Quite surprisingly, Anker introduced the Soundcore Life Q35, an upgrade of its latest over-ear headphones with ANC. What's new? You benefit from wear detection and can take advantage of the high-resolution LDAC codec. But will the minuscule upgrade convince a fan of its predecessor? We find out in the review!
- Super long battery life
- Practical quick charging
- Good sound with many equalizers
- Supports LDAC codec
- Ingenious multi-pairing capability
- Name finally rhymes at last! 🤷
- ANC lags behind other models
- Unpleasant leather smell
In a nutshell: Beautiful but unnecessary headphones
Anker's audio brand Soundcore brings the Life Q35 headphones, which are said to be a minor upgrade from its predecessor, the Life Q30. This pair of wearable headphones look almost identical and also uses the same sound components. A new addition would be the high-resolution audio codec "LDAC", while the microphones have also received a small upgrade.
The extra $50 is therefore only worth it if you want to spend extra money on a premium music streaming service like Tidal or have FLAC files on your smartphone. If this is not the case and you can also get along with the slightly different colors of the predecessor, then you can safely save some money and go for its predecessor.
Nevertheless, the Soundcore Life Q35 are very good over-ear headphones that remain attractive even at $130. You will find out why we think so in the course of this review.
Design & user experience: Now arriving in blue with slightly better quality
Visually, the Soundcore Life Q35 is hardly distinguishable from the predecessor model. Anker sent us the blue model for review, where you can also choose a pink variant. The only other changes are to the earpads and the included travel case which is now a little bit rounder.
I liked the:
- Wearing comfort.
- Wearing recognition is quite practical.
- Multi-pairing is simply ingenious.
I did not like the:
- Buttons are difficult to distinguish from each other.
- Bad smell that is hard to get rid of.
- Headphone jack input is only usable when the headphones are turned on.
The Soundcore Life Q35 are over-ear headphones, which means they completely surround your ears - unless you are Dumbo. This makes the ear cups quite large, and overall, such headphones are not meant for your jacket pocket. However, with a weight of slightly less than 270 grams (according to the Amazon product page), they are not particularly annoying when worn for long periods of time. For comparison, Apple's premium AirPods Max headphones weigh in at 386 grams.
Since Anker adopted the Life Q30's earcups, I can tell you from hundreds of hours of user experience. The padding on the headband was adequate anyway, but it now seems a little firmer. The same goes for the padding on the earcups, which have also now received an additional seam.
I'm a headphone addict and have worn the Q35 for several days at a stretch. I never ran into any problems with pressure points, where the firmer pads make the fit just a little bit better. Also, handy would be the new wear detection feature, which lets us straight into the description of its controls.
New wear detection prevents button fumbling
One of my biggest gripes with both sets of headphones would be the buttons, which are nearly indistinguishable from each other. Even after months of use, I still haven't figured out where the volume controls are, and constantly activate the voice assistant by accident instead of turning off the Life Q35.
The new wearable recognition is a good alternative here, as you don't have to search for the pause button. It also works when you rest the Life Q35 around your neck, and place it back on your head from there. Another convenient feature is NFC support on the right ear cup - short-range communication that enables you to simply place compatible smartphones on top of it to initiate the connection process. Absolutely practical!
If you connect two devices, you will also benefit from the multi-pairing feature. The headphones switch cleverly between both devices. During a workday, I usually connected my smartphone for music playback and to my notebook on which I work on.
Visually, Anker has only improved the Soundcore Life Q35 in the minutest of details. However, it's the wear detection that makes life with the headphones much more enjoyable. Additionally, I'd nonetheless have been pleased to see the use of different shaped buttons. The new pads are cool too! Oh yes, and the name now finally rhymes!
Sound: Powerful and customizable
Now that we have already set up the Life Q35, we will check out the audio performance. Anker has not changed the sound components, but you can now use the lossless audio codec, "LDAC". However, this makes more sense when you are hooked to a premium music streaming service.
