Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 review: The best AirPods Pro alternative for less than $100

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The Good The affordable Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 improve on their predecessor in several ways, including top-notch performance for making calls, boosted battery life, USB-C and wireless charging and nicer matte finish on the buds and compact charging case. They're water-resistant and should fit most ears well. Sound can be tweaked in the companion app and you can program touch controls to include volume up/down.

The Bad Sound is a little bright; noise-isolating design isn't for everybody.

The Bottom Line Featuring top-notch call quality and loaded with features, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 is an excellent value alternative to the AirPods Pro.

8.3 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 9

Apple's AirPods Pro are excellent true wireless earbuds that earned a CNET Editors' Choice award. But at $250, they're pretty expensive and not everybody wants to spend that much. So, what's the best option for someone who wants AirPods Pro-esque earbuds without the big price tag? It might just be the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2, which retails for $100 and sometimes gets discounted. These wireless earbuds deliver a lot of what the AirPods Pro do for a lot less. That's why the Liberty Air 2 is our Editors' Choice for true wireless headphones in the $100 price category.

The AirPods Pro (left) vs. the Liberty Air 2 (right). The Liberty Air 2 is also available in white.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Let's start with what they're missing. No, they don't feature active noise cancellation, which works quite nicely on the AirPods Pro to muffle ambient sound around you. And they don't have transparency mode, which lets you hear what's happening around you. But they do have a noise-isolating design and so long as you get a tight seal from one of the included ear tips (I used the largest tips), you'll find that a lot of ambient noise is passively muffled.

Compact charging case? Check. Wireless charging? Yep, plus USB-C charging. And this second-gen Liberty also has a more subdued yet slicker-looking matte finish on both the buds and charging case. That's an improvement over the glossy finish on the original Liberty Air, which I also liked and is now down to around $60 (it's unclear how long it will remain on the market as Anker has a plethora of new true wireless buds on the market heading into 2020).

Oh, and they actually come in black. 

Read: Best cheap true wireless earbuds

They have a similar pipe-style design to the AirPods.

Sarah Tew/CNET

They sound decent, too. Few of the true wireless earbuds on the marketplace are going to impress audiophiles, but with a little tweaking in the companion Soundcore app for iOS and Android, most people should be pleased with the Liberty Air 2's sound. They have some presence boost (treble push) and the midrange is a little forward, but the bass is punchy and they're reasonably open sounding. The step-up Liberty 2 Pro have more bass and more dynamic sound, but I like the fit of these better (they're lighter). They're not as smooth sounding or as pleasant to listen to as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but those cost over $100 more.

Read: Best true wireless earbuds of 2019

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