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The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC with the buds out of the case shown on a wood top.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC review

ANC, battery, and bass, what else do you need?
By

Published onApril 9, 2024

8.2
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC
The bottom line
These are definitely a contender for some of the best affordable noise canceling earbuds based on performance and value. With an IPX4 rating, long battery life, and good ANC, these are worth a go. You might not want to go for a run with them, but otherwise they're decent.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

These are definitely a contender for some of the best affordable noise canceling earbuds based on performance and value. With an IPX4 rating, long battery life, and good ANC, these are worth a go. You might not want to go for a run with them, but otherwise they're decent.
Product release date
06/20/2023
Price
Original: $99.99
Dimensions
Case: 55mm x 30mm x 55mm
Cable length: 0.33m
Weight
5.7g (per bud)
Model Number
A3947
Waterproof
IPX4
What we like
Price
ANC
Battery life
LDAC, AAC, SBC codecs
IPX4
Fast pair
Wireless charging
What we don't like
Chunky case
Many EQ presets are too bassy
8.2
SoundGuys Rating
8
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
4.3
7.7
8.0
Active Noise Cancelling
8.4
7.5
8.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.0
7.9
8.0
Value
9.0
8.4
8.0
Design
7.5
7.9
8.0
Connectivity
8.0
7.5
8.0
Portability
8.0
8.8
9.0
Battery Life
7.5
7.8
8.0
Feature
9.0
8.7
9.0
Comfort
8.1
7.3
7.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.9
Distortion
3.9
Immersiveness
4.8
Overall
4.9

You’d be hard-pressed to find earbuds for a Benjamin Franklin that do most of the tasks the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC promises. Onboard, you’ve got active noise cancelation (ANC) with additional wind reduction and adaptive noise canceling features. So, we took these affordable buds for a spin to see if they can outlast your workday and if you’ll want to wear them that long.

Editor’s note: this review was updated on April 9, 2024, to answer more frequently asked questions.

About this Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC review: We tested the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC over one week. The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC firmware version 03.82. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.

Smart shoppers who don’t fall for name-brand checking will benefit from the features and function of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC. Students and budget-conscious folks looking to get noise canceling at an affordable price will enjoy these. Audio tinkerers can get a lot of benefits from the comprehensive app. Fans of loud bass will like the default tuning and many of the EQ presets.

What’s it like to use Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC?

A hand holds one of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC by the stem with the case on a wood surface in the background.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Those magnets mean the buds solidly snap into the case.

Anker produces a few colorways for the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, and our test unit comes in Cosmic Blue, also listed as Dark Navy (on some sites), with an almost iridescent sheen that’s quite pleasing. The case finish isn’t too slick, which is good, but it picks up scuffs easily. In this color, the scratches don’t show too obviously, at least. Other colors include Velvet Black, Pastel Pink, Light Blue, and Clear White.

Flip the lid on the stout, squarish case to reveal the stemmed earbuds with ambient internal lighting. Inserting the AirPods Pro style buds shows these fit pretty securely, but despite the IPX4 rating, they are not athletics-oriented earbuds. The capacitive touchpad resides towards the top of the earbud, where the stem meets the round housing. Controls rarely misfire and, if anything, are slightly insensitive. By default, a pleasant low clicking sound shows a command register. You can even adjust whether you want sound in the app.

A close up of the shut case for the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC on a wood table.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
That prominent button is for pairing.

Included with the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC are four oblong-shaped ear tips, and there’s a Fit Test in the app to ensure you’ve optimized which ones you choose. These range from roughly 10mm to 16mm. I find they require very few readjustments when worn, but they also don’t sit very far inside my ears. In any case, they handle wind without dislodging just fine. Meanwhile, the case is chunky and can fit in a loose pocket but only partially disappear into your pocket like the Google Pixel Buds Pro or LG TONE Free Fit TF7 cases.

How do you control the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC?

To control the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, you tap the bud on the flat of the housing directly in front of the canal. You can hear it in-ear, which isn’t entirely pleasant, but it’s not too bad and better than contending with stiff buttons.

Single pressDouble pressTriple pressLong press
Left earbud
Single press
Play / pause, Answer call
Double press
Previous track
Triple press
Decrease volume
Long press
Cycle Noise canceling / Ambient modes
Right earbud
Single press
Play / pause, Answer call
Double press
Next track
Triple press
Increase volume
Long press
Cycle Noise canceling / Ambient modes

The default controls are shown, but you can reassign any control in the app. It’s impressive how extensively you can make changes to the controls. In addition, you get in-ear detection, and you can lock the touchpad when the in-ear detection notes a bud is out of your ear. That way, you won’t contend with accidental command triggers when replacing the buds in the case, for instance.

Should you use the Soundcore app for the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC?

The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC shown with the case open and buds out on a table.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
In the Soundcore app, you can lock the controls or turn off in-ear detection.

One of the strengths of Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC is the comprehensive Soundcore app. Firstly, to use it, you must sign in and sign away some of your privacy. The organization hides some of the features, but you get a Fit Test, a whopping 22 EQ presets, alongside a labeled eight-band equalizer.

