Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Review: Solid Hybrid Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $100
Hybrid noise cancelling technology filters out most of the low-frequency sounds to ensure nothing distracts you from your music.
By Bryan Keegan I Jan 11, 2021
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Our Score: 7.9
+ Multiple ANC modes
+ Very long battery life
+ Clean and crisp sound quality
+ Quick charge functionality
+ Companion App for customization
+ Better build quality than Life Q20
+ Sleep Mode feature
+ Reliable Bluetooth connection
- Made from plastic
- Sub-par microphone performance
- Not the best ANC headphones
- No auto pause feature
- Bass response could be better
- Slightly bulky and heavy
- No aptX codec support
Anchor has a good track record of making quality headphones, earbuds and speakers at reasonable prices. These include the Soundcore Space Noise Cancelling headphones, Liberty 2 Pro earbuds and the Fare 2 portable Bluetooth wireless speaker. With its new SoundCore Life Q30 model, the anchor has come out with an affordable pair of headphones, which looks like it hits all the marks.
Priced at a modest $79, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 are the second most expensive pair in Soundcore’s noise cancelling range below the Space NC headphones. The Soundcore Life Q30 also has a hybrid ANC along with Bluetooth 5.0, 40 mm dynamic drivers, USB Type-C charging port, Voice Assistant support and 40 hours of long battery life.
The Soundcore Life Q30 are a good pair of headphones for drowning out the noise on a busy commute. Their sound quality is rich and clear for the asking price that easily outshines a lot of budget competitors.
Model: Soundcore Life Q30 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Release date: September 2020
Regular price: $80 USD
What’s included in the box?
USB Type-C Cable
3.5mm AUX Cable
User Manual - Click to open
Who should get the Soundcore Life Q30?
If you are a remote worker and need a pair of good noise cancelling headphones that keep you focused throughout the workday.
If you are a frequent traveler then you will appreciate the strong battery life and hybrid noise canceling that filters most of the low frequency sounds.
If you are looking for a good in-expensive pair of headphones. For less than $100, you’re afforded good sound quality, long battery life, hybrid ANC and a portable design.
How’s the build and design of Soundcore Life Q30?
The Soundcore Life Q30 are a rather basic in terms of looks, but an attractive pair nevertheless. This new understated design looks more premium than the previous Life Q20 model. The exterior has a matte black finish, while the reflective Soundcore logo is adorned in gold on the ear cups.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 have some significant improvements on the previous Q20 model. The hinges and headband no longer feel flimsy. Anker has replaced the plastic headband with a brushed aluminum one that feels much better than Q20’s headband.
The lightweight design and thin metal-framed headband should make them strong enough to withstand a few accidental falls without being damaged.
The ear cups are oval-shaped with good memory foam padding. The inside of each cup is clearly labeled L and R which is helpful. The headband also has a slight cushioning on the underside for comfortable wearing.
They are currently available in the single-color option: Black with the Golden Soundcore logo on the ear cups. Although Black is a universal color, the younger generation prefers bold and bright colors that match their style.
How portable are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 for commuting?
The Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless fold into a more compact format that's fairly portable. The ear cups have over 90 degrees of rotation and they can lay flat to take up less space, which is nice.
They won't be the easiest headphones to carry around due to their moderately large ear cups, but they'll easily fit into a gym bag or backpack.
The Q30 Bluetooth headphones come with a nice hard carrying case whose quality is really impressive and it also doesn't add much bulk. Sure, it’s not as travel-friendly as a pair of true wireless earbuds but it makes a significant difference.
Headphone type: Over-Ear
True Wireless: No
Product height: 198 mm
Product width: 180 mm
Product depth: 78 mm
Product weight: 260 g
Adjustable headband: Yes
Foldable design: Yes
How comfortable are Soundcore Life Q30 headphones?
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 are decently comfortable. They have relatively large ear cups that fit well around most ears. The 90-degree rotating ear cups are easy to adjust and provide a comfortable and stable fit.
