Another Soundcore review! This time we have the Liberty 3 Pro. Let’s see what I think?
Disclaimer: Soundcore has not paid or sponsored me for this review. This is an unbiased review and the views and opinions in this publication are my own. I’d like to thank Lorna & Soundcore for kindly sending these True Wireless IEMs out to The Audiophile Cafe for review.
Review equipment and software: Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. iPhone XS Max. Qobuz Studio Premier. Apple Music for Android.
Music: Various albums on Apple Music and Qobuz Studio Premier.
What’s in this box: Liberty 3 Pro Noise Isolating Earbuds. One charging case. Ear tips in 4 sizes. Ear-Wings in 4 sizes. USB-C charging cable. Kindly enclosed letter from my contact. Sweeties.
All beautifully presented and in this particular case, a lovely letter and some sweets were included!
Spec: Codec TechnologyCodec Technology. Multipoint Connection. Golden sound via 10.6mm coaxial dual driver technology (ACAA 2.0) and personalized active noise. cancelling (HearID ANC). LDAC, AAC, SBCLDAC, AAC, SBC. Batterys 8/32 hours. Charge for 15 minutes, listen for 3 hours. 6 microphones with AI-uplink noise reduction. HearID personalized sound, 3D surround sound, IPX4 waterproof. Commute, work from home, business calls, workout.
Build & finish: As I have expected from Soundcore, the L3 Pro’s are outstanding. From the packaging to the accessories and on to the IEMs and charger themselves, everything is well presented and finished to a high standard. The IEMs stay put when trying to shake them out of the charging case. They would not budge an mm when putting them through the head-shaking test. So far, I’m impressed! The charging case is also built extremely well, looks stylish and premium with a pebble-like design and is a nice fit in the pocket. All of the accessories included do not escape from being top-notch. They also are designed and manufactured in a luxury finish.
Software & functionality: Like other high-end Soundcore devices, the L3P benefit from utilizing Soundcore’s companion app, available on both iOS & Android. An update was required at the time to accommodate the new IEMs and all went smoothly. The software is intuitive and straightforward to use and offers us a generous amount of settings and tweaks. The pairing was a breeze on both platforms & remained stable at all times. Soundcore has developed a fantastic active noise cancelling system that in my mind equals Apple’s AirPods Pro. Take note that up until now, no other ANC system has managed this, not in my opinion anyway. The settings for the ANC system are abundant but as earlier stated, easy to understand and use
Comfort: I found the L3Ps to be luxurious and comfortable in my ears. Wearing them for 2 or more hours was a fab experience with no discomfort or fatigue. They’re one of those IEMs that disappear once you have them in your ears and the supplied “hooks” ensure that they stay where you want them to at all times. The ear tips are smooth to the touch and have no burs or rough edges anywhere to be seen.
Sound: Seeing as these have been reviewed by numerous professionals in the audio trade in one way or another, I thought I would don my ex-club & EDM DJ & Radio tech hat. The soundstage is wide and super focused with exceptional separation of instruments and vocals. Soundcore has managed to create a tonality that is rich yet neutral. The bass is tight and controlled and hits hard when needed. It also reaches low, yet does so without losing any clarity. The midrange is sharp and detailed with a smooth and natural foundation. finally, we have the highs, which are crisp and clinically precise without sounding too bright or harsh in any way. What we end up with is a detailed yet lively listening experience which works well with any genre of music. Is the sound quality what I would consider “Audiophile”? Absolutely. And for the first time since I’ve been working as a reviewer, I would say these are the first pair of True Wireless IEMs with built-in ANC that have managed this.
Final thoughts: At $174.91 the Liberty 3 Pro’s are an astonishing pair of True Wireless IEMs that boast a full suite of functions in tandem with audiophile-level sound quality. They pull this off while performing way past their price point. The Audiophile Cafe awards the L3P a 5-star award couldn’t recommend them enough! Whether you’re a professional, enthusiast or novice you won’t go wrong picking these.
Thanks: A massive thank you to Lorna and Soundcore for sending these out and for being so very patient with me. And of course, thank you to all of my readers! Please don’t forget to follow, like, subscribe and share.
I’m writing these two up as one review as they are both similar in a lot of ways and I wouldn’t want to write two reviews where I appear to repeat myself a lot! Here are my thoughts in regards to two very impressive products…
From left to right we have the RS201e & the RS250.
Disclaimer: Simon at Henley Audio and the team at HiFi Rose kindly allowed me to review both of these items and have been extremely patient while I catch up on a backlog. Although I am sponsored by Henley Audio, the thoughts and opinions in this review are my own honest take on these two devices.