Anker goes an extra step with noise canceling by including options for Adaptive Noise Canceling and a manual mode that allows users to adjust the strength along a scale. This is a wonderful feature when you’re in an office with some din but don’t need the vacuum created by full-strength ANC. Arguably, it’s too many options, but I like the wind reduction option that prevents any unpleasant whooshing noise from reaching your ears. If you want to avoid playing around with the modes, the Adaptive mode automatically adjusts the level of ANC based on your environment. It doesn’t seem incredibly distinct from manually selecting a setting, but it’s a good idea.

In addition, you can comprehensively reassign commands, try out gaming mode, change codecs (mainly of interest to Android users), and there’s a Safe Volume monitor where you can limit the acoustic output.

How do the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC connect?

The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC shown in the open case.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Leave the buds in the case when pairing.

Anker kitted out the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC with Bluetooth 5.3 and LDAC, AAC, and SBC codecs. Android users will likely get the most out of the LDAC codec. Meanwhile, iPhones will default to the AAC codec. The app also has a gaming mode meant to optimize against latency.

Getting the buds to pair is simple, and they stay connected. In addition, the Liberty 4 NC has Bluetooth multipoint, so you can simultaneously connect to more than one device.

There are a couple of ways you can pair the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, either through the Soundcore app or manually. Here’s the foolproof method, regardless of your device.

  1. Enable Bluetooth in your device’s settings.
  2. Open the case and press the case button until the indicator lights blink.
  3. Select the earbuds in your Bluetooth settings list of available devices, and you’re done.
  4. Optionally, you can open the Soundcore app to complete the setup.

How long does the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC battery last?

A hand holds the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 above a wood surface.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The lid magnet keeps the case closed relatively well.

This is a good moment to remind you that these are $100 earbuds, and the battery life is stellar. The Liberty 4 NC battery lasts 9 hours and 53 minutes with noise canceling on to a single charge under our standard testing conditions. Also impressive is that the case can supply approximately 50 hours of charge.

When the case’s battery needs a re-up, you can choose between using the USB-A to USB-C cable or wirelessly charging on the Qi pad.

According to Anker, the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC fast charges in 10 minutes, providing an impressive 4 hours of battery.

It takes 3 hours of charging via the USB-C cable to fully recharge the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC case from empty.

How well do the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC cancel noise?

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Anker didn’t seem to add noise canceling as an afterthought. The Soundcore Liberty 4 NC comes with not just ANC on or off; instead, you get Adaptive Noise Control (which you can turn on/off), five levels of manual noise canceling, wind reduction (on/off), and even transportation-specific ANC. You might call this overkill if you’re not a tinkerer. If you experience some of that intense vacuum sensation with strong ANC, you might get that with the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC when the ANC strength is on high. The ANC successfully attenuates the sounds of traffic and hum on public transit.

With impressive ANC, you might think the passive isolation on the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC doesn’t quite measure up, with some audibility of incidental high-pitched noises. Sometimes, this is useful, like at a pedestrian crosswalk, where you can hear the chirp signaling to cross. On the other hand, that’s what transparency mode is supposed to handle. With the buds’ isolation, chatter sometimes still gets through somewhat, necessitating a volume increase. For the money, the combined noise canceling and isolation performance is still excellent overall, but the buds don’t fit deep enough to isolate particularly well.

How do the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC sound?

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD Acoustics.

The chart shows the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC (SBC soundcore signature EG) received a score of 4.9 for Timber, 3.9 for Distortion and 4.8 for Immersiveness, giving them an overall MDAQS score of 4.9.
This is one of the highest overall MDAQS scores on earbuds we’ve tested so far.

An overall score of 4.9 is among the highest of any wireless earbuds we’ve tested. By this measure, the Liberty 4 NC are some of the best-sounding earbuds on the market, which is impressive for their price.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the earbuds reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information). Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction. Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space. See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Reviewer’s notes

Using the default EQ, Signature in the Soundcore app, I listen to Tighten It Up by Barney Bones, DRAMA – Edit. The propulsive bass line plays pretty loudly compared to the vocals and the low-level house genre piano chords. As much as the track relies on prominent bass, it can be hard to make out the rest of the track perfectly at safe volumes. Overall though, it’s alright. I still enjoy the music as the drum machine is at an okay volume, so for pop music and dance genres, it’s totally fine.

Trying a more vocal-focused track, Run A Red Light by Everything But The Girl, the Anker buds reproduce Tracey Thorn’s low, husky voice at an acceptable volume relatively. The piano plays through most of the track and sits at a reasonable volume. When the bassy percussion comes in around the 1-minute mark, it’s a bit loud relative to the vocals but not distracting. Because the song has a limited amount of bass instrumentation, the bass emphasis doesn’t pose a problem. Only at the chorus is there some slightly exaggerated sibilance, but overall, it sounds pretty good.

