personalized Sound
- HearID Sound 2.0
- Adaptive Active Noise Cancelling (Powered by HearID Technology)
- Playback and Charging
- Fast Charging: 15 mins = 3 hours
- Playtime: Up to 9/28 hours
- Playtime (Spatial Audio On): Up to 5/15 hours
- Playtime (ANC On): Up to 7/24 hours
- Talk Time: Up to 5/15 hours
- Mic for Calls: 6 mics, uplink noise reduction
- Voice Assistant: Y (support for Siri)
- Multipoint Connection: Y
- Wearing Connection: Y
- App: Y
- Bluetooth: 5.3
Soundcore Liberty 4 - Design and Features
The Soundcore Liberty 4 is the latest pair of true wireless earbuds from Soundcore, the audio arm of Anker. The company has been making audio products as far back as 2014 and launched its first pair of true wireless earbuds in 2017. It’s no newcomer to this space, but the trajectory its been on has been steep and impressive. Each new release tends to garner waves of critical and consumer accolades, which lead my to reach out to see if we could see what all the buzz is about.
The Liberty 4 are clearly the highest aiming buds the company has ever released. There’s a bit of a kitchen sink approach to the design, but everything is so well implemented that it doesn’t feel like too much. Instead, they feel incredibly feature rich for the relatively affordable $149.99 cost of entry.
The Liberty 4s put sound quality first and back it up with a number of well-done surprises. Inside their AirPod-like design, they use dual dynamic drivers. A dual driver design isn’t unheard of among flagship models — the 1MORE EVO also uses two drivers — but its a design choice that highlights the focus on exceptional audio quality: separating the frequencies between two drivers allows each one to specialize in a particular segment of the frequency spectrum, minimizing distortion and increasing clarity.
The driver design places each one on the same plane in what Soundcore calls a coaxial structure. This helps blend together the sound into a natural, cohesive whole. A treble tube and resonance peak help guide the high frequencies in particular, adding clarity and air to the sound. It’s an effective system: these buds are rich with bass but lack nothing in detail in the mids and highs. They’re remarkably well done in sound quality.
The sound can also be tuned to match your exact taste. There are upwards of 20 different EQ presets to choose from, ranging from Podcasts to specific genres, like Latin, Pop, and Rock. There is also an 8-band custom EQ, and a HearID customizable EQ that first measures your hearing and then guides you through sound samples to dial in your preferences. Across all of these, I found the default Soundcore Signature preset to sound the best. There is something magic in that preset that even my own customized settings couldn’t compete with.
As you might expect from a flagship earbud in 2022, they also come with active noise cancellation. ANC can also be customized to match your ears. It can be set to deliver Adaptive ANC that changes with your surroundings (something I found to be hit or miss depending on the sounds around me) or manually set between Weak, Moderate, and Strong Settings.
It’s very effective but perhaps not as intuitive as it could be. For example, I often found the Moderate ANC setting to perform better than the Strong setting. Strong can be great but sometimes misses high frequency noise which can be distracting when you’re working or listening to music. The Adaptive ANC setting also tended to struggle with the sound of running water, noticeably bouncing between Moderate and Strong settings. Manually adjusting the ANC was the best course in my testing and I was impressed with how much sound these buds can filter out with a proper seal.
Another highlight of this set is spatial audio. This is an in-app setting and can be applied to anything you’re listening to, no special platform required *ahem* Sony and Samsung *ahem*. This can be set to track the position on your head so the sound “source” stays locked in front of you and pans as you move your head. I found the fixed spatial audio to be better for music, movies, and games. It widens the soundstage substantially and doesn’t degrade the sound. For spoken word, there is a bit of reverb that can be distracting, so this is best left for entertainment versus podcasts and audiobooks.
The Liberty 4s also embrace high quality wireless audio with support for Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec. LDAC allows you to listen to music wirelessly at a much higher bandwidth so even audiophiles will struggle to tell the difference to wired. It does use more battery, however, which is something to keep in mind. Interestingly, the buds forgo support for other high-res codecs like aptX, aptX HD, and aptX Low Latency. The latter is especially noteworthy as Bluetooth latency is still an issue with fast-paced gaming.
