Images and specifications are copyright © 2019 Anker Technology (UK) Ltd
Because most high-end smartphones lack a headphone socket these days, wireless earphones have become increasingly popular and. What's more, over the last couple of years the products available have improved substantially in quality. Anker is hoping to make an impact on the market this holiday season with its Liberty 2 Pro Bluetooth True Wireless Earbuds
, which are targeted at consumers who have an ear for sound sophistication and are willing to spend a decent amount of money to get it.
Superior quality is certainly suggested by this product's packaging. The box is made of thick, textured cardboard and is decorated with colorful technical drawings that convey the impression that these earbuds are state-of-the-art (if there were any doubt, Anker also explicitly states they are, describing them as "The world's first earphones to utilize the Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture", which should mean something to aficionados of audio). Also, a nice touch is the inclusion of handy arrows and tabs that make it easy to access the contents of the box with minimum effort.
Included in the package are the earphones, a wireless charging case, a range of attachments for different ear shapes and sizes, and a USB-C charging cable. The oval-shaped charging case is small enough to easily fit into a pocket or handbag but solid enough that it won't break if a little pressure is put on it. The earbuds fit into two small depressions in the molded base of the case and are held in place by strong magnets that ensure the buds don't rattle around loosely during a bumpy ride.
The earbuds themselves are chunkier and more industrial-looking than Apple's Air Pods, Google's Pixel Buds and their imitators. On the other hand, they don't look like a conventional pair of earphones that someone has cut the wire off and their larger size means they will be more conspicuous if one gets dropped under the couch. It took me a few seconds to figure out which way round they go in each ear, but the “L” and “R” labels helped and once I got them in, they didn't feel like they would fall out easily. I found them comfortable to wear for extended periods, too.
Wireless charging is achieved by matching up the contacts on one side of each earphone with corresponding contacts on the inside of the charging case. Charging status is indicated by three tiny lights on the front of the case that illuminate in sequence as charging proceeds. Anker states that the buds can be fully charged in about 1.5 hours and that a full charge will give up to 8 hours of playtime without the charging case and up to 32 hours with it. I couldn't test these numbers, but most manufacturers of battery-operated electronics tend to be generous with such estimates. Hence, its safe to assume that the low battery warning will probably start at least an hour before these limits are reached.
Anker describes this product as providing “studio performance”. In so far as that means anything, it probably refers to their clarity rather than sound quality (true studio headphones are intended for recording artists and producers rather than audiophiles). That said, I found the sound quality to be a distinct improvement over that from the wired 3.5 mm and USB-C headphones I used for comparison. Admittedly, this sound test was hardly rigorous but what I found was that the sound from these earbuds on their default settings was rich and immersive when listening to music or movies and there was little loss of clarity and no noticeable hiss or distortion at low or high volumes.
To further enhance the listener's experience, Anker has developed an app under its Soundcore brand for both Android and iOS devices that offers a function the company calls HearID. This takes the wearer through hearing tests for each ear and, according to Anker, results in a customized output that is optimized for the listener. The app also includes a bunch of presets for different musical styles that allow the wearer to vary their experience according to the kind of music they are playing.
These earbuds aren't designed solely for music lovers, too. The pair includes four embedded microphones that should make phone conversations easy and clear and each earbud also has a button that can be used to activate a smartphone-based personal assistant, such as Alexa or Google Assistant.
At $150 (or around $100 if you catch them on sale) Anker's Liberty Pro 2 earbuds are not cheap. However, they are priced competitively with similar higher-end products and you generally get what you pay for. In terms of build and sound quality, comfort and features, these earphones are above average and that should make them a satisfactory stocking filler for anyone who would appreciate having their mobile device listening experience turned up to a higher level.
- Bluetooth version 5.0
- Input: 5 V ⎓ 0.5 A
- Rated output power: 5 mW @ 1% THD
- Battery capacity: 65 mA x 2 (earbuds); 500 mA (charging case)
- Playtime (varies by volume level and content): Up to 8 hours (32 hours with the charging case)
- Charging time: 1.5 hours
- Audio code format: SBC, AAC, aptX
- Driver size: 11 mm Dynamic driver and Balanced Armature x 2
- Impedance: 16 Ω
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
DISCLOSURE: Anker provided this product for review.