Review: Anker Liberty 4 earbuds take on AirPods with ANC, Spatial Audio, and heart rate monitoring

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At the end of last month, Anker revealed its latest pair of flagship earbuds with the new Soundcore Liberty 4. Arriving as some of the brand’s most capable true wireless buds to date, the flagship experience comes centered around expected inclusions like active noise cancellation but also more novel additions like Spatial Audio and a built-in heart rate sensor. As for how all of that stacks up, we’re taking a hands-on look at what to expect over the past few weeks of daily-driving Anker’s latest.

Anker Liberty 4 earbuds are packed with flagship features

After getting my hands on the latest from Anker at the end of last month, I wrote the initial launch coverage piece on what the new Soundcore Liberty 4 were all about. One of the biggest takeaways from that announcement story was asking whether or not the built-in heart rate monitoring was accurate and if it was even useful in the first place.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For those who aren’t familiar with the feature set, Anker just launched its newest pair of earbuds as an expansion to the Liberty series at the $150 price point. The lineup is in an interesting spot right now, with last year’s Liberty 3 Pro buds not having a direct predecessor and the new Liberty 4 serving as something of a successor. So even though you won’t find the pro nomenclature like in previous years, these are very much still flagship-caliber buds from Anker.

As you’d expect, the feature set then backs that claim up. Arriving with active noise cancellation, Anker also backs its Liberty 4 with Spatial Audio support, thanks to the internal gyroscope that helps immerse you in the sound. There’s also nine-hour battery life from the earbuds themselves, with the companion Qi-enabled charging case bringing another 28 hours of playback into the picture.

I’ve been putting these to the test over the past four weeks and have to say that I am quite impressed. Through trips on the subway, bike rides cruising up and down Manhattan, and just casual listening at home, the Anker Library 4 have been solid options that pack a few more tricks than many earbuds in the same proverbial weight class.

As for how they sound, the Library 4 continue to impress much like other earbuds I’ve used from Anker in the past. The soundscape is fairly wide and allows for the Spatial Audio features to actually deliver audio playback that feels like you’re immersed in the beat. The bass wasn’t all too booming with the settings that arrived out of the box, which really let the mids and highs shrine. Vocals are quite distinct, too, giving these buds a solid use case for listening to podcasts or audiobooks.

The biggest thing I noticed is that they lack the punch that I’ve experienced from the brand’s other earbuds. That also translates over to the buds not getting quite as loud as other models on the market, either. Even so, I am big fan of how the Liberty 4 sound and adore the customizable EQ settings in the app even more.

Active noise cancellation is another major feature for these, and Anker continues to deliver an experience that is on par for the cash, but not going to compete with much more expensive options. Out of the box, the Liberty 4 arrive with new CloudComfort ear tips that are a bit different and more comfortable than previous inclusions. The different sizes really help you get a snug fit, and allow the stem-shaped buds to rest nicely in my ears. The ANC only adds to the noise blocking, which is very solid.

I used these on a plane last weekend and was impressed by how well the earbuds were able to block out the drum of the engine. Talking and other noises were able to get through a bit more easily, but the tuning does its job quite well to keep your listening experience focused on the music or podcast you’re listening to instead of ambient audio. Like I said, these aren’t going to be able to take down AirPods Pro 2, but they deliver solid performance for the price.

Then there’s the heart rate monitoring. It’s the headlining feature that makes these some of the first earbuds on the market to actually deliver fitness monitoring capabilities. And in a world where rumors have swirled about Apple including the feature in its AirPods someday, Anker is beating them to the punch. Though after using the heart rate monitoring feature on the Liberty 4, I can’t really say that it’s a feature I will keep coming back to.

The implementation is the main reason, really. In order to have the earbuds track your heart rate, you have to go into the companion app and manually start logging a workout. From there, the actual data is locked into the Soundcore app itself, as there currently isn’t any integration with Apple’s HealthKit platform or any other service for that matter. It’s honestly a real shame because the data that Anker does collect is pretty accurate. I compared to numbers to my Apple Watch from a few workouts and found fairly consistent recordings across the two.

So if Anker was able to streamline the experience and allow you to have the data show up in a secondary app, the heart rate tracking would be a home run. As the feature sits now, it’s a neat little inclusion for sure, but it’s hardly a reason to go out and buy these. For that deciding factor, you’ll have to rely on the Anker Liberty 4’s other notable features.

9to5Toys’ Take

All said and done, the new Anker Liberty 4 earbuds deliver all of the features you could really want in a pair of earbuds, and then some. These aren’t the world’s best-sounding buds on the market nor is the ANC going to outclass offerings above the $200 price point. But being able to get all of these features in as compelling of a package as Anker has delivered really makes the $150 price point shine.

Where these fit in Anker’s lineup might still be a little inconsistent, but as far as budget-friendly flagship earbuds go, the Liberty 4 stand above everything else at the price point. So while the heart rate monitoring feature may be the headlining feature that gets you in the door, it’s really the sound quality, ANC support, and battery life that make these a compelling pair of earbuds.

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