Soundcore's new Space A40 earbuds zero-out noise and play a long time [Review] | Cult of Mac

Soundcore’s new Space A40 earbuds zero-out noise and play a long time [Review]

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The new Soundcore Space A40 earbuds have stellar ANC and epic battery life. And you'll probably like how they sound, too.★★★★
The new Soundcore Space A40 earbuds have stellar ANC and epic battery life. And you'll probably like how they sound, too.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

The new Soundcore Space A40 True-Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds came out Thursday alongside their sibling Space Q45 over-ear headphones.

Upon release, both products made a lot of noise about strong active noise cancellation (ANC) and massive battery life. And like the headphones, which I already reviewed, the earbuds don’t disappoint.

While their marquee qualities are strong ANC and lengthy play time, the A40 buds also sound good and feature lots of opportunities for audio customization.

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Soundcore Space A40 earbuds review

The A40 buds are clearly the Q45’s little brother (or sister). In terms of powerful ANC, long battery life and good sound quality, they’re the spitting image of one another. And, hey, they also look kind of alike.

(Read my review for more about the impressive Soundcore Space Q45 over-ear ANC headphones.)

And when I say “little” sibling, I mean little. And lightweight. Soundcore said the A40 buds are its smallest ANC true wireless buds — 25% smaller than what came before.

As I did with the Q45 headphones, I’ll start with the A40’s best features — ANC and battery life. Normally I start with sound quality. And with earbuds, I tend to dwell on sound quality and fit as nearly equally important, because if they don’t fit comfortably, you may not even wear them.

The A40s fit comfortably and sound good, but I’ll get to that. At $100, they’re a good value.

Killer ANC

As a reviewer who loves music and audio products, my house has been filling up with earbuds and headphones for a while. And I’ll say right at the top I don’t think I have a pair of buds that cancels noise as well as the Soundcore Space A40 buds.

On one of the days I wore them a lot, I took a long walk. No noises even got my attention until I accidentally caught up with a city recycling truck with a hydraulic lift. The thing was loud as hell and only rolling about 10 feet at a time. So, instead of rushing past or turning around, I kept astride it and broke out the Soundcore app on my iPhone 13 Pro.

As soon as I switched the ambient sound setting to noise cancellation, the noisy truck all but disappeared, sonically. I was blown away by what a difference the setting made. I could still hear the truck, just a few feet away, but its roar went from making listening to anything impossible to making it borderline fine (maybe slightly annoying).

The Q45 headphones also have strong ANC, but I didn’t face as tough a challenge with them.

On both products, you can choose from ANC (full strength), normal (some ambient sound) or transparency (more ambient sound). Unlike with some earbuds and headphones, transparency lets a lot of ambient sound through, so you can really tell the difference. You can make those selections in the app or via touch control on the earbuds. Either way works well.

Changing setting has very little effect on the sound of music, unlike with some earbuds, where ANC sometimes adds a sense of fullness.

The earbuds snap magnetically into the sleek charging case, which makes 10 hours of playing time into 50 hours.
The earbuds snap magnetically into the sleek charging case, which makes 10 hours of playing time into 50 hours.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Long battery life

Like the Q45 headphones, the A40 earbuds claim 50 hours of play time — 10 hours with fully charged buds and 50 hours with storing them between uses in the charging case (and to think I was impressed with the Soundcore Sport X10’s 32 hours).

Fifty hours is long enough that you’d have to wear the buds for weeks and keep careful notes to even know if that’s accurate. But, knowing the quality level in products by Soundcore and its parent, Anker, I have no reason to doubt it.

Over a couple weeks of use, the earbuds stayed well-charged in their charging case. I charged the case once, after I opened the box. And Anker said 10 minutes of charging gets you 4 hours of music, by the way.

The charging case is nice and sleek. The earbuds tilt inwards, toward each other, which probably saves space. Nothing fancy, just solid.

The app shows a battery life indicator for each earbud, so you know where it stands. Some earbud apps also show the case’s charge, but not with this pair.

Good sound quality

Like some other high-quality earbuds, the A40 buds can perform a hearing test to set a sound profile suited to you. Soundcore calls it HearID Sound.

It’s a bit like going to the ear doctor. The app wants to know if you can this sound, and that sound and the other sound. You follow the prompts for both ears, ranging through different frequencies.

At the end of the test, you have another setting for your listening called HearID Sound. The other two are Default (Soundcore Signature, with 21 additional preset options underlying it, most by musical genre) and Custom (an equalizer you can adjust).

I had a hard time telling the difference between my own personal HearID Sound and Soundcore Signature. With both, there was plenty of definition in the music across frequencies (the buds support a range of 20Hz – 40KHz).

Soundcore’s 10mm double-layer ceramic and metal diaphragm drivers appear to do the trick, and the buds support Sony’s LDAC high-res Bluetooth codec (a big benefit on certain Android devices that also have it), as well as AAC and SBC codecs. The buds use Bluetooth 5.2 for wireless.

As for calls, the buds features six beam forming microphones with a noise-reduction algorithm for clear sound.

The Q45 headphones and A40 earbuds are both big on noise cancellation, long playing time and good sound.
The Q45 headphones and A40 earbuds are both big on noise cancellation, long playing time and good sound (sold separately).
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Comfortable fit

Fit can be tricky with earbuds. Some people swear by the type with stems that dangle from the ear opening (like some AirPods). Others prefer something with an ear tip that fits into the ear canal a bit like an earplug (sort of like AirPods Pro).

The A40 is the latter type, which works well for me. The design is all ear tip and small body, no stem. They fit into the ear canal, forming a good seal that helps with a full sound and ambient noise cancellation. The small body of each bud just rests inside the earlobe. But they’re so light you could forget they’re there.

They sit more or less flush with your ear opening, so you can easily feel and press the touch control area on each bud. They showed no sign of loosening much or falling out while I moved around. I didn’t subject this pair to a gym workout — I lost a nice earth-and-stem-style earbud that way once — but I moved around a lot and went for walks.

Use the app or touch controls

As an alternative to using the app to adjust the buds, you can use tap controls on the buds themselves. The app explains what a single tap, double tap or hold for 2 seconds on either bud does — volume up, advance track, answer call, transparency mode, etc. — and you can customize the settings.

You can get the A40 earbuds in black, white or navy blue colors. They have an IPX4 rating (splash-proof, OK to use in the rain, but don’t submerge them). At $100, they’re a good value.

Where to buy: Soundcore or Amazon

★★★★

Soundcore by Anker provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.