I liked the:
- LDAC is impressive on paper.
- Sound is still powerful and balanced.
- Very good equalizer in the Soundcore app.
I didn't like the:
- Lack of audio upgrade despite $50 surcharge.
- Rather bass-heavy overall.
Anker relies on its 40 millimeter silk audio diaphragms, which were already used in the predecessor, in the Life Q35 as well. The frequency response is 16 Hz to 40 kHz. As for the output power of the individual drivers, unfortunately, Anker makes no statements. However, the manufacturer emphasizes the integration of the LDAC audio codec.
Premium streaming with Tidal & LDAC
LDAC ensures three times higher bit rates compared to SCB - so instead of 328 kilobits per second, the Life Q35 can deliver 990 kilobits per second. In theory, this means the music contains more information, but you will first need the right audio source.
Spotify's premium quality manages a maximum of 320 kilobits per second, which is why I gunned for a trial subscription to Tidal. I was then able to activate LDAC in the audio settings of my Google Pixel 3 XL, allowing me to dive into whole new worlds of sound. That was the working theory, at least.
With premium music streaming, I think you get more immersion than anything else. The musicians are metaphorically on a wider stage around you, and you can make out the individual instruments a little better.
In Frank Zappa's Inca Roads, for example, you can hear the tiniest vibrations of the vibraphone buzzing around you. Complex pieces like Chick Corea's "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" seem a little less overwhelming when the instruments resolve themselves in a subtle manner. But you won't only notice these effects when streaming classic tunes by jazz geniuses in hi-fi.
Gojira's new album Fortitude is a bit more powerful in its master quality and you can listen to overproduced pop albums for about $20 a month. In this review listened to the new album "Labyrinth" by Stephanie Heinzmann. I think I actually got a little more nauseous in master quality.
The boost in sound quality is fun if you give the music a little bit more time. However, if you only listen to music on the side or on the go, the sound benefits tend to get lost due to ambient noise or other activities.
Customizable sound profiles
Before we dive right into exploring how the Soundcore Life Q35 can counteract ambient noise, I want to praise Soundcore's app once again. David didn't like the sound of the Life Q30 in his review until he adjusted the sound profile via its equalizers. And I would cite that as a positive with the successor as well.
Once again, you can choose from countless presets for different genres or scenarios. Additionally, you can create and save your own sound profiles. Since the Soundcore app can save its settings to individual accounts, you can easily transfer the sound profile of existing headphones to a different handset. Overall, this is very cool and highly customizable.
In summary, I really like the sound of the Life Q35. At an MSRP of $129.99, you get a lot of fun out of both new and familiar music. However, the extra cost is only noticeable if you invest in a premium music streaming service and spend time listening intently to your music, something that not everyone is up for!
ANC & telephony: noise cancellation is still a weakness
Like most headphones released in 2020 and 2021, the Life Q35 offers ANC. The active noise cancellation works with anti-noise to minimize background noise. Anker did reposition the Life Q35's microphones, but that upset call quality when one makes phone calls.
What I liked:
- ANC while not outstanding, isn't bad either.
- Transparency mode has been improved a little.
- Microphones pick up less background noise.
What I didn't like:
- ANC is not adjustable at different levels, only in "modes".
- Microphone recordings lack bass.
Since nothing has really changed with the ANC, I can refer to my previous experience here as well. Here I know that the Oppo Enco X and the Galaxy Buds Pro in-ear headphones can filter noise far more effectively. Especially the street traffic in noisy Berlin, which is nicely muted with ANC.
The Soundcore Life Q35 managed that as well, but it left some residual noise in the process. During a walk along a two-lane and especially wet street with a rattling tram, I regulated the ANC in the modes "Outdoor", "Indoor" and "Traffic", turned it off and also activated the transparency mode sometimes.
I couldn't tell the difference between the different modes. However, the noise of the tires on the wet road is filtered out well, but sudden noises like a roaring engine still come through clearly to your ear. The transparency mode has become more effective in my opinion. It has a certain hearing aid effect where you can even hear the rustling of your clothes.
