Hey everyone, hope you are all doing well. Soundcore did send these to me to test but that in no way affected my judgment as this is my full unbiased honest review.
What you get in the box are the headphones in the semi-hard-shell case, a little pouch of accessories in the case that includes the 4ft 3.5mm AUX cable, the 2ft USB C to USB A charging cable, and an airplane headphone adapter.
Turn on Bluetooth go to the settings app. Power the headphones on and put them in pairing mode. In the other devices section, simply click on Soundcore Life Q35 and just wait till paired.
Android devices can be connected both in the settings like usual or using NFC pairing. To connect in the settings, you turn on Bluetooth go to add a Bluetooth device, simply click on the Soundcore Life Q35 listed in the app. The other way to pair is to use NFC if your device supports it. One thing that should be noted is that the NFC pairing is only in the right earcup that a sticker it comes with tells you. However, once you remove the sticker you got to remember which earcup. Then to pair simply make sure your device has NFC pairing mode enabled and touch your phone to the right earcup, worked best if the middle of the phone is centered on the earcup. Then follow along the little popup. I find the NFC pairing worked quickly and easily from my multiple attempts to make sure I didn’t get really lucky on the first time trying.
Make sure Bluetooth is turned on and that the device is in pairing mode. Then go to the Bluetooth settings menu and click add device. For me, at first, the headphones did not come up listed as the Life Q35 but instead as a string of numbers. However, after waiting a couple of seconds the proper name came up and I was able to pair these to the computer.
MacOS Big Sur
Set up on the mac was as easy as turning on Bluetooth and turning on the headphones in pairing mode. Then clicking pair a new device and selecting the Life Q35 headphones to let them pair.
You can control your music right from the device you are using, the Soundcore app, or the headphones themselves. The headphones have buttons for power (this also serves as the Bluetooth pairing button) volume up, volume down, play and pause, and a button to cycle through the noise canceling modes. The volume up and down buttons also serve as skip forward a track and back a track if you press and hold them down for a second. I really like that the volume down button has a small bump on it allowing you to know which button you are on without having to stop and look. There is also the ability to place your hand on the right earcup for a second to turn on transparency mode. Tapping it again for a second turns the noise canceling mode back on again. Personally, I think it would be nice if the button that cycles through the modes was customizable through the app may be giving it the opportunity to switch through the different custom eq settings that some people have or the different noise-canceling modes.
The headband is adjustable which is nice to fit heads of various sizes. It should be noted that the slider makes a nice click into place, but it can also be really loud when adjusting in really quiet places like a library or study hall.
The padding on the headband is nice but not a lot. I find it isn’t as supportive as I hoped and produces a force on the top of my head that is very concentrated and not very distributed. This becomes more apparent in really long listening sessions.
The ear cups are really nice a soft however they will get worn out over time for sure. Here are the dimensions of the earcups in case you have different size ears and are worried if they will touch your ears:
2.467 inches inside the earcup
3.733 inches as the outer diameter
cup depth is 0.750 inches
(note these are not totally accurate)
The headphones themselves also have some nice clamping force but too much where it hurts, for those who don’t know that is usually the force that gets applied by the headphones on your ear/surrounding ear and jawline. I like that the headphone earcups can be rotated so lay flat and that they also can fold in for storage or both can be folded in if that is better. I noticed that the earcup swivel that is designed to help with fit seems to swivel less than the Q20 headphones that I have. That being said this doesn’t seem to affect the fit for me personally but is something that may affect others. I also wear glasses and have no issues with wearing them while also wearing these headphones.
The battery life on these is crazy, to say the least, so the worry about having to charge them constantly should not be a fear at all. Soundcore advertises a whopping 40 Hours with ANC on for a single charge. I managed to get a crazy 50 hours and 35 minutes with the volume at about 50% and ANC on indoor mode. This time is assumed to be higher if you don’t use ANC or play the volume lower and lower if you use higher volume settings. This long battery life is part of the reason this review took so long to release because I’ve been using these as my only headphones for listening to music and attending meetings and classes all day and it was a long time before I had to charge them. One small problem I had was once the headphones reached a low battery they are still usable but I noticed my music and audio for videos and other things became scratchy and sounding like it was having connection issues. If they do end up dying and you find yourself without the ability to charge them and need to use them the included aux cable works just fine without the headphones on. However, this leads me to my next point the recharge time.
