soundcore Space A40 and Q45 Headphone Review – Insane Value at Any Size
soundcore by Anker has been impressing us with their offerings lately. When they announced that they were releasing a new line of headphones, we had to give them a try. The soundcore Space headphones feature the $100 A40 in-ear along with the $150 Q45 over-ear model. Both sport active noise canceling, long battery life, and a world-class app. Let’s take a closer look.
souncore Space Q45 and A40 Headphone Specs
soundcore Space Headphones Overview
If you couldn’t tell by the title, the Space line of headphones redefines value in active noise canceling headphones. I try to always review gear “blind” to the price. If I find out the price beforehand, that’s fine. But I certainly don’t go looking for the pricing. In this case, I had no idea how much these headphones cost when I sat down to actually write up this review. If you had told me they were double their MSRP, I would have still thought they were worth the cost.
If you are looking for the TL;DR version of this review – buy them. They sound great, they are more comfortable than they have any right to be, and they have insane battery life. The Active Noise Canceling is phenomenal, the app makes these easily customizable for your sound preferences, and the controls are easy to learn and also customizable.
The rest of this review is going to be a combination of me gushing over the soundcore Space A40 and Q45 headphones and me struggling to find something to complain about.
I’m convinced that soundcore has the best control app for their headphones on the market. I’ve dealt with a lot of different apps, and the soundcore app is the only one that just works. I’ve included a few pics of the app below from both the headphones, but know that there is much more that this app can do.
The big selling point is that the app just makes sense. You can control the ANC (Active Noise Canceling) from the front page of the app (the most used control) plus the app has a ton of preset EQ configurations. The graphic at the top of the app tells you exactly what the EQ is doing to the sound. You also have a custom EQ that you can preset.
The app gives you tons of other controls as well, You can change what the buttons/inputs do. You can enable LDAC for high-quality streaming. You can even view the manual (and zoom in). Most importantly, any setting you select is remembered. You won’t have to go back into the app to reselect everything every time you power up the headphones. I couldn’t like this app more. My one suggestion is that you open the app occasionally. I constantly find new features that I either hadn’t adjusted or didn’t realize were available. The app is very powerful and deep. It’ll take some time to explore it all.
soundcore Space A40 In-Ear ANC Headphones
The soundcore Space A40 in-ear headphones have all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a wireless earphone. They have capacitance touch controls, a small form factor, and a reasonable (10-hour, 50 with the case) battery life. To test out the latter, I used the A40s while I was re-painting my home theater. After years of living with a color I hated (seen in this article), I finally took my own advice and painted my theater gray.
I used the A40s the entire time (cutting in took over four hours alone). The battery wasn’t quite at half when I was done (I mostly used the headphones in transparency mode but did use ANC occasionally). Most importantly, they were incredibly comfortable. It is no exaggeration to say that these are the most comfortable in-ear monitors I’ve ever used. They weigh next to nothing (soundcore claims the weight of a piece of paper) so it doesn’t take much to keep them in your ear.
That said, they are very small. This is great for aesthetics when they are in your ear, but not so great for handling them. They are hard to get into your ear and are fiddly to get back into their case. Given their small size you’d think that it would be impossible to insert them into your ear without activating one of the controls. That’s not untrue. But with a little practice, I found out it was totally possible to get the A40’s in and out without accidentally skipping a song.
soundcore Space ANC and Transparency Modes
soundcore claims the Space A40 and Q45 headphones have the ability to block out 98% of distracting noise. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to test that, but the ANC does work very well. With the Q45 headphones, you can select either adaptive or custom ANC. Adaptive adjusts based on outside noise. With custom, you can select up to five levels of noise canceling. At level 4, I routinely wouldn’t know people were talking to me. The A40s had a similar setup. This is easily some of the best ANC I’ve used.
Transparency mode was similar. Both headphones had options for “Talk” or “Voice” mode along with a custom setting. While other headphones I’ve used with Transparency modes had had problems with accentuating wind and other specific sounds, the soundcore Space headphones did not. On top of that, the adjustments meant you could dial in, to a certain extent, what sounds were let in. For example, I noticed that my mechanical keyboard’s “clicks” would come through a little harshly with full Transparency. Selecting the voice or talk option limited this.
soundcore Q45 Over-Ear Headphones
The soundcore Q45 over-ear headphones are a treat. One common complaint I have about on or over-ear headphones is clamping pressure. There is a delicate balance between a headphone that is too loose so that it slides around and one that is so tight as to be uncomfortable. The Q45s have found that perfect balance. They stay on your head even when moving quickly (I didn’t exercise with them) but are comfortable for very long listening sessions.
The Q45s have an insane 50-hour life with ANC on (65 with it off). Flying around the world? Want to take headphones and not worry about charging them? These are the headphones for you. They include a semi-firm carrying case and a cable for hardwiring your headphones to your computer or phone (if you can). No capacitance control with the Q45s. It is physical buttons only. Most of them are hardwired but one can be customized by the app.
My one complaint is, and you can tell I’m nitpicking here, the charging light. When you plug the headphones in to charge, a red light comes on. But there is no light or indication that lets you know when the charging is done or how much battery you have left. When you power them on, a voice will tell you the battery status, but you can’t see anything when charging.
Space Sound Quality
It’s hard to really complain or compliment the sound quality of headphones that have customizable EQ settings. As always, I used the custom EQ setting with all the sliders set to “flat.” Both the soundcore Space Q45 and A40 headphones sounded remarkably flat and linear. Playing sweeps, both had authoritative bass and extension. The Q45s seemed to feel a bit more bass-forward but that was likely because of the nature of over-ear versus in-ear headphones.
Music presentation sounded well-balanced and natural. Podcasts and audiobooks were represented as they were recorded. If something was well recorded, it sounded that way. If it wasn’t…well, you heard that too. Let’s put it this way, for the price tag, if these were simple wired headphones (no ANC, Bluetooth, or the rest of that), they’d still be considered a value on sound quality alone. The soundcore Space Q45 and A40 headphones sound as good as any headphone I’ve heard at their price point and higher.
At $100 for the A40 and $150 for the Q45 headphones, there is really nothing to complain about with the soundcore Space lineup. If I have one complaint, it isn’t about these headphones specifically. It is about soundcore. I’ve gotten to the point with this company that I’m almost mad at them for being so good. Every product they’ve sent me has been an incredible value, and phenomenal performer, and has surpassed all my expectations. I’m starting to feel like a fanboy. And I don’t like it.
These headphones are sure to become your daily drivers. That’s the long and short of it. There is nothing in their price point that I’ve tested that comes close. I’m sure there are reviewers that will find something to complain about. It’s sort of our thing. But believe me when I tell you that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that sounds as good and with as much customization and control as the soundcore Space A40 and Q45 headphones.