Back in October, we brought you word of the newly-announced Anker Soundcore Q30 ANC headphones. When they were announced, I was looking forward to checking them out, due to the very positive experience I had (and continue to have) with the Q20 (reviewed here). So, how does the upgraded headset hold up? Read on to find out.
Upon opening up the packaging for the Anker Soundcore Q30, I could tell they were focused on presenting a more premium look for the headset. For starters, it came with an included travel case. Not super hard-sided, but it’ll do the job of protecting it in your backpack. On the headset itself, it has quite a few more glossy surfaces, the headband is a solid piece of metal (padded, but no plastic enclosure), and you’ve got the polished logos on each earcup.
For myself, I actually prefer the more subdued branding on the Anker Soundcore Q20, but that could be more of a personal preference thing. In terms of overall comfort, I did find that the Anker Soundcore Q30 were more comfortable than their predecessor, particularly wearing them over the course of a day, listening to podcasts and getting on calls.
In terms of tuning and noise cancellation, the Anker Soundcore Q30 have been upgraded as well. If you use the associated app (on your phone or tablet) you can cycle through preset equalizer settings, or create your own. You can also use the app to cycle through the various ANC modes (transport, indoor, outdoor), but you can also do that via the button on the earcup.
The Anker Soundcore Q30 also introduces a transparency mode. To engage it, you press the right earcup for 1-2 seconds, and it allows you to hear whats going on – say, if someone comes in to talk to you and you don’t want to pull the headset off. As a feature, it works, but it also picks up your voice as you talk, and echoes it back in through the headset, so that’s a bit of a jarring sensation.
I also appreciated the fact that you could have the Anker Soundcore Q30 actively synced to two things at once. For a few days, I had it attached to both my laptop and my phone, and was easily able to switch between the devices depending on what was going on. I will say the bluetooth connection here seemed a bit more stable, and more often than not automatically connected to the paired devices, whereas with the Q20 I find that I need to manually connect it in bluetooth settings (if you have an Android phone with NFC, you can easily pair using NFC).
So, there is a lot to like with the Anker Soundcore Q30. You’ve got upgraded materials, a more comfortable fit, a more capable bluetooth radio, a change to USB-C charging, and a lot of flexibility for the EQ and ANC. However, there were two items that I felt were not as good as the Q20 – one minor, and one pretty major.
First, the minor issue – the buttons on the Anker Soundcore Q30. On the Q20, the buttons were reasonably-sized, more square, buttons that were easy to find. On the Q30, these have become slender ellipses. I get that it was to fit into the changed profile of the earcups, but I found that they a touch harder to locate and actually activate. I’m sure over time you’d get used to it, and if you weren’t comparing, you may not even notice it.
Editor’s note: we’re leaving in the remarks below as a point of comparison. However, the microphone issues have been corrected with the 1.8 firmware Anker has released for the Q30s
One thing you will notice – and this is a big issue – is the microphone quality on the Anker Soundcore Q30. If you recall, in my review of the Q20, the mic quality was excellent. I was sitting near an A/C unit, and callers couldn’t hear it at all, and my voice came through clearly. I expected the same with the Q30, but it was not to be. It started when folks on calls said I sounded muffled. I played with various ANC settings, turned ANC off, and even tried it on the wire, but there was no improvement.
To further test it, I made calls from both my laptop (to my phone) and from my phone (to my laptop) to record messages, just to isolate if the problem was with my laptop, perhaps. Unfortunately, it all came out the same – way muddier than what the Q20 is able to provide. For me, using the headphones all day, every day, as a way to listen to stuff while I work as well as be on conference calls, this is a dealbreaker.
Now, it is possible that Anker could figure out a way to fix it via a firmware update (that’s another thing you can do via their app), and I’ve been talking with them about the issues I ran into and how I tested. Based on other reviews I’m seeing, many others have run into this same problem. So, what’s a prospective headphone buyer to do?
EDITOR’S NOTE: There was a firmware update that corrected this – see our update right here
If you just use the headphones for listening – to music, podcasts, movies, and games – then the Anker Soundcore Q30 will work just fine for you, and you’ll appreciate the isolating effect of the ANC. On the other hand, if you find yourself needing to make calls (either via phone, Zoom, Teams, or whatnot), I can’t recommend the Anker Soundcore Q30 at this time. In the future, they may get it fixed, but for those on calls, my recommendation remains the Anker Soundcore Q20. If you want to pick up a pair, the Q30 can be pre-ordered (expected back in stock on December 17th) for $79.99. And, of course, if we are able to get the microphone situation fixed with Anker, we’ll let you know in a new article. soundcore.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: There was a firmware update that corrected the microphone issue – see our update right here. So, the recommendation now is pick whichever one fits your style and budget.
Tech Specs from Anker
- Impedance: 16?
- Driver (Full Range): 2 ? 40mm
- Frequency Response: 16Hz – 40kHz
- Range: 15 m / 49.21 ft
- Hi-Res Certified Sound: Life Q30 active noise cancelling headphones have 40mm drivers that reproduce treble up to 40kHz for full-bodied sound with excellent clarity.
- Multiple Noise Cancellation Modes: Choose from Transport, Indoor, or Outdoor modes to maximize the active noise cancellation?s effect depending on where you?re listening.
- Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation: Low and mid-frequency ambient sounds and up to 95% of engine noise are detected and filtered out by a digital active noise cancellation chipset, as well as external and internal microphones on each earcup.
- Calls with Excellent Clarity: Enhanced voice pick-up and noise reduction ensure you?re heard clearly while using Life Q30 active noise cancelling headphones for calls.
- 40-Hour Playtime: Listen for up to 40 hours in noise cancellation mode and 60 hours in standard mode. Get 4 hours of listening from a quick 5-minute charge.
- Lightweight Build: Life Q30 active noise cancelling headphones weigh just over 9oz (260g) and have memory foam earcups with a protein leather cover for all-day comfort. Ergonomic Design: Life Q30?s earcups rotate by up to 15? to adjust to the shape of your head and its headband can also be adjusted for a more comfortable, secure fit.
- Transparency Mode: Press the touch control on Life Q30?s right earcup for 1-2 seconds to activate Transparency mode to allow you to hear voices and traffic at a natural level when needed.
- Soundcore App: Select an active noise cancellation mode, update firmware, customize the EQ or choose a preset, and create a soothing white noise soundscape when you want to relax.
- NFC Fast Pairing: Tap your Android phone on Life Q30?s right earcup for extra-fast pairing.
- Multi-Point Connection: Life Q30 Bluetooth headphones can be connected to 2 devices at once for easy switching.
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