Noise-cancellation on the cheap with the Anker Soundcore Life 2 [hands-on]

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When shopping for over-the-ear styled headphones, consumers typically know that there’s going to be an extra premium if they’re looking for something that’s accompanied with noise-cancellation. Usually it’s a couple hundred dollars for a decent pair, but what if we told you that you can pick one up on the cheap – like for a mere $80? You’d probably think we’re joking, but that’s the cost for the Soundcore Life 2 by Anker.

So yeah, this over-the-ear pair of headphones feature noise cancellation, which can quickly be activated by the push of the dedicated “NC” button fashioned into the left earcup. Now, as much as we’re delighted by this, just know that it’s a bit weak. Even with the plush cushion and snug fit around the headband and earcups, there’s already a subtle level of noise isolation when they’re worn. However, the noise cancellation feature does very little to cancel out ambient noise.

Even though it technically does tone down some of the noise, it’s nowhere as deep or effective as some of the other big named headphones out there. Take for example the Bang & Olufson Beoplay H9i headphones, which feels as though we’re wearing construction grade earmuffs – you know, that feeling like your ears are being suctioned. We really don’t get that kind of feeling when using the noise cancellation feature with the Soundcore Life 2.

Despite that, however, we’ll admit that the audio quality has a good punchy tone. It’s not overly bass-heavy like some other headphones, allowing audio in the mid and high ranges to be discernable. On top of that, we do appreciate that it features on-board controls for pause, play, and volume adjustment, 30 hours of battery life with ANC on, and comes included with a handy hard-shell traveling case.

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With its price point of $80, the Soundcore Life 2 by Anker will certainly attract people who are on a tight budget, especially with the promise of noise cancellation, but there’s no hiding the ineffectiveness of the feature – indicating why there’s such a huge separation in price against other brands. Even the overall construction is indicative of its price. With its mostly plastic construction, it’s undeniable that we're dealing with a budget option.

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