TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 Review
An excellent choice if you want your wireless earbuds to be a calling headset first, and music listening earbuds second.
The Overall Score: 3.3/5
They’re not particularly musical. Instead, they provide excellent midrange clarity, which helps with the vocals and detailed instruments. There’s also a decent microphone onboard, making these a good pick for frequent callers.
Recently we reviewed the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92, which is in many ways similar to SoundLiberty 88. They’re both trying to mimic AirPods, making the ultimate alternative to Apple’s beloved wireless earbuds.
However, 92’s are better for music, whereas 88’s are more specialized for phone calls and midrange clarity.
PROS & CONS
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Exceptional midrange clarity
- Responsive touch controls
- IPX8 water-resistance
- 5-hour battery per single charge
- Poor fit
- Lack of noise isolation
- What’s in the Box?
- Comfort & Fit 3/5 Average
- Noise Isolation 1.5/5 Meh
- Bluetooth 3.5/5 Almost Great
- Battery 4/5 Great
- Durability 4.5/5 Almost Perfect
- Features 4/5 Great
- Sound 3/5 Good
- Why Buy TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88?
Type: In-ear headphones
Connection: Wireless Bluetooth
Driver size: 10mm
Frequency range: 20Hz – 20,000Hz
Weight: 6g per earbud
Cable length: n/a
Microphone & controls: Touch controls, 1 mic per earbud
Water-protection: IPX8 – water-resistant
Battery life: 5 h per charge, 20h with the case
Charging time: 1 hour of playtime in just 5 minutes
Active noise-cancelling: No
Charging cable: USB-C
Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
Wireless range: 50ft (15m)
Microphone type: 1 external microphone
Mic design: n/a
Mic mutable: No
What’s in the Box?
- TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88
- Charging case
- USB-C cable
- User Manual
Comfort & Fit 3/5 Average
These weight like a feather, which makes them barely noticeable when having them in your ears. On the other hand, the fit is terrible, but that is to be expected.
SoundLiberty 88’s have a plastic construction with a matte black finish. Because of that, they’re incredibly light, almost to the point of forgetting they’re in your ears.
The bud’s size is the same as the original AirPods, with no sharp corners to cause pain. We found them very comfortable, even after a long listening session.
The fit is a different story altogether. It does depend on the user to user, but there’s nothing on them to keep them in your ears. Therefore, if you find other classic earbuds secure, these shouldn’t be a problem. Otherwise, you’ll continuously be picking these off the floor.
In the case of SoundLiberty 92, those have a slight dip at the beginning of the stem, providing a marginally better grip compared to 88’s.
Noise Isolation 1.5/5 Meh
Classic earbuds with no silicone tips or foam covers can’t provide a sufficient seal around your ear canal. Therefore, they are unable to offer any noise isolation whatsoever. SoundLiberty 88 are the same.
While using the 88’s, we can hear everything around us. Even when the music is playing, and someone walks in the room, the outside noise is quite present. That is why we can’t recommend these for public transport or walking near a busy road.
Of course, if you want to be aware of your surroundings, these might be a better choice for you.
Bluetooth 3.5/5 Almost Great
With version 5.0, the Bluetooth connection is stable and pairing quickly, although it starts to break when trying to pass the second brick wall.
The pairing process is quite easy and similar to many other true wireless earbuds. You simply place both earbuds out from the charging case, and they show up in the Bluetooth menu on your device.
After that, every time you pick them up from the case, they automatically reconnect to your transmitting device.
The connection is stable, with no weird hick-ups when the transmitting device is near your earbuds. However, if you want to take only your earbuds on the other side of the house, stutters start to appear right before trying to pass the second brick wall.
Is There a Delay when Watching Video?
Video and audio when watching YouTube seem to be in almost perfect sync. Only the most demanding users might notice some lag.
Battery 4/5 Great
On a single charge, you can expect around 5 hours of battery life, which is on par with the “classic earbuds” alternatives. Being able to quick charge is a nice addition.
Compared to more traditional in-ear wireless earbuds, classically designed ones often provide just a few hours of playtime. That is why the SoundLiberty 88 earphones sit somewhere on the top in that category, lasting up to 5 hours per charge.
The pocket-size charging case can hold up to 20 hours of additional juice, while also providing a quick charge option. The latter is able to add another 2 hours of playtime in just 10 minutes.
