Soundcore Life Note E earbuds review: Impressive for the price
Soundcore by Anker is a relatively lesser known brand in India for audio products. But from our prior experience with some of their earphones, I can assure you that their products have the potential to hang with the best under Rs. 10,000. The brand has a fairly broad portfolio across various price brackets, and the Life Note E that I have for review here is their latest entry-level offering. Despite being a budget pair of TWS earbuds, the Soundcore Life Note E offers some impressive features that are hard to find at its price-point. In addition to detailed sound output, the earbuds boast multiple sound profiles to appeal to different user preferences, 32 hours of battery backup, a premium build and all this in a compact form factor. While the features sure look commendable on paper, it's time to figure out if they actually translate into an equally impressive performance in the real world.
Polished looks, lightweight and comfortable in the ears
The Soundcore Life Note E buds as well as the charging case are quite compact. The build quality and finish of the product are pretty good with the case draped in a matte black finish, while the buds sport a combination of matte and gloss. The case has three LEDs at the front that gives you a rough estimate about the amount of charge left in the case. At the back is a USB-C port for charging. The case is lightweight and weighs close to 30g. The buds weigh just 4.6g each and you barely feel their presence in the ear. The earbuds have angled tips that go into the ear canals and short stems that stay out but don't stick out of the ear much. Thanks to the angle, the buds fit snugly in the ears and stay in place even during jogs, and seldom did I have to adjust them. The pre-installed medium-sized silicone tips offered good passive noise isolation for me. If that's not the case with you, the company has been generous enough to bundle four more pairs of ear-tips ranging from XS to XL. Always a good idea to try them out and see what works for you for best results. I am glad to see the company switch to touch controls from the physical button present on its predecessor, Soundcore Life Note. The area at the top of stems is touch enabled and the touch sensitivity is spot on even during a triple tap gesture.
Some unique features along with smart touch controls
As I just mentioned, the earbuds are touch enabled, but the touch controls aren't programmable. Unfortunately, Life Note E doesn't work with the Soundcore app, one of the best companion apps for earphones. You have to make do with the predefined gestures, which is not a bad thing in this case as they are well thought out. For starters, no function has been assigned to a single tap, thus ruling out accidental inputs when trying to adjust the buds. Double tap on either buds is used to play/pause the audio or answer calls. Touch and hold for two seconds on left or right buds lets you jump to the previous or next track respectively or end/reject calls. Triple tap on the left bud brings up the voice assistant on the phone, while doing the same on the right bud lets you cycle through the sound profiles. There is no touch gesture to adjust the volume though. The Soundcore Life Note E comes equipped with three sound profiles, or think of them as equalizer presets. You get the Soundcore Signature mode, Bass Booster and Podcast. While the first two are quite handy when listening to music, the third, as the name suggests, is better suited for Podcasts or vocal-centric content. These earbuds are fitted with a 10mm dynamic driver each and are compliant with the latest Bluetooth 5.2 standard with support for AAC and SBC codecs. The Life Note E buds have IPX5-rated splash resistance, so they can easily survive a bit of sweat or a walk in a drizzle, but avoid dropping them in a puddle or washing them under a tap. The wireless range is standard with the buds maintaining a stable connection up to 10 meters with a clear line of sight and half of that with a concrete wall in between them and the source device.
Good detail in audio; multiple sound profiles are actually useful
A quick word on the sound profiles. Soundcore Signature mode offers a more balanced sound with relatively low but sufficient bass, and the mids and highs have a good presence. Bass Booster mode predictably enhances the bass and provides a V-shaped sound output. The Podcast mode has a more mids-forward response. In simpler terms, it boosts the vocals. The Podcast equalizer isn't suited for music playback but is actually more than handy when listening to podcasts or other content where vocal clarity is more important than anything else. When using the Soundcore Signature profile, the output is nice and detailed for the segment with a good balance between the three frequency ranges. The mids are reproduced very well with good vocal clarity and instrument separation. The highs are sharp but the S sounds feel a little sibilant in tracks with low bass. While the bass isn't given preferential treatment, it is tight and punchy. However, those who prefer a more pronounced reproduction of low end frequencies may find it inadequate and should switch to Bass Booster. While the bass thump is significantly more prominent in this mode, it goes a little overboard and impacts the mids, leading to a noticeable auditory masking in the lower end of the mid-range spectrum. The vocals still manage to hold their own but don't sound as sharp as in the Soundcore Signature mode. On the bright side, the soundstage is noticeably broader when using Bass Booster, and the highs are tempered better too. The ideal sound profile would have been somewhere between the Signature and Bass modes, with the details of the former and the soundstage of the latter. The buds are sufficiently loud under 60% volume when indoors, and you may need to push it a little higher outdoors. The latency is in check with no noticeable lag between video and audio when consuming content on OTT platforms on the phone.
Good call quality and solid battery backup for the size
Call clarity is generally good on Soundcore earphones, and the Life Note E is no different. However, don't expect the same level of finesse and background noise suppression as some of their more expensive models. Having said that, it is perfectly fine for the segment, and people on either end of the call were clearly audible to each other indoors as well as outdoors. While there were absolutely no complaints indoors, the microphones tend to pick up some wind-like noises when outdoors. Adjusting the direction of the earbud stems generally helps. Traffic and other ambient sounds are suppressed reasonably well by the hardware and AI algorithm. The battery backup of the Soundcore Life Note E is quite impressive, and even more so given the size and weight of the earbuds. The company claims a battery life of 8 hours for the buds and 32 hours with the charging case. During my testing, the earbuds lasted close to 7 hours at 60% loudness, and along with the charging case, they managed a total battery backup of close to 28 hours, which is not bad at all. The charging case has a USB-C port, and it takes under two hours to charge the case and buds fully with a standard charger. They support some modest fast charging too, wherein 10 minutes of charge gives you an hour of play time. A good option to have when you are in a hurry.
Can carve a niche for itself if priced right
The Soundcore Life Note E TWS earbuds are priced at Rs. 2,799, but are often available for purchase on Flipkart for around Rs. 2,000, which in my opinion is the right price for this product given the competition. Even better, the company offers an 18-months warranty, which is 50% more than what you usually get with other brands. That is a fair deal for a product that offers a detailed sound output for the segment, multiple sound profiles, good call quality and impressive battery backup. It will face competition mainly from the likes of Realme Buds Q2 that sells for a similar price and offers comparable audio quality. Realme also offers a companion app for configuring touch controls and sound profiles, and more importantly, you get functional active noise cancellation that is extremely rare in this segment. However, it cannot match the battery backup or the call quality of the Soundcore Life Note E. So choose one depending on which features appeal to you more. Neither would disappoint you.