A few weeks ago, my husband and I packed up our entire lives in six suitcases and left Lebanon for a new beginning in France. Paris to be exact, or the outskirts of it to be more granularly precise. While the reasons for the move are more bitter than sweet, I've found myself adapting surprisingly well — and fast — to this new lifestyle. No car, more subways and walking, a ton of greenery, more rain, but also sunlight until 9 or 10pm, and more baguettes than I could ever dream of. But since we're a gadget site, I'll spare you the cheese and wine assortment and get straight to the main dish. Over the last few weeks, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro (what.a.mouthful) quickly became my take-everywhere gadget and has conquered the precious real estate in my tiny pockets.
By any specific metric, the Air 2 Pro is not the best pair of earbuds or headphones I have brought with me to France:
- It's not the most comfortable — that title goes to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 by far
- It doesn't offer the best music quality — that's the Sennheiser CX400BT for you
- It doesn't have the most stable fit — both Anker's Liberty 2 Pro and Bose's SoundSport Wireless stick in my ears better and never slip out
- It doesn't have the best noise cancellation — the big over-ear Marshall Monitor II ANC win by a landslide.
However, it's surprisingly the one I've decided to carry with me anytime I'm not at my desk (that's where the Marshall goes). The reason is that it offers to best blend of all the features that matter to me when I'm on the go. And "on the go" means so many different things to me now.
I'm "on the go" inside our apartment several times during the day. My husband and I haven't found our own place yet, so we currently have a (very nice) roommate — so very out-of-college and young of us, I know. But that means that I have to be more discreet when taking voice and video calls. Quickly popping in a pair of true wireless buds that are always charged and ready saves me from sharing one part of the conversation aloud; I can take care of the second by speaking a little lower. I also love how the Air 2 Pro initiates pairing when the case is opened, instead of when the buds are taken out like most other true wireless buds. It is invariably ready by the time I slide it in my ear. And the noise cancellation can be tuned for indoor usage, so I don't have to hear the nearby TV or music while I'm on my calls.
Android app: Noise cancellation & transparency options, customizable controls, equalizer, tip fit test, wear detection...
I'm also "on the go" walking in the green spaces around our apartment. The area is gorgeous and it just made me want to go on walks, even though I hadn't for a long time. So every day or two, I grab the Air 2 Pro and go for a 40-60 minute walk in the neighborhood. I have to adjust them once or twice to make sure they won't slip out or interfere with the face mask, but other than that, they seem to be stable just enough for me (I have small ears and a big tragus so I'm an outlier for most buds) and handle mild sweat well. The sound quality is very good for the price, with decently punchy bass and clear mids and highs. It's certainly more than fine for my 70% podcast / 30% music ratio. But the best part is the outdoor noise cancellation setting that tones down a lot of unnecessary things, but keeps me aware of my surroundings (cars, horns, etc...) while also letting me enjoy my audio.
And I'm "on the go" in the subway a few times a week. And for that, I get to choose which noise cancellation or transparency setting I prefer, either blocking out all the sounds or letting the announcements come through. It also has a wearing sensor so it can automatically pause and resume playback if I take it out to focus on something. When I first got the Air 2 Pro, its controls were very limited, but an update fixed that. I can now skip/rewind tracks, control volume and transparency directly, which saves me from frequently taking my phone out of my pocket in crowded subway cars.
When I was in Lebanon testing the Air 2 Pro, I didn't find anything significantly special about them, and I nearly dismissed them as good enough but not substantially appealing. Now that I'm here and my context and lifestyle has changed, I see who they're made for. There's a delicate balance between all of their features that makes the entire package well adapted for me, and people like me. They pair quickly everytime, they're comfortable enough, reliable, charge over USB-C and Qi, carry enough power to last several hours (or a couple of weeks with the case), have a small pocketable case, sound good enough for most people, and have a very customizable noise cancellation and audio transparency setting that's useful across multiple contexts.
If I could build it myself, my ideal pair of true wireless buds would be similar to the Air 2 Pro with a little bit of extra stability in my ears and punchier sound quality. Until the day comes that someone makes that perfect pair, these are as close as it gets.