Over the last year and a half, I’ve really come to appreciate how well active noise cancelling headphones can work. First, it was just when I was on the main floor, and blocking out noises from my family as I went about my work day. Now that I’ve relocated to the basement, blocking out the sound from the pipes and furnace is what allows me to focus. I’ve steadily been marking through the Anker Soundcore lineup, and recently have been spending time with the Anker Soundcore Life Q35.
Previously, I used the Soundcore Q20 heavily – until the Soundcore Q30 landed on my head. At first, there were issues with the Q30 that me going back to the Q20s, until a firmware update fixed most of the issues (we wrote about that here). Since then, I’ve been using the Q30s for my day-to-day, except when I needed to charge them, at which point the trusty Q20s came out to play. In other words, I’ve been happy with the Q30s (other than separation on the headband, which I fixed with a small ziptie) – so why would someone want to upgrade to the Q35s?
I’ll say this – if you’ve got the Q20s or the Q30s already, and you’re happy with what you’ve got, there’s probably no pressing need to upgrade to the Anker Soundcore Life Q35. In terms of fit and finish, the Q35s are identical to the Q30s. Where things are different, then, are in the internals of the headphones.
The first thing I noticed (and tested on more than a few calls) were how well the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 managed to mask out the noise of my mechanical keyboard. With the Q30s, if I forgot to mute on a call before typing something (say, banging out an email) I was immediately heard – no matter how quietly I tried to type. With the Q35, though, that’s no longer an issue. I’m sure some noise may come through, but it’s nowhere near as pronounced, so kudos to the engineers for getting that tuned.
The next thing I really appreciated with the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 was the auto-detection of when the headphones are on your ear. I’m used to having earbuds automatically stopping whatever I’m listening to when I pull them out, and now, with these headphones, you can have over-ear headphones doing the same thing. I’m not going to say it always works perfectly, but it does work quite well. I mean, when the kids come by to ask me something, I don’t have to reach for media keys to pause what I’m listening to – just pull the headphones down around my neck, and it (usually) pauses it, and picks back up when the headphones go on.
Finally, I appreciated the travel case they provided with the Anker Soundcore Life Q35. This is a bit more compact than the Q30s, and has printing on it to remind you how to store the headphones inside. They also included some nice cabling in there, including a USB-C (for charging), 3.5mm cable for those things that still have headphone jacks, and then an adapter to plug into those weird two-prong jacks that airplanes can have for headphones. In other words, everything you need to hit the road and block out the noise.
There are some other capabilities in the Anker Soundcore Life Q35, but I was not able to test them, being a bit set into the Apple ecosystem. If you’re an Android user, you can use NFC to pair your device to the headphones, and you can also take advantage of their LDAC implementation for higher-quality audio. Whatever your device OS, you can easily have the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 connected to two devices at a time, which is great to be able to listen to something from, say, your tablet, but then also cut over to pick up a call from your cellphone, without fumbling around for things.
As I experienced with the prior Anker headphones, I can easily get a work-weeks worth of use out of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 before needing to charge. They have a stated run time of 40 hours, and you can charge them up for just 5 minutes (presumably on a 18a charger) and get 4 hours of runtime right out of the gate. If you also consider the Soundcore app as part of the ecosystem, you can get various EQ settings (though, not tuned like the Liberty Air 2 Pros), adjust the ANC type, and even get into various white noise settings. This can be handy to just have background noise to focus, or even to use to go to sleep. If you’re doing that, you can also set a countdown timer to help you get to sleep.
In other words, you can use the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 across a variety of situations – for working, for watching shows at the end of the day, blocking out noise while you travel, or even to get white noise into your ears to help you fall asleep. All of this functionality can be yours for $129.99, which is a premium over the Q30 ($79.99) and Q20 ($59.99). As far as which of these I’d recommend, it really depends on what you’re doing. The Q20s are a solid pair of headphones, and at that pricepoint, it’s hard to argue them not being an insta-buy for basic work and entertainment use. If you want (or need) the improved mics, and can perhaps take advantage of the lossless codec they support, then the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 becomes a bit more compelling. For me, I appreciate those improved mics, the on-ear detection, and the fact that the branding on them is a bit more subtle. You can check out the full range over at soundcore.com / amazon.com
Tech Specs from Anker
- Gold Standard of Sound: Custom silk-diaphragm drivers accurately reproduce music across a wider frequency range and cut out distortion to deliver sound that’s both Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified.
- LDAC Technology: 3 times more data is transmitted to Life Q35 active noise cancelling headphones than via standard Bluetooth codecs. This lossless transfer ensures you hear every tiny detail in the music.
- Multi-Mode Noise Cancelling: 2 microphones on each earcup detect and filter out distracting noises in your vicinity. Switch between Transport, Outdoor, and Indoor modes for a tailored noise cancelling experience.
- Comfortable and Convenient: Life Q35 active noise cancelling headphones can be worn all day thanks to their lightweight build and memory foam padded earcups and headband. A built-in sensor detects when they’re removed from your ears and instantly pauses the audio.
- AI-Enhanced Calls: The beamforming microphones on Life Q35 active noise cancelling headphones pick up your voice with incredible accuracy by using an AI algorithm that’s been tested thousands of times. Calls sound crisp, clear, and free of unwanted noise.