Five Minutes Recharge
Soundcore uses (thank god) USB C to charge these headphones which is a huge step up from older headphones like the Q20 and Q 10 that had micro USB to charge. Soundcore is claiming that on five minutes of charging that you can get 4 hours of playback which is honestly mind-blowing and really removes any charging worries at all. I charged up these headphones using the Anker PowerPort Atom 2 and an Anker Powerline III USB C to USB C cable. Your results may differ depending on what charging brick and cable you use. After 5 minutes of charging the headphones showed they had this much battery however within less than a minute, it dropped to this which makes me think either iOS is not accurate or the battery reading initially gave a larger battery reading for reasons unknown. After 1 hour and 47 minutes, the headphones then alerted me, I was now at low battery. Pushing further until they were totally dead, I was able to get 3 hours and 45 minutes using ANC indoor mode and the volume at about 50%. This is just short of the 4-hour claim that Soundcore makes. If you are desperate to get the most after five minutes, then turn ANC off and use a low volume to get the most out of it. This means that the worry that your headphones will die almost nonexistent due to how fast they recharge and how long you can get on a quick five minutes of them plugged in.
Battery life after five minutes charge initial showing
Battery life less than a minute later with huge drop in charge
Full time to Recharge
Just like I did for the five minutes of charging I used an Anker PowerPort Atom 2 and an Anker powerline III USB C to USB C cable to charge these headphones fully up. These numbers are not perfectly accurate since I was using the phone connection and Soundcore app to tell me how much battery the headphones have. These numbers are not totally accurate, but they give you a rough estimate of how much battery you can get and how long they take to fully charge.
|Time Passed (in minutes)||Charge Percentage|
|105||Charging Light Finally Turned Off|
Even though the app and the device I was connected to showed that after about 70 minutes the headphones were fully charged it took an additional 35 minutes for the charging light to finally turn off. I am not sure what causes this if they are still charging just at the rate the battery loses charge for 30 minutes or if it is not actually at 100% after 70 minutes because the app rounds the battery percentage but it is something worth noting.
Every time you power on the headphones they inform you if the battery is high medium or low. However, I do find the range in which it says it is medium to be quite large. When the headphones were at less than 25% it would still turn on and tell me the battery is medium. This is more of a personal preference in my opinion and not a huge deal at all but for those wondering about battery, I would go by the app of widget that by what the device tells you on powering on.
These headphones support Bluetooth 5.0 which isn’t the latest in the Bluetooth line up but as of right now what is probably best for most people’s usage since Bluetooth will default to the older Bluetooth version of the device and the headphones and most people do not have phones with the newer Bluetooth just yet. This allows for dual connection, improved speed, and greater range when compared to older Bluetooth versions. Currently, they are on Bluetooth 5.2 but that is not supported by these headphones and most devices on the market. I was able to walk around my entire house and still stay connected to the device these were paired with (my house has very thick walls and not many headphones can do this for me). I was even able to walk outside a decent distance but could not make it to the end of my block connected. Walk-in a straight line of sight from my device I was able to make it a total of 365 feet before the signal started to disconnect while listening to music. This distance can change depending on the environment and the devices you are connecting to.
Microphone/ Video/Phone Calls:
There are two ways to use microphones to talk on these headphones. The first is when using them over Bluetooth which uses the microphones on the headphones. The other way is during a wired connection. Since the aux cable to the headphones is only a three-pole connection the microphone used here is not the one on the headphones but instead is a designated mic on the aux cable that also has a button that can be used to hit play and pause on music or answer a call with one click, skip forward with two clicks, skip back with three clicks and end a call when you press and hold for two seconds. Also, it should be noted that the 90-degree aux end of the cable with a four-pole connection goes into the device and the straight end with three pole connection goes into the left earcup of the headphones.
Zoom Calls on Both MacOS Big Sur and Windows 10
I had no issues using the headphones in wired or wireless connection. The key here is to make sure that the correct audio source and microphone sources are selected in the zoom program. For me, both recognized it immediately. They sounded really great.
Microsoft Teams on Windows 10
On teams, these headphones sounded great. The only thing was making sure that the microphone on the headphones was selected as your desired microphone in the program. Otherwise, the person on the other end of my call said I sounded crystal clear when using the Bluetooth and about average when using the built-in mic on the aux cable. The audio quality was also good as I didn’t have any issues hearing the people on the call with me and did not have them breaking up at any point (unless they were actually breaking up on the call but not caused by the connection of my headphones).
