Friday 5 January 2024

SoundCore by Anker AeroFit Pro

I really liked the look of these new offerings from SoundCore. So much so that I decided to take the plunge. I hate in-ear-canal type earphones and have been using 'sit-outer' ones for years now, but although they sit well enough on the outer part of my ear, depending on brand, they sometimes (like when leaning forward) feel like they might flop out, so these looked more secure in that respect.

I’ve never had a pair of these loop-around earphones before, so it was a very new experiment - and my biggest concern was related to wearing glasses, which I seem to do now, most of the time. Having that big lump behind the ear could do nothing but good for battery life, compared to the average tiny buds, so I was optimistic.

They are £149 in the UK on release from AmazonUK and Anker/SoundCore, and as I got in early, I also got a free SoundCore Motion 100 Bluetooth Speaker (worth, on release, £49). More of that in another post. They come in a solid, sturdy-looking hard plastic case which has a USB-C charging port on the back and flips open with a button on the top/front to reveal the two units. There’s no wireless charging with this case, sadly.

It took me a while to work out how on earth these things fit back into the case once removed - it was like trying to plug in a microUSB charger back in the day - this way, that way, then the other, then back to the first way! Still, I have the hang of it now - I think!

It’s worth noting that this is the Pro version. There is a £99 non-Pro version which does have some differences. The Pro version has bigger 16.2mm drivers, bigger, better-performing battery life, physical control buttons instead of touch-control, support LDAC and Spatial Audio but strangely have a less robust water-proofing (presumably because of those physical buttons). Both units provide call and Assistant support, multipoint Bluetooth connection with v5.3, so two devices paired at a time, auto-power off, equaliser and volume controls via the App.

Focusing on the Pro model that I have here, then, and claimed endurance is 46 hours, which includes recharging via the box. Continuous use is supposed to be 14 hours before a return to mothership is needed, but when you do, you can get about 5 or 6 hours of play with a 5 minute bump. I reckon that the 14 hours is conservative on their part as I’ve had more from them than that at about 50% volume (though to be fair, not in one sitting). The 5 minute boost claim seems to be good as well. When plugging in the case with the earphones inside, it seems to take about 2 hours to charge if you want it all the way to full.

The range seems to be decent here, testing with a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and walking down the drive, good for the claimed 30 feet and significantly more (with line of sight). With the Pro version, you also get a neckband which connects to the bottom of each, behind the ear then sits behind the neck. I guess this is for people running or at the gym, as I can’t see that there’s any need for ordinary use.

In the middle of the pod that points towards your ear, there’s a sizeable-looking speaker on each, a very small physical button on the top side and a bendy middle-bit that allows the user to misshape it in order to get it around the top of the ear and the battery section to the back. It works really well and yes, even with glasses on (on when fitting as well) it sits outside the line of the glasses’ arm. I guess if you had really thick-armed glasses that might not be true, so your mileage may vary, as they say.

I’ve tried shaking my head around, upside down (people seeing that must have thought I was very odd), round and round - and they stay in place nicely. The button on each side is easy to find and the functions can be assigned in the app.

There is a time for ANC and ANC-equipped gear, but for general use when ANC is not needed these work fine. These are clearly not ‘closed’ for sound but open and someone sitting close enough to you will hear something. I like that - as I say, there’s a time and place for ANC, but for most of my time, living alone, it’s quite nice to be able to hear someone knocking on the front door! The sound pod bits do, of course, sit away from the entrance to your ear-canal by a millimetre or two, but the sound is nicely directed into it and works really well for me. Again, everyone’s ears are different, so I can’t guarantee anything.

The sound is really very good. You can whack up the bass in the app’s equaliser and I was surprised at how much I got from it. Of course, this is no isolated 'in-canal' bud, so you’re not going to get that level of bass if that’s your thing, but for me, for casual listening, it has enough bass (with equalisation), nice mids and decent highs. The main test I use for my listening is solo piano (not Motorhead!), and I find that more than decent enough to recommend.

For anyone who has used the SoundCore app before, all the usual suspects are there including turning LDAC (Android) on (with more battery use), custom equaliser or a bunch of pre-sets and spatial audio, the Head Tracking option of which is just spooky to experience for the first time. Put a film on (or music) in front of you, turn your head to the left or right and the audio comes from where the source is - so turn your head right and audio sounds like it’s coming from the left, where your film is playing. Nice. I think this is what Sony were after with 360RealityAudio but I never seemed to get it working quite as well as this. If you remove one and put it back in the case, the stereo audio channels route both into the one that’s still in use without having to fiddle with balance settings or Mono switches, which is nice too.

As usual with Anker/SoundCore, their gear seems to be really good value for money, great quality, well-designed and performs really well. This is no exception and for me, these AeroFit Pro units have become my go-to units for casual listening (when ANC is not needed). Love ‘em and I think (especially with the free speaker) a great purchase. Photos are SoundCore's, Links are my Affiliate Amazon ones.

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