Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 Earbuds MightyGadget Review Feature

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I previously reviewed the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro and loved them, I still recommend them now.

Recently, Anker launched the Soundcore Liberty 4, these are not the Pro model, but they seem to be the direct replacement for the Liberty 3 Pro. Perhaps a Pro model will come at a later date, but if you want an upgraded version of the Liberty 3 Pro, these are the ones to get.

Specification

  • Crisp, Clear Sound via ACAA 3.0 Coaxial Acoustic System
  • LDAC & SBC Codecs
  • 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
  • Multipoint connectivity (not with LDAC)
  • 9/28 Hours of Playtime for All-Day Listening
  • IPX4

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 vs Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro Differences

There are only so many improvements you can make to earbuds each year, so it is always incremental at best.

The immediate difference is the change in design. These are more like the Liberty 2 Pro. For me, the design is a big improvement.

Perhaps the most significant addition is the new heart rate sensor. These then swap out the 3D surround for the trendier spatial audio.

The Liberty 4 earbuds feature a new ACAA 3.0 coaxial acoustic system which is supposed to push the bass further (not that they needed it) and continue to enhance the mids and highs.

On the Amazon page, there is a feature comparison which states:

Anker Soundcore Feature ComparisonLiberty 4Liberty 3 ProLiberty 2 Pro
Sound QualityHi-Res, ACAA 3.0Hi-Res, ACAA 2.0PureNote Drivers
Sound EffectSpatial Audio3D surround soundPersonalized HearID
New FeatureHeart rate sensorHearID ANCTargeted ANC
IP RatingIPX4IPX4IPX4
Playtime9/28 hours8/32 hours7/26 hours
Calls6 mics, AI algorithm6 mics, AI algorithm6 mics
Multi-ConnectionYesYesNo

Design and Fit

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 Earbuds MightyGadget Review 2

In my Liberty 3 Pro, I said I liked the fit but preferred the Nothing Ear (1) fit and comfort. Long term, I found the Liberty 3 Pro a bit annoying, I did find they started to need adjustments when in the gym. I often found them falling out when bending over to lift weights. The little wings on the Liberty 3 Pro that were supposed to anchor them into place helped a little, but not enough.

I much prefer the Soundcore Liberty 4 design, they feel more comfortable, and there seems to be less movement when doing strenuous exercise. Of course, everyone’s ears are different, these work well for me, but they may not for you.

The case is quite plasticy and doesn’t feel as premium as other brands, but I am not too fussed about this. These have wireless charging, which is to be expected at this price point, but it is not always guaranteed.

One thing worth mentioning, the earbuds are held in place with quite strong magnets, yet you can still get them out of the case easily enough. Many alternative options either have weak magnets or a weird design that makes them hard to pull out of the case (Freebuds Pro 2).

Fitness Tracking

The big new feature of the Soundcore Liberty 4 is the optical heart rate monitor that is built into the right earpiece.

It is a nice additional feature, but I think it is largely a swing and a miss. There seems to be no way to use the heart rate monitor with any other fitness applications, and there is no way to export your tracked activities to things like Strava. This makes the HRM feature largely useless for anyone remotely interested in fitness. Due to this, a cheap fitness band is going to provide superior functionality.

There are not many earbuds with a built-in HRM. I reviewed the Bose SoundSport Pulse over six years ago, and I had a lot of issues with the HRM feature. These seem pretty accurate, they will never beat a chest strap or arm-based optical HRM, but they seem to be as accurate, or more accurate, than the wrist-based HRM on my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.

I hope Anker does open up the HRM for other apps because it could be a big selling point.

Sound Quality

Within the app, you have a significant number of customisations for the sound. From my experience, Soundcore has the widest range of customisations to sound for any brand. I think it is a big selling point as it allows you to find a sound profile that suits your personal tastes rather than what some nerd on the Internet is telling you what you should like. 

The HearID function is something you won’t find with most brands (Creative has a clever ear mapping function). This allows you to customise the sound based on your personal hearing. I have to admit, I can’t tell if there is that much difference. For me, I’d say the soundstage is improved, but I am sure others will notice more differences.

You can then apply 22 different pre-set EQ options. If anything, it is perhaps a bit excessive, but I prefer it to the one or two options you have with many brands. And, if that’s not enough, you can manually set the EQ.

Unlike the Edifier headphones I recently reviewed, these have SBC, LDAC and AAC. AAC will be useful for iPhone users. Enabling LDAC will mean you can’t use the multipoint functionality. This appears to be a limitation of Bluetooth/LDAC.