Enjoy all-day comfort thanks to the memory foam earcups and headband, plus a lightweight frame weighing just 9oz (260g) – Anker
There is a soft synthetic material under the ear cup pads and headband that feels very comfortable. This makes it easy to wear them all day without getting tired.
As you move around, the headphones feel a little heavy. Their tight fit does clamp the head quite tightly and becomes uncomfortable after long listening sessions for some users, especially with wider heads.
The Life Q30 headphones are passably breathable. They may not be the best choice for a more intense workout routine, as they make a good seal around your ears, which prevents a lot of air flow and makes you sweat a little more when exercising.
How well do the Soundcore Life Q30 cancel noise?
The Life Q30 headphones are equipped with a microphone on each ear cup that picks up 95% of the low-frequency sound to filter out everything you don't want to hear. Anker calls it "Advanced Hybrid Noise Cancelling" technology.
The noise cancellation is nice and clean, definitely not as strong as Sony's WH-1000XM3, but can easily compensate for the low rumbling noises of aircraft and bus engines to an acceptable degree, although you still hear high-frequency sounds such as whistles and sirens.
There are three different noise cancellation modes - Transport, Indoor and Outdoor. The Transport mode is designed to allow commuters to filter engine noise on planes, the indoor mode is designed to filter chat noise in a crowded bar or coffee shop, and outdoor mode to filter out traffic noise on the city's busy streets.
Noise cancelling: Yes
Sound isolating: Active
Multi-Mode Noise Cancellation: 3 modes (Transport, Indoor & Outdoor)
Noise cancelling on/off switch: Yes
Ambient sound mode: Yes
Quick attention mode: Yes
The best thing is that you can still use the ANC even with a wired connection. When you connect the 3.5 AUX cable, Bluetooth will turn off but leave the ANC connection as it is. It's a small but useful feature when your headphones low on battery during the trip.
Like most high-end noise-cancelling headphones, you can also enable "Transparency mode" that lowers your music and uses built-in microphones to help you hear what's going on around you without taking off your headphones.
There's a great sleep mode feature that activates a soundscape with white noise, so you can fall asleep, especially during a long flight or train journey. This is very well implemented with a wide range of sound effects that you can mix to your taste, such as bird songs, chimes, campfires or a rainy day.
How much sound do the Soundcore Life Q30 leak?
These headphones do bleed the sound at a higher level. Depending on what kind of music you're playing, if you increase the volume above 70%, it will allow a lot of sound to escape the earcups, and people nearby will be able to hear it.
Are the Soundcore Life Q30 waterproof or sweatproof?
Unfortunately, the Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 hybrid active noise cancelling headphones are not waterproof or sweatproof, so if you’re looking for a pair of headphones for the gym, you might want to look elsewhere. There’s no mention of sweat-resistance from Anker and these don’t have an IP rating which is the official standard used to determine how water-resistant a product is.
Water resistant: No
IP rating: NA
Manufacturer's warranty – Parts: 18 months limited
Manufacturer's warranty – Labor: 18 months limited
How do you pair the Soundcore Life Q30?
You can pair the soundcore headphones using NFC or the traditional Bluetooth pairing method. Either works perfectly fine. For Bluetooth pairing, you need to press the power button for 3 seconds. The status LED flashes blue, which means that the headphones are now in pairing mode. Then tap Soundcore Life Q30 in your phone's Bluetooth settings.
If you're having problems with your headphones or just want to reset them to factory settings, just press the power button and the volume up button for 5 seconds at the same time. The status LED will flash in purple and the headphones will forget the entire pairing record.
How’s the connection strength of the Anker Soundcore Q30?
The Anker Q30 headphones connection strength is very robust thanks to the latest Bluetooth 5.0. In about a week of more or less constant use I cannot say that I have ever had a skip or a stutter at all.
If you have an Android device, you can take advantage of the built-in NFC to pair it with life Q30 headphones. Just tap the phone on the right earcup and accept the prompt. Note - This is a useful feature, but it's not supported by Apple iPhone.
Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth
Wired connectivity: 3.5 mm AUX
Multi device connectivity: Yes
The Soundcore Life Q30 headphones offer the best Bluetooth connection range of up to 15 meters under $100 price range. You can easily stream music at home seamlessly without having to carry your smartphone with you all the time.
