Review

Soundcore Life Q30 ANC Headphones for $79.99 at Amazon

With the ANKER Soundcore Life Q30, the best ANC over-ear headphones for me (after the test) for under $100 has now hit the market! Compared to its two predecessors Life 2 and Life Q20, the new Life Q30 comes with a completely new design and more sophisticated technology.

Soundcore Life Q30 headphones

Technical Data

NameANKER Soundcore Life Q30ANKER Soundcore Life Q20
Driver40 mm dynamic driver40 mm dynamic driver
Frequency range20-40.000 Hz20-20.000 Hz
Impedance16 Ω16 Ω
ConnectivityBluetooth 5Bluetooth 5
Battery capacity720 mAh ~ 40 hours runtime720 mAh ~ 30 hours runtime
Audio codecSBC, AACSBC, AAC

Packaging & Scope of Delivery

The ANKER Soundcore Life Q30 comes in a usual blue cardboard box. Inside is a square transport box, which in turn contains the headphones themselves and the accessories. If you opt for the pink version, the case is also pink, but it is also gray in the blue version.

Besides the headphones themselves, you will find a jack cable for wired use, a USB-C charging cable and the Quick Start Guide. Soundcore has not included a detailed user manual for some time now, but it should be available for download on the Soundcore site soon, so the manufacturer saves a lot of paper.

New design & improved materials

While the old Soundcore Life Q20 still reminded me a bit of a Bose headphone, I think the design of the Soundcore Life Q30 is not only more chic, but also more distinct.

Soundcore Life Q30 all colors

The ANC over-ear is available in black, blue and powder pink, but there is now a little accent with the Soundcore logo on the back of the earpiece. The Soundcore Life Q20, on the other hand, had the Soundcore lettering embossed in black on black.

Overall, the design has become more rounded, which is mainly due to the earpiece attachment on the headband and the rounded elements on the earpiece. Speaking of the headband, it is now made of brushed metal rather than pure plastic, which appeals to me visually. There is also a new pull-out mechanism, which does not spoil the chic design of the headband — I really like it!

As usual, there is nothing to complain about in terms of workmanship and material. Personally, the new Soundcore Life Q30 seems a bit “next-level” compared to its predecessor. Visually, I think it catches up with Bose’s and Sony’s flagship models. If I had been told “the headphones cost $200”, I certainly wouldn’t have been taken aback by the looks.

Sound of the Soundcore Life Q30

The Soundcore Life Q30, like most wireless ANC over-ear headphones, is equipped with a 40 mm dynamic speaker. Sound-wise, the Soundcore Life Q30 leaves me with a very good first impression.

The strength of the Soundcore Life Q30 definitely resides in the low-frequency range. Not only does it convince me with powerful bass, but it also delivers a nice “boom” to the ear in the sub-bass frequencies. I could imagine that the bass is even a bit too dominant for some – depending on your taste.

If you turn up the volume on the Life Q30, your skull will definitely vibrate. If that is too much for you, you will find a remedy in the Soundcore app for Android and iOS. Here, you have the option to individualize the equalizer or select from various pre-sets.

The standard “Soundcore Signature” equalizer preset is a bit more muted in the midrange, in my opinion. In my opinion, voices fit nicely into the overall sound image, which I like!

The Soundcore Life Q30 also delivers a solid performance in the high frequencies.  Compared to my Sony WH-1000XM3, nuances and fine details are a bit less pronounced in the high-frequency range. However, the differences are so small that I wouldn’t pay triple the price for it now.

Sound summary

Compared to the Soundcore Life Q20, the Chinese manufacturer has taken the Soundcore Life Q30 up a notch in terms of sound quality. Unless TaoTronics slowly delivers a real “board” in terms of ANC over-ear, I think that the competition from their own country is now almost uncatchable.

However, they have not quite reached the top yet. In the comparison test with my Sony WH-1000XM3, the Soundcore Life Q30 can definitely keep up in the low and mid-range, but it does not quite manage this in the high-frequency range. Sony’s headphones also offer a somewhat wider stage for my taste.

However, the differences in sound quality no longer justify the three times higher price. If you do not claim to be an audiophile, you will get the better deal overall with the Life Q30.

Active Noise Cancelling

For Active Noise Cancelling, Soundcore continues to rely on Hybrid ANC technology. This uses microphones both inside and outside the ear cup to sense ambient noise and create a corresponding anti-sound to reduce noise interference.

