Wireless Hybrid ANC Headset Under $100: Soundcore Life Q30 Review

Last year, we reviewed and loved the true wireless ear buds from Anker’s Soundcore line, the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro. Since then, I have been looking forward to seeing how would Soundcore’s audio presentation would play out in an over-ear headset. Here with the Soundcore Life Q30, I finally got that chance. The Life Q30 is a wireless over-ear headset that features hybrid ANC (active noise cancellation), an ambient sound pass through mode, and optional wired listening capabilities. What makes the Life Q30 especially attention-grabbing is that you get all of this for only $79.99. Hybrid ANC headsets are all the rage. However, not many of those have as competitive a price tag as this one.

Let’s check out the Soundcore Life Q30 hybrid ANC headset.

Soundcore Life Q30 Base Specs
Driver (Full Range)2 × 40mm
Frequency Response16Hz – 40kHz
Bluetooth Range15 m / 49.21 ft
Battery capacity720mAh
Input5 V ⎓ 0.65 A
Playtime60 Hours (with ANC off, volume 60%)
40 Hours (with ANC on, volume 60%)
Charging time2 hours
Specs from product page.

A purchase of the Soundcore Life Q30 comes with the headset itself, a USB-C charging cable, an AUX 3.5mm cable for using the headset in wired mode, and a shell carrying case to hold the headset and its wires.

Build, Comfort and Features

The Soundcore Life Q30 features a very simple yet smooth build. It sports an all-black body with copper-like trims for the Soundcore logos on ear cup. Your head meets with ultra-soft protein leather cushioning on each ear up and on the bottom of the headband. Memory foam padding sits under the skin of the leather cushioning. Each ear cup also houses dual noise-detecting microphones, which are the driving force of the headset’s Hybrid ANC. The concept is simple; The more sound the headset detects, the more accurate the ANC performs.  

On the left ear cup, you have the USB-C charging port, the power button, an indicator LED, and an NC button. The NC button toggles the headset through its various listening modes: Normal, ANC, and Transparency, which allows you to hear your surroundings.

On the right ear cup, you have a 3.5mm jack, a Play/Pause button, and multi-function plus and minus buttons. Pressing the minus button lowers the headset volume while holding it for a second initiates a Back Track. Likewise, Pressing the plus button raises the headset volume while holding it for a second initiates a Forward Track.  The Play/Pause button’s core function is self-explanatory, but it also can be used to pick up and hang up phone calls.

The right ear cup also features an NFC pairing zone and a touch control around the Soundcore logo. You can use this NFC area to quickly pair your mobile device via Bluetooth. Placing your hand on this area for two seconds toggles the headset into Transparency mode. This gives you yet another option for listening to your surroundings without having to remove the headset.

The Soundcore Life Q30 has a pleasant and subtle appeal to it. It sports an appearance that is not too flashy but is nice to look at once it grabs your attention. It is a very light headset that maintains a gentle yet solid hold on your head. Now that we are experiencing the transitional fall to winter weather in NYC, I found myself wearing the Life Q30 both with and without a hat on. In both instances, the headset remained both comfortable and secure, whether I walked the streets or sat outdoors in a socially-distanced bar. When I used the headset, it was in three to four hour sessions of non-stop wearing. Throughout all of this, I barely noticed any kind of wearing fatigue during those longer listening sessions.

Handling the controls of the Life Q30 was quite easy to get accustomed to as well. The power and NC buttons sit pretty far away from each other on the left ear cup, so there were no mix-ups there. The buttons on the right were also easy to manage, even if the button arrangement is not what I was normally used to. Many Bluetooth headsets choose to put their Play/Pause button in between the plus and minus buttons when the media controls are situated this closely. However, it really took no time at all to develop the muscle memory needed to control my media quickly and effectively.

The right ear cup hand-rest control was a nice touch, pun intended, for toggling the Life Q30’s transparency mode. Whenever someone wanted to talk to me quickly, it was very apparent to them that I was listening to them without removing my headset. After all, this style of touch control for listening to the environment is becoming more mainstream nowadays. It was a nice surprise to see this functionality included in an ANC headset that is at the Life Q30’s price point.

As far as builds go, the Soundcore Life Q30 keeps it simple in the looks and usability departments. Simple is good. Not only is the headset light and comfortable to wear, but it is also easy to control and use without very much of a learning curve.

Sound and Performance

The sound presentation of the Soundcore Life Q30 is pretty solid. Highs and mids have a nice presence to them. Vocals and instrumentals are crisp and clear. However, both of these ranges appear to take a back seat to the lows. Bass is very present in this this headset and in most of the packaged EQ’s that are accessible via the Soundcore app. Do not get me wrong, I do like my bass, and the bass in the majority of the EQs is rich and enjoyable. I also would not label the Life Q30’s bass as overbearing, either. I just would not go around using the Bass Booster EQ with this headset.

