Android Central Verdict
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC is huge on value! The performance-to-dollar ratio makes these a pair of noise canceling earbuds you should be seriously considering for your next wallet-friendly purchase.
Robust app with a lot of customization options
Solid sound quality at this price point
Excellent battery life
Fit could be an issue for some
Default sound settings are just ok
Spatial audio is wonky
Why you can trust Android Central
Anker has been making a lot of noise in the budget audio space with their Soundcore brand. And with good reason! So far, they’ve been able to offer some pretty solid audio equipment at price points which are not “aspirational” but actually attainable. Accessible. And in this current economic climate, that is much needed. But often when we see the word “budget,” that also means “compromises.”
So, let’s take a look at Anker Soundcore’s latest offering, the Liberty 4 NC, and see what you get, and what you give up, to get a sub-$100 pair of truly wireless earbuds.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC What's in the box?
Soundcore sent me the Pastel Pink color of the Liberty 4 NC, but the Anker Soundcore earbuds are available in four other options: Velvet Black, Light Blue, Navy Blue, and Clear White. The Pastel Pink colorway is definitely a flamboyant pink, not a muted pastel as we’ve seen from some handset manufacturers lately. They look great and so does the case. When you first crack open the box, you’re going to get the earbuds in their case, a USB-C charging cable, and XS/S/M/L ear tips with the mediums already installed.
I appreciate the fact they’ve included an extra small pair for those of us with baby ear canals. The case itself has a large button up top which glows, and functions as the mechanism for opening the case, entering pairing mode, or resetting your buds. You’ll find the USB-C charging port on the front. The case has a matte finish and resists fingerprints. Also in the box, of course, the usual paperwork.
Before getting started, I recommend downloading the Soundcore app to your phone. We’ll come back to that app in a bit more detail later in this review. It's important!
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC: The Paper Chase
I’ve told you how these earbuds and their case look to the eye, now let’s explore how they look on paper. Some brief specs are in order, then we’ll talk sound. As the “NC” in the name suggests, these are noise-canceling earbuds. Adaptive active noise canceling 2.0 according to Soundcore. They have 11mm custom drivers inside and support the LDAC codec, which of course is Android only.
What makes these relatively inexpensive earbuds a compelling option is how feature-laden they are! They have proximity sensors to play/pause music when you remove them from your ears, and they support multi-point connections using the Bluetooth 5.3 standard. The charging case is also wireless charging enabled. A feature some earbuds that cost twice as much lack. But specs generally look good on paper and audio equipment is more about sounding than looking good; though having both is ace!
And those are only some of the longer list of features. I’ll touch on the others in due course as I share my experiences living with these earbuds over the last couple of months.
|Liberty 4 NC
|AAC, SBC, LDAC
|USB-C, Wireless enabled
|2 devices simultaneously
|10 mins = 4 hours
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC: Quality Sound At A Price That Is Liberating!
Let’s talk about sound quality. Watching Thor Ragnarok on the Disney+ app, I needed to turn gaming mode on as I was experiencing some latency. Once done, audio was in sync and all was right in Valhalla. Activating the enhanced 3D SURROUND SOUND mode augments the sound separation you’ll already get with it off, but it also created some sibilance where there was none initially, so I turned it off. And with that, watching content on the Liberty 4 NC earbuds was a lovely experience that I’m sure the vast majority of users will enjoy. After watching a few more videos, I then moved on to the music test.
I listened to audio files played locally from my Pixel 7 Pro using VLC media player with the LDAC mode activated, and lossless music streamed from the Apple Music app for Android. When you have both earbuds inserted in your ears, you can access the Sound Effects menu and modify the EQ settings. I recommend doing this. The default sound signature is…okay. I found it to be a bit on the muddy side, but using the HearID 2.0 Sound option to customize the EQ to your unique auditory physiology, nets more satisfying results.
I took things one step further after having gone through the series of prompts and listening tests that HearID 2.0 Sound guides you through. I took that test-generated EQ curve and customized it further, backing off the 100Hz and 200Hz nodes a bit to allow the treble side of the curve to be a bit more forward in the mix, et voila! I am pleased. With that set, I cued up my .flac files, played locally off of phone storage, and dove into Hi-Res versions of Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes, Skrillex’ Kill Everybody, and Daft Punk’s Contact. Prior to adjusting the EQ, Simon’s Diamonds was a bit too bright on the top end, leaning into a bit of sibilance but with the custom EQ I’d just configured, it was much better. The sub-bass and low end on the latter two tracks had a delightful resonance, without muddling the mids, and the vocals or treble elements were clearer and bright.