Durability 4.5/5 Almost Perfect
Looking straight at them, they appear nothing special. But they’re quite tough little buds, with IPX8 water-protection on top of it.
While their housing is made entirely of plastic, they don’t feel too cheap. Sure, the earbuds are lightweight, but they also show no major weak points that could potentially break.
Buds themselves are also IPX8 water-resistant, which is maximum protection. Not sure why you need such a high IP rating, but if they ever get dropped in the water up to 1.5 meters of depth, you can rest assured they’ll survive.
The charging case is also made of plastic, with the same matte black finish. It’s very slim and can easily fit in the pocket. The lid doesn’t wobble when shaken, and it also closes with a satisfying thump.
Features 4/5 Great
88’s are well-packed with useful features. Touch controls with a bunch of commands, pause/play feature to automatically play or pause the music, and a decent microphone with a noise reduction for phone calls.
TaoTronics Soundliberty 88 has more features than you might expect. The most noticeable one is the little sensor on the inner side of the bud. The latter is detecting whether the earbud is inside your ears or not. When you take one bud out, the music automatically stops playing. As soon as you place them back in, playback resumes.
One of the 88′ main selling points is the single microphone at the bottom of the stem. It uses noise reduction to remove unnecessary surrounding hum while taking a phone call. It does its job pretty well, but more on that in our microphone test.
You can also control these with touch gestures located on the top of the stem. Controls are very responsive and offer quite a lot of commands that you quickly master. For specific commands, like volume up or down, a small beep indicates that you pressed the right spot on the earbud.
The latter is somewhat of an issue, since the stem is relatively thin, and you don’t know where exactly to press.
These are quite good for taking phone calls. They’re slightly on the quiet side, but they offer excellent noise suppression. However, they do distort just a little bit when the background noise is too loud. Overall, have a very good microphone.
TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 controls:
- Play/pause – double press on either side
- Volume up – press and hold on the right side
- Volume down – press and hold on the left side
- Next song – triple press on the right side
- Previous song – triple press on the left side
- Answer call – single press on either side
- End call/decline call – press and hold on either side
- Voice control – press and hold for 2 seconds on either side
Sound 3/5 Good
These are incredibly unoffensive, lacking bass, great clarity in the midrange, and rolled-off treble. That makes them suitable only for specific genres of music.
These don’t make you shake your head. The bass is lacking here. It’s barely audible, with a decent kick and no rumble. Consequently, the midrange doesn’t sound as full as it should.
However, the mids are the highlight of these earbuds. They’re very clean and natural sounding. Vocals are almost lifelike, but the lack of bass presence makes them sound slightly off. Regardless, these should be very good for voice calls and podcasts.
Treble is forgiving and smooth. It rolls-off fairly quickly to eliminate any sign of sibilance or brightness. There isn’t much detail up on top, but the sound is airier than the 92’s.
We can’t recommend these for the music alone. They’re clearly meant for taking voice calls, with only one frequency range where they excel.
Why Buy TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88?
These are especially good for making calls. The microphone is good for the price, and the sound quality in the midrange amplifies the cleanliness of the vocals.
You can also rest assure the TaoTronics can survive to go completely underwater. Therefore using them in a wet environment shouldn’t be a problem.
There’s also a factor of convenience. Having that pause/play feature and a good amount of touch commands eliminates the reliance on your phone continually.
The battery is more than good enough for an average user, with 5 hours of playtime on a single charge and 20 hours of extra juice stored inside the charging case.
All in all, Sound Liberty 88 are an excellent, truly wireless earbuds for phone calls and podcasts, with lots of useful features. But if you also want them to sound really good, then you should look elsewhere.
TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 Alternatives
TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92 (Review): We already compared these two true wireless earbuds throughout this review, but to summarize: 88’s are better to take phone calls, picking up your voice clearer, while more effectively eliminating surrounding noise. 92′ sound more full, but the 88’s midrange and treble are more detailed. However, the price difference is quite huge: SoundLiberty 92 costs under $40, while you have to spend around $60 for SoundLiberty 88’s.
Apple AirPods 2: Sound-wise they’re quite the same, having a lot of clarity in the midrange and treble, which provides a better vocal rendition. However, AirPods 2 offer a better iOS integration, providing good connectivity and extra features. Their charging case can also charge wirelessly.