Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Review – Superb LDAC ANC headphones but are they worth the extra vs the Life Q30?

The Soundcore Life Q35 are the latest ANC headphones from the popular and affordable brand Anker.

These sit at the top of the range and offer small but important upgrades from the existing Life Q30.

Soundcore Life Q35 vs Life Q30 Specification Comparison

There doesn’t seem to be that much difference between the new Q35 ANC headphones and the existing Q30

  • Hi-Res Wireless certification (along with Hi-Res Audio certification)
  • LDAC
  • AI-enhanced calling
  • Smart wearing detection
  • Colours: matte black and beige

By all accounts, the drivers are the same with the same frequency response; the battery is also the same. They don’t make claims about improved ANC, so I would guess that’s the same or similar.  

Specification

  • Both hi-res audio and hi-res audio wireless certified
  • LDAC
  • multi-mode hybrid ANC
  • 2-mic AI noise reduction
  • NFC Pairing
  • wearing detection
  • 40hrs playtime – in ANC mode
  • 22 EQ settings / ability to create own with the Soundcore App
  • Fast charge – 5mins = 4 hours
  • Touch for transparency

Set-Up

Normally I just pair things up the old fashioned way, but with these, I decided to use the NFC tag, which worked flawlessly, as long as you hit the tag in the right spot.

Anker also has the Soundcore App. With this, you can manage the firmware of the headphones but also the equaliser and switch between normal, transparency mode and active noise cancellation.

With the noise cancelling on you can switch between transport, indoor and outdoor.

LDAC takes a while to stop popping

With these using LDAC, if your phone supports it, you will have a few additional options within the Bluetooth menu.

By default, it will select balanced audio and connection quality with the high sound quality toggle enabled.

You can then force it to try and use better quality, but it will be prone to interference.

And then, you can also toggle off the high-quality sound for improved connectivity.

While LDAC is superb, I do suffer from some connectivity issues, both with these and the 1MORE Triple Driver BT.

The default connection has interference for the first couple of minutes or so, characterised by popping. However, this settles down, so I assume this is the variable bitrate lowering down to a stable connection.

The highest bit rate is 990 kbps, so that’s 70% more than aptX HD and nearly triple what you get from SBC or aptX.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is good. I don’t think I have ever used a pair of ANC headphones that could be classed as neutral, all of them being quite bass forward. This follows the usual trend with a U or V shape; I’d say the bass is more emphasised than the treble.

The bass emphasis helps drown out whatever remnants of noise that sneak through the ANC, so it is good that this is the sound profile.

Probably the only negative is that the bass can muddy some of the higher frequencies, it is not bad, but I did notice it a little on some heavier metal tracks where the drums seemed to drown out some of the guitars. When the bass isn’t getting in the way, the treble is delivered with decent clarity.

Mids and vocals work well, and they stand out a bit better than the treble.

The headphones can have the EQ tweaked, so if you do want something a little more neutral, you can tweak the settings within the app.

Active Noise Cancelling

Noise cancelling is superb, easily the best I have used at this price point, but not quite as good as the Mu6 Space 2 I have previously used, which cost double.

My main test is airplane cabin white noise on YouTube played at an annoyingly loud volume and then comparing how well my headphones perform both with no music and with music.

I play the cabin noise loud enough that you can easily hear the noise throughout the whole house, I would guess that it is significantly louder than real life, but it has been that loud since I have been on a plane I can’t remember.

Both the Soundcore Life Q35 and Mu6 Space 2 reduce the volume enough from unpleasantly loud to mildly annoying. They both can play music comfortably over the sound, allowing you to hear voices clearly without jacking the music up to much.

I had to swap the headphones about 10 times (paired with two different phones) to work out which was the best. So it is a close call, but I think the Mu6 Space 2, which cost almost twice the price, just about win.

Beyond that, I used these with ANC on for regular use throughout the day, and it does make a massive difference. You can tell the ANC is on at first, it takes a little adjusting to, like many competing brands, but once you have had them on for a little while, any weird sensations go away.

Within the app, you have different ANC settings, so with transport mode, this worked best with the cabin noise where is cut out the low-end frequencies of the engine noise.

Then there is an indoor and outdoor mode. The indoor will try to reduce voices and mid-range frequencies, ideal if you have gone back to the office.

Other Bits – Microphone etc

I do my best to avoid speaking to people so rarely use the microphone on things. However, like many, Zoom has become part of my life. The microphone performance in my office is good, my voice is clear, it is not echoey, it works perfectly fine for me. I normally use the Blue Yeti Nano on the PC and the quality isn’t quite as good as that, though that is to be expected.

The headphones work in wired mode too with ANC then still working in this mode. However I have noticed the volume levels don’t go very high in the wired mode.

Price and Alternative Options

The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 are launching for £129.99, which makes them the most expensive headphones Anker has, but still cheaper than all the big brand name ANC headphones.

The older Anker Life Q30 are currently just £65, which you can’t fault considering the price and I would expect the ANC performance to be the same.

The Huawei Freebuds Studio are probably the best alternative option from a different brand, I have not used these so I can’t comment on the ANC or overall quality, but the Freebuds Pro are excellent. These are just £150

The Mu6 Space 2 offer the best ANC out of the headphones I have reviewed, but at £220, currently, I think they are overpriced. The older Space 1 model seems to offer a similar level of ANC but is just £99, which seems like a bargain.

The popular Bose QuietComfort 35 II are just shy of £200

The last generation Sony WH-1000XM3 is £220, or the newer WH-1000XM4 is £289.99

Overall

The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 are superb, like most Anker products. They offer a high level of active noise cancelling without the premium price tag you get with Bose or Sony. While I won’t claim they are quite as good as those, I think most people will think the £70-150 saving is well worth the compromise.

Sound quality is superb, but this is probably where some of the other more expensive brands will pull away in performance. The EQ makes up for things allowing you to tweak the sound profile to your liking.

The main negative would be the £129.99 RRP vs the current price of the Life Q30, which are about half the cost. I do not doubt that these sound better; LDAC definitely makes a difference. Smart wearing detection and AI calling are nice, but not something I would be bothered about if not there.

Knowing Anker and Amazon, the RRP will quickly drop, making the two options a little more comparable.

Overall though, these are superb, and it makes you question if you really need to spend twice the price for minor improvements in performance from the big brand names.

Posted by Mighty Gadget Blog: UK Technology News and Reviews

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