Both the RS250 & RS201e can be found at Henley Audio & I will leave links to both just below.
Review equipment & software: HiFi Rose RS250. HiFi Rose RS201e. iPad Pro running Rose software. Technics SL1200 MKII. Ortofon Quintet Red. Musical Fidelity Vinyl. Cyrus ONE. ( In AV/Power amp mode ) Bowers & Wilkins DM601 / S3. Ophidian Minimo 2. Ophidian Mojo 2. Klipsch The Fives. Airpulse A200. Edifier S3000 Pro. Q Acoustics Q3060s. STAX SRM-252s. STAX SR-L300. Sennheiser HD820s. Sennheiser HD600. Grado SR125. HIFIMAN Deva. Various IEMs.
Audiowalle TP1000 mains conditioners. All cables are supplied by AFAudio.
Music: A plethora of Hi-Res files on Qobuz Studio Premier. Various Hi-Res files on my home network. A mix of genres on vinyl.
What’s in the box:
HiFi Rose RS250. Bluetooth remote. Mains cable. AAA Battery x2. SSD mounting screws x4. Documentation.
HiFis Rose RS201e. Bluetooth remote. AC adaptor. AAA Battery x2. SSD mounting screws x4. Screwdriver. Documentation.
Both packages from Hi-Fi Rose / Henley Audio arrived safely and well packed. HiFi Rose includes everything you could want to get started, including the Bluetooth remote. If you’re like me, and you’re one of those people who ignore the instruction manual a lot… Please take my advice and DON’T skip the manual to either of these devices. The feature set and functionality are vast and having the manual handy will make your life a lot easier in the long run!
Below you see the RS201e being unboxed. The RS250 comes in the same packaging.
Build quality: HiFi Rose was an unknown brand to me before I was sent these two devices to review, so I was unsure what to expect. I was not disappointed with either the RS250 or the RS201e. Aside from one having an onboard integrated amplifier, the other a Hi-Res sticker and two different volume controls, these two are almost identical in the way they look. And they look stunning! The subtle lines and silver finish compliment my system perfectly, fitting in with my aesthetic. Both units have some heft to them and the build quality is second to none. Everything from the volume knobs to the connections around the rear is solid and robust, including the well thought out SSD trap doors and mounting hardware. The screens are nicely fitted, smooth to touch and have a fast and natural feeling response. The display quality is superb and the settings can be tweaked. I could be here all day as the list of functions these two devices have is almost endless, but I would like to note that font size can be increased so that the screen is easier to view from across the room. This was one thing I was concerned about due to my slightly impaired vision, knowing this would also be a flag for a few friends of mine who have moderate to severe visual impairment. I’d like to say that this was something that wasn’t a problem. Being able to use the app makes life so much easier anyway! Unfortunately, the photos here don’t do the display any justice. The top row images are of the RS250 and the bottom row the RS201e.
Setup/app: You’re going to want to put some time aside for this. And you want to have the manual handy.
As long as you follow the manual, setup is easy and the time it takes will depend on your intentions for the device. If you’re fitting a hard drive, I would do this first as you will need to access the trap door on the underside of the unit. Fitting a drive is easy and takes no time at all. The RS250 and RS201e both run on Android operating systems so be sure to upgrade the software before going any further.
The RS250 and 201e differ here in a few ways. For example, the RS201e has a built-in EQ whereas the RS250 does not. You will also notice that the VU meters on the RS250 will respond to any source, whether digital or analogue. The VU meters on the RS201e will only come to life when streaming digital content. This is not a fault, as I made the mistake of thinking when first noticing it.
Both units have a plethora of inputs and outputs so connectivity isn’t going to be an issue, whichever one you choose. Just bear in mind that the RS201e has an integrated amplifier as well as a streamer, DAC, preamp & headphone amplifier. It does however lose the coax input that the RS250 sports.
Hifi Rose supplies a Bluetooth remote and a remote app that goes along with your RS of choice. The Bluetooth remote is easy to pair and remains stable once connected. The app is available on iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows and is relatively easy to get up and running. You can do almost everything from the comfort of your listening spot, however, some of the deeper menu options and settings will need to be accessed on the device itself. From the app, you can access a number of streaming services as well as your own network and music sources. Personally, I use Qobuz and this is one of the services available within the HiFi Rose app. One thing I would like to note here is Apple Music and airplay. You won’t be able to access either through the software, however, you are able to stream from Apple Music to your device through airplay. Internet radio is accessible with a fair amount of stations at your fingertips.