Reorientation of the microphones for phone calls only
It's a bit of a shame that Anker has made some changes to the Life Q35's microphones. During calls, you benefit from a realignment, where artificial intelligence should be able to filter out noise better. A quick comparison on the PC with the Audacity tool shows that something has really changed.
Knocking on the headphones is filtered out almost 100% on the successor model. This is quite impressive, however, I no longer like the sound of my voice on the Q35. There is a lack of bass and the quality is still quite inadequate. When you're on the phone, though, it's all about clarity, and this is where the person you're talking to can look forward to an upgrade.
ANC is still not one of the Soundcore Life Q35's strengths. However, as a reference, one automatically thinks of much more expensive over-ear headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4. For just under $130, the active noise cancellation is adequate and Anker also managed to improve call quality during phone calls.
Battery life: Once again hardly beatable
Anker has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of power banks and other battery-based devices. As with the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro in-ear headphones, the battery life claim comes across as surprising at first but is then confirmed upon use. In other words, you can listen to music for up to 60 hours with the Soundcore Life Q35. A strong performance, indeed!
I liked the:
- Very long battery life.
- Practical quick charging ability.
I didn't like the:
- 3.5 millimeter jack input only works when the headphones are turned on.
- Too many verbal reminders when the battery runs low.
With ANC enabled, you can keep the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 on your ears for 40 hours non-stop. If you move around in a quiet environment for 60 hours, the battery life can also be extended to that period without ANC enabled. I can cheerfully confirm the manufacturer's claims after many days of use with its predecessor.
As before, the Quick Charging feature is also on board, which comes in as really handy. You charge the headphones for five minutes and that will net you another four more hours of listening time. There's not much more to say about the battery life, except to point out the irritating nagging computer voice. If the battery starts to run low, you'll hear "Battery Low" a little bit too regularly for my liking.
As an alternative to Bluetooth, you'll find a 3.5 millimeter jack located on the right ear cup. Unlike my Marshall Major III, this only works when the headphones are turned on. Unfortunately, you can't use the Life Q35 as wired headphones on an empty battery.
When it comes to battery life, hardly anyone can beat Anker. Having Bluetooth headphones with a maximum battery life of 60 hours is super convenient. Especially since you can charge the wearable via any USB-C charger and gain four more hours of listening time in just five minutes thanks to Quick Charging.
Soundcore Life Q35
|Feature||Soundcore Life Q35|
|Sound profile||Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified sound via 40 mm dynamic audio drivers, individual EQ, LDAC technology|
|Frequency response||16 Hz to 40 kHz|
|ANC||Hybrid active noise cancellation with indoor, outdoor, transport and transparency modes|
|Battery||60 hours without ANC | 40 hours with ANC | Fast charging|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 | AUX | NFC | Multi-pairing with 2 devices | USB-C|
|Microphones||2 microphones with noise cancellation|
|Other||Wear detection | Foldable design | Case included in delivery|
Conclusion: You didn't have to, Anker
The Soundcore Life Q35 is once again, a pair of very good over-ear headphones that is positioned in the lower price range. As with the predecessor, I'm impressed with how good the affordable Soundcore drivers sound. What's more, the battery life is even better than that of far more expensive models. However, the Q35s are still inferior to these when it comes to ANC capability.
My biggest criticism is the surcharge that Anker is asking you to pay compared to the Life Q30. The additional $50 just for LDAC codec support, minimally better voice quality on calls and minutely cooler ear pads is probably worth it for very few users. I had hoped for a few more improvements in sound technology instead.
So, did you read this review with an interest and desire to pick it up while not wanting to fork out more money on a premium music streaming service? If so, just buy the Soundcore Life Q30 and save a few more dollars in the process. For everyone else, I would recommend the mode that succeeds it - but I'm curious to see what else Anker implements in the Life Q40 before making a more concrete conclusion.