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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Great EQ options
Excellent build quality
Next-level battery life
Great price point
Can feel heavy after extended use
Bass-heavy sound profile
No extra features or fancy controls
Even though these are technically budget headphones, their sound quality, build quality, and battery life make them anything but cheap-feeling.
We purchased the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones so our reviewer could put them to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones are the active noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones you buy if you want to save some money without cutting too many corners. That makes sense; Anker, the parent brand of Soundcore, has made a name for itself as a company that provides excellent chargers, power bricks, and portable batteries that don’t break the bank.
I’ve tested a bunch of Soundcore headphones before, but only the Liberty true wireless earbud line. The Q30s are the first over-ear headphones I’ve tried from the brand, but since I was so impressed with Soundcore Liberty Air, my expectations were pretty high. So here’s how the Life Q30s felt after a few days of dedicated use.
The look of the Life Q30 headphones is actually pretty unique, which isn’t the case for many budget headphones. The materials used here don’t look cheap, and that ends up being a really good thing for the look and feel of the headphones. Usually, I prefer a subtle design that is slim in profile and doesn’t stand out (it’s why I don’t like the loud, bulky design of Beats headphones). With their rounded earcups and glossy gold logo on each side, the Life Q30s take a page or two out of the Beats playbook, and while that isn’t my preference, I can see the appeal for some.
Because the headbands end at a rounded point and visually cover the swiveling arms that connect the headband to the earcups, they have sort of a spacey, floating, modular look that is unlike most of the headphones I’ve seen. However, because they’re made with a mid-glossy plastic and nice, soft-touch faux leather, they still have a classy look. It’s a mixture of this unique shape and the understated color scheme that makes them a pretty balanced pair of headphones from a design perspective.
A big part of what makes the Life Q30s so comfortable is the quality of the material used on the earcup. I’ll get a little bit more into the material quality in the next section, but the soft faux leather that covers both the ear pads and the headband pad is delicate and breathable. There’s a nice soft memory foam inside these pads, and while it’s plenty soft to be comfortable, there isn’t quite enough of it to form the best seal on your head.
Because there isn’t a ton of padding, the pads tend to flatten out more than other premium headphone offerings. It’s not the worst situation, but definitely something you notice when wearing the headphones for a long time.
There’s a nice soft memory foam inside these pads, and while it’s plenty soft to be comfortable, there isn’t quite enough of it to form the best seal on your head.
The other factor for comfort is the weight. At about 9 ounces, these headphones aren’t exactly the lightest ones around, and after a couple of hours of use, you do notice them on your head. None of this is a dealbreaker, because most users will find these pretty comfortable, but if you’re a power user or want to wear headphones for long listening sessions, expect them to show their weight.
At well under $100, the Life Q30s would have every right to feel a little cheaper than they do. But the build quality here is actually pretty solid. I’ve already run down the softness of the leather and quality of the foam, but the soft-touch plastic on the outside of the cups also feels good in the hand. The arms that hold the ear cups have fold-in slots that feel smoother and have a more substantial click when folded in than I’m used to on headphones.
The high quality of this junction point makes the headphones feel really premium, and it will probably take a beating pretty well over time. Over the top of the outside of the headband, there’s a thick metal plate that reinforces the outside of the headband. I really like this from a build quality standpoint because the headband is often a common point of structural failure on headphones, and the metal shell gives this headband plenty of support. There isn’t an IP rating, so you shouldn’t plan on wearing them in heavy rain, but overall the build quality feels great and instills plenty of confidence in the durability conversation.
The high quality of this junction point makes the headphones feel really premium, and it will probably take a beating pretty well over time.
There is plenty to like about how these headphones sound, but for the price point, you shouldn’t expect anything mind-blowing in the detail department. The frequency response spans from 16Hz to 40kHz, which is much more than the 20Hz to 20kHz that the natural human hearing range is comprised of. This means it will offer tons of performance and support across the whole spectrum.
The 16ohms of impedance is fairly low for over-ear headphones, but I do think the volume and fullness provided by the headphones, especially if you adjust the EQ, is perfectly adequate.
In practice, I think the standard sound spectrum sounds very bassy—something very akin to the Beats by Dre sound quality—and unfortunately, this EQ profile tends to sound muddy and overblown on budget-friendly headphones like this. The bassiness was extra pronounced when listening to spoken words, like radio shows or podcasts. You do have a ton of equalization options via the Anker Soundcore app, but I’ll discuss that more later.
The 16ohms of impedance is fairly low for over-ear headphones, but I do think the volume and fullness provided by the headphones, especially if you adjust the EQ, is perfectly adequate. There is also active noise cancellation, and it’s surprisingly effective for headphones of this price. There are several levels of noise cancellation as well, which range from heavier noise reduction meant for when you’re traveling to a lighter touch for your day in the office. There’s also a transparency mode to pass through some outside noise, so you’re more aware of your surroundings when wearing the headphones in public.
