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Reviewed on Oct 05, 2018

Anker SoundBuds Life Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Anker SoundBuds Life are average wireless in-ears for most use cases with a decent sound quality. They have an around-the-neck design and a decently comfortable and stable in-ear fit. They're also easy to use and have a long lasting battery life that should be suitable for most use cases. Unfortunately, though their build quality is decent, they do feel a bit cheap. They also do not have the best isolation performance so they won't be the ideal choice for noisy commutes.

Test Results
Design 7.2
Sound 6.5
Isolation 6.3
Microphone 6.6
Active Features 7.1
Connectivity 3.6
Pros
  • Good battery life.
  • Very low leakage.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Thin audio cables and bulky neckband.

Check Price

SoundBuds Life
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Summary

  • 6.7 Mixed Usage
  • 6.7 Critical Listening
  • 6.8 Commute/Travel
  • 7.4 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.8 Office
  • 5.7 TV
  • 5.6 Gaming
Mixed Usage 6.7

Decent for mixed-usage. The Anker SoundBuds Life are easy to use, and above-average comfortable. They're stable enough for jogging, have a long lasting battery life and an average sound quality sufficiently balanced for most users. Unfortunately, they won't be the best option for gaming and watching movies since they are Bluetooth-only headphones with no way to reduce latency. They also won't be the best sounding headphones for more critical listeners.

Critical Listening 6.7

Decent for critical listening. They have a good and extend bass, a decent mid-range but a mediocre treble range that's a bit harsh and slightly lacking in detail. The bass somewhat overshadows the instruments and vocals in the mids although not by much. However, this does give them a slightly boomy sound that is emphasized by the slightly lacking treble range. Also, like most closed-back in-ears, they do not have the best soundstage so they will not be the ideal option for more critical listeners.

Commute/Travel 6.8

Above-average for commuting. They're lightweight, easy to carry around and have a good control scheme. However, they do not block as much noise as some of the other in-ears we've tested so they won't be the best option for noisy commutes or flights.

Sports/Fitness 7.4

Good for sports. The Anker SoundBuds Life have an around-the-neck design that's stable enough for running or jogging. They're also lightweight, portable, wireless and have an IPX5 rating. However, the in-ear tips do slide a bit in the ear canal during more strenuous activities, and the bulky neckband can sometimes pull the earbuds out of your ears, which won be ideal for more intense sports.

Office 6.8

Above-average for office use. They don't block a lot of noise, but thanks to their incredibly low leakage, you can mask some of the office chatter by playing your audio at high volumes and not disturb others.

TV 5.7

Below-average for home theater use. They're decently comfortable and have a good wireless range. However, they have a bit too much latency for watching a lot of video content, and they have no other connection option but Bluetooth.

Gaming 5.6

Below-average for gaming. They have a bit too much latency to be suitable for gaming. They also have no customization options, and although their mic is fairly decent, they are Bluetooth-only headphones that will not be compatible with your consoles.

Compared to other Headphones

The Anker SoundBuds Life are a decent option for most use cases. They have a simple around the neck design that's comfortable, stable and easy to use. They also have a long-lasting 17-hour battery life that should be suitable for most use cases. Unfortunately, they do not isolate as well as other wireless in-ears and their build quality, though decent, feels a little cheaper than it looks especially when compared to some of the models below. See our recommendations for the best cheap earbuds, the best noise cancelling earbuds and in-ears, and the best wireless earbuds under $50.

Mpow Jaws 4.1 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Anker SoundBuds Life are a better neckband headset than the Mpow Jaws. The Ankers have a much better build quality that looks and feels more premium, although their cables are still pretty thin and fragile. The Ankers also have a much better-balanced sound and a longer lasting battery life. On the other hand, the Mpow Jaws are cheaper and have slightly better cable management. They also isolate better in noisy conditions, and their in-ear fit is a bit more comfortable to wear for long listening sessions than the Ankers, although not by much.

Sony WI-C400 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Anker SoundBuds Life are better around-the-neck in-ears than the Sony WI-C400. The Ankers have a much better sound quality and a more premium and durable design despite their thin cables. The Ankers also have a much better battery and latency performance when compared to the Sonys, but on the other hand, the Sonys are more lightweight and have slightly better cable management. The Sony also support NFC, which makes pairing with mobile phones a lot easier.

Samsung U Flex Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung U Flex are slightly better around-the-neck headphones than the Anker SoundBuds Life. The Samsung  have a flexible neckband that will easily fit into your pockets. They also have a better-balanced sound, a more durable design, and a lot more customization options, but only when connected to Samsung devices. On the other hand, the Ankers offer a slightly better value for your money. They also have a better battery life that should last you long enough for most activities and use cases.

