Feb 4, 2023

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 Review

The former is placed in the office, mainly connected to the Android phone in hand to listen to music and meetings at work, and the latter is a carry-on bag and one at home, enjoy the ecological convenience of watching episodes on Apple TV, but also prefer its more comfortable The Liberty 4 is a new addition to the Liberty family.

The addition of Liberty 4, on the basis of improving the previous generation of design regrets, has finally achieved a full range of capabilities and additional features.

Pros
Nice health monitoring features.
Great tuning and support for user-defined and HearID-generated EQ.
Pressure-sensitive operation of the headset handle.
Support for connecting two devices at the same time.

Cons
Noise-canceling capability is not significantly improved compared to the previous generation.
iOS client is not good enough.

Lightweight appearance that “breathes” at all times

We received this Liberty 4 is the white version, from the color preference alone, white looks lighter. The overall design of the headphone case continues the style of the previous generation, still the sliding cover to open the cover, when bored can be snapped to decompress. Careful comparison, compared to the previous generation of improvement points are quite a lot:.

Because the headset body is more compact, and in the box using the slanting way, the headset box as a whole are smaller than the previous generation a circle.
The lights all changed to breathing lights, elegant and more reasonable layout. The previous generation of noise-canceling cabin headphones on the top of the dot-shaped small light is not easy to see when placed in the box, Liberty 4 will instead use the large breathing light at the bottom of the headphone box. The three small lights used to indicate the power level have also been changed to a bar-shaped breathing light (fade to red when the power is low).
Buttons from the headset case next to the charging port moved to the front panel, the benefit is naturally more conspicuous and good to press.

The headset body has been newly designed to look lighter, compared to the generation of noise-canceling cabin headphones design is too bulky, so much so that my colleagues commented that “look at it and think you may not be able to wear their ears”. Liberty 4 focuses on narrowing the body and shortening the headphone stems inward, and actually wears its center of gravity closer to the side of the ear than the generation, making it more secure.

Another improvement I’d like to talk about is the surface material of the headset body, the generation of noise-cancelling pods used a kind of matte skin-like material, which is indeed more comfortable to touch, but if I have sweat or stains in the ear, when I remove the headset, I can see the obvious dirt, the perception is not good (the picture below is subtle). The stain is not so obvious.

More elegant pressure-sensitive control than a couple of taps

After getting my hands on the Liberty 4, what really made me think “this headset can be everywhere” was actually the change in the way it was controlled.

The original generation of noise-canceling cabin and many of the pursuit of lightweight TWS headphones, the control method is to “tap the headphones in the direction of the ear canal”, in-ear headphones will have a sense of discomfort, like studying when the ear to sleep on the table, the table tapped your desktop. Liberty 4 changes the control to a pressure-sensitive gesture similar to AirPods Pro, leaving a small notch in the index finger touch area to indicate blind operation and simulating the sound of pressure inside the headphones to provide feedback.

Although the control experience of Liberty 4 is on par with AirPods Pro, but in actual experience I found that the operation of “click” is easy to accidentally touch, especially when adjusting the ear posture of the headphones during the wearing process, to which I recommend.

In the client to adjust the pressure-sensitive strength, a total of 5 levels adjustable, the default standard gear I think sensitive.
Change the gesture of adjusting the headset habits, you can use the way to hold the upper and lower ends of the headset handle. I adjust the headset subconsciously will use three fingers, when the thumb and middle finger will cause mis-touch;.
Of course, you can also cancel the click operation, but I personally recommend leaving it on, after wearing the headphones can play music immediately by clicking.

The problem of accidental touch is still relatively easy to solve, but the Liberty 4’s pressure-sensitive operation is missing the “long press” compared to the AirPods Pro next door, using “double tap” instead. The previous generation still had a long press operation, but this generation has lost it. If it’s not a patent restriction, I personally hope that the subsequent firmware update can add long.

In addition, I found that in the process of using these noise-canceling TWS headphones, if you want to communicate with people face to face, you always need to control the pause play (click), switch the transparent mode (double click / long press), this set of operations may not be as fast as the direct removal of the headphones, if you can directly operate the headphones set to “pause and switch to transparent mode” may be more convenient.

