Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review: Not quite pro grade, but good for the price
- High-resolution audio support
- Comfortable for many hours of wear
- Wired and wireless charging
- ANC isn't strong
- Cheap and light build
- App requires email login
Anker is best known for power peripherals, but it has also dabbled in many other fields, including affordable headphone options. Its premium-pitched (but still quite affordable) Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds aren't the best that money can buy, and rather predictably, their active noise cancelling is on the weaker side.
Still at the asking price for the battery life and audio quality on offer, they're a very good option.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review: The design looks premium but feels budget
The packaging for the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro definitely apes the style that you'd see on a more premium set of earbuds, with a fold-out box that reveals the earbuds, the charging case, an array of tips and wings and a simple guide to choosing the best fit for your ears.
Out of the box, a set of medium wing tips are installed, but Anker doesn't place any actual tips on the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. If you're not sure about your sizing, this may take a little work sorting between the 4 sets of available tips. For what it's worth, I opted for the mid-range size without issue, but of course, everyone's ears are different.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds are produced in 4 different colour choices. Anker provided me with a basic black set, but you could opt for purple, white or grey finishes if you prefer.
All styles incorporate metallic coloured banding around them to present a more premium look, but as soon as you pick them up, you'll realise that they're just cheap lightweight plastic. Lightweight is fine and even desirable for buds that might sit in your ears for a long time. But the plastic doesn't feel as though it's especially durable, which could be an issue for long-term use.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro's charging case continues the lightweight plastic story. It's a simple oval puck that fits nicely into a pocket, with a slide-back lid that reveals the charging sockets for each bud. Charging is at the rear via USB-C, and that's also where you'll find the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro's pairing button.
You can just pair the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro up to your Bluetooth device of choice, but if you want configuration and firmware updates, you'll need to install Anker's Soundcore App for iOS or Android. I don't mind the idea of having apps for earbud tweaking, but I don't much like the fact that getting the Soundcore app running does involve signing up for an Anker account. It just feels a little invasive to me when I've already purchased the earbuds to then want more information out of me. Your tolerance may naturally vary.
The set-up process for the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds involved a firmware update that took a few tries to actually take when installing via an iPhone 13 Pro Max. You can't use the earbuds while firmware updating, and it's always a slightly nervous procedure when an app hangs during an update. A couple of tries sorted it out, adding additional functionality including LDAC support as it went.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds don't have the stalk microphone look of so many aping-AirPods style designs, but the button facing on each bud is rather large and obvious. If you've got more hair than I do – which is essentially everyone – then you may be able to obscure them a little. For those of us with short or no hair, they're going to be much more obvious.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review: The performance includes balanced audio, but ANC should be stronger
The claim on the side of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro is that they're "Five star recommended by 20 Grammy Winning Audio Producers", although there's essentially zero context given to that claim. Something tells me that when a Grammy-seeking producer is working and needs a set of reference cans, they're not actively seeking out the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. Call me cynical if you must.
Still, for a set of true wireless buds that costs less than $200, there's a lot to like about the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds. Sound quality was bright and energetic on the default audio settings.
The Soundcore app offers a personalised "HearID" test that provides a personalised equalisation curve based on a hearing test that sounds a lot like the kind of hearing test that you'd get at an audiologist, right down to harsh beep tones. The approach taken by firms such as Nura is a lot more fun to work your way through, but I did notice an uptick in audio quality with the HearID profile in place.
The Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds also offer active noise cancelling, and like the straight sound, you can also produce a profile for best ANC. This requires a noisy environment to test in, which would work best if you know you're always going to be in an environment with repeatable environmental noise. Honestly, I struggled to hear much difference between the "default" ANC and its personalised set-up, using ambient traffic noise as my backdrop profile.
The Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro's active noise cancelling does flatten out some external tones, but it's not noticeably powerful, even for a cheaper set of true wireless buds.
The Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds support LDAC, AAC and SBC codecs, although if you want LDAC, this does introduce the binary choice of better audio (where supported) at higher battery usage and with a limitation of single device pairing at a time. If you do need multi-pairing across your devices, this isn't going to work for you.
The sound from the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro was pleasant across the mid and upper range, although they're not the most expansive if bass is your style.
The wailing sax of David Bowie's "I Can't Give Everything Away" presented clearly but just a tad flatter than you'd find on a better set of earbuds, which is entirely in line with the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro's price bracket. That track has some light crash drums in the background that did come through where they're often flattened on cheaper buds, and I could make out their soft shuffle behind Bowie's melancholy vocals.
Switching to guitar-heavy sounds, Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water" presented clearly with a nice degree of warmth across the prominent guitar tracks. Suzanne Vega's vocals on "Tom's Diner" came through with enough emphasis over the kick drums.
The onboard set of 6 microphones on the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds also provide call support. It's a tough factor to measure because call quality can be a mix of your mobile network as well as the microphones in play. Some callers noted that we sounded a little distant, but that's again quite common for stalk-free microphones because they naturally sit even further from your mouth.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review: Battery
Anker's claim for the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds is for up to 8 hours on a single charge, with 24 hours of charging within the case for a total of 32 hours playback time. When they're flat, you can add up to 3 hours of charge from a 15-minute drop in the case.
Those figures are quite good for a cheaper set of buds without being entirely exceptional. In real-world testing, I could manage between 6 and 7 hours before going flat, which again is in line with the way that most makers' battery claims tend to play out. Anker does supply a USB-C cable in the box, but no physical charger. They're capable of wireless charging, although that's not a unique feature in this price bracket.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you want an all-round good quality set of true wireless buds.
- Don't buy it if you want subtle true wireless buds or need heavy duty ANC.
The Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds aren't going to replace our favourite premium true wireless buds – sets like the Sony WF-1000XM4s or Apple AirPod Pros – despite that Pro moniker, but then you shouldn't expect that at this price point. For what Anker asks for them, they deliver sound that's a step better than I expected to hear because I've heard so many sets make bold claims at budget prices but then fail to deliver.
There are some compromises, such as the weaker than expected active noise cancelling, but for general or sports use, the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds get the job done at a good price. For most users, that's going to be enough.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review: Pricing and availability
How we tested
The Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds were paired to a variety of smartphones for testing, including an Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 to assess how they handled differing devices and connectivity options. They were tweaked for sound according to the Soundcore app's determined profiles, but also tested with a neutral sound with no profile attached to gauge sound differences. They were primarily used for music listening over a fortnight, but also for video conferencing, mobile calls and movie watching. The pair of Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds used for testing were supplied by Anker.
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