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Anker Soundcore Life A1 Review

Last updated: 3 months ago
8 min read
Editor
rating
3.9
Anker Soundcore Life A1 review

Affordable true wireless earbuds under $50 that surprise with a good sound quality, incredibly comfortable fit, reliable controls, and lengthy battery life.

Everyone likes to get a bargain deal when buying new gadgets. Anker Soundcore Life A1 aren’t perfect by any means, but they surely surpass their price in performance.

The sound, while V-shaped, is natural enough for most music genres. Also, with the 3 built-in EQ presets you can reduce or boost the bass.

The Anker Soundcore Life A1 fit comfortably in your ears and stay put thanks to the ear wings. On top of that, they carry an IPX7 rating, so you can safely use them for workouts.

There’s plenty to like in Anker Soundcore Life A1. What else do you get for a current price of $40?

  • Good sound quality
  • Fantastic comfort & stability
  • Reliable Bluetooth connection
  • Great battery life (more than 8h per charge)
  • Usable physical controls with 3 EQ profiles
  • Okay passive noise isolation
  • Some audio delay when watching videos
Editor
rating
3.9
By HeadphonesAddict
User
ratings
5
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Table of Contents

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    Overall tonality is quite natural despite the deep bass boost, with good soundstage and instrument separation. However, the sound feels dark and lacks air due to the dip between 8kHz and 16kHz.

    Check the Anker Soundcore Life A1 sound test

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 don’t really have an expertly tuned sound. True wireless earbuds pack a generic V-shape sound signature with a peak around 8kHz, which adds to the perceived clarity.

    Thankfully, earbuds avoid sounding too extreme and instead opt for a more approachable tuning. While most people will like what Anker did here, some issues are worth mentioning.

    Bass

    Lower frequencies are noticeably elevated. Thankfully, they don’t feel bloated (unless you switch to Bass Booster mode) and have reasonable control.

    I had no problems listening to everything from smooth jazz, pop, metal, and feel satisfied with the bass performance. Although, a bass lover might want a bit more.

    The bass starts rising at around 250Hz, making the sound quite warm and full. On the other hand, drum solos can sound congested. For the best bass performance, try using them on Podcast mode.

    However, the Podcast mode enhance mids, making it a bit thin. Therefore, for the best overall experience, listen to music with the stock Signature mode.

    Midrange

    Speaking of midrange, they’re surprisingly neutral. Everything from vocals to instruments sounds natural.

    The smooth mids may feel a bit recessed, but that’s due to the boost in bass and treble.

    Treble

    Most of the Anker Soundcore Life A1 problems lay in high frequencies.

    First of all, there’s an unnecessary peak at 8kHz, which gives the impression of clarity. Thankfully, it doesn’t cause sibilance.

    For some reason, frequencies between 8kHz and 16kHz are reduced to neutral. Consequently, a louder 8kHz frequency masks them.

    As a result, some songs appear a bit dark and lack resolution. There’s also a noticeable lack of airiness around instruments and vocals, which don’t sound very transparent.

    When listening to the snare drum in the song “Born in Space” by Owane, there’s a noticeable lack of air and natural decay (sizzling sound) compared to more neutrally tuned headphones.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 Frequency Response

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 measurements
    Red: Bass Boost, Blue: Signature, Green: Podcast.

    Thankfully, the soundstage is fairly spacious and prevents the music from sounding too much “in your head.”

    The instrument separation is great, and the imaging is also pretty accurate, although there are some minuscule blind spots in between the left/right channels.

    Overall, Anker Soundcore Life A1 pack a decent tuning that will appeal to most users. They have fun bass, clear mids, and okay treble performance.

    Of course, more demanding users will miss the airiness and dynamics of better-tuned models.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 earbuds are smaller and ergonomic. They’re perfect for long daily listening sessions. And thanks to the ear fins, they don’t fall out either.

    True wireless earbuds come in many shapes, and only some manage to fit your ears perfectly.

    The Soundcore Life A1 sit comfortably in your pinna, without sharp edges that would cause pain. They’re also pretty small, so they don’t push against your ears when inserted.

    Moreover, the ear fins help improve overall stability during movement. Even when rigorously shaking my head, the earbuds didn’t loosen or fall out.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 earbud
    Ergonomic design and ear wings help to keep the earbuds comfortably in place.

