Soundcore Life NC aka Journey U (Review)

I have beta tested this product for over 5 months. This product was initially called Life NC then changed the name to Journey U and back to Life NC again at the launch. You can see the product packaging I have is named Journey U but the Soundcore app recognizes it as Life NC. There is no UPC number or final FCC id on the box either.

Product Packaging:
It comes in classic white and blue Anker box. Outside there are pictures of product as well as some of the features highlighted. Once the box is opened like a book it shows the actual headphone in a molded product casing. This is where it becomes really weird to pull the headphone out. In my case (an early beta version but still a retail packaging) headphones are held in this casing way too tightly and you need to be very careful not to rip any wires or cause scratches to the headphone while taking it out. Anker may have changed it and I did report this issue to them very early on. Underneath the headphone case you will find a padded soft case of the headphone. This case has a zipped pocket in it (pretty cool) where all the accessories are kept. This includes charging cable, 4’ long micro-usb to 3.5mm airline adapter cable (more on that later) and some tips and earwings. Inside the box there is also a user manual. There was no happy/unhappy card or warranty card? Don’t know the reason for that but my unit came directly from China rather than Amazon USA.

It contains standard eartips (XS/S/M/L/XL) and Earwings (XS/S/M/L) and a microusb charging cable “no surprises here”
Surprise is a microusb to 3.5 mm audio cable (this is 4 ft long cable) - There is no mention of this in user manual but on top of box it says an airline adapter. By plugging this cable to headphone microusb charging port, the bluetooth is disabled and headphones work without power (just like a standard wired earphones). This is really cool to have when you are travelling and there is either a no bluetooth use permitted or you run out of juice from headphones.

Fit and Feel:
Headphones are really lightweight and are flexible. The part of headphone that goes behind neck is really soft and flexible (it is not hard plastic) that makes putting on or removing very easy. Earphone part is magnetic (awesome Anker) and can be held together when not in use.

Headphone Features and Performance:
Input : 5V, 500mA
Charging Time : 2 hours (via micro-usb port)
Play Time: 10 hours (ANC on); 15 hours (ANC off)
Waterproof Rating : IPX5
Weight : 60.5 g / 2.1 oz
Impedance : 16 Ohms
Driver (Full Range) : 12 mm x 2
Frequency Response : 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Bluetooth Version : 5.0
Range : 10 m / 33 ft

When turned on or off this headphone vibrates strongly. When call comes in it vibrates as well (this is a great feature). Headphones have 4 microphones for better performance (2 on each side). On the left side of band there are power button and play/pause button. Power button also doubles as mode button. Play/pause button also doubles as call answer/reject. On the right side of band there are volume +/- buttons which also doubles as forward/skip button (long press).
These headphones by default turns on with ANC on. Pressing mode button once takes it to transparency mode (where outside sounds are transmitted to ears using the 4 microphones). Pressing it again brings the normal mode (transparency and ANC off). Mode button cycles between ANC/Transparency/Normal mode with each press. A female voice announces the mode it is on (very helpful).
Performance is spectacular on these. These have 12 mm drivers and produce a great quality sound. With ANC on you can reduce the listening volume. In transparency mode, volume doesn’t increase beyond certain maximum (possibly 50%). Normal mode is just like ANC but without ANC.
Bass is very good in both ANC and Normal mode. Mid and Treble are very well defined and I can hear all the instruments being played with wide soundstage.
Transparency mode is an awesome feature. This is for environments where you need to hear outside sounds. Once activated you can continue conversation without taking out the earplugs from your ears. It can come really handy if you are commuting or are in a public place or office and need to hear outside sounds.

Sound and Call Quality:
The most important aspect of these headphones is for listening music etc and for phone conversations. These headphone shines in both departments. It has stunning sound quality and with more control over bass using the app, you can fine tune it to your exact liking. Call quality is also top notch. No issues from either end.

Simultaneous connection with 2 devices:
This earphone is capable to simultaneously connect to 2 devices. Pair the earbuds with first device, then press the mode button twice to reenter the pairing mode to pair with second device. Any calls from both devices will be taken through the earbuds. If you want to change device to listen to music, pause the current music on current device and then play to listen to music on other device.

Battery Level Indicator:
When connected with iOS this headphone reports battery level to the phone (even without using Soundcore app).