Headphones are meant to make users happy listening

I don’t know why, but my colleagues have always preferred Soundgraph’s tuning to AirPods Pro, including me, a long-time user of the noise-cancelling pods, who is a frequent tester of audio devices. Sound Crowd has probably put more effort into the tuning, which to me “feels like listening to music” and gives the listener a “more vibrant” rhythm. Compared to the first generation of noise cancelling pods, the Liberty 4 gives me a sense of space and separation of instruments when playing the same song, probably because it supports “spatial audio”. I personally prefer the Liberty 4 to the AirPods Pro after I get used to listening to it, and I can understand where the public’s comment about its so-called “white water” comes from.

HearID is a feature that has been the main focus of Soundwave since the first generation of noise cancelling pods, and I would like to sum it up in one sentence: a program that “customizes the user’s EQ profile through listening tests”. The first part is basically the same as the previous generation, but it no longer differentiates between the left and right ears; the second part is to test the user’s subjective preference, by playing the same audio with six different EQs and letting the user continuously choose between them to influence the result. The second part is to test the user’s subjective preference by playing the same audio with six different EQs and letting the user continuously choose between them to influence the result.

Previously I wasn’t a fan of EQ adjustment, either because of “restoring the songwriter’s intent” or laziness, but a generation of noise-cancelling pods has changed those perceptions. With the popularity of auto-adjusting EQ apps like Wavlet, I’m getting used to the idea that “listening is all about the mood,” and I’m letting go of the need to find my own preferred listening experience. After Liberty 4 generates my own HearID, I can continue to adjust it based on the generated results, which is perfect for the tireless user. I also listened back and forth for a while after tuning and found that I still prefer the default spatial audio tuning.

If you compare listening to a song to taking a picture on your phone, Liberty 4 gives you a nice, colorful photo by default, and users can generate unique filters to suit their preferences.

When it comes to spatial audio, I thought it was a feature highly bound to ecology, but I didn’t expect that installing a client would also allow Liberty 4 to sense the position of my phone, but if you look closely and compare the tracking effect when you turn your head, Liberty 4 is still a bit worse than AirPods Pro, not silky and a bit stiff, but it is a high level of performance. Given that I don’t care about the position of the device in everyday use, I switched to “fixed” instead of “head turn and follow”.

Here’s another tidbit. One day when I was using Liberty 4, my colleague happened to be in the office for a short while, so I asked him to experience Liberty 4. LDAC is close to the ones I use at home (higher specification headphones). But for me, if you switch to the default, you will only feel the sound to the left and right ears, so it is a matter of opinion on the listening experience, as long as the consumer has the choice.

Finally, Liberty 4 headset supports dual-device connection, but it does not merge into one channel, in the case of connecting two devices at the same time, both devices will run the progress bar normally, but only the first party to transmit to the headset. For those who have experienced the Windows system “grab” Bluetooth headset, dual-device connection is a very useful feature.

Headphones can now measure heart rate?

Liberty 4 is the first headset I’ve gotten that can measure heart rate, and it’s quite a novelty. My first question was naturally “Is it accurate?

When you put on the headset, open the Acoustiguide client, and find “Acoustiguide Health”, you can see the real-time heart rate. The value is basically the same as the Apple Watch in my hand, and the difference between the two values is about 3 BPM. For this kind of accuracy, it is quite enough as a non-medical health monitoring device.

Also related to heart rate is HRV, which refers to the change in the time between heartbeats, usually measured in milliseconds, and therefore requires a special device to detect. If you already have an Apple Watch, you’ll probably find it in the Health App. HRV is related to age, lifestyle, and many other factors, but generally speaking, a higher number means less emotional stress, better health, and better adaptability to the environment.

You can also see the exact HRV values directly in the Soundgraph client, because the Liberty 4 monitors more frequently than the Apple Watch, so you can’t visually compare the two values, but the general trend is similar: the values are low during the day at the office (which means I’m working hard!), and increase at night when I get home, sometimes reaching a peak in the second half of the night. But the general trend is similar: low during the day at the office (which means I’m working hard!) and increasing at night when I get home, peaking in the second half of the night when I’m sleeping, sometimes even exceeding 100.

Compared to the first two functions relying on heart rate sensors, “posture health” is a unique feature of the headset compared to other types of wearable devices. After a simple calibration, Liberty 4 can sense the posture of the head with the help of built-in sensors, and after a period of wearing, it can also give the “habitual posture” and the proportion of different weight-bearing levels in the wearing time, so that you can understand your subconscious state of head and neck posture. I know I am a bit hunchbacked and unconsciously tilted my head, and the data it gives really shows this problem. After 5 minutes of holding a heavier weight, the headset also sounds a specific tone to change my posture or stretch my neck. In my opinion, this feature is really more practical.