Bluetooth version: 5.0
No. of devices to be paired: 7
No. of devices can connect simultaneously: 2
Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2.4 Ghz
Bluetooth range: Up to 15 m
Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
They also support dual-pairing mode that allows you to seamlessly switch between two paired devices. When you listen to music on your laptop, all you have to do is pause the music and press the play button on your phone, and the headphones switch to the phone effortlessly.
What can the controls on Soundcore Life Q30 do?
These headphones have a decent control scheme that is easy to use. They offer important functions such as call/music control, skip tracks, volume control, ANC on/off and connect to the voice assistant.
There's also a quick attention feature that lets in ambient noise as you cover the right auricle, so you can be aware of your surroundings without pausing your music or talking.
Interface: Physical buttons and Touch panel
Controls: Volume, Skips tracks, Answer calls, Music Play/Pause, Power on/off, Pairing, NFC, ANC/Ambient mode on/off, Voice Assistant
Voice Assistant: Google Assistant, Siri
Microphone: 2-microphones with uplink noise reduction
Anchor has definitely improved the control scheme compared to the previous model and buttons are now much easier to find if you're fumbling around the earcups while wearing the headphones.
What are the options available in Soundcore app?
The dedicated companion app for Q30 headphones is really good. It offers you many customization options such as more than 20 preset EQ settings for different genres and audio styles, use HearID to create your own personalized sound profile, or totally customize the EQ for a more personalized sound experience.
There are also many other settings that allow you to tweak the ANC, adjust controls, adjust the decibel levels based on your hearing, activate a white noise soundscape to get a sound sleep or firmware updates.
App name: Soundcore
Platforms: iOS & Android
Customizable EQ: Yes
The app also has an option to set up a widget, at least on iOS, to quickly change between different modes. Anker has really improved the Soundcore app to complement your Life Q30 experience.
How long does the Soundcore Life Q30 battery last?
The Soundcore Life Q30's battery performance is excellent. They pack a very long battery for up to 40 hours and this is with noise cancellation turned on. This is the highest of any noise cancellation model we have tested so far.
These headphones can even play music for up to 60 hours with the ANC turned off, but at moderate volume levels of about 60-65%. You can easily have fun for more than a week without the need to recharge.
Battery type: Lithium polymer
Battery capacity: 720 mAh
Battery life with ANC: Up to 40 hrs
Battery life with ANC off: Up to 60 hrs
Standby mode: No
Auto-Power off: No
Power adapter: 5 V ⎓ 0.65 A
Battery charge time: 2 hrs
Quick charge: 4 hrs playback with 5 mins charge
Battery indicator: Yes
Power input: USB Type-C
Wireless charging: No
The Q30 Bluetooth headphones support USB Type-C charging, which is great for travel. No additional cable required, as most Android smartphones today have the same USB Type-C port. Once the battery is depleted, all you have to do is connect the headphones to the included USB Type-C cable.
They also have a fast-charging feature that will give you about 4 hours of continuous playback with only 5 minutes of charging, according to an Anker's specs sheet.
How do the Soundcore Life Q30 headphones sound?
The sound quality of the Soundcore Life Q30 isn't what I normally prefer, but I didn't find it too bad here. They still have a lot of low-end emphasis, which makes them ideal for bass heads, especially considering that you can adjust the EQ settings via the app.
40 mm Silk diaphragm drivers are tuned to deliver balanced bass performance. Instead of muddy and bloated bass, you'll be presented with tight and explosive beats.
The mids sound a little darker due to the penetrating bass, but with these headphones you can still enjoy soothing blues and acoustic tracks.
The treble accuracy of the Life Q30 headphones is decent. Almost the entire range is slightly overemphasized, which can make some vocals and lead instruments sound slightly hard or piercing.