They had no problems feeding any of the active speaker systems with a good solid signal. It helps that both can be switched from pre-out to line out. I was able to run my Cyrus ONE as an integrated amplifier and as a power amp in its AV mode. Whether you are going to be running one of these through speakers, active speakers or headphones, you’re covered.
I will leave this section here as if I went into any more detail I could possibly be here all day!
Sound: And here we come to the most important part of any audio review. How does it sound? Or in this case, how do “they” sound? As you can see in my gear listing, I had the opportunity & privilege to test both of these out with a wide selection of amps, speakers, active speakers and headphones, along with a wide and varied selection of music from different sources.
There are differences in the way both perform dependent on whether the source is digital or analogue, however, both performed exceptionally well with great dynamic range, spacious soundstage, depth and phenomenal separation. Highs are beautifully crisp and sparkly and the mids are quite flat but sound natural and silky smooth. Bass reproduction was fast, full-bodied and textured with sharp definition. As a streamer, DAC, preamp and headphone amplifier they both create a detailed, lively tone. This can be expanded on further again with the RS201e using the onboard EQ, although I will state here that I found that I prefer the RS201e with the EQ off. But that’s down to personal preference.
With the RS201e also being an integrated amplifier I need to touch on its performance driving passive speakers. I paired the amp with the Bowers & Wilkins DM601 / S3, Ophidian Minimo 2 & Ophidian Mojo 2. The B&Ws were on speaker stands only. Both pairs of Ophidian speakers are bookshelf size so I tried them out both on the stands and on my shelves in my office space. I compared this also to using my Cyrus ONE in AV mode. The RS201e is a capable integrated amp and ran all three sets of speakers into decent listening levels without breaking a sweat. Although the Cyrus ONE has more power here, it can’t quite match the RS201e in terms of overall sound quality and listening experience and seemed to take away from the enjoyment of listening to the HiFi Rose.
Out of the passive speakers I tested, the Ophidian Mojo II were the clear winner for me with a tight, punchy performance that made me want to keep coming back for more.
I have also been able to demo mainly three pairs of active speaker systems with both devices. Airpulse’s A200, the Edifier S3000 Pro & most recently Klipsch’s “The Fives”. ( Please note that the RS250 was returned prior to the Klipsch system arriving )
I would rate The Fives the best performer here with the sharpest sound signature and being able to fill my listening space with a lively sound and superior 3D image. Bear in mind, all performed and sounded amazing here. The Fives just took the edge in this regard.
I did demo all configurations with and without my Q Acoustics Q3060s sub. The sub made the most sense with the Ophidian Minimo II speakers as they have the least presence of bass out of the 6 speaker setups I tried out.
In the “Headphone and IEM” rounds I would put the following items as the best performers:
STAX SR-L300. These aren’t a clear winner as they’re currently the only over-ear electrostatic ear speakers I have here. But my oh my did they sound amazing paired with the RS250 and RS201e!
Sennheiser HD820s. These get a lot of beef in the community but I have a fondness for them. Both devices drove the HD820s really well and made them sing.
Meze Audio Rai Penta. I used the RS250 as part of my review of the Rai Pentas and they sounded superb when connected to this device, outperforming every other amplification method I used. It introduced me to a newfound love of driving IEMs with full-sized amplifiers.
Final thoughts: These are two extremely well made and exquisite looking devices. Their functionality is vast and nicely implemented. Once set up they are straightforward & enjoyable to use. The companion app is thoroughly designed and its connection is fast and stable. The aesthetics are further boosted with some properly cool VU meters. I specifically like a certain “blue” VU meter and believe it would help either device fit in with a McIntosh system quite nicely. All of this aside, they both sound fabulous and the RS201e is especially a very capable and high performance integrated amplifier. Are they both worth their respective price tags? Absolutely, without question. And I do believe they come in at less than a lot of the competition.
I enjoyed them both enough that I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the RS201e. I would have bought the RS250 just as easily. My deciding factor was the integrated amplifier on the RS201e.
Thanks: A huge thank you to my readers for staying with me and continuing to support the blog. Please remember to like, follow, subscribe and share. A massive thank you to Simon, Molly and Kathryn at Henley Audio and to HiFi Rose for giving me this opportunity to review two amazing products!
Music: Hi-Res files on Qobuz. Various albums on vinyl.
What’s in the box: Ophidian Mojo 2 x2. Front grills x2. Documentation.
