Companies have been testing the waters of truly wireless headphones for a few years, but recently, especially after the launch of Apple’s AirPods, it seems like everyone’s cranking out significantly improved models that no longer have to sacrifice sound quality just to completely ditch the wire.
Anker’s offering, the ZOLO branded Liberty+ headphones, offer up completely wireless earbuds that want to integrate with your voice assistant, stick with you through exercises, and produce sound that you won’t hate listening to. Can they pull it off? Let’s find out.
The design of the ZOLO Liberty+ headphones look pretty similar to something like Samsung’s IconX headphones, albeit a bit more bulky. If you’ve seen the Bose SoundSport Free wireless earbuds that have Google Assistant built-in, that’s probably the closest in size and design that’s currently on the market. They’re not slim and hidden, but they pack in a ton of technology.
Design aside, the earbuds seem virtually weightless, which I honestly wasn’t expecting after Anker touted the high quality graphene drivers inside each earpiece.
They come apart into three pieces: the earbud, the cushion for your ear, and the sporty GripFit jacket that “locks” everything to place inside your ear. Anker offers a variety of interchangeable parts for those latter two so you can perfectly find a cushion combination that fits your ear, and it can be used completely without that last GripFit jacket if you’re not concerned about the extra security while exercising.
That customizable setup paired with the light weight of the Liberty+ headphones means they’re easily some of the most comfortable wireless headphones around. They’re not fatiguing to wear, there’s no hard plastic to irritate your ears, and there’s no cable to get in your way. However, I did struggle to find a perfect fit for the grip that locks the headphones in the ear. You’re supposed to insert them in your ear and turn the earbud to make sure everything in secure, but I had to spend some time testing out the different sizes and combinations before I was happy with it.
The headphones do come with a recharging/carrying case, which seems to be pretty standard for headphones like these. They’d be impossible to keep up with otherwise.
Anker’s implementation is decent, but not great. The black case has the ZOLO logo embossed on the top with four LED lights indicating current charge right where the case opens up. It feels nice and sturdy and does an excellent job of holding the headphones, but getting them out was a pretty consistent exercise in frustration. There’s very little room to actually pull either earbud out, and I fumbled and dropped the headphones a few times because of that. A little more width would’ve made it perfect.
Okay, so the design is great, but you’re probably curious about how they sound. They are headphones, after all.
I’ll be upfront that I’ve yet to find a pair of truly wireless headphones that sound good enough for daily usage, so I’ve stuck with regular Bluetooth headphones and wired cans. But these Liberty+ earbuds? They might change my mind.
Right away it’s immediately apparent that there’s a little more oomph in the low end than what you usually see from headphones in this category. No, they’re not bass heavy monsters that blow you away, but they’re a significant improvement over anything else I’ve heard in the truly wireless segment, and they can easily handle the modern rock that I listen to.
Overall sound quality is really good otherwise, and mostly on par with some of my other headphones in the $100 price range. Obviously that hurts the value proposition of the Liberty+ next to some of those, but you’re paying to cut the wire out completely. Mids are clear, and highs are bright without sounding brittle. They work very well for podcasts and video media, too. You can also make some EQ adjustments with Anker’s ZOLO Life app with these headphones, too.
Battery life is decent, but they’re tiny and have to cram a battery into each earbud, so keep that in mind.
Anker claims that you’ll get about 3.5 hours on a full charge for the Liberty+, which is about what I experienced. However, the charging case can charge and recharge the headphones enough to get you 48 hours of playback before you actually need to plug anything back in. Generally that worked out well for me, too, since I don’t usually listen to headphones for more than an hour or two at a time. The only time I ever actually ran out of power was trying to see how long they’d last, so if you use them like me you’ll almost never have to worry about the headphones themselves dying on you.
The only real performance gripe I have is something that tends to plague most truly wireless headphones, and that’s keeping both headphones in sync since they’re not wired together. I never had the headphones become completely de-synced (which Anker does list a fix for in the owner’s manual, so it does happen) but every so often you’ll hear one earbud fall out of sync by maybe half a second or so, and then a small hiccup to sync back up. Again, pretty much all headphones like this have this problem, and even Bluetooth in general can get weird when you’re streaming music. Not at all a dealbreaker, but I’m hoping that’s the next thing headset manufacturers manage to solve.
Anker boasts a few extra features on the Liberty+ headphones to integrate them into your lifestyle, including sweat resistance, music playback controls, and digital assistant support.
The playback controls and AI control are useful, if a bit weird. A single tap on either headphone will play/pause music or answer a call, a double tap will pull up your voice assistant, and holding down for 3 seconds will temporarily disable noise isolation so you can hear things around you without taking your earbuds out.
Side note, that noise isolation really only works one way; it blocks outside noises very well, but everyone around you can hear your music pretty clearly with the Liberty+. Keep that in mind.
Those features are a nice touch, but I would’ve liked to see some extra “smart” things available. Taking out an earbud could pause your music, for instance. The companion app is also pretty flakey, although it does offer some promising features.
All things considered, would I recommend these truly wireless headphones? For the first time, it’s a resounding yes. They still have problems and aren’t always incredible elegant, but Anker’s ZOLO Liberty+ cans manage to move the needle from “frustrating early adopter gadget” to “good enough for the average consumer” in both usability and sound quality.
At $149.99, they’re not trying to compete with the AirPods by drastically undercutting the price. They’re competing on performance, and for the most part, I think they’ve done an excellent job.
Buy it now: Amazon