In addition to ANC improvements, there are now also different ANC modes and a Transparent mode, which amplifies background noise. This makes sense, especially in traffic, where you should not miss a streetcar or a honking car.

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While you can only switch between ANC off, on or Transparent mode via the button on the earpiece, the Soundcore app offers even more customization options.

Three different ANC modes:

  • Traffic
  • Indoor
  • Outdoor

The modes are meant to provide optimized ANC for different scenarios. According to the app, the “traffic mode” is optimized for use on buses, trains, or planes. Monotonous and constant sounds are said to be best filtered in this mode. The “indoor mode” is supposed to be more for the medium frequencies, such as voices in the office or cafés to the collar and the “outdoor mode” is supposed to help best against city noise.

I’m honest with you, I couldn’t hear that big of a difference between the ANC modes in the test. Still, I think it’s nice that Soundcore offers different modes for different scenarios, which can also be improved over time via software update.

Overall, the ANC of the Soundcore Life Q30 makes a very good impression on me. First, it should be said that Active Noise Cancelling does not affect the acoustics of the headphones. This is a point that not all budget ANC headphones fulfill. In addition, the ANC also seems to be a lot more sophisticated than in the previous version.

In the test, it cannot yet keep up 100% with the “flagship ANC headphones” from Sony and Bose, but it already comes very close. A volume of about 40% is enough for me to not even notice any background noise in “normally loud passages of a song” and that’s pretty good! Also, let’s not forget that the branded headphones mentioned are almost three times more expensive than the Soundcore Life Q30.

Compared to other budget ANC headphones like the TaoTronics TT-BH046 or the current SoundSurge 90, the Soundcore headphones’ active noise cancellation is far superior. Considering the price/performance ratio, the Soundcore Life Q30 is the winner among ANC headphones for me.

Headset

In the test, my call partners could understand me very well overall. In quiet environments, there is practically no difference in quality between the headset and the cell phone. Of course, the headset also reduces background noise and interference, which it does reliably in the test, up to a certain degree.

Thus, the Life Q30 is also interesting and, above all, usable for longer phone calls, as is often the case in the current situation, both privately and professionally.

Wearing comfort

In terms of wearing comfort, the Soundcore Life Q30 is definitely unlike the Life Q20. Just like Sony did with the WH-1000XM2 to Sony WH-1000XM3, the Soundcore Life Q30 sits more relaxed on the head than the Soundcore Life Q20.

Of course, this has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the application. For me personally, it has only advantages, the headphones press less on the temples of my glasses and also the headband got a slightly thicker padding, which makes it definitely more comfortable when you wear it for a long time.

On the downside, it slips off my head more easily than the Soundcore Life Q20 when walking/running, so if you’re looking for an over-ear for sports, the Soundcore Life Q30 may not be the best choice. Personally, I would rather go for a sports in-ear like the Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 or the Amazfit Powerbuds for this anyway.

Operation

There is a total of five buttons on the earpieces for operation. The power button and ANC button are on the left earpiece. The right earpiece also has a volume up/down and play/pause button. Some buttons have dual functions.

 

Functions of the buttons:

Buttonpress brieflylong press
ANC ButtonANC on/off switch
Power ButtonHeadphones on/off
Play/PausePlay/PauseEnd call
LoudLoudernext track
Silentquieterprevious track

In the test, all buttons and functions worked flawlessly under both iOS and Android. What I only noticed after two weeks of testing by looking at the manual is that the Soundcore Life Q30 has a touch panel behind the right earpiece. Similar to what you already know from Sony’s headphones.

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However, the operation of the touch sensor on ANKER’s headphones is more primitive, because there is only one function, which I consider useful, however. By touching the touch surface for two seconds, you can switch between ANC/Normal mode and Transparent mode. Practical when you just want to talk to someone for a moment or need to know what’s going on around you.

Soundcore app with the Life Q30

With 5 stars in the AppStore and 4 stars in the PlayStore, the Soundcore app is very well rated for both iOS and Android and is roughly on the same level as the Bose Connect app. Sony, on the other hand, has long been surpassed in terms of app integration and its functionality.

Personally, I’m also a fan of the Soundcore app, it was launched back in 2018 for the first models and has been constantly expanded and improved since then. Instead of launching a new app for every new Soundcore product, here’s one for all of them. Despite this, it is individually expanded for each headphone and speaker and optimally tailored to the respective product, a lot of effort, but worth it and makes Soundcore products a lot smarter compared to the budget competition.

