TaoTronics SoundLiberty Pro P10 ANC Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling TWS Earbuds hands-on and review
TaoTronics claims that its SoundLiberty Pro P10 ANC Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling TWS Earbuds exclude unwanted noise by up to 38 decibels (dB), which is done through "feedforward and feedback" mics: specs that should underpin the ANC in their name, and also for improved call clarity. The earbuds are also rated for ambient and anti-wind modes with "HiFi Stereo Sound" via their 9mm drivers.
Buzzwords such as these notwithstanding, I have to admit I'm not normally a TWS person. In fact, I still use my OnePlus Bullets Wireless earbuds for their general use-cases: I like the ear-hooks you don't often get with TWS earbuds, and if one of them ever did fall out, they are still secured via their wires. Then again, they lack ANC, which is why I invested in my Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, which got me through lockdown and all its increased daily noise around the neighborhood. It will be interesting to see if these SoundLiberty Pro P10s can possibly match up to them.
Unboxing and First Impressions
The P10s come in a box with a bright orange and white colorway. Inside, there is a paper manual, some cards for guarantees and so on, and the earbuds themselves. They are of the AirPod clone variety, albeit ones finished in black with rather prominent TaoTronics branding running down each stem.
Their case is more AirPods Pro in its size and shape, and has a shallow, TaoTronics-branded depression on the front to make opening the lid easier. This feature also allows the P10s' case to double as a fidget spinner: I actually find myself enjoying those unconscious Nothing ear (1) vibes to the hilt occasionally.
The TaoTronics earbuds' packaging also contains 3 extra pairs of ear-tips, for a total of 4 counting the ones installed by default (whereas many others might come with only 3). They are found loose in a little recyclable plastic bag, rather than in plastic inserts in the box as many other OEMs might present them. All the same, it might be worth it for the extra chance of a good fit, and most likely better for the environment.
Finally, the P10s come with a short USB type-C to A cable of the short and flat variety. I do like to see those: they are better for travel, and I tend to use them for everything else possible when I get them.
Fit and ANC test
The largest size had the best seal, although a smaller pair had the best fit and comfort overall for me. Putting them in and turning them on did result in immediate noise reduction, albeit without the sense of pressure widely associated with ANC earbuds or headphones. Instead, a kind of insulated, rushing-wind effect is created on putting them in.
In general, it is not quite as effective as that of the WH-1000XM3s, and tends to modulate some loud sounds: for example, the washing machine seems merely higher-pitched than normal, and voices like they are coming through an elderly radio. On the other hand, they do seem to be effective when it comes to blocking out everyday noise during my walks around town.
Audio & Functions
The music playback from the buds is better than I expected, and also louder than I expected. On the other hand, it was a little flat, especially in tracks that cover a wide range, such as my go-tos such as Mastodon's Colony of Birchmen and Toundra's Kitsune. They tend to squash bass while also de-escalating high notes, and seem determined to stick to the mids in general. They don't disclose the codices they use in their packaging, although their product page reveals that they support SBC and AAC, with no mention of anything else such as aptX for reduced latency. On this note, I find that they are subject to slight dips in audio syncing, especially when it comes to human dialog, when used to watch content.
This audio is paused and re-started through a double-tap of the touch control pad found on the top of the right earbud. Their Ambient Mode, on the other hand, is activated through double-pressing the touch control of the left earbud, which also stops playback. Another 2 taps of this touch-pad turns anti-wind mode on, although it doesn't make much of a difference to be honest. Triple-tapping the right earbud skips a track.
These controls work well enough, although there were some mis-hits as I took up using the earbuds at first. Triple taps seemed easy to mistake for double-taps and vice versa, although that effect has receded as I've become more and more accustomed to wearing them.
As for their fit, they have never fallen out or felt loose while walking around, even for prolonged periods. One did catch on the straps of my mask once, although luckily it fell into said mask at the time. Otherwise, I found them more comfortable than I expected.
In terms of calls, I found myself taking them on the earbuds without even really thinking about it. The person on the other end never guessed that I was using TWS earbuds, and claimed not to notice any lack of quality even when I asked if they could hear me clearly.
The P10s also have a mono mode, by which one earbud still works when it is taken out of the case alone. Obviously, the ANC does not work in this mode, however.
Finally, the earbuds are rated for Bluetooth 5.2. They pair with quite decent speed, and have fewer failures in automatically switching between devices compared to the WH-1000XM3s (it's the headphones' one main weakness for me).
Battery and Charging
TaoTronics claims that the P10 Pro earbuds can get up to 9.5hrs per charge, plus an extra 23.5hrs from the charging case. However, this applies when ANC is off; otherwise, they may last for up to 6.5hrs per charge, with 17.5hrs more from the case. I have found that they will last for about a normal day, or 7 hours, of mixed use. Luckily, they exhibit a battery bar or percentage when connected to either an Android phone or Windows PC, while makes battery-life tracking easy.
The earbuds have an in-built vocal interface, which tells you when they are pairing, when they are connected and when the battery gets low. It's a good thing too, as the case is extremely taciturn when it comes to reporting remaining charge on its own. Its single tiny LED lights up on opening it: white if the earbuds are charged and red if not. It also goes red or white on snapping the lid shut again afterward, the former of which indicates that it is time to charge the case. It does so at about 2W (~5V/0.2A) regardless of the type-A power source used. This takes about 70 minutes until the light goes out at 100%.
On this subject, the little LED could be brighter, especially during the day: it really is quite hard to make sure the case is charging without shading it so that the light will show up.
Finally, these accessories are a considerable departure for those who normally use earphones or headphones, in that you have to carry their case around at all times. Subjecting them to the jeans test revealed that they can create quite a pocket bulge - especially in the case of this standard-issue skinny pair - although I was relieved to find they would fit without a problem. One can probably thank its curved sides for that.
Overall, it's clear that the P10 Pros are not quite audiophile-grade TWS earbuds. On the other hand, they can create a decent degree of immersion on the street, and also definitely have stereo abilities, only dropping this syncing occasionally. The hybrid ANC is convincing, and of course beats earphones without any form of noise cancellation at all...however, it is far from absolute compared to headphones.
As someone who has preferred different kinds of personal audio peripherals in the past, I've found them more secure and comfortable than I would have imagined. I do find I'm working them into my daily life as a backup to the WH-1000XM3s much more often than I would have expected. Also, someone could have told me how satisfying snapping one closed can be, not to mention having it to fidget with as I mentioned. On the other hand, I'm still not inclined to pay more than their full US$90 price for the experience, to be honest. Those in search of well-priced AirPods alternatives could definitely consider them as an option.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received this item from TaoTronics free of charge for the purpose of testing.