If you don’t mind a slightly fussy fit and can cope with the occasional signal dropout, Anker’s Liberty 3 Pro offer excellent sound and impressive noise-cancelling performance.
- Great sound
- Responsive touch controls
- Excellent noise-cancelling
- Long battery life
- Fit won’t suit everyone
- Some connection issues
- UKRRP: £149.99
- USARRP: $169.99
- EuropeRRP: €139.39
- CanadaRRP: CA$199.99
- Coaxial dual driver setupDelivers high and low frequency sound directly to your ear
- App-controlled ANCAdjust noise cancelling based on peronsalised data
- Battery life8 hours in the earbud, 24 in the case
Anker is a brand best-known for its chargers, batteries and other mobile accessories. However, if you’re shopping for buds on a budget, then its selection of affordable earphones are often a much better bet than the swathes of cheap options you’ll find on Amazon.
At £140, though, the Liberty 3 Pro are a very different proposition. Competition is fierce at that price, with pairs from Cambridge Audio, Sennheiser and Beats all offering excellent value for money, while Apple’s standard AirPods are just £30 more. So how do Anker’s latest earphones fare against the pricier opposition?
- Larger than most
- Comfortable to wear
- Don’t feel the most secure
First impressions of the Liberty 3 Pro are excellent. The box unfolds to reveal a pair of expensive-looking buds, four sets of silicone tips and four pairs of wings that can be mixed and matched to find the best fit. The latter can be a bit fiddly to attach correctly, and with so many combinations available, you’re likely to just settle on the first pair that feels right.
The buds themselves, which are available in four colours, are larger than most and there’s a hint of old-school Bluetooth headset to them – but they don’t protrude from your ears as much as you might believe they will on first glance.
To get the Liberty 3 Pro to stay put, you have to insert them upright and then twist backwards so that the silicone wings tuck inside. They’re super-comfortable to wear, but even with the most pronounced ear scaffolding in place they can feel a little precarious, which means they’re not exactly gym- or run-friendly, despite being splash-resistant.
While the buds look and feel more expensive than they are, the same can’t be said of the charging case. The matte black pebble is compact enough, but the plastic lid that slides back feels a tad flimsy. Plus, the buds themselves – which are held in place by magnets – can be fiddly to remove. The inclusion of wireless charging isn’t a given at this price, so it’s nice to see it included here.
- Highly customisable
- Responsive touch controls
- Great battery life
Before you even put the Liberty 3 Pro in your ears, it’s worth downloading Anker’s Soundcore app, which is delivers a series of options with which you can personalise your earphones. HearID plays a sequence of audio tones and, depending on which ones you can hear, tweaks the audio and noise-cancelling performance of the buds accordingly.
Even without it, the Liberty 3 Pro’s ANC is impressive. With some buds, the noise-cancelling is so subtle that you have to check whether it’s actually turned on; but there’s no mistaking whether or not it’s working here. It can minimise the harshest rattles and bumps of an overground train, subdue the hustle and bustle of a busy London high street at lunchtime, and block out background conversations when you’re trying to work.
There’s nothing it can do to compete with the haunted caterwaul of the Tube at its worst, but not much can. There’s a Transparency mode here, too, which lets some of the outside world in – but it feels like it lets in a little too much.
Through the Soundcore app you can also change how the bud’s touch controls work, which is handy because the default settings don’t feel entirely logical. Straight out of the box you have to double-tap to pause, which seems like a touch too much for something that needs to be as instantaneous as possible.
However, as touch controls go they’re pretty good, responding quickly when you want them to and not when you’re simply adjusting their fit in your ears. If you’d rather just use your phone, you can even turn off touch controls entirely.
The app also displays the individual battery status of each bud and the case. Anker claims battery life is eight hours from the buds and 24 in the case, which turned out to be fairly accurate. So, unless they’re in your ears for every waking hour, you should get at least a week’s use out of the Liberty 3 Pro before they need recharging.
- Full, lifelike sound
- Intermittent signal issues
The Liberty 3 Pro page on Anker’s Soundcore website is awash with testimonials from Grammy-winning producers, all gushing about how much they love the earbuds – and there’s certainly plenty to praise here.
The 10.6mm driver inside each bud delivers a full-bodied, well-balanced sound with plenty of detail and an impressive soundstage that offers a real sense of space. They’re able to pick apart the many complex layers of Midlake’s Young Bride, and while the bass is perhaps a touch too prominent here, it’s what makes Scrufizzer’s Dangerous sound so menacing. Switch to the frenetic punk blast that is Pink Bat by the Melvins and they do a fine job of controlling what would become a cacophony in less capable hands.
What spoils the enjoyment slightly is the tendency for the signal to drop out. The blips aren’t so prolonged to be particularly problematic, and not many true wireless buds can claim 100% unshakeable stability. Nonetheless, it appears to happen a couple of times per hour of listening, so it’s frequent enough to be noticeable.
Should you buy it?
If you want effective noise cancelling These buds do an excellent job of keeping unwanted outside noise to a minimum.
If you can’t stand signal dropouts They’re only occasional, but more frequent than we’d like for a pair of buds at this price.
There’s a lot to like about Anker’s Liberty 3 Pro: they’re comfortable to wear, sound great, offer excellent noise-cancelling, and last for ages before they need recharging. The app is genuinely useful, too, offering a number of customisation options.
There are a few caveats that can’t be ignored, though. They don’t feel the most secure in your ears, so you’ll often find yourself making sure they’re fully in, and their larger dimensions make them easier to knock out than other, more diminutive pairs – which isn’t the best combination. And while the signal dropouts are by no means terminal, they happen often enough to be a little irritating.
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested for a few weeks
Tested with music streaming services
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SBC, AAC and LDAC are the supported Bluetooth streaming codecs.
The listen in LDAC quality, download the Soundcore app and change the sound mode to ‘preferred audio quality’ and LDAC will be enabled.