    Also, there were no changes in sound reproduction due to the loose seal, which is excellent. Consequently, the Anker Soundcore Life A1 are great for intense workouts.

    Another thing worth mentioning are physical controls. Anker smartly positioned them in a way that doesn’t push earbuds inside your ears when pressing them.

    That minimizes getting annoyed when pressing, which is a usual problem with physical buttons on earbuds.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    These are quite durable little earbuds with an IPX7 rating and no visible weak points. The charging case lid is the only spot that might break if dropped.

    Like Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo, the Life A1 offer a similarly robust design with an IPX7 rating. The latter means complete water resistance and the ability to survive submersion.

    While they won’t work for swimming (Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater), a high IP rating ensures that you can use them in wet environments.

    For example, listen to music outdoors when it’s raining, or take them under a shower.

    The silicone used for ear fins seems flexible, so it shouldn’t break anytime soon.

    Moving to the wireless charging case, it feels reasonably sturdy. However, the lid is a bit flimsy, especially when opened.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 open case
    As with most cases, the lid feels a bit lose and is made of thin plastic. Otherwise, the earbuds are solid.

    It does wobble just a bit, but that’s sadly present in most charging cases, even in more premium models (Sony WF-1000XM4).

    Nevertheless, Anker Soundcore Life A1 should survive regular everyday use.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    According to our test, battery life is 8 hours and 19 minutes. That’s more than enough for a full day of listening. The case holds another 26 hours and supports USB-C fast-charge and Qi wireless charging.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 battery comparison

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 battery graph

    Measured at 50% volume, Anker Soundcore Life A1 lasted for 8 hours and 19 minutes before shutting down.

    While that’s 40 minutes shy of the advertised 9 hours on a single charge, it’s still a respectable duration. You can easily use them for an entire day.

    The pill-shaped case is on the bigger side but still pocketable. It holds an additional 26 hours of battery life and charges via USB-C.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 charging port
    Anker Soundcore Life A1 uses all the latest tech, from USB-C, Qi charging, and fast charging.

    It also supports fast charging, providing 1.5 hours of extra playtime in just 10 minutes.

    Furthermore, the not-so-compact charging case supports Qi charging on a wireless charging pad. Strangely, that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the box or in the documentation.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    True wireless earbuds provide reliable physical controls and 3 EQ profiles baked into buds.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 offer a rather standard set of features. You don’t get bells and whistles like active noise cancellation or ambient sound mode from more expensive buds. But that’s a rarity even among the best true wireless earbuds under $50.

    Instead, you get reliable controls that aren’t annoying to use. Sadly, you can’t remap the on-ear control scheme to your liking, and it takes some time to master them. Still, they let you control the playback and activate voice assistants.

    Unlike most earbuds at this price range, there are 3 EQ presets built into the earbuds. You toggle between the EQs by triple pressing the button control on the left side.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 on rock
    Physical controls work reliably, support a wide range of commands, and aren’t annoying to use.

    The main difference is in bass quantity. The Signature preset is the most recommended, the Bass Boost adds to the maximum bass, and the Podcast preset changes the midrange a bit (as seen in the frequency response measurement).

    Earbuds also come with other handy features like Qi wireless charging, which is getting quite common under $50.

    All in all, you can be pretty content with what you get for the price.

    Microphone Quality

    The MEMS omnidirectional mic in Anker Soundcore Life A1 performs very well when making phone calls in a quiet place.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 microphone test

    It picks up your voice with good clarity so that the person on the other side of the line understands you. There are some pops audible in the background but nothing too distracting.

    On the other hand, call quality drops when the ambient noise gets louder. The mic mutes your voice and makes it slightly robotic. Likewise, the background sounds appear a bit robotic and distorted.

    If you can, avoid noisy places when making phone calls with the Anker Soundcore Life A1.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    The fit isn’t particularly deep to ensure a stronger seal, resulting in good but not excellent passive noise isolation.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 do a good job passively isolating the background noise. They do so with fairly shallow silicone ear tips.

    Nonetheless, the noise isolation is strong enough for you to use earbuds on public transport and not get bothered by surrounding noise.

    Also, they don’t leak sound, so you shouldn’t bother other people around you.

    Thanks to the earbuds’ relatively flush and non-protruding profile, they don’t produce much wind noise.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 on pavement
    Anker Soundcore Life A1 are so small they don’t produce any additional wind noise during outdoor use.

