Price: $99 / £89 / AU$169
Colors: Jet black, latte cream, sky blue
Battery life (rated): 40 hours (ANC on); 55 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (codec support: SBC, AAC, LDAC)
Size: 6.38 x 3.62 x 7.32 inches
Weight: 9.1 ounces
The Soundcore Space One are the latest headphones in Anker’s revamped Space lineup. They boast a variety of premium features, including adaptive active noise cancellation, Bluetooth 5.3 with LDAC codec support, customizable sound, multipoint technology, and some of the strongest quick charging out there. Lengthy playtimes, personalized listening modes, and safe volume settings also help to make them a possible best value contender for the best headphones at their $99 price.
Setbacks in call quality and controls bring them down a few pegs though. However, their overall performance should be lauded, as they surpass several sub-$100 rivals in key areas and stand out as some of the best cheap wireless headphones you can buy right now. Keep scrolling to read my full Soundcore Space One headphone review.
Soundcore Space One review: Versatile audio and ANC
Those expecting monstrous bass from the Space One might be a little disappointed. It’s still deep, but Anker tweaked their sound profile to balance mids and highs, but listening with ANC on upticks the low end.
The Signature EQ is the default and has more well-rounded sound than Anker’s other 20+ EQs in the Soundcore app. Each of them is suited for different categories and purposes, but are hit or miss, depending on the selection. Latin and Jazz served well for their respective genres, though Bass Booster muddied up tracks. You can also create your own sound profile by manually adjusting frequencies on Anker’s 8-band EQ. The other option is enabling HearID Sound, a proprietary technology that tailors sound to your hearing based on listening tests. My results emphasized the midrange, which made ballads and dialogue-centric content (e.g., podcasts, talk shows) more engaging.
The grinding, hard rock riff on Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” was reproduced superbly and didn’t dip throughout the listen. There was some great reverb that smoothly decayed after every strum. Drums sounded rich and sharp, while the wailing vocals were crisp and invigorating. Switching to something more upbeat, Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” maintained its swaggerific bop that was brought on by hyper-funky synths, punchy snares, and transparent 808s. One of the Space One’s big selling points is LDAC, Sony’s hi-res audio codec for smooth, clear-sounding streams at faster bitrates than aptX. It’s as reliable on these headphones as it is on Sony’s flagship WH-1000XM5. Music streamed quickly on Apple, Spotify, and hi-res platforms like Tidal, and I heard more details on complex recordings.
There’s also a Safe Volume setting to monitor, refresh, and limit the decibel rate in real time, making sound output gentler on your hearing.
Complementing the Space One’s dynamic sound quality is adaptive ANC that can be personalized and used in different ways. There is Adaptive Noise Cancelling for adjusting performance to your surrounding noise levels or Customize Noise Cancelling for setting noise neutralization to 1 of 5 levels. Adaptive outperformed Customize across the sound spectrum. Low and mid frequencies were completely blocked out, and high frequencies, while still audible, were reduced greatly so as not to affect listening. Transparency Mode comes in handy for increasing environmental awareness and hearing conversations clearly. Anker tossed in a Wind Noise Reduction setting, but it does nothing to minimize wind interference.
Soundcore Space One review: Good looks but an outdated control scheme
The Life Q35 and Space Q45 were significant upgrades to the cheaply constructed Q20, and the Space One borrows elements from their predecessors to form a chic, well-built exterior. Hard metallic plastic makes up most of the headphones’ composition, with faux leather wrapping around the headband and earpads.
Build quality is sturdy, meaning you can toss the headphones around in your bag and not worry about hinges breaking. They provide nice comfort and won’t weigh you down after several hours of listening. The popping colorways also make them even more attractive; the sky blue option I used for testing is gorgeous in person.
If only Anker figured out a way to downscale these beauties. They look enormous on anyone’s head. Other similarly priced models like the 1More SonoFlow, one of the most underrated noise-cancellers out there, are more elegant.
More problematic than the size is the control scheme. I find it odd that Anker integrated motion detection sensors to automatically pause content when removing the headphones or mute playback when speaking or placing your hand over the left earcup via Easy Chat feature, yet they use physical buttons for basic playback control. These are awkwardly placed on each earcup, and their low profile makes it difficult to locate functions. Furthermore, you can only customize the NC button to enable different listening modes.
Soundcore Space One review: A lengthy feature set and lengthier battery life
Anker has generously brought over signature features to their most affordable headphones. The Space One takes advantage of several perks, including the aforementioned Ambient Sound (ANC/Transparency), Easy Chat, EQ, Safe Volume, and Wind Noise Reduction. A few others are sprinkled throughout the Soundcore app.
Controls lets you assign the single- and double-press gestures for the NC Button. Sound Mode offers the option to either prioritize the combination of audio and connection quality or stream music over Bluetooth using LDAC. There are also settings to enable auto-power, firmware updates, and wear detection, along with a battery level indicator on the homepage.
Outside of the app, there is Bluetooth multipoint to pair to two devices simultaneously, which operates well.
Adding to the Space One’s extensive functionality is high battery life. A full charge generates between 40 to 55 hours, depending how you use the cans. These are accurate playtimes. I used the headphones for 5 to 6 hours daily over the course of a week and still have about 40% of power left. A 5-minute quick charge can net 4 hours of use.
Soundcore Space One review: A poor calling headset
Past experiences with Anker’s call quality have been better than the Space One. Vocals were muffled and unclear during indoor and outdoor chats. My wife was able to make out most of what I said in gusty conditions, though there were times I had to repeat certain words. The headphones performed better in quieter settings like my home, granted there were still complaints about muffling from clients and friends on Zoom calls. It’s a shame since noise reduction performs surprisingly well, keeping background interference to a minimum.
Soundcore Space One review: Verdict
Anker continues to release great bargain ANC headphones. The Space One are their most impressive to date, backed by clean sound and robust noise neutralization that keeps distractions to a minimum. Battery life ranks among the category’s highest and will entice you to keep the headphones on for long listening sessions.
It’s not surprising to get disappointing call quality from inexpensive headphones. However, there’s greater frustration to express over the button control scheme, especially when seeing Anker engineer intuitive smart features like speak-to-chat.
These might not be the most comfortable headphones to lug around, but if you’re working with a limited budget and want high-end performance at an enticing price point, the Space One will give you just that.