The app is designed the same for both Android and iOS and offers the same functions for the Soundcore Life Q30 under both systems.

Soundcore app functions

  • Switch ANC modes
  • Download & install updates
  • Select equalizer presets
  • Customize and save equalizer
  • Ambient sound

Sleep mode with ambient sounds

Actually, I think that the functions of the Soundcore app do not need much explanation, except for the sleep mode. Here you can mix your own “feel-good” sounds to relax from a total of 11 sounds.

Possible ambient sounds: 

  • Rain
  • Birds chirping
  • Wind
  • Wind chimes
  • Campfire crackling
  • Sound of the sea
  • Dripstone cave
  • Moving train
  • Tick-tock clock
  • Farm animals
  • Standing fan

Using the sliders, each sound can be turned louder/quieter or completely off according to your own preference. This way, you can create your own personal relaxing sound, which, in combination with the ANC, helps you fall asleep faster, for example on an airplane. This is not a function that is absolutely necessary, but it is “nice to have”.

Overall, I’m a fan of the Soundcore app, as explained at the beginning, it does what it promises, is intuitive to use, is regularly updated and in turn provides your Soundcore gadget with firmware updates – very good!

Bluetooth connection & range

The headphones are equipped with a Bluetooth 5 chip. In testing, the headphones exhibit very good connection stability and range. In open spaces, the connection remains stable over a distance of just under 20 meters. In closed rooms, I did not have any problems with the connection stability in the test within a room, but if massive obstacles like concrete walls or similar get in the way, the range drops rapidly (as always).

Once the Soundcore Life Q30 is connected to a device, it automatically pairs with the last connected device the next time it is turned on. It also supports fast pairing via NCF under Android, for which the smartphone simply has to be held to the right earpiece of the over-ear.

Multi-Point Connection, i.e. connecting two devices at the same time, is also possible with the Soundcore Life Q30. For example, you can connect it to a cell phone and a laptop in parallel, so that you can talk on the phone one moment and participate in the phone conversation via Zoom, Skype or similar on the laptop the next. Unfortunately, Soundcore decided against a Qualcomm chip, so the aptX codec, which is relevant for some, is unfortunately not supported.

Nevertheless, I did not notice any misalignment between picture and sound in the test during video streaming with YouTube and Netflix. However, experience has already shown that this does not necessarily mean anything. Depending on which phone you use, there might still be delays. Unfortunately, you have to try it out if in doubt.

Very strong 40 hours of battery life

When it comes to battery life, Soundcore always clearly benefits from the core expertise of its parent company ANKER. With expertise in charging electronics and energy storage, Soundcore is always at the forefront when it comes to battery life. With the Soundcore Life Q30, this means that the battery life of 40 hours has been improved by a whole 10 hours according to the manufacturer.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not give any exact information about the size of the battery, but in the test I could achieve a runtime of just under 37 hours spread over several days at mixed volume between 50%-70% with ANC turned on, a very good value. By the way, the runtime is supposed to be even better without ANC turned on, with the manufacturer promising up to 60 hours.

Unlike the predecessor, USB-C is (finally!) used to charge the headphones. There is also a quick-charge function that allows the headphones to run for almost 4 hours in just 5 minutes. Overall, I am more than satisfied with the runtime, and I will probably not have to charge them more than once a week in everyday use, if at all.

Conclusion

With the Soundcore Life Q30, the new ANC over-ear headphones not only get a new design, but also upgrades in many areas. Better sound, more effective ANC, 10 more hours of battery life (up to 40 hours total), USB-C connectivity, advanced controls, and app integration with some useful features.

At the same time, the headphones are only slightly more expensive than its predecessor with a regular price of just 80€. However, it offers a lot of luxury features that are usually only found in the “flagship headphones” of the established manufacturers, which are then quickly three times as expensive.

The price is absolutely justified for me here, the Soundcore Life Q30 is a flawless, mature product, with which Soundcore clearly differentiates itself from the competition from their own country in my opinion and creates a connection to more established brands. As I said, the ANC isn’t quite at the top level yet, but Soundcore makes up for that with the price in my opinion.

I’ll be happy to continue using the headphones in the near future. At least for me personally, it is currently the best ANC headphones you can get for under $100. Very good Soundcore, keep it up!

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Tim

I’m the go-to guy when it comes to taking gadget pictures – And I’m always on the hunt for affordable, premium-quality audio appliances from China.

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