Until Sony's excellent WF-1000XM3 launched earlier this year, there was no viable true wireless earbud option with active noise cancellation. This is partly because in-ear audio products already isolate far better than on or over-ear headphones, negating the need for ANC, and partly because it's difficult to squeeze the necessary tech into such a small form factor.
This space has come on leaps and bounds in a few short years, however, and we can now expect even more noise-canceling earbuds to hit the market. Danish brand Libratone recently entered the fray with its Track Air+ model, and they boast an impressive feature set while managing to undercut the competing Sony model by some margin — £179 vs £229 in the UK. After testing them out extensively, I think they’re well worth considering.
|Audio quality||They sound excellent, especially once you've tailored the sound to your liking with the app's equalizer options.|
|Noise-canceling||Whilst not on par with the top over-ear headphones, the ANC is good enough in most situations.|
|Design||Libratone's minimalist Scandi stylings make for a very attractive pair of earbuds, plus they’re also light and comfortable.|
|Battery life||Matches the promised six hours, which is all the more impressive given the ANC capabilities.|
|Wireless charging||USB-C is nice and all, but we like to charge our devices without wires these days.|
|Controls||Only one option per earbud is disappointing, and volume isn't even something you can choose from.|
|Design, again||Difficult to grip when getting them out of the case and putting them in your ears. The case also scratches very easily.|
|The app||Looks slick but frustrates due to bugs and missing features.|
Hardware, design, and fit
Before even taking the earbuds out, it's noticeable how dinky the case is, especially in view of the bulkier solutions offered by many rivals. What you'll find inside is one of the more interesting designs in this product category - the earbuds are essentially stemmed in the same vein as Apple's AirPods, but the designs couldn't be further apart. The angular metal casing makes for a more premium look and feel than the plastic used by Apple and many others. If there's one downside, it's that the earbuds aren't that easy to grip as you take them out of the case, and the magnets keeping them in place are fairly strong, so it feels like there's a chance you'll drop one on your way to putting it in your ears. I did get the hang of it after a bit of practice, though.
Once you've got them in your ears, the fit produces a good seal and they're very comfortable, even when worn for several hours. They're light enough that you hardly notice they're there. And if you need to adjust the fit, 4 different ear tip sizes are included in the box, along with a USB-C charging cable.
The case is slightly more compact than that which comes with the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
Although tactile buttons are naturally preferable, the small size of such earbuds means we're often presented with inferior touch controls, as is the case here. Libratone's implementation is even more limiting than most, with only a double-tap on each side available for assigning. That means you're only able to select two from play/pause, ambient mode, and voice assistant - an agonizing choice already, and volume isn't even an option. Even without single and long-press controls, it's still easy to trigger an action while putting the earbuds in or adjusting the position - as is so often the case in this product category, the controls leave a lot to be desired.
Sound quality, battery life, and features
Thankfully, the main objective of these earbuds is not something they struggle with — the audio is excellent. The deep bass, rich mids, and punchy highs show how far true wireless earbuds have come, and they also get plenty loud enough. Even without active noise cancellation turned on, the solid seal lets little outside noise in. Three equalizer settings are available in the app — Neutral, Extra Bass, and Enhanced Treble — all of which work well. I found myself preferring the extra low-end tones, and it’s great to have that option. SBC and aptX codecs are supported, which is not something the Sony alternatives can boast. Thankfully, I noticed no latency issues while watching YouTube videos. Two mics on each earbud make for okay call quality, no worse than any other true wireless product, but no better.
When it’s on, the noise cancellation does a really good job of shielding you from the world. It's not as good as what you'll get on over-ear headphones from the likes of Sony or Bose, but very impressive for the small size of the hardware. Similar to Libratone's Q-Adapt on-ear model, the Track Air+ are better at canceling out the low hums from transport than higher-pitched annoyances such as people talking, but it's definitely worth having. If you're going on a flight, it would still be preferable to have a big pair of over-ears, but the Track Air+ are great for city use.
An ambient mode lets everything back through so you can have a conversation or listen to an announcement, and if you use the automatic setting, the level of cancellation will be adjusted based on the level of noise around you. When I'm on a busy train, it's mostly up around 30 (full), but walking through a park it might be as low as 10. This worked better than I expected it would and ensures your music always sounds its best.
Battery life is just about on par with the promised six hours as far as I've been able to tell. The case then offers a further three full charges, up to 24 hours in total, which is up there with the best you can expect from this type of product. While the app tells you how much juice is in each earbud, a single LED light on the case will just turn red when it’s low, but there’s no indication of quite how low that is. Bluetooth (5.0) connectivity was nearly perfect throughout my testing, only dropping out occasionally when I was on the London Underground where there’s lots of wireless interference. Since both earbuds are capable of being the master, you can choose to use only one at a time if you so wish, something I find really useful. Connecting to a new phone can be a little finicky since the earbuds must be in the case and you have to hold the button for 2s to enter pairing mode. An IPX4 rating means they’re sweat and splash-proof, so they’re fine to use while exercising.
Sadly, the app experience is a major disappointment of the Track Air+. And since the on-earbud controls are so lacking, it's necessary to use the app to make the most of the features. There's no simple on/off switch for noise-cancellation — you can only toggle between manual, automatic, and ambient. The persistent notification that surfaces when the app is active could be a handy way to get back to it or include some easy to find controls, however, it simply serves to tell you the app is running and takes you to the Android OS settings for the app if you tap on it. It also sticks around once you’re done using the earbuds — you have to force close it to get rid of it — which is infuriating. The app is also a little buggy, sometimes not correctly showing which equalizer setting you’re on. Hopefully, Libratone will fix this with a future update.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Problems with the app and controls aside, I would still recommend the Libratone Track Air+ based on the overall package. The sound is good, ANC is incredibly useful, and I think they’re among the most stylish true wireless earbuds you can buy. Battery life is up there with the best you can get, and they check all of the other boxes in terms of major features. If you’re after a decent pair of noise-canceling earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 probably represent a more complete option, and if you use an iPhone, Apple’s new AirPods Pro might be a better choice, but both are also significantly more expensive, not to mention uglier (in my opinion). I’d opt for the Track Air+.
Where to buy
Unfortunately, there's still no word on US pricing and availability, but they're available across much of Europe.