Jabra Elite 25e Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jabra Elite 25e have about the same performance as the Anker SoundBuds Life. The Elite 25e are a bit more comfortable than the Ankers, thanks to their earbud-like fit and slightly more lightweight neckband. The Elite 25e also have a slightly better control scheme with a dedicated mic button. On the other hand, the Ankers have an in-ear fit that's decently comfortable and more stable than the Jabras. They also have a more premium look and feel and an IPX5 rating, which makes them the slightly better option for sports, but their build quality is about the same overall. The Ankers also sound slightly better, although not by much.

Test Results

Style

The Anker SoundBuds Life have a decently stylish around-the-neck design that looks more high-end than their price would suggest. The in-earbuds have magnetic backs that stick together to make them more manageable when not in use and the neckband is a sleek two-tone design that's decently flexible. Unfortunately, while they look fairly high-end, they do not feel as premium. Upon closer inspection, you see that the casings on the tips of neckband look metal but are actually plastic. And the audio cables attached to the earbuds are thin and not as rubberized or as durable as the Bose QuietControl 30 or the Jabra Elite 65e. Overall, they are designed well enough for most but do not feel as sturdy or as premium as they look.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.12 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0 lbs

The Anker SoundBuds Life are moderately comfortable in-ear headphones as long as you don't mind the around-the-neck design. The neckband is decently lightweight but not as flexible as that of similar headsets like the Samsung U Flex. This makes them a bit more noticeable around your neck, but on the upside, they come with 4 sets of tips which should allow you to find a decently comfortable fit.

7.4 Controls
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Decent
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

The Anker SoundBuds Life have an efficient button layout and control scheme. They provide call/music, track-skipping, and volume controls. The buttons deliver good tactile feedback, although the volume buttons are a little stiff and hidden inside the neckband, which isn't as easy to use as the play/pause button, which has a much better layout and feedback.

7.5 Stability

The around-the-neck design of these headphones makes them considerably stable. They won't fall from your neck if you run or jog with them but depending on how well the in-ear design fits you, the earbuds may get a little loose during strenuous exercise. Also, if the neckband is placed under your outfit, the audio cables can get hooked or tangled and pull the earbuds out of your ears.

6.9 Portability
L : 7 "
W : 5.8 "
H : 1 "
Volume : 40 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

These headphones are decently portable if you let them dangle around your neck. Unfortunately, the neckband of the SoundBuds life is not as flexible as that of Beats X or the Samsung U Flex, which means they won't fit as easily into some pockets. They are not the hardest headphones to carry around on your person, especially if you tuck the neckband under your shirt, but they are still a bit more of a hassle than straightforward wireless in-ears.

5.5 Case
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

These headphones do not come with a case or pouch.

7.0 Build Quality

The Anker Soundbuds Life are decently well-built around the neck headphones with thin audio cables. The neckband's build quality is sturdy yet decently flexible and feels a lot more high-end than the rest of the design. It won't easily break under physical stress but unfortunately, the audio cables are a little thin and susceptible to wear and tear. They could snap if they get repeatedly hooked to an item of clothing if you often place the neckband under your outfit. They have a more premium and durable design than the Sony WI-C400, but they don't feel as durable as the thick cables on the Bose QuietControl 30 or the flat and rubberized cables of the Jabra Elite 65e.

9.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.8 C

The Anker SoundBuds Life have a breathable in-ear design. They do not cause any significant temperature increase since they do not cover your ears. They trap a little bit of heat within the ear canal but it's negligible and should not make you sweat more than average. The neckband isn't factored in breathability since they will most likely go over an item of clothing.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : N/A
Connection : N/A

These headphones come with a USB charging cable.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
8.1 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.75 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
4.03 dB
Mid-Bass
:
2.08 dB
High-Bass
:
2.91 dB

The bass is very good. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Low-bass, responsible for the thump and rumble in bass-heavy music and sound effects is hyped by 4dB. This results in quite a bit of thump and rumble, which fans of bass may like. Mid-bass and high-bass are also hyped, but only by 3dB. Overall, the bass is thumpy and heavy without sounding too muddy and cluttered.

7.8 Mid
Std. Err.
:
3.0 dB
Low-Mid
:
-1.65 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-4.29 dB
High-Mid
:
-1.68 dB

The Anker SoundBuds Life have a good mid-range performance. The overall response is quite even and flat but recessed by about 4dB centered around 800Hz. This nudges the vocals and lead instruments towards the back of the mix, by giving bass and treble a bit more emphasis.