Corresponding App (Soundcore App):
This works with Soundcore App from App store. This app also interacts with Flare, Flare+, Model Zero, Model Zero+, Flare S+ and this (Life NC).
In App you see battery level bar and a picture of Life NC. Below are 3 buttons. First is Wave Equalizer (Original, Bass Boost, Office); second is max volume limiter and 3rd is customize button to fine tune play button. Finally there are 3 dots at the bottom which gives option to update firmware and shows connected devices.

Other Observations:
When connected to iPhone and Soundcore App it shows 2 connections (with same name).

About Bluetooth Chip and Performance Benchmarks:
This headphone has a CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio owned by Qualcomm) chip but still has no aptX support. This only supports AAC and SBC codecs. Its throughput rate is 256 kb/s. See the audio graph below.


Top quality, in depth review Kumar! I appreciate the photos and the time that you spent writing this fantastic piece. :clap:t2::ok_hand:t2:


This is the way we would like to see reviews.
Great job you did. :grinning:

One thing I have to mention:
Beside the poor configurations you find at the application,
there is much more to improve using a professional equalizer! :wink:

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Great review! @kumar.sachin

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Nice review! Keep it up!

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@kumar.sachin yes finally we can read your review on this Long time awaited product. Great review, and I have to honestly say I’m glad you really liked this and that the sound quality is so good. I imagine the 12mm driver is key here and the chip to bring everything together.

As far as the transparency mode, you said it worked great? So is it far better and more refined than what came in the liberty+… As in Anker went back to the drawing board and figured out how to make it work right?

Yes I really like the sound quality. 12 mm drivers really does make a difference.
For the transparency mode I don’t have Liberty+ to compare. I have Liberty which don’t have transparency.
From what I read online, to use the transparency mode on Liberty+ you need to use the app? (I’m not sure about this so may be you can correct me).
On Life NC the mode button (on left side of the band) cycles between ANC, Transparency and Normal mode which is very very easy to use. Just press the mode button and you are in transparency mode (no going into the app). Press is again and you are out of it into Normal mode. Press it again and you are back to ANC mode.
Another good thing is that you can skip the Soundcore app all-together and still these are fully functional headphone (without the added equalizer modes).

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On the liberty+ you can enter transparency mode without the app, it’s long press the right earbud control. And my apologies as I thought you had the liberty+.
Either way it sounds like they made it much better and I can’t wait to eventually try these.

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Nice to know about transparency activation on Liberty+.
I like the transparency mode a lot on these. Actually looking at all the features Anker packed on these headphone, there are surprisingly only 4 buttons to operate (2 on each side) and once you get used to it, switching between modes is instantaneous.

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Excellent in depth review @kumar.sachin :thumbsup:


Very nicely done, reviews like this are supremely helpful when buying products one is unsure about.


@kumar.sachin This is one of the best reviews yet! Very detailed with specific information on fit, form, and function and photos do positively assist your review! Awesome job! Now the waiting game for a discounted price on these earbuds


Well done. :slight_smile:


Great review and photos! Good job!! :clap:

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Excellent review.

Have you had chance to test actual battery life against claimed 10 hours?

How good is noise cancelation relative to something else?

I typically use it in normal mode (ANC off) and yes it does go beyond 10 hours easy (cannot say the exact number). I typically recharge whenever I see it below 30%. Noise cancellation is really good (being in-ear helps it a lot) but you will need to play something to totally drown out the outside (albeit at much lower volume).

Please describe the situations you tested noise cancelation, some reviewers place a microphone inside the cam to illustrate on video reviews. I mention as I am looking for exactly this type of product (when it gets $60 which is 50% discount we will patiently expect)

Great review and congrats on being selected for the beta testing. This looks like a great product.

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I don’t have very sophisticated equipment to do the noise cancellation tests. These are my subjective tests with background noise of TV, Washer and Dryer, Heat Furnace, Talking Wife, etc.
I know some reviewers put a microphone inside of a can (Over ear type). That won’t be practical in in-ear type buds.

Do you own any other NC items to relatively compare? I use Bose Qc35 and these Soundcore are in theory a perfect answer to me if the NC is up there. Just spent hours in a flight with my Bose, what NC does is reduce that inexplicable exhaustion from flying. Also around anyone under the age of 50 block their “music”