Review: The TaoTronics SoundLiberty earbuds pack plenty of features at a budget price
Stick some of these in your earholes.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 and SoundLiberty 92 true wireless earbuds don’t have much to offer. They retail at $59.99 and $39.99 respectively (although I’m not sure about that pricing, given that the 92s look better on paper).
With this relatively inexpensive price point, you might be wondering how the headphones perform. Surely, they can’t be that good?
Well, these little buds would surprise you. They pack in plenty of features that some earbuds that cost five times as much can’t manage. So, how do they perform? Let’s take a look at what both pairs of these earbuds can do.
In terms of how they look, both the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 and 92 are what we would term “half in-ear.” This means they sit inside your ear but don’t actually enter the ear canal. I normally don’t like this kind of earbud. I generally don’t find them to be secure in my ears, so it was surprising when the SoundLiberty 88 and 92 remained resolutely secure in my ear during listening. Perhaps TaoTronics has a convert, here?
As mentioned, they are half in-ear and, in addition to this, each earbud has a microphone stem extending from the bottom. This stem also has the contacts for charging the headphones when they’re inside the case, with a microphone at the bottom for making and taking calls. The brand logo at the top of the stem conceals a haptic multi-function button. This has a range of uses that I will talk about in more detail later. The inside of the stem has an LED indicator to illustrate when the earbuds are pairing/paired with your Bluetooth device.
Both come in a black, plastic charging case. This charges the headphones when you pop them back in, providing it has charge itself. The case for the 88s has a footprint of 57 × 57 mm and a height of 26 mm. Pretty small. The case for the 92s is even smaller, with a footprint of only 57 × 55 mm and a height of 23 mm. This means you can pop either pair in your pocket or bag and you’ll barely notice they exist.
The case for the 88 headphones opens like a clamshell. The lid has a TaoTronics logo, with the front of the case carrying the four indicator lights for charging purposes. Round the back, we have the USB-C port, used for charging with the included USB-C cable. The 92 headphone case opens also carries a clamshell design, although you access this with the case stood up, rather than laid flat. The headphones then drop into a recess that extends all the way to the bottom of the case. Again, this has four LED indicators and a USB-C charging port.
Using them is easy as pie
Given that the headphones are Bluetooth and they have a multi-function button, operating the SoundLiberty 88 and SoundLiberty 92 earbuds couldn’t be easier. Taking them out of the case, for the first time, immediately puts them into pairing mode. It is then just a matter of jumping into your device’s Bluetooth settings and pairing up with them. Subsequent removal of the headphones from the case will connect them to your Bluetooth device straight away. I connected them to my smartphone and had no problem with pairing or using the headphones at all.
As mentioned, they also have a haptic control on the outside of each stem (where the logo sits). In the case of both the 88 and 92 earbuds, control methods using the haptic multi-function button (MFB) are the same. Playback is controlled by tapping the touch control twice when music is playing. The headphones can also sense when they have been removed, so will pause the music then, too. To increase the volume you press and hold the MFB for three seconds on the right earbud. Decreasing volume is achieved by performing the same action on the left earbud.
To skip forward a track you tap the right earbud three times. If you want to skip back, perform the same action with the left earbud. To answer a call, you just need to tap either earbud once. To hang up you tap and hold the control on either earbud for two seconds. Declining a call uses the same gesture. You can also set up voice control by tapping and holding the MFB on either earbud; you will hear a confirmation when setup is complete. And that is it – very easy to use.
It should be noted that both sets of TaoTronics earbuds carry a very impressive IPX8 ingress protection rating. This means you could drop them in a swimming pool and leave them there for thirty minutes without them seeing any damage. This is in comparison to the less-than-impressive IPX4 rating that Apple’s AirPod 2 headphones come with, at a third of the price, too. Stick that in your pipe, Apple! With this in mind, they’re perfect for the gym and outdoor training, as well as general listening.
How do they perform?
Well, let’s face it, a pair of $39/$59 earbuds are never going to be giving you Sennheiser quality. However, I found the sound quality to be pretty good considering the price point. It is clear that TaoTronics has gone for emphasis on bass, here. The 88s have a 10mm high fidelity dynamic driver, while the 92s have 13mm PU + Protein Membrane drivers. These both deliver deep bass sounds, which I am a fan of.
Because of this emphasis on bass, the headphones do lack somewhat in the midrange, but I don’t listen to a huge amount of vocal music so this wasn’t so much of a bother for me. Treble wasn’t overstated either, but I could hear it clearly when I was playing techno music so that works for me. In all, the headphones sound better than what you would expect at this price point.
Battery wise, you are getting a total of 25 hours with the 88s and 30 hours with the 92s. I found this to be true in both cases. Each set of headphones is capable of storing up to five hours of continuous playback charge in their on-board battery. Again, having tested the headphones I can confirm this is the case. Charging the case takes a couple of hours in each instance. Bluetooth range is also pretty good, dropping out at 15m in a straight line test – decent for inexpensive headphones.
Should I grab a pair of these TaoTronics earbuds?
At this price? Absolutely! You really can’t complain about having a pair of TW earbuds at under 60 smacks, can you? The sound quality isn’t amazing on these offerings from TaoTronics but they are ideal for use when exercising, or if you want an inexpensive pair of headphones for commuting. Just don’t be expecting audiophile quality headphones.
If you would like to test the market and see what else is available, then check out some of the best water-resistant earbuds for your workout. However, at this price, you can’t go wrong with the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 or 92 true-wireless earbuds.
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