What puzzles me is that the head posture data can be displayed and collected in real time, but the stress test takes at least five minutes of wear before the results are available; the heart rate data, although displayed in real time, is only occasionally uploaded to the server associated with the account, resulting in less actual recorded heart rate data, making it difficult to give reference meaning. If so, it may be possible to have the headset give a heart rate alarm or intermittent heart rate broadcast, as in the case of head posture.

Noise cancellation is adaptive, but not powerful enough

Headphones with too much noise cancellation ability will bring the illusion of ear pressure, making people not comfortable, so many noise cancellation headphones will provide different noise cancellation gear. As the second generation of noise cancellation cabin, Liberty 4 inherited the characteristics of the previous generation can manually select the noise cancellation intensity, and on this basis added the adaptive noise cancellation function, no longer need the user to manually switch the scene, it is worth mentioning that HearID can also serve for active noise cancellation, because the shape of each person’s ear canal is not the same, you need to conduct an ear canal test to obtain the corresponding noise cancellation curve, before Adaptive noise cancellation is available.

But for those who pay close attention to the noise cancellation effect of headphones, Liberty 4 should not be called “noise cancellation cabin”.

Among my colleagues, there is no shortage of noise-cancelling parties who commute for several hours every day to the subway, and there are also old music listeners who don’t use the noise-cancelling function at all, but unfortunately I belong to the former: the ubiquitous sound of construction site renovation in Shenzhen, the airplane noise that cycles every few minutes in the airports late at night, the never-ending sound of brainwashing advertisements in elevators. Sometimes I even I am afraid that I will one day shout out the words. If ears could have switches like eyelids, then active noise-cancelling headphones would be such a Cyber external organ.

In fact, these headphones are half-hearted in terms of noise cancellation, but the AirPods Pro is more balanced and the Liberty 4 is a little weaker in terms of vocal noise cancellation. I also took the Liberty 4 to participate in the crowded train station, three meters from the loud speaker can still clearly send the ticket information into my ears, after turning on the music it can still be very good for me to isolate the world, especially behind the two seats crying children. If you’re happy with the noise canceling performance of the AirPods Pro initial generation right now, you won’t feel out of place with the Liberty 4.

It is worth mentioning that the adaptive noise cancellation of the perception of environmental volume does not rely on the phone, but the headset microphone called directly, from the perspective of power control, certainly can not do continuous monitoring. The fact is also true that if a noise suddenly rings out, the headset will take a few seconds to adjust the noise cancellation ability step by step, the good thing is that the difference between its three levels of noise cancellation is not large, seven or eight and ten percent of the force of the feeling, there will be no hard feeling in the process of adjustment. If you use Liberty 4 in the office and commute, I would recommend using the adaptive noise cancellation function. It was also during the use of Adaptive Noise Cancellation that I realized I didn’t always need the strongest level of noise cancellation. It’s like squinting slightly is also a pleasant gesture.

The counterpart to the noise reduction mode is the transparency mode, which has two levels: full transparency and vocal mode, with the latter being more natural in my personal experience. However, no matter which mode it is, I clearly feel that it is “sound from the microphone” and there is obvious ambient noise, so I can’t get rid of the feeling of “calling”. Even on the best AirPods Pro, the pass-through mode is a feature I’ve abandoned, but if you care about the pass-through mode experience, Liberty 4 isn’t for you.

Conclusion

Although I myself have been into smart wearables for almost a decade and don’t need headphones to help me monitor my heart rate, health monitoring has always been a major need even for minority editorial offices, and headphone-based health monitoring is very new.

If your shopping direction falls somewhere in between reliable headphones and novel health testing concepts, the Sound Broad Liberty 4 with its heart rate, HRV monitoring, and posture health features is a product worth trying and considering. Otherwise, it’s just icing on the cake – after all, as the first to eat crabs, Liberty 4 will inevitably eat some function, price and form losses on both ends, whether you want to pay for these small regrets depends on whether you want to wait or get on board with it.

Published by YooCare Editor & last updated on February 8, 2023 8:29 am

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