Despite the never-ending sound quality argument of wired versus wireless, Bluetooth earbuds have significantly evolved at a rapid pace. There isn’t a better example than the incredible Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro.
Available for $169, Soundcore’s Liberty 3 Pro checks all of the audiophile boxes. Fans of hi-fi music streaming services, such as Tidal and Qobuz, will appreciate the support for LDAC, which allows three times the data transmission from device to earbuds. That means the Liberty 3 Pro provide a nearly uncompressed audio experience that makes everything sound amazing.
Add adjustable noise cancellation into the mix and these earbuds are just a blast to use overall. Individuals who don’t consider themselves audio snobs will appreciate the respectable 32 hours of playtime and the Soundcore mobile app’s personalization options. Here’s why we think the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro are a great pick for discerning listeners after a few days of living with them.
The who, what and how
Who these are for: The Liberty 3 Pro are for audiophiles more concerned with their music listening experience than anything else. Soundcore’s mobile app lends itself to a personalized audio experience with lots of features. Gym rats should find comfort in knowing that the Liberty 3 Pro are IPX4 water-resistant as well. Keep in mind that LDAC isn’t supported by iOS, so Android users do have the advantage here.
What you need to know: Hi-Res certification and LDAC capability means that these Bluetooth earbuds sound nice before you even touch the Soundcore mobile app. Utilizing the mobile app will have the Liberty 3 Pro sounding even better with some hits to the 32-hour battery life. Buyers have four colorways to choose from, including Midnight Black, Frost White, Dusk Purple and Fog Gray. The Liberty 3 Pro’s triple-point ergonomic shape design comes with four silicone ear tips and flexible ear wings as a way to ensure a strong seal, alongside making sure they stay secure in place.
How they compare: The Liberty 3 Pro are pretty comparable to some of our favorite wireless earbuds, including the AirPods 3, Galaxy Buds Pro and Jabra Elite Active 75t in terms of audio quality, battery life and IPX4 waterproof capabilities. Where they stand out from the pack is with Hi-Res certification and LDAC capability, which makes them optimal for hi-fi streaming devices like the Sony NW-WM1A High-Resolution Walkman. This helps put them on par with the more expensive $279 Sony WF-1000XM4 in terms of their ability to support high-quality audio formats.
Premium design, respectable comfort and lots of features
From the packaging to the case, everything about the Liberty 3 Pro just feels premium. Once the box is open, buyers will see a clever instructional guide on how to apply the silicon tips and ear wings, and how to place the earbuds inside one’s ear. The case itself has an oval shape that looks incredibly sleek at all angles. In the front of the case are three LED lights that provide information on battery life beside a sync button located in the back.
There’s a USB-C port for charging if you don’t want to use the wireless charging capability. There’s a real satisfying snap as the earbuds hit the charging points of the case. Opening the case is also a smooth experience, as the top slides back to reveal the earbuds.
Be mindful that the Liberty 3 Pro earbuds aren’t necessarily “pick up and use.” They have to enter the ear at an angle and twist into the ear canal. Using them the first couple of times feels a little uncomfortable, but eventually they become second nature. Connecting them was as simple as pressing the sync button down while the device searches for the Liberty 3 Pro. Having that IPX4-grade protection during tests allowed usage during a light shower, workout and sweat-filled run around the block.
Users will get the absolute most out of their Liberty 3 Pro through the Soundcore app. Before using the earbuds, you’ll be prompted to use the HearID Sound Test, which takes between five and 10 minutes to set up. The best way to describe the process is as something similar to a child ear test. For each earbud, there are beeps of various frequencies to analyze the way music is heard to create a personalized sound profile tailored to the user.
Those same settings can even be applied to various EQ settings, including one based on the initial curve obtained by the HearID Sound Test. Another allows users to create custom EQ decibel settings based on those sound test results. The final one lets users choose their favorite genre of music and integrate settings into the sound test curves.
Another test within the Soundcore app is a HearID ANC Test for personalized active noise cancellation, which analyses the way in which sound moves within a user’s ears alongside the level of in-ear pressure. Utilizing HearID ANC, users can trigger an adaptive mode and manual mode.
Adaptive mode will adjust the level of ANC based on your surroundings. Meanwhile, manual mode lets users adjust the intensity of ANC. Finally, there’s a transparency mode that lets users choose how amplified ambient noises and nearby voices one can hear. Eventually, Soundcore will release a firmware update for its enhanced vocal mode that’ll increase the volume of voices that are farther away.