Enclosure type: Closed back
Driver unit: Dynamic
Driver size: 2 × 40mm
Hi-Res certified sound: Yes
Diaphragm: Silk Diaphragm Drivers
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Minimum Frequency Response: 16 Hz
Maximum Frequency Response: 40 kHz
Maximum volume level: 95 dB
Supported Codec: SBC, AAC
During the default settings, the headphones sounded flat and lifeless. EQ seems to be set optimally for all music styles. If you turn on the Bass Booster EQ preset, it doesn't feel like a good thump, it gets muddy and suppresses the bass and voice.
It is recommended to download the companion app to adjust the sound as you like. Otherwise, you will be disappointed with the default sound settings.
Once you set your equalizer settings correctly, the Soundcore Life Q30 headphones sound fantastic.
The Life Q30 come with a 3.5mm audio cable if you want to listen in wired mode, but the sound quality drops slightly. It's not as clear and crisp as it is in wireless mode.
Compared to the competition, the life Q30's maximum volume level feels a little weak. It could be a little higher, even if the volume goes up to the highest level, you still want more.
These headphones are Hi-Res audio certified, but Anker does not offer advanced wireless protocols here. Life Q30 don't have aptX, aptX LL, or aptX HD codec support (just AAC codec, suitable for iPhone users only).
Are Soundcore Life Q30 good for someone who makes a lot of calls?
The recording quality of the microphone is fine and although it has improved considerably over the previous version, it still is not up to the mark. In noisy environments, their performance decreases and ANC technology struggles to avoid ambient noises.
As with most Bluetooth headphones, your voice sounds quite thin, noticeably muted and has no details when you're on the phone. They are only suitable for use in quiet rooms.
Should you buy the Soundcore Life Q30?
The Soundcore Life Q30 is a really good pair of headphones, but not a replacement for the high-end Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose 700 headphones. But for $80, these are some of my favorite headphones that are definitely worth a look.
Although they have an active noise cancellation and an impressive battery life of up to 60 hours, the sound signature of these headphones differs drastically and emphasizes the low-end notes way too much for my liking. They definitely sound great for the money after changing the EQ settings.
It's really hard to find a pair of headphones under $100 that offers popular features like the built-in EQ with multiple presets, three noise cancellation modes, multi-device pairing, white noise soundscape to help you sleep, and NFC compatibility that you'll only find in premium headphones.
If you're looking for a pair of affordable over-ear wireless ANC headphones and don't want to spend around $300 or more on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones in 2021, I can easily recommend Soundcore Life Q30.
What are some alternatives to Soundcore Life Q30?
Tribit QuietPlus are one of the best budget wireless noise-cancelling headphones you can buy for less than $100. They have a matte black finish with medium-sized oval-shaped foam cups and an adjustable headband that also allows the headphones to fold into a compact shape for storage in the carrying case.
The sound output is good, not great, but the most amazing thing about these headphones is the battery life, which easily lasts up to 30 hours at modest volume levels. For normal use, you only need to charge them every other weekend.
These headphones have a hybrid active noise cancellation technology that attenuates constant background noise such as engine noise from an aircraft or train, or noise from an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 wireless headphones are simply incredible. The sound quality is excellent, with lush, rich audio output. The mids perform really well and the highs are smooth and clear.
These noise-cancelling headphones are a third of the price of similar spec headphones from big brands such as Sony, Bose and Beats. Their noise cancellation isn't as good as premium headphones, but it's still pretty good for most situations.
Their battery life is estimated to be up to 30 hours, which is quite impressive, but the results will vary depending on volume levels and your ANC usage. They also support the fast-charging feature that offers 2 hours of playback with 5 minutes of charging, which is really useful if you're in a rush to get out the door.
Panasonic RP-HTX90 is a pair of closed-back wireless headphones with built-in microphone, active noise cancellation and bass enhancement. Thanks to ANC, listening to music on the subway and other noisy places becomes much more comfortable, especially if the music is calm and played at low volume.
The fit of the ear cups on the head is optimal, which ensures good sound insulation from external ambient noise. This light over-ear fit does not result in high contact pressure and no discomfort, even with prolonged use.
The sound quality of these over-ears is brilliant, characterized by a present treble that does not drop noticeably and appear softly rounded. The vocals and leading instruments are attractively represented by mid-range with balanced bass reproduction.