Whenever I am reviewing a headset that comes with a set of packaged EQ’s, I usually like to break down how I feel about each EQ. However, the Soundcore companion app gives you 22 packaged EQs. So, I’ll just go over some of the notable ones I focused on the most while I reviewed this headset.

Soundcore Signature – This is the Life Q30’s vanilla EQ, where the sound presentation is as balanced as it gets. If you just use the headset as is, without bothering with the Soundcore app this is what you hear and is what I described above. You have a good sound presentation with a noticeable lean on bass.

Acoustic – This was my go-to EQ. This EQ brought want I wanted to the forefront, the instrumentals. Drums and percussion were crisper and sound presentation overall became louder. The already strong bass stayed strong.

Bass Booster – Since the bass was as noticeably present as it was, I just had to see what Bass Booster did. Here, the bass gets a pinch of a boost, while the other ranges get a good bit suppressed. Since I got the bass I wanted, from Soundcore Signature and Acoustic modes, this mode did not do much for me. Strangely enough, I found that Classical mode gave a similar feel to this one, but it did not suppress the other ranges as strongly as this one did.

Bass Reducer – I would think that since the bass has the forefront with many of these EQ’s, I would use Bass Reducer EQ to tone that back. Indeed, it does just that. If you want a very suppressed bass, then you have it here, where the other ranges stay at the level that they were in Soundcore Signature. It was not for me, but it is cool that the option is there.

Spoken Word – It is now the baseball offseason, where I find myself listening to podcasts to hear about Mets roster moves and whatnot. So, this gave me a use case to try out this EQ in a non-music listening scenario. It does its job and keeps spoken word clear and easy to ingest. However, so does Soundcore Signature. That said, I can either take or leave this EQ.

Custom EQ – If you think you can do a better job at creating an EQ that is better than the pre-packaged 22, have at it! While I rarely find myself customizing my EQ’s on my headset, it is a feature that I have come to expect out of any wireless headset in the market today. Therefore, I am glad to see it here as well.

The features of the Soundcore companion app extend past EQ management. The app also manages firmware updates, features a Sleep Mode, and allows you toggle between the Life Q30’s three different ANC modes. The Sleep Mode offers you different options in artificial ambient sounds that you can leave playing to help you sleep.

As for the ANC modes, you have Transport, for targeting low-end frequencies like engine and road noise. You have Indoor for mid-range sounds like vocal chatter. Lastly, you have Outdoor for targeting quieter city spaces.

The ANC on the Soundcore Life Q30 is quite effective. As many of us are, my girlfriend and I are working from home, next to each other and at the same time. She has her favorite shows on the TV next to my desk. Indoor ANC mode not only suppressed the sounds of the TV while I worked, but also the sounds from construction happening across the street, right outside of my window. Whenever I was outside at my usual outdoor and socially-distanced bar, Outdoor ANC mode allowed me to quietly enjoy my videos with a side of drinks. Thanks to COVID, I am not riding many trains to the office to properly vet the Transport ANC mode. However, I was still plenty satisfied with how the ANC performed on the Life Q30.

Going further, the dual mics on the Life Q30 do more than drive the headset’s Hybrid ANC capabilities. They also work in tandem to allow for some clear phone calls as well. I had a couple of 10 to 15-minute calls with the Life Q30 as I walked the streets. In each call, my call participants had no trouble hearing me loud and clear, even with the occasional car and siren sounds that would pass me by.

The battery life and performance of the Life Q30 is especially impressive. Sporting a max playtime of 40 hours on a full charge is one thing. However, being able to get four hours of use from a five-minute charge is simply awesome. If you are looking to go outside for a couple of hours, but you forgot to charge the Life Q30, five minutes of charging will hold you off for a very respectable amount of time.

Final Thoughts

The Soundcore Life Q30 headset is a great buy at $79.99. You get a good sound presentation backed by a set of features that you would expect from a headset that is well over $100. The ANC on the Life Q30 makes it a solid solution for both work from home and outdoor dining scenarios. Backed by that ANC, the Life Q30’s call quality makes the headset into a respectable video call solution as well. The included shell case for travel and easy-to-use companion app top off a very impresive product for this price point.

Do check out the Soundcore Life Q30 for yourself by clicking here.

From product page

† As usual, there are no affiliate links contained within this post. We were provided a Soundcore Life Q30 review unit for review purposes and were not compensated for this review.