Frequency response – 52hz to 25khz (-3dB). Sensitivity – 86dB (2.83v). Recommended power – 40 to 120 watts. Impedance – 4 ohms. Dimensions – 286mm H x 158mm W x 220mm D (including grilles). Weight – 4.4kg. Available finishes – Oak or Walnut. Dual 115mm coated paper midbass with powerful motor systems. 27mm neodymium high frequency unit with a Sonolex coated fabric diaphragm. AEROFLEX port system for a precisely controlled bass performance. Braced and optimised cabinet built in Sheffield, UK. Detachable magnetic protective grilles.
Build and finish: This is the second set of speakers from Ophidian that I have had the honour of reviewing. They are extremely well constructed, using premium materials. The veneer is flawless and finished beautifully. Drivers are mounted just right and the proportions look really pleasing to the eye. They are heavier than they appear and will sit quite comfortably and securely on speaker stands.
Sound: Unlike the Minimo 2 I found the Mojo 2 more forgiving when it came to positioning. I was able to have them at a far less aggressive angle. For the majority of the review I had them set up on my shelving in my office, which I know is going to ruffle some feathers with some of my readers. However, I found, even when up on my shelving, they still sounded fabulous and lost none of their punch or definition. Not an ideal listening position I admit, but this is what I currently have to work with in this space. I did also have them set up in my main system in the living room on speaker stands.
Soundstage is spacious and has a lot of depth. Separation is on point with the Mojo 2’s creating a really nice 3D image, making the speakers essentially “disappear” within the listening space.
Mid bass and lows are most impressive, carrying a lot of heft, with texture and great definition. No need for a sub with these speakers! Mids are forward and natural. Very smooth with vocals and acoustic pieces. Highs shine with crystal clear clarity, speed and ultra sharp detail.
Final thoughts: For £1,200 you’re getting a lot of speaker in a compact package. They’re ideal as a nearfield monitor, bookshelf speaker and placed in a larger room in a larger system. They’re easy to drive and have a very full bodied, lively personality which matches a varied style of music. The Mojo 2 impressed me so much, they’re in my top 5 selection of potential candidates for my permanent office system!
Thanks: As always, I’d like to send a massive thank you to all of my readers, contributors and sponsors. All of you make what do worthwhile!
Please do like, share, follow and subscribe. Every little helps 🙂
Music: Various Hi-Res files on the AK70 & DX80. Qobuz Studio Premier on other devices.
What’s in the box: STAX SR-003 MKII in-ear ear speakers. Headband. Ear tips. Plug cover. Documentation.
STAX provide everything you need to use the 003 MKII’s with ease and comfort.
Spec & features: Type: push-pull electrostatic, canal-type inears. Frequency response : 20 – 20 kHz (±4dB). Static capacity : 44pF (including attached code). Sound pressure sensitivity : 110dB/100V r.m.s. / 1kHz. Bias voltage : 550V – 580V. Ear piece : L/M/S size made of silicone rubber (M size equipped at factory shipment). Cord : 5-pin for STAX PRO bias, 6-core parallel, total length 1.5m. Weight : 38g (including code), 12g (main part only). Dimension: 28mm (diameter). Overhead arc weight : 15g.
Build and finish: I already own the previous version of these which has a proprietery plug for use with a portable driver. The same high quality of craftsmanship is apparent here with a premium finish. They are lightweight and fitment is perfect. I do wish STAX would include a carry pouch or case for these smaller in-ear’s & maybe that’s something that can be thought about in the future? I also think the headband is great, however the clamping force is quite aggressive so it’s sometimes uncomfortable to use. This is what led me to utilising a set of ear hooks from a different in-ear and I believe is something else STAX could think about for a new version somewhere down the road. All in all though they’re made extremely well and well thought out.
Comfort: The 003 MKII are a comfortable in-ear once you figure out the best way to use them for yourself. Once I figured which ear tips were the best fit for me the 003 MKII’s were very comfortable and could be worn for hours of use with no fatigue or discomfort. However I will say here as before, the headband, although a great idea, does have aggressive clamping force so may not be comfortable to use for some users. This is where the aftermarket ear hooks came into play, and is something I really think STAX should consider in the future.
Sound: The 003 MKII’s offer a wide spacious soundstage with well defined separation. We are rewarded a warm, textured low end with a decent punch. Mids are resolving, organic & airy. Then we finish off with fast yet smooth highs dusted with a little sparkle up top.
Final thoughts: We’re getting a lot of electrostatic in-ear for our buck here. They sound like a product that belongs in a much higher price bracket. The only complaint I really have is the clamping force of the headband and there being no carry case or pouch. Otherwise these are an excellent purchase and I’ve enjoyed them so much that I’ve bought a pair myself.
Thanks: As always a massive thank you to all of my readers, contributors and sponsors! Please remember to like, follow, subscribe and share.