BlackBoard(Student Classroom Platform)
As a current student during the times, we live in now all of my classes are online and either provide video class on zoom or on Blackboard which seems to be a relatively popular school platform. That being said, these headphones were really great with blackboard and worked with no issue or hiccups. I tested both the inline mic and the built mic when connected through Bluetooth and everyone was able to understand me clearly even with some sounds in the background. The audio quality was also good I did not have to blast the volume to be able to hear my professors talking.
This is where I was severely disappointed, and I am not sure why this occurs. When on a facetime call my friend said I sounded really clear and easy to understand. However, I could barely hear her. When the headphones were on it sounded like my friend was really far in the distance or whispering. However, once I disconnected the headphones and used the device’s speakers, I could hear them just fine. So, while you will sound great on facetime you will have no clue what the other person is saying. I have never had this issue with Soundcore earbuds or other headphones I’ve used in the past, so this was truly interesting and disappointing.
As I have said with all others I had no issues with the sound with how I sounded on my phone. It was nice to be able to answer a call and walk away from my phone still connected to the phone through Bluetooth and sound really good to the person on the other end. Using the aux cable I also sounded good but not as clear possibly due to how low the mic falls or due to the mic sometimes brushing my shirt or hair as I moved and spoke.
The new Bluetooth microphone software makes the person talking sound really good. The person I did all these tests with said that it was as if the microphones only really turned on when I started talking because until I spoke it was really quiet even if I had stuff playing in the background. I even tried playing music in the background and this is where things get interesting. If the music source was placed in front of me then the person on the other end of the phone could make out the music only when it was relatively loud. They also only heard the music once I started to speak. If I sat there quiet with music playing they didn’t hear it, it was only once I started talking that the music was picked up a little. If the audio source was on my left, right, or behind me, the person on the other end didn’t hear it at all. This is great if you are working in an environment with background noise and don’t want other people to hear all the craziness going on behind you. This great feature however is not present on the wired connection which picked up more of the noises around me and made me sound farther away and less clear than the Bluetooth microphones did. Overall, I am really impressed with the microphones on this and was confident when using this to do some of my final presentations in classes and talking in meetings.
These headphones have certified Hi-Res wired and wireless audio.
This is the biggest fancy new thing supported with these headphones.
Using LDAC and Spotify I saw no improvement over the regular audio quality I get from other codec support that I have used in the past. I then tried it with tidal which supports a higher bit rate for LDAC. Again, I didn’t notice much of a change. The music sounded a little clearer but not my heaps and bounds. I also had moments where the music would cut out and am not sure if it was due to the LDAC or Bluetooth connection. So, what does this mean for the average consumer? Most people do not actually have devices that support LDAC, such as iPhone, iPad, Macs, Windows computers, and such. The support for LDAC is mostly found in android phones. For some, it even has to be first enabled in the developer options in the settings. So, once you have a device that supports it then you are faced with the other half of the problem. Not everyone has the audio files that actually support LDAC codec. Some streaming services support HiRes audio but others do not. Not all music downloaded onto devices is created equal. In order to best be affected and take full advantage of LDAC, you would need both an LDAC device, headphones such as these, and hi-res audio files either stored on the device or streamed through a streaming service that can support the full LDAC 999.
So, if you are an audiophile or someone who really appreciates getting the best quality music you can then these are for you since they support HiRes audio in both wired and wireless. If you want to future-proof yourself, or if you think more streaming services will move to HiRes, or you think you might start getting into HiRes audio then these are for you. If that is not you then these headphones might still be for you just this won’t be a feature that jumps out or impacts your buying decisions?
I tried these with a variety of games from Fortnite to Call of Duty as well as some mobile games as well. I will say these are for sure not a gaming headset so if you are looking to be a pro gamer look elsewhere. These do however do the job for most casual gamers. I could hear the footsteps of players around and identify where they were coming from pretty well while not great like true gaming headphones would. If you play a game where it is not dependent on hearing where other players are, but the sounds more so just contribute such as some story games then these are great for that and you can hear background music really nicely. The noise-canceling does help you get in the gaming zone and block out any distractions you may face. While I personally did not notice any lag in what I was hearing versus what was happening in the game if you need the fastest for pro gaming, I would again say these are not the headphones for you. Casual gamers though definitely will like these and not mind adding these to what they use to get in the zone.