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 have an above-average Bluetooth range and connection stability. However, they lack the multipoint feature and have some audio lag depending on what EQ preset you use.

    You shouldn’t have any problems wearing these earbuds throughout the house.

    Bluetooth 5.0 connection is strong, and the audio starts stuttering only after surpassing 60 feet in distance and placing 2 brick walls in between.

    How to pair Anker Soundcore Life A1?

    1. You simply place earbuds out of the charging case to initiate the pairing process. Next time you turn them on, the buds will automatically connect.
    2. For any additional pairings, you have first to turn them off and then hold both buttons for 5 seconds.

    Earbuds support single earbud mode (mono mode) on both buds so that you can keep on maintaining awareness while listening. Sadly, though, they don’t support multipoint.

    What Bluetooth Codecs Do They Use?

    The selection of Bluetooth codecs is limited to SBC and AAC, which is perfectly fine for the price.

    Some earbuds at this range also offer the aptX codec. However, it doesn’t make a real difference, and it only raises the cost.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 the case
    The pill-shaped charging case is bigger than usual but still nicely pocketable.

    Is There an Audio Lag?

    Depending on the EQ profile, the lag varies from unnoticeable to slightly delayed when watching videos. Even on YouTube, which is optimized to work flawlessly with Bluetooth headphones.

    Keep the Bluetooth earbuds in the Signature EQ profile for the best audio/video synchronization. There’s no dedicated gaming mode, so you can expect a slight delay when playing mobile games.

    Should You Get Anker Soundcore Life A1?

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    For merely $40, Anker’s true wireless earbuds are well worth checking out. They come packed with good sound quality, excellent battery, stable fit, and full water protection.

    While they’re overall similar to their competition, what gives them the edge is their 3 EQ profiles and fantastic comfort.

    Sure, the sound maybe isn’t so airy, but that is hardly a deal-breaker. Anker Soundcore Life A1 will surely satisfy most casual users and even some bass lovers.

    How Anker Soundcore Life A1 compare to the competition?

    • They offer a similar V-shaped energetic sound signature but with a more neutral midrange.
    • While over 8 hours of playtime is a lot, it’s also somewhat average among budget TWS earbuds.
    • Earbuds come with an IPX7 rating, providing full water resistance, which is common among budget options.
    • Thanks to their ergonomics, they provide better comfort and stability than the competition.
    • They have built-in EQ presets that many other budget earbuds lack.
    • Also, they don’t support aptX or aptX Adaptive, which some earbuds below $50 do.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 Alternatives

    SoundPEATS Sonic

    SoundPEATS Sonic wireless earbuds

    Earbuds produce powerful sound with better treble performance but a similar sub-bass boost. The latter is there to intensify bass-heavy songs.

    Furthermore, 14-hour long battery life is much longer than “only” 8 hours of the Soundcore Life A1.

    On the other hand, the Sonic are only water-resistant (IPX5) and aren’t as comfortable to wear.

    SoundPEATS Sonic review

    TaoTronics Soundliberty 97

    TaoTronics Soundliberty 97 true wireless earbuds

    True wireless earbuds with a warm, laidback yet great sound and some extra bass punch. There isn’t a hint of sibilance or harshness.

    The design is simple and comfy but not as comfortable as the Life A1.

    Earbuds come equipped with an aptX codec and higher water resistance (IPX8). Also, at 9 hours per charge, their playtime is slightly longer.

    TaoTronics Soundliberty 97 review

    Beats Flex

    Beats Flex earbuds hanging

    Very balanced sound but lacking in detail and resolution. These are affordable entry point earbuds for Apple users who want the benefit of the W1 chip.

    They come with a USB-C port and a companion app for Android. Wireless earbuds isolate pretty well, but their stability and comfort are miles behind the Soundcore Life A1.

    They also lack an IPX rating and a carrying pouch.

    Beats Flex review

    What’s in the Box?

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 accessories
    • Anker Soundcore Life A1 true wireless earbuds
    • Charging case
    • USB-C charging cable
    • 5 pairs of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L, XL)
    • 3 pairs of ear fins
    • User guides

    Specifications

    Type: True wireless
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 8mm dynamic
    Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Impedance: n/a
    Weight: 5.5g per earbud
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: IPX7
    Battery life: 9h + 26h in case
    Charging time: Quick charging – USB-C & Qi charging
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: 60ft (18.2m)
    Microphone: MEMS omnidirectional