Price £84 with Black Friday discount
Let’s face it, wireless earbuds are taking over. What does that mean for producers, engineers and sound designers? We probably won’t be using them when tweaking synth patches or during critical mixing moments but, as the market changes, it’s important for us to be aware of the audio quality of consumer listening products for our mixing and mastering processes. They could prove to be a reference as valuable as the car test.
Plus, as avid music listeners ourselves, we’re probably going to want to seek out the best-sounding earbuds we can afford, not least for our own pleasure. When MusicTech heard that Soundcore had enlisted 10 Grammy-winning producers to help make their new affordable Bluetooth earbuds capable of “in-ear studio performance”, we had no choice but to see what all the fuss was about.
Upon unboxing the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros, we’re presented with two earbuds and their case, along with the quick start guides. Beneath that is a mounted collection of different size buds and rings to fit your ears – a nice way to keep these organised.
The charging case is compact and boasts a satisfying opening mechanism. Soundcore’s wireless earbuds give you up to eight hours of playback time, with a further 24 with the charging case. You can quite happily use these over a week or two for casual, intermittent listening without having to plug them in – that’s plenty of time if you’re just using them as a mix reference.
Few audio brands have nailed the look of their wireless earphones. It took Apple a few tries to please its customers with the design of the AirPods Pro. Soundcore hasn’t created the most aesthetically pleasing earbuds but they do sit comfortably. You’ll have a tough job allowing them to fall out of place too.
Testing, one, two…
The Liberty 2 Pros are built for customisation. Their sound is yours to dictate thanks to their range of EQ presets, which include Soundcore’s signature sound, flat responses, bass-heavy options and many more. These are all located within the Soundcore app. It’s not necessary that you install this to connect to your playback device and begin listening but, if you’re serious about sound, download it.
Although connecting the earbuds to the app is slightly fiddly, it’s worth it to get your personalised sound. Soundcore’s HearID tailors the sound to your ears via a simple five-minute process. As signals of various pitches and amplitudes are played in your ears, you’re required to tap and hold a button when you can hear the audio and release it when you can’t. It’s not the most intuitive way to create a sound profile, especially compared to some other brand’s apps and buds, but the end result does make a difference to your listening experience.
With Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams receiving big love and being played everywhere right now, we give it a spin. With such an admirable and detailed mix, the track is deserving of a stellar playback device. With HearID enabled, Dreams is a joy to listen to through the Liberty 2 Pro buds. With our personalised setting, the highs are crisp and glistening, the lows deep and smooth, and the mix wonderfully wide, with Stevie Nicks’ vocals sitting perfectly. Even when using the flat EQ preset, the quality is astounding.
This is all thanks to the Liberty 2 Pros Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture. This is essentially a custom Knowles balanced armature and an 11mm dynamic driver combination. The 11mm dynamic driver handles low-frequency emission, while the balanced armature drivers ensure transparency in the mids and highs.
Professionals on the Pros
Elsewhere in the Soundcore app, there are the Professional presets, with EQ curves designed by the 10 specially selected Grammy Award-winning producers and engineers, which include Battle Tapes’ Riley Mackin; Darrell Thorp, an engineer for Beck, Radiohead, Jay-Z and Paul McCartney; Alex Pasco, an engineer for Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen and Lana Del Rey; and Cole MGN, a producer and songwriter for The Vaccines, Washed Out and NxWorries.
It’s a credible roster of studio professionals, each of whom has sung the praises of the earbuds’ clarity and full, natural sound. However, we find the EQ presets a little vague. There are no visualisations of the graphs designed by the esteemed professionals, nor is there a suggestion of which genre each preset is meant to cater to. We’re dubious that the average listener is aware that Buck Snow specialises in jazz and that his preset is therefore ideal for genres in that field. Although, truth be told, his preset sounds well-rounded when playing Dave Brubeck and Weather Report. The ambiguity of the presets could easily be fixed in a future update though.
In-ear studio performance?
We’re very impressed by the immense performance of the Liberty 2 Pros. As purists and high-fidelity aficionados, it’s easy to snub audio devices that aren’t perfectly calibrated in our acoustically treated spaces, as well as those that don’t strive for a truly flat response. In this case, these are a joy to use and the range of presets can be especially useful in checking your mixes via consumer devices.
We used the AirPods Pro as a comparison in this review and found that the flexibility of sound offered by the Soundcore app was more useful than the AirPods’ adaptive EQ. The Liberty 2 Pros have an edge over the AirPods with their representation of high-frequency content. Though, of course, the AirPods Pro have their own benefits, which include active noise cancellation and seamless integration with other Apple devices.
Is Soundcore right to claim that the Liberty 2 Pros offer “in-ear studio performance”? The response from the buds is impressive, rich and detailed but it’s unlikely that final mixing decisions will be made on account of these earphones alone. They will, however, offer a fantastic reference for listening back to your track outside the studio and understanding how some consumers may hear your audio.
If you’re looking for some good-quality earbuds with which to simply enjoy your music, podcasts and videos, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros are seriously worth considering. A built-in microphone provides satisfactory quality during calls too. At £120, there aren’t many other wireless earbuds in this price range that can compete.
- Truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds
- Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture
- Soundcore companion app for customised audio
- 10 presets by multi-Grammy Award-winning engineers and producers
- Built-in microphone for calls
- Up to 32 hours of battery life with charging case (USB-C/wireless charging)
Considering purchasing the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros? The brand’s Black Friday discount lowers the price tag more than ever. Click one of the links below to take a look.
For more reviews, news and interviews head to musictech.net.