Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Review: Soft all-round

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6.3 Very Meh

Anker is by no means a market leader in sound technology, but it’s working hard to catch our attention. These over-ears are decent enough for its US pricetag, but add all of the costs of living in SA to that, and it becomes hard to justify the mediocre tech for that price. 

  • Build quality 5
  • Comfort 8
  • Sound 7
  • Features 5
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

When buying a new set of headphones, there are a few things you expect to work well, based on the price of course. Anker’s Soundcore Life Q20 headphones cost a mere $60. But in SA, import duties and reseller markups push that price up to around R2,500. 

For headphones priced over R2k, we’d expect a certain level of attention to detail, features that work exceptionally well and decent build quality. Especially considering brilliant options from brands like Bose, Sony and Sennheiser are in the country. The Soundcore Life Q20’s just don’t provide the required build quality. Luckily, the headset from Anker surprised us with its rich, lifelike sound and a comfortable fit that allowed for lengthy listening sessions. So it’s got that going for it.

Active noise cancellation, meanwhile, did an okay job of filtering out lower-range engine and background noise, and we were also impressed by the headset’s battery life. 

It sits, it fits

The SoundCore Life Q20 features an adjustable padded headband with foldable ear cups that swivel up to 90 degrees. This makes it one compact set of headphones. It’s easy enough to pack and comes with a drawstring bag to secure it. 

Comfort is definitely the word of the day here, with the memory foam ear cups fitting comfortably around your lugs, no matter the size (we’re guessing a little here). The padded headband also never became uncomfortable in long listening sessions, so wearing these is an absolute breeze. We could wear them for long WFH sessions without much discomfort or pain. 

The power button sits on the left earcup and doubles as a Bluetooth pairing button when you long-press it. Pressing the second button on the earcup turns on the headset’s noise-cancelling mode, which (according to Anker) is designed to block 90 percent of low- and mid-range noise with help from a quartet of built-in microphones. The buttons seem very plastic and are almost toy-like from a design perspective. We would have loved to see something a bit more sturdy as physical buttons for these cans. 

A volume rocker on the right earcup has an integrated play button that lets you play and pause music and answer calls. You can also engage the headset’s “BassUp” bass-boosting feature by double-pressing the play button, or you can long-press it to summon Siri or Google Assistant. Next to the volume rocker is a Micro-USB charging port and a 3.5mm audio jack for wired listening using the included 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable.

Most of all, the Q20’s felt a bit flimsy, and we’d love to pay a bit less than the local asking price just based on the build quality. Luckily, where these cans really shine is sound…which is exactly what they’re for. 

No need for gimmicks

We were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality these bad boys could pump out, particularly over its Bluetooth connection. From punchy basslines to pitchy high-tones and clear mid-ranges, they were able to handle anything we threw at them comfortably. We will advise against using the gimmicky ‘Bass-up’ feature, as it took the clear bass and made it particularly ‘thumpy’, distorting much of what was there. The base bass sound is far more nominal, no matter what you’re listening to. 

Much more effective was the headset’s active noise-cancelling feature, which works pretty much as advertised. Press and hold the ANC button, and the headset uses its four integrated microphones to filter out most ambient sounds. The mode worked great to mute out our larger dog’s barks, but it struggled to do anything with our small toy-pom’s yaps. Higher tones are definitely more of an issue to block out, so we get the struggle. 

Voices also easily cut through the ANC mode, which is a shame. Our daily ride-or-die Sennheisers (that costs less than these) easily cancel out the world around you to the point where you don’t even know your boss is yelling at you. For reals. 

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Verdict

Anker is by no means a market leader in sound technology, but it’s working hard to catch our attention. These over-ears are decent enough for its US pricetag, but add all of the costs of living in SA to that, and it becomes hard to justify the mediocre tech for that price. 

It does feature great sound, with decent clear tones across all ranges. The ANC option is a nice feature albeit one that could be better. Lucky for you though, they’re comfortable, the battery lasts up to 10 hours and you don’t need the Bass-up feature to enjoy good music.

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Never mind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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