Soundcore has also built some health tracking features into the earbuds. Surprisingly, the buds have a built-in heart rate monitor — the first true wireless earbuds I’ve encountered to have that feature. Using this, the buds can monitor the intensity of your workouts and even provide a graph to monitor stress throughout the day. Since many of us exercise with your buds in, this is a neat feature and a great way to keep track of the intensity of your sessions without having to carry an extra piece of gear on your body.
If all of that weren’t enough, the buds also support multipoint connectivity. This works very well and allows you to connect to two devices at the same time. If you’re listening to music on your computer and a call comes in, the buds will automatically switch to phone audio and then return when your call is through. Note that LDAC disables multipoint, so if you must have two connections, you’ll need to listen at standard Bluetooth quality.
Battery life is very good, particularly at this price and with these added features. With ANC on, you can count on 7 hours of playtime with about 2.5 recharges from the carrying case bringing it to 24 hours total. With ANC turned off, that jumps up to 9 hours of playtime and 28 hours total. The buds also support fast charging, so 15 minutes in the case will restore about three hours of listening. The buds do not support wireless charging.
Finally, the buds use press controls on the stem of each earbud. These allow you to play and pause tracks, answer calls, toggle ANC and transparency mode, summon your virtual assistant, skip tracks forward and back, and adjust volume. Unfortunately, you can’t have all of these at once. By default, a single press controls play and pause, double press adjusts ANC, and a triple press of the left or right earbud navigates tracks. The app allows you to select what function is controlled by each squeeze, but since there are three options for 4-5 functions, you’ll need to pick and choose your controls.
Soundcore Liberty 4 - Performance
The Liberty 4s blew me away. They sounded and performed far better than I expected in nearly every way. Let’s start with sound quality.
The dual driver system works incredibly well. These are genuinely some of the best sounding true wireless earbuds I’ve heard, even compared against heavy hitters like the Jabra Elite 7 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4, both of which cost substantially more. The bass is rich and full but the mids and highs pop out with good separation and detail. The sound is very mainstream-friendly, V-shaped with accentuated bass and highs, and sounds fantastic.
I mentioned earlier that there is something magic happening with the Soundcore Signature sound preset. Compared to all of the other presets, including my own HearID settings, the sound is more balanced and spacious. I suspect there may be something happening with the spatial audio on this setting because every sound source in music, movies, and games seems more spread out and easy to identify.
The layering and separation is excellent for a TWS set. Even elements like cymbals and percussion seem to resonate from slightly different points giving the impression of depth. This is great for gaming and movies. The added depth adds realism and immersion to your listening experience. It’s not something I’ve heard quite to this level on any other set and is impressive!
The ANC is overall very well done. Quirks of Adaptive ANC and Strong versus Moderate aside, it filters out a good range of droning low frequency and mid-frequency noise. It’s not as good as the Sony’s at mid-frequency cancellation, so keyboards and voices still cut through, but it’s great for things like PC fans, engines, and HVAC systems,
The transparency mode is also good but I would have preferred the volume be just a little bit quieter. It naturally amplifies the world around you and there’s no way to adjust the volume of what you’re hearing. I found it to be a bit too loud, especially with young kids in the house. I also didn’t like how it automatically enabled transparency mode when one earbud was in. Usually, a single earbud will make it harder to ear from that direction, but the Liberty 4s went too far in the opposite direction. Thankfully, the app lets you assign a press command to turning it on or off, but I would have preferred an option to just turn transparency mode off by default when using a single earbud.
For gaming, these earbuds can be great but without any kind of low latency codec suffer from the typical Bluetooth delay. It’s just enough to be noticeable in first-person shooters and in-game cutscenes. I would reserves these for slower-paced games like MMORPGs. There, the spatial audio can really shine and draw you into the world. The latency is much less noticeable in Azeroth than Modern Warfare 2.
The Soundcore Liberty 4 True Wireless Earbuds are a surprising treat. At $149.99, they come in below many of the other flagship earbuds on the market today while competing or beating them in sound quality or features. They have a few quirks but the Soundcore Liberty 4s are unquestionably great true wireless earbuds.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Some articles may contain affiliate links and purchases made through this will result in a small commission for the site. Commissions are not directed to the author or related to compensation in any way.