Like all Soundcore earbuds I have reviewed, the out of box performance with the default Soundcore Signature profile applied is bass heavy. Audiophiles will certainly find it excessive. I don’t mind it because I listen to a lot of music that favours it, I prefer a lively sound vs analytical, and most of the time, I use them in the gym, where I benefit from this sound profile.

The bass doesn’t distort at higher volumes, but it can interfere a bit with the other frequencies.

I found detail across the mids and highs to be excellent. I’m a bit sensitive to highs, and I can find them a bit too sharp sometimes, but I have not experienced this here.

It is worth noting that, I have seen a  couple of other reviews which suggest these are quite bright and not ideal for bassheads, which is the opposite of what I have just said. This shows how subjective audio is. A big factor will be the fit of the earbuds, the large tips work well for me on these, and this will improve bass response.

Spatial Audio

Personally, I am not fond of spatial audio, but I can see the appeal for things like gaming or movies. In general, I always think it deteriorates the sound quality of things, adding unnecessary echo. It seems to be a very subjective feature; some people will inevitably love it.

With head tracking, the spatial audio on these works in the same way as Apple AirPods. I haven’t used those, so can’t compare the performance. On these, it works surprisingly well, I could see myself using it for gaming if I were a more serious gamer.

As far as I can tell, these can’t differentiate between audio codecs. It applies the spatial audio to everything, which may be good if you are fond of this feature, but performance is always going to be better when there is a proper surround sound codec used.

Microphone

The 6-microphone array works well enough. Call quality was good for me, and they do a good job of minimising environmental noise.

Active Noise Cancelling

Putting these on, you can immediately notice the ANC kick in, and general ambient noise is reduced. My fans on PC are no longer audible.

Using these in a more challenging scenario, the ANC performance is excellent for the price point. My default test is an airplane cabin noise track on YouTube. I dial up my Edifier speakers to 80, and it is loud enough that I can physically feel the low-end drone.

These eliminate most of the audible low end while leaving a lot of the high. I’d say these perform fractionally better than the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 and quite a bit better than the Freebuds 5i I had on my desk at the time of review.

Obviously, that comparison is subjective, I swapped out the earbuds about 10 times before deciding. The Freebuds Pro 2 seem to leave a slight bit of low end that the Soundcore Liberty 4 eliminated.

Battery

These are rated for 9 hours of listening or 28 hours with the case. Anker doesn’t give performance data for when the ANC is on or off on their product pages, but most sites seem to suggest they claim a 7-hour life with ANC on, which is excellent.

I never had an issue with the Liberty 3 Pro, and these are rated for an additional hour when in use (albeit less charge from the case).

I have not drained the battery fully from one session, so I can’t confirm the exact battery life. But, they last longer than both the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 and Freebuds 5i, which are comparatively quite poor for battery endurance.

Price and Alternative Options

The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 are priced at £139.99, and I’d gladly pay this.

The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro launched at the same price, but they are currently £109 and have been as low as £90.

I personally prefer the Soundcore Liberty 4, because I find the fit better. However, if I were buying a pair of earbuds, that £30-40 price difference is hard to ignore.

At the £140 price point, they are not far off the price of some big hitters:

  • The Sony WF-1000XM4 (not the current generation) is around £180 but has been as low as £158 recently.
  • The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ are just £132 (at the time of writing).
  • The well-reviewed Beats Studio Buds are just £129
  • The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are £169

Overall

I loved the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 are better, so I love them more.

The sound profile works well for me. A lot of the music I listen to favours bass, and most of the time, I use them in the gym, where I want a lively sound, not analytical. The excellent EQ options should mean you can find a sound that suits your preference, but these are probably not the best option for purists wanting a neutral sound.

The ANC is excellent, they won’t compete with flagship products from Sony or Bose, but few other earbuds will compete at this price point.

The app and overall feature set of these earbuds are superb, but it would be good if they opened up the HRM fitness features to other apps or provided data-sharing functionality.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 Review Rating

Summary

The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 are excellent earbuds. They have a huge number of features that other brands can’t compete with. The fitness features should be a major selling point, but 3rd party apps can’t access the HRM function, and you can’t export the fitness data to the likes of Strava/Google Fit etc

Overall
90%
90%
  • Overall - 90%
    90%

Pros

  • Superb all-round performance
  • Excellent ANC for the price

Cons

  • HRM / Fitness features are restricted to the Soundcore app

Last update on 2024-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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