Overall, sound is very subjective to a person’s ears and personal tastes. I found that these sounded great right out of the box. I did not a little bit of an EQ shift when switching between noise-canceling, normal, and transparency modes on the headphones but not enough to bother me. The best part about the sound of these is the Soundcore App which will be covered next. The app allows you to change the EQ to any of the custom preset EQ profiles that Soundcore has readily made available or even make your own custom fine-tuned eq profiles and have them saved in the app for you to enjoy the music the way you want it to.
It should first be noted that the Soundcore app is available on the Google Play Store for Android users, the Apple app store for iOS and iPad OS, as well as saying that it is on the mac app store if you have a mac with an M1 chip (I do not so can’t confirm this statement). I do hope that in the future they bring this app to support windows and mac without the M1 chip but the right OS. Would be cool if they had Linux support as well but I don’t see that happening until after Windows and Mac.
The disappointment comes in the iPad app. It is horrible to put it nicely. However, they have it formatted cuts off half of the controls and makes it really annoying and in some aspects impossible to navigate. I’ve used other apps in the past that look like they are made for the iPhone on the iPad, and they work just fine sure they are a little annoying since they don’t fit the whole screen, but it can at least have it functioning as it would on an iPhone. This however is not the case for the Soundcore iPad app. I really hope this is something they fix in the future because personally, I use my iPad a whole lot in my life so not having a nice app on it for my headphones is quite annoying.
The app on the phone, both Android and iPhone, however, is really nice and well done. On the front page of the app, it shows a picture of the headphones along with the battery percentage and buttons to lead to the eq settings or ANC settings. This is also where you will find firmware updates for the headphones by selecting the little gear icon on the top right. As of writing this, the headphones are on version 1.11 but there is a version 1.18 coming out in the near future. I don’t know what this will fix as of the time of writing this but it is good to know that the Soundcore team actively tries to resolve many of these issues and bugs through rather regular software updates when needed.
Custom EQ Settings
There are multiple ways where you can either use one of the custom preset equalizers in the app. If you cant find one that fits your liking or you want to have even more control over how your music sounds then you have the ability to use the custom eq and save a variety of different custom profiles.
White Noise/Sleep Mode
There is a section in the app that is labeled as sleep sounds however I find these not just nice for sleep but just for relaxing and sometimes even focusing depending on what you are working on. This part of the app allows you to create your own mix of sounds that vary in intensity to listen to.
The ANC on the Q35 is rather good for the price point that you are paying however I do think there is still room for it to improve in the future. I wish that they had a general ANC mode that would be aimed at canceling noises in all ranges not just depending on my environment kind of like a one size fits all option of noise-canceling that the Soundcore Life Q20 has. Overall, I do like that their noise-canceling doesn’t have a pressure feel on my ears nor a weird hissing sound that others have that can make some wearers uncomfortable.
Different ANC Modes
Soundcore describes this mode as “Eliminate voices and mid-frequency noises from coffee shops and other inside spaces.” This is the mode that I found myself in the most simply because it blocks out more of the mid-range sounds. That being said I think this is the mode that also has the strongest room for improvement because unless I was listening to rather loud music I could still hear people talking around me pretty clearly. Music such as calming piano meant that more of the voices came through. When compared to the normal mode which will be talked about shortly you can notice that it does reduce some sound and still removes low-end sounds like fans and air conditioners and such but does not remove as much as I had hoped when compared to the normal mode.
Soundcore describes this mode as “reduces ambient sound on the go for quieter city spaces.” I occasionally went on this mode to test it and found it definitely doesn’t do well for mids so I could still hear the TV as I would with normal headphones but lows were almost nonexistent like really noise ceiling fans, computer fans, car engines, and such were almost gone.
Soundcore describes this mode as “targets low-end frequencies like engine and road noises for serene journeys and commutes.” It might be just me, but I do not fully see how this mode differs from the outdoor mode. They both seemed to block similar sounds and let similar sounds through, so I am not sure exactly what the difference is here. That being said this definitely does what it says it will by targeting low-end frequencies like engines and road noises (which doesn’t seem to include horns and sirens since they are higher frequencies). Still, this mode is enjoyable, and I could see it being great on the train or bus for a nicer commute.
This is the mode that I found myself using the least. In this mode, the microphones are not being used to let sounds in nor to cancel them out. It makes sense this is an option since some might enjoy it but I am not bothered by the noise-canceling so I usually have it on in one of the above modes and then switch to transparency mode when I need to be a little more aware of my surroundings.