Objective Measurements

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Typical of most consumer wireless earbuds, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC boosts bass and treble compared to our headphone preference curve. The result is a long way from the accuracy of studio headphones, but if you feel your music needs more oomph, these overdo it a bit, but maybe that’s your preference. The low end up through to about 200Hz is significantly louder, while mids follow our preference well. The frequency response also shows an added volume boost between roughly 5kHz and 8kHz.

Bass Boost EQ

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First, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC has 22 EQ presets, arguably too many. Still, nobody has ever complained about the number of kinds of apples you can buy in a supermarket. You pick the ones you like and ignore the rest. In any case, these presets are often variations on the theme of the (default) Signature EQ, with either too much bass or just a little bit too much bass.

Spoken Word EQ

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One of the best reasons for testing in reviews is the issue of misnomers for EQ preset settings. The Spoken Word EQ and Flat EQ (below) demonstrate this. You can easily use the Spoken Word EQ for music, not just audiobooks and podcasts, because it gets close to our headphone preference curve (which is great for music).

Flat EQ

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Meanwhile, the Flat EQ still has a notable bass boost, which isn’t terribly “flat,” although it sounds good if you like some additional low-end volume without getting flamboyant about it.

Treble Booster EQ

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Treble Booster EQ (below) sounds pretty awful compared to some of the other examples with far too much treble and too much bass.

Can you use the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC for phone calls?

Anker uses six microphones and an AI algorithm for the Liberty 4 NC. The results are okay, although the buds do best with lower-pitched voices. Voices are intelligible, although, in ideal circumstances, the resolution doesn’t exactly impress; it’s totally fine. In an office, the buds filter most noises well, although they struggle with keystrokes, occasionally overwhelming your speech slightly. The Liberty 4 NC handles street and windy conditions better, filtering most ambient street noise leaving a slight background haze but nothing distracting. With wind, your voice remains intelligible as well, for the most part.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC microphone demo (Office conditions):

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC microphone demo (Street conditions):

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

4709 votes

Should you buy the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC?

A close up of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC with the case and buds out on a table.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC have everything most people look for in wireless earbuds.

Ordinarily, when reviewing budget products, there are reservations, but for most people, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC are simply good, value-priced earbuds. They tick off most boxes, from the nearly 10 hours of battery life with ANC on to the responsive touch controls.

They might not be the ideal workout companion, but with an IPX4 rating, they can handle it, much like Apple AirPods Pro models. A comprehensive app lets you check your fit, adjust ANC with the granularity missing on some flagships, and remap commands. Plus, you can pick from the overwhelming 22 EQ presets or use the eight-band equalizer to taste. Some of Anker’s efforts were let down by their cases, but the Liberty 4 NC has a nice case. If there’s one mark against the buds, the earbuds rate as average for comfort, nothing terrible and nothing extraordinary, but certainly not unpleasant; they easily feel okay for a couple of hours.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NCAnker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC
SG recommended
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC
Price ANC • Battery life • LDAC, AAC, SBC codecs
MSRP: $99.99
These are definitely a contender for some of the best affordable noise canceling earbuds based on performance and value. With an IPX4 rating, long battery life, and good ANC, these are worth a go. You might not want to go for a run with them, but otherwise they're decent.

What should you get instead of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC?

Because they punch above their price point, most comparable earbuds will cost more than the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC. First, check out the Sony LinkBuds S. These feel good, have the same IPX4 rating as the Anker buds, and sound pretty good, too. You won’t quite eke out the same battery life, however, and they go for $128 at Amazon.

A hand holds the Jabra Elite 4 open in front of green foliage.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
The Jabra Elite 4 features aptX.

Consider the Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon) if you want a better IP55 rating and a more secure fit. Jabra outfits these comfortable buds with excellent isolation and less impressive ANC. Android users can benefit from the aptX codec, which we tend to favor over LDAC for its non-variable transfer rate. Of course, the battery life is one concession, but they sound really good by default.

Finally, who better to compete with the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC than the Anker Soundcore Space A40? These stemless earbuds are IPX4-rated and utilize the same Soundcore app to access EQ and ANC. These use the same LDAC, AAC, and SBC combo. The battery life is shy of 8 hours, which is still impressive for $79 at Amazon. The real downsides of these is that the case isn’t very sturdy, and the Anker Soundcore Space A40 microphone handles wind notably worse. Still, this could be a moot point if you rarely make calls in the wind.

It might also be worth waiting to see if the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 Pro does, in fact, release this year.

Frequently asked questions

For most people, the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC are not the ideal choice for the gym by virtue of the average fit, and the lack of any stabilizers or over-ear hooks.

The Soundcore Liberty 4 NC may be sweat resistant with an IPX4 rating, but like with gym use, they might be the best for running since they lack stabilizers or over-ear hooks.

Bluetooth multipoint is accessible through the Soundcore app, which allows you to connect to more than one device with the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC.

Yes, although the warranty likely depends on where you live. In most cases, you at least get a 30-day return period with the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, and Anker claims lifetime customer support. Just make sure you buy from a reputable store.

The build quality is fairly good for budget earbuds. They come in a matte-plastic case, which can be prone to scuffs, and the buds themselves have an IPX4 rating.

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