Getting into my lossless Apple Music tracks, I mixed things up with Start a Riot from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse OST, Gojira’s Stranded, and a new track recommended to me by my colleague Tammy Rogers, Sylosis’ Poison for the Lost. Vocals, high hats, symbols, kick drums, electric guitars, and sub-bass are all very well presented through these buds with my custom EQ. Stereo imaging was solid, and I even played with a Dolby Atmos version of Start a Riot as I connected to my iPhone’s Apple Music library, where I could access that version, and it was a solid listen.
Again, I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to go through that HearID process as it will make the listening experience here so much more enjoyable. The default would actually be fine for most listeners who don’t consider themselves audiophiles, but I can tell you that you get more out of it with the customization.
The other things to note is that the call quality is really good, with the six-mic array baked into these earbuds. Three on each ‘bud. I’ve had twenty minute calls with my wife, while I walked out on busy urban streets full of traffic rushing by me, and she couldn’t hear the cars. The call was clear and she said I didn’t sound like I was underwater or like I was in a small closet as some noise canceling and wind mitigating technologies have a tendency to sound like. And it’s good to know that when you’re out in these streets, if you’re met with a sudden downpour, or just have to hit the streets in a state that actually has four seasons, these are IPX4 water resistant.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC: A Liberating App
For the price, it’s also the customization options in the well-thought-out app which are a solid selling point. You can customize the touch controls of the earbuds. You can manually customize the levels of noise cancellation, choose Adaptive Noise Canceling, or go into the transportation modes which use AI to adjust the noise canceling based on the environment you choose: airplane, train, bus, or automobile. And though the Liberty 4 NC box says that they reduce noise by up to 98.5, they do allow some high-end through. Would they compete with Sony or Bose or Sennheiser when you turn the music off and just see how much sound they actually cancel? At this price point? No. Do they still do a good job of hushing your environment around you, muting the hustle and bustle of your urban environment, or the gym? Absolutely!
If you’re looking in this direction, you likely aren’t considering the difference in 200-300 dollar noise cancellation and for what you’re likely looking for, I can honestly say that these should not disappoint. With the Comply Foam ear tips the noise canceling is actually very good and even with the stock ear tips, if I push them into my ears and hold them like they would if they fit, the noise canceling is still very good at this price point!
Another thing you won’t be disappointed with is the battery life. Depending on the volume that you listen at, you’re going to get nearly 10 hours of playback time. And when you do eventually kill the earbuds battery, a 10-minute charge in the case will get you four hours of playback in a pinch. More than enough time to help get you through even the most steroid and human growth hormone-fueled three-hour gym session. Soundcore advertises that you’ll get an additional 50 hours of playback from the case charges but I’ve yet to get that far.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC: Comply Foam Liberated Me
The main caveat with my experience? Fit. After my initial listen, it was clear to me that I’d need a pair of Comply foam eartips for the Liberty 4 NC ‘buds to deliver. They have a design and fit similar to AirPods Pro, and those don’t fit my ears unless I also use Comply foam eartips. When I chew, or talk on a call, with the XS ear tips installed, the ear buds do stay in my ears but they’re too small and don’t provide the seal needed to enjoy the ANC properly. Just something to consider if you purchase these and like me, the fit is a tad off.
The other caveat I mentioned earlier, is that you’ll have to choose between LDAC support and multi-point connections. One or the other, because you can’t have both technologies working at the same time.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC: Should you buy them?
You should buy this if:
- Performance for dollar is critical to you. You get a lot for this price!
- You need a device you can wear all day and the comfort and battery life can go the distance
- You want a pair of earbuds which support LDAC
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You need the best noise canceling available on the market
In the end, thanks to HearID 2.0 and a robust set of features which punch well above their price point, Anker’s Soundcore brand takes a product which could’ve been great on paper, but hindered by mediocre sound reproduction, and delivers a noteworthy pair of truly wireless earbuds that I can absolutely recommend for those who don’t want to spend $250 or more for active noise canceling earbuds. Around the holidays, I’ve seen these between the $70 - $80 mark, so be on the lookout for an even better deal if you’re giving these serious consideration.
Tshaka Armstrong is a nerd. Co-Founder of the non-profit digital literacy organization, Digital Shepherds, he’s also been a broadcast technology reporter, writer and producer. In addition to being an award-winning broadcast storyteller, he’s also covered tech online and in print for everything from paintball gear technology, to parenting gadgets, and film industry tech for Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to writing for Android Central, he’s a video contributor for Android Central and posts everything else to his own YouTube channel and socials. He blathers on about his many curiosities on social media everywhere as @tshakaarmstrong.