There is a port to connect the included 3.5mm aux cable and wire these headphones directly to your sound source, bypassing the Bluetooth. But, it’s important to note that while this works fine without ANC activated, if you do activate it, the volume passed through the aux cable will be much lower, so this use case is not recommended.
Something I’ve always been very impressed with on Anker Soundcore headphones is their battery life. This isn’t that surprising considering how good Anker is at creating battery-based products. The Life Q30s offer a whopping 40 hours of listening time on a single charge, and that’s even inclusive of using active noise cancellation.
If you leave ANC off, Anker Soundcore promises you’ll get closer to 60 hours of listening. When even the most expensive Bluetooth headphones on the market offer closer to 35 hours of listening, with ANC deactivated, it becomes really impressive to see Anker Soundcore offering nearly double for so little money.
The Life Q30s offer a whopping 40 hours of listening time on a single charge, and that’s even inclusive of using active noise cancellation. If you leave ANC off, Anker Soundcore promises you’ll get closer to 60 hours of listening.
I will say that these numbers, in practice, seem a little too optimistic. I wasn’t ever able to fully drain the headphones, even after a few workdays’ worth of heavy use, but I was trending more toward 35 hours of listening with the ANC on. Again, this is still much better than almost any other headphones on the market. And thanks to the fast charging USB-C port, Anker Soundcore promises that you’ll get up to 4 hours of listening on a quick 5-minute charge. Needless to say, this is one of the standout features of these headphones.
Bluetooth 5.0 gives the Life Q30 headphones plenty of stability when using them across all your Bluetooth devices. They are rated for 15 meters of range, and this was pretty effective even through walls and around corners. Because the most modern Bluetooth protocol is present here, you’ll also get very few connection hiccups, and you can connect multiple source devices.
There’s also NFC built-in, meaning that compatible Android phones can be quick-paired simply by tapping the device against the right earcup. As mentioned, you can also connect the headphones to an audio source through a headphone jack, but you’ll sacrifice some fullness and volume.
Where the Life Q30s do lack some functionality is the Bluetooth codecs. You’ll only find AAC and SBC, the lossiest, most basic Bluetooth compression format. It would have been nice to see Qualcomm aptX functionality here to help better transmit higher-def audio files, but it isn’t a deal-breaker. Anker Soundcore has included “High-Res” audio, which is a polishing software used on the headphones themselves to try to boost the Bluetooth-transmitted audio back to its pre-compressed quality. So, it’s a little bit of a mixed bag here, but the connectivity and tech are on-par with much of the rest of the entry-level market.
Most of the higher-end, consumer-focused Bluetooth headphones on the market have a veritable treasure trove of extra features. The Life Q30s take a simpler approach, offering all the buttons you would expect on-board (ANC activation, volume adjustment, pause/play, and power), but not giving you many other bells and whistles. No touch controls are present here, nor are there dedicated buttons for voice assistant activation. The headphones do come with an aux cable and a nice hardshell zipper case for transport, though the case is pretty big—not ideal for someone trying to conserve bag space.
Where the Life Q30s do excel is the accompanying app. In this app, you can update software, monitor the battery, and set the EQ profile. As I mentioned, I don’t love the sound profile of these headphones right out of the box; experimenting with the EQ settings is a near imperative. Thankfully Soundcore gives you dozens of options on the accompanying app, ranging from Rock and Acoustic to Hip-Hop and even a flatter frequency response. When you select one of these, the app shows you the EQ curve used for that preset, which is a great way to visualize what you like and don’t like in sound profile. The app also lets you further dial in the ANC level, and you can even use “sleep mode” to play calming, ambient sounds as a personal bedtime noise machine.
At around $80 at the time of this writing, the Life Q30 headphones feel like they offer a really solid value. They are not the cheapest headphones out there, but they’re pretty close. Normally ANC headphones that are worth considering bottom out at around $50. So what you get for the extra $30 here is a solid build quality and decent design, as well as next-level control of the EQ settings via an easy-to-use app. And of course, with the battery life on deck here, $80 certainly feels like money well spent.
Anker Soundcore is a budget-friendly brand but not exactly a truly budget offering. Monoprice, on the other hand, is clearly a budget brand, but I’m usually very happy with their build quality. Monoprice’s SonicSolace headphones do feel substantial, though they’re quite a bit heavier than the Life Q30s. But both look and feel pretty great. Where the Life Q30s win is in the ANC quality and the sound customization options. However, the SonicSolace headphones cost just about half the price.
Definitely worth the money.
I’m confident in recommending Anker Soundcore Life Q30 headphones. They look, feel, and sound amazing, regardless of the price point. Because they cost well under $100 and still manage to feel like premium headphones, they’re a no-brainer if you want decent Bluetooth headphones. And for the insane battery life alone, these are great headphones to have on hand the next time you’ll need to take a trip or block out a noisy office space for hours on end.
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