6.2 Treble
Std. Err.
:
4.92 dB
Low-Treble
:
2.41 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-0.03 dB
High-Treble
:
-7.12 dB

The treble is average-at-best. Low-treble is even overemphasized by 2dB and with a tilt favoring higher frequencies. This brings a bit of excess brightness to the vocals and leads. Mid-treble is also quite even, but with a tilt favoring lower frequencies. This means that the sibilances (S and T sounds) on these headphones may sound a little bit soft and underemphasized, which will be mostly noticeable on vocals and cymbals.

9.6 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.08 dB

The frequency response consistency of the Anker SoundBuds Life is excellent. If the user is able to achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones then they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones.

1.6 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
4.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.3
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

The soundstage is poor. This is because creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). The design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it. Also, because the Anker SoundBuds Life have a closed-back enclosure, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds, or the Bose SoundSport Free.

9.1 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.18
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.82
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
0.76
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
1.29

The imaging performance is excellent. The weighted group delay is at 0.18, which is very low. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (instruments, voice, footsteps), in the stereo image.

7.9 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.951
Weighted THD @ 100
:
1.44

The harmonic distortion performance is very good. In the bass range, they show very little THD, even under heavy loads, which is great. The THD in the mid and treble ranges, however, is rather elevated and could sound a bit harsh and impure especially around 2KHz.

5.4 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.99 dB
Bass
:
-2.42 dB
Mid
:
-15.16 dB
Treble
:
-25.7 dB
Self-Noise
:
21.52 dB

The Anker SoundBuds Life have a sub-par isolation performance. In the bass range, where the rumble of bus and airplane engines sit, they achieve about 2dB of isolation, which is inadequate. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by 15dB, which is good. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, they isolate by about 26dB, which is above-average.

8.0 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
33.88 dB

The leakage performance is great. Like most other closed-back in-ear, these headphones don't leak in the bass and mid-ranges. The significant portion of their leakage is in the treble range and centered around 5KHz. The overall level of the leakage is not loud either. With the music at 100dB SPL, the music at 1 foot away averages at 39dB SPL and peaks at 62dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of most offices.

6.7 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
289.23 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
1.61 dB
HFE
:
3368.2 Hz
Weighted THD
:
7.188
Gain
:
36.22 dB

The microphone has an average recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 289Hz means speech recorded/transmitted with it will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.4KHz results in speech that is muffled and lacking in detail. However, the response between the LFE and HFE points is flat and even.

6.5 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
17.19 dB

The microphone is average at noise-handling. In our SpNR test, the Anker SoundBuds Life achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 17dB, indicating they will do a decent job separating speech from ambient noise in moderately loud environments but will struggle to do so in louder situations.

8.3 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
42 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
129 ft

The Anker Life have a good wireless range of 42 ft when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room. They also reached up to 129 ft in direct line of sight. This makes them suitable to pair to fixed sources like a TV or PC and should more than enough range if you keep your Bluetooth source/ phone on you.

4.7 Latency
Default Latency
:
140 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

The Anker Life, like most Bluetooth headphones, have a bit too much latency to be a suitable option for watching movies or gaming.

7.9 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
17 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.2 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Standby mode
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
No

The Anker SoundBuds Life have a long lasting battery life of 17 hours that can easily last up to 24 hours depending on the volume at which you listen to your music and whether you take a few breaks here and there. This makes their battery performance suitable enough for most use cases, although they do not have many power saving features like an auto-off timer or audio while charging. Unfortunately, they will continue to drain battery life if they are connected to your phone, even when inactive but on the upside, they last fairly long in standby mode so they should have plenty of battery life for most.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

These headphones do not come with an app for added customization options.

6.0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.1
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
No

These headphones do not have NFC support or simultaneous multi-device pairing. On the upside, they are fairly easy to pair with new devices and keep up to 8 devices in memory so they automatically connect to the last synced devices as soon as you switch them on.

0 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Analog Audio
:
N/A
USB Audio
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A

They have no wired option. If you want a good sounding wired in-ear, check the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a dock. If you want a headphone that's versatile and has a dock, try the SteelSeries Arctis 7. However, it won't be as compact or portable.

In the box

  • Anker SoundBuds Life headphones
  • USB cable
  • Earbud Tips (x4)
  • carrying pouch
  • Manual

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