The transparency mode can be turned on through the app, the ANC mode button on the headphones, or by holding your hand to the right earcup for a second. The transparency mode is really good and does a great job in letting me hear my surroundings clearly and even better than in the normal mode when no noise canceling is on. I do wish that the hand to right earcup was more like that function on Sony headphones. On these headphones, it turns on transparency mode and then announces that it is changing modes and then leaves you in transparency mode even after your hand is removed. Personally, I would like the ability to place my hand to the right earcup and it triggers transparency mode for as long as my hand is there and then returns to whatever mode I was at before when I remove my hand.
VS Sony WH1000xM2 and Sony WHXB900N
I have a roommate in college who likes to in a sense “test” my noise-canceling headphones by screaming at the top of her lung trying to distract me from my work. While I am not there in person right now, I am fairly sure they will fail the screaming roommate test given how much I can hear my family talking with these on. I am not saying that I need these headphones to cover these extreme cases as the Sony headphones do, but this is definitely an area they are lacking. That being said I will say price wise for the price you are paying versus the price you pay for the Sony headphones they are quite equal in the cost analysis in my books with the Q35 possibly being slightly ahead due to how feature rich and good they sound for a significantly lower price point.
VS Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
I know this is a little like comparing apples and oranges in the fact that one is in-ear and the other is over-ear however if you are looking for noise-canceling and Soundcore these would be their two top of the line products. I think the Life Q35 has the advantage head due to being able to fit a wider variety of ear types (a better model for one size fits all) and the ability for more microphones spread out on the headphones. The Liberty air 2 pro are good but for me personally every time I wear them and run the test in the app to see how my seal is it says I have a poor seal regardless of the ear tips I try and this, in turn, leads to a bad noise canceling experience for me. The liberty air 2 pro did however have a noise-canceling feature that I liked but wasn’t well executed. In the app, there was a noise-canceling mode labeled as custom that featured a wheel that was supposed to allow you to customize the intensity of noise cancellation but didn’t really give good directions as to how it works. I would love for this feature to come to the life Q35 as long as it is executed properly making it easy to use and understand what would increase noise-canceling and what would decrease it.
Auto Wear Detection:
This feature I have a strong love-hate relationship with right now. While the idea is great the execution just seems to be lacking. The sensor is only in the right earcup which means if you take it off your right ear it stops but if you pull the left earcup up the music will continue. I also find sometimes it does not detect I have taken the headphones off. Most of the time it registers but there have been a couple where my music has continued going or there is a longer delay than usual. My biggest issue is that if you are doing any kind of video meeting this is a feature I would recommend turning off before joining. I took the headphones off for a second to go get water during a zoom meeting and when I put the headphones back on it hit play on the last song I had played on Spotify and was playing that over my meeting. If you quit all music apps such a Spotify it will then force open whatever the default music player is and try to get you to start music, there. The other issue I have is if I am wearing these and look up. Whatever shifting or something with the sensor gets triggered when looking up and then auto-pause my music almost every time.
Multipoint Connection/ Dual Pairing
This is done by connecting to the first device and then pressing the power button twice to pair with the second device. Most of the time this works really great for me however sometimes it disconnects me from one of the devices which forces me to disconnect from the first device in order to repair them. It should also be noted that if you have an older device that supports an older version of Bluetooth connect that one first and then connect the newer device with the newer Bluetooth second. I had to do this with an older laptop in order for it to function properly. Other than that, this is honestly a great feature that does its job well of switching between the devices nicely depending on which device is playing audio.
Pricing and Colors:
Right now, these headphones are only available in blue with others coming soon. These headphones currently retail for $129.99 and can be bought at retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and others.
Places to Improve:
1.)move the wired aux option to the left earcup. Most people in the world are right-handed so having it on the right earcup meant the wire was constantly in the way of my right hand and drove me crazy.
2.)Add an NFC logo to the right ear cup, not large just a nice little thing so when the sticker is gone, and people forget they don’t have to dig out the manual or google it, similar to what Sony has on their headphones.
3.)fix the wear detection it seems to be a little spotty.
4.)Please dear god fix your iPad app and preferably add support for the app to be on windows and mac with intel processors.
5.)replaceable earcups would be a huge huge huge plus that many high-end headphones offer and is a shame that these really don’t. Would also be nice if they allowed the replaceable ones to be an industry-standard some people could swap them with favorites if they have them.
6.)I also think the Indoor mode of ANC could be a little better at removing sounds.