Soundcore Frames glasses let you listen to music without earbuds

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Soundcore Frames let you stream music and other audio from your iPhone or other Bluetooth device.
Soundcore Frames let you stream audio from your iPhone or other Bluetooth device.
Photo: Anker Innovations

Soundcore Frames look like typical glasses, but they come with a stealth capability: They let you listen to music.

The new “audio eyewear” product packs tiny drivers into the glasses’ temples, so wearers can listen to audio streaming from a Bluetooth device. Plus, a smart design choice that rips a page from the Apple Watch playbook makes them fashionable. But don’t expect augmented reality or other “smart” features.

Cult of Mac got an early look (and listen) during an advance demo of Soundcore Frames.

Soundcore Frames: Bluetooth audio glasses

When Soundcore Frames go up for sale in November, they will come in 10 different frame options. They look remarkably similar to RayBans, aviator shades and other common eyeglass styles. And Soundcore says prescription and blue-light filtering options will be available.

“Up till now the emerging audio eyewear space has been pretty dull with only limited design choices,” said Steven Yang, CEO of Anker Innovations, in a press release Wednesday. “With our new Soundcore Frames we hope to reset things, bringing a more stylish audio listening experience to the market.”

The arms of the Soundcore Frames, which contain the audio components, can be swapped out by pulling them out of the frames. (Soundcore’s Pull and Plug quick-release system, which utilizes a mechanism near the glasses’ hinges, makes the change quick and easy.)

That means you can buy one pair, then add other frames to switch up the look of your high-tech sunglasses.

Soundcore's Pull and Plug quick-release system lets you swap out frames for fresh new looks.
Soundcore’s Pull and Plug quick-release system lets you swap out frames for fresh new looks.
Photo: Anker Innovations

“Soundcore Frames feature the company’s patented OpenSurround system, designed with two customized drivers in each arm, custom [digital signal processor] and a listening port for a more immersive experience,” according to the press release. “The main speaker is in front of the user’s ear, with another located behind the ear to help amplify the stereo sound. Soundcore Frames also feature on-ear wearing detection and will automatically pause audio when the glasses are removed.”

You can use Soundcore’s virtual fitting room, which uses your computer’s camera, to “try on” various frames sizes and styles.

How do they sound?

Just like AirPods, the Soundcore Frames work for listening to music, movies or podcasts or other audio when paired with a smartphone, tablet or computer. Noise-reducing microphones make enable the wearer to make phone or video calls.

While Soundcore Frames don’t sound as good as high-end wireless earbuds like AirPods Pro (or Soundcore’s own Liberty Pro noise-canceling buds), they offer a surprisingly clear and immersive audio experience. The sound is airy, without much bass, but still pleasant.

While wearing Soundcore Frames, you can control the audio using either touch or voice controls. You can touch or swipe on the glasses’ arms to play or pause music, adjust volume, advance or reverse audio tracks, or answer calls. Various spoken trigger words can do the same things.

Since the drivers fire directly into the air around the wearer’s ears, the audio coming from Soundcore Frames can be heard by people nearby. This depends on how loud the user cranks them up, obviously. During Cult of Mac’s demo of a beta unit, audio could barely be heard from a few feet away outside on a quiet day. It was noticeable but not very loud.

However, Anker says “a private listening mode can be automatically enabled when the user is on a call or self-activated through the Soundcore app to help reduce sound leakage.”

Unlike Facebook’s recently announced Ray-Ban Stories glasses or Apple’s long-rumored AR glasses project, Soundcore Frames don’t come with built-in cameras or screens for displaying augmented-reality or virtual-reality data.

Soundcore Frames Specs

Soundcore Frames come with a specialized magnetic charger that attaches to the audio glasses' arms.
Soundcore Frames come with a specialized magnetic charger that attaches to the audio glasses’ arms.
Photo: Anker Innovations

Here are the product specs from Soundcore:

  • Frequency response: 20~20kHz
  • Drivers (speakers): 4 (2 per side)
  • Size of drivers/material: 25mm x 8mm (main); 8mm diameter (rear)/PET
  • Battery type/capacity: lithium polymer/110mA (x2)
  • Playtime/talk time/(Normal mode): 5.5 hours @ 60% volume/5 hours
  • Fast charging time: 10 mins = 1.5 hours
  • Charging cable: Magnetic charging cable with USB
  • Bluetooth version: 5.2
  • IP/IPX rating: IPX4
  • Control type: Touch/swipe/voice
  • Compatible with voice assistants
  • Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
  • On-ear wearing detection
  • 10 frame options including prescription, polarized and blue-light filtering lenses

Preorder Soundcore Frames and get a bonus

Soundcore Frames go on sale on Soundcore’s website, and from retailers including Amazon.com and Best Buy, in early to mid-November. They will retail for $199.99 in the United States, 149.99 pounds in the United Kingdom, 179.99 euros in Germany and other European countries and CA$249 in Canada.

Interested? You can get a second set of frames for just $1 if you preorder now from Soundcore’s website.

Preorder from: Soundcore