Earbud media and call controls are also highly customizable for one tap, two taps, three taps and long holds. For individuals who hate switching between laptops and mobile devices, the Liberty 3 Pro also features dual connections. It’s slightly cumbersome to set up, as users have to use the Soundcore app to utilize the feature and can’t simply do so through a device’s Bluetooth options. After this setup, though, connecting two devices at once is pretty easy.
Jaw-dropping audio quality
These earbuds are built to handle all sorts of music genres without any real tinkering with the Soundcore app. Offering Hi-Res certification means that the Liberty 3 Pro can deliver the most accurate and complete reproduction of the original analogue signal, thanks to providing high sampling rates. This means the earbuds produce a sound that’s closest to the artist’s original vision.
At this point, LDAC is the highest-quality audio codec for Bluetooth. While many devices put out Bluetooth signals that become compressed by the time it reaches the ears of listeners, LDAC can provide uncompressed sound to compatible devices faster. Therefore, users get better audio quality. Many have called it an audiophile-grade Bluetooth codec — just note that it’s only available on Android for the time being.
Deep bass and clear mids provide an awesome musical richness during testing with our hi-fidelity playlist. Listening to John Williams’ “Star Wars Theme,” there’s a beauty in separating the epic brass fanfare sounds of the opening from strings and flute portions that follow. There’s a lush musical nuance when hearing Bossa Nova classics like Astrub Gilberto’s take on “Crickets Sing for Anamaria.” Gilberto’s wonderfully soft vocals are just as clear as the rhythmic drum patterns, piano and guitar.
Buyers looking for more bass-heavy clarity will be satisfied, as tracks like Drake’s “Too Sexy” featuring Future and Young Thug and Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” won’t crack on the lower end. When using the HearID and HearID ANC during music sessions, it almost sounds like you’re in the studio. As mentioned previously, there are musical EQ presets available that really do a grand job of accentuating various musical genres.
TV and film also sound great and even greater if there’s 3D sound support from popular mobile phone tech like Dolby Atmos. Watching films like musical “Guava Island” or animated television series like “Fairfax” are fabulous experiences. Aside from enjoying clearer sound separation, we noticed more defined audio nuances when watching films like “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” And Xbox Game Pass owners who play on the cloud are definitely going to appreciate hearing how firefights sound in games like Gears 5.
Mixed battery life
The Liberty 3 Pro promise 32 hours of battery life on default settings on half volume. During tests, those numbers were pretty accurate minus some minutes. A continuous use test at max volume led to around six and a half hours on a single charge. They stand alongside rival earbuds like Apple’s AirPods 3, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro and Jabra Elite Active 75t.
However, features like dual connections, higher volume levels, LDAC and various HearID settings can drain the battery fairly quickly, sometimes chopping Soundcore’s proposed numbers by around half. Therefore, you’ll want to have the case near them at all times if you’re using those features.
Thankfully, the earbuds will work for around three hours on a 15-minute charge. To charge them completely takes less than an hour. Charging the case itself via USB-C or wireless charging takes around the same amount of time. The three LED lights on the case do a good enough job of displaying how far it is from dying completely. When the earbuds themselves are at low battery life, there’s an audio warning as well.
Impressive call and microphone quality
During a podcast session over Anchor, we were asked if we were using a professional podcast microphone. That’s a pretty good description of the Liberty 3 Pro’s mic quality. This is because Soundcore offers a great balance of both hardware and software implementation for phenomenal vocal quality.
Three microphones are located on each earbud while artificial intelligence picks up your voice, enhances it and filters out unwanted background noises in real time. This makes vocals on the user end sound crystal clear. During test phone calls on the Liberty 3 Pro, there were never any “excuse me” or “huh” moments at all.
Call quality is just as outstanding. Having so much control over the ANC through the Soundcore app does wonders in ensuring that you can talk virtually anywhere. Busy intersections, airplanes and crowded buses turned into a quiet room during phone calls.
Audio snobs who have spent time steering away from Bluetooth earbuds due to compression issues should most definitely give the Liberty 3 Pro a try. The audio, call quality and battery life are more than respectable, and the IPX4 waterproof design means they can handle a swim in the pool or an intense gym session. The Liberty 3 Pro will definitely be a favorite among Android users due to LDAC, Hi-Res and 3D Audio support, as many of those features would typically require you to spring for more expensive buds like the Sony WF-10000XM4. However, folks in the Apple ecosystem may want to look at the AirPods 3 due to their Spatial Audio support for music and movies.
Features like HearID and Hear ANC really do a great job of not only enhancing the sound quality but truly personalizing the experience. Unfortunately, they do hurt the battery life significantly. But as long as you keep that charging case handy, you’ll feel as good about the Liberty 3 Pro as you do about your fancy wired headphones.