EXAM – Given our modern environment, managing outside noise when listening to content is an ongoing issue. New products are filling the virtual shelves of retailers promising the best noise canceling headphones. We have reviewed several of them here. I’ll be adding another one to the mix today, the Soundcore Space Q45 on-ear headphones. Are they the best? The cheapest? Well, let’s take a look.
What is that?
The Soundcore Space Q45 on-ear headphones are a set of wireless on-ear headphones that feature active noise cancellation (ANC).
What’s in the box?
- Soundcore Space Q45 On-Ear Headphones
- Zippered Travel Case with Flex Sides
- Audio cable (TTTPTTTP)
- USB-C charging cableUSB-C
From the company’s website
- Improved noise cancellation system reduces noise by up to 98%
- Personalize every space with adaptive noise cancellation
- Ultra-long playtime of 50 hours for travel
- Sound with exceptional detail
- Secure and comfortable fit
Design and features
The Soundcore Space Q45 on-ear headphones are only available in black. The earpad foam rises about 1 inch from the edge of the speaker fabric cover. The outer edge of the pads is a low-density foam covered in a smooth, yet fabric-like faux leather. Very pleasant to the touch and seems quite breathable. The cups are 3.75″ x 3.375″ diameter ellipses. There’s a hard plastic “handle” about 3″ long above the hinge that holds them to the headband, so the setting is higher than most headphones. The adjustable part is just over 4″ at the smallest, but can extend up to 7″. This part of the band is a piece of spring steel 0.875″ in diameter and less than 2mm thick, with a thinner strip of the same foam material as the ear cups glued to it.
Standard charging and Bluetooth pairing. There is also an app (available for iOS and Google Play) that you download to configure advanced settings like ANC, Spatial Audio, etc. Firmware updates are also provided through the app. All SoundCore devices can be configured to be used simultaneously, but only one can be active at a time.
Another feature of the Soundcore app is to assign EQ profiles to your content. You can choose from the presets or edit/save them as you wish. (If you remember doing this on iTunes years ago, congratulations, you’re old!)
The Soundcore Space Q45 headphones are comfortable and not too heavy. Cushions are medium density memory foam covered in finely textured faux leather. It is very soft and luxurious to the touch. The bobbins fit snugly over the ears, leaving enough room inside so you don’t feel your ears touching the fabric. Power and pairing controls are on the left, playback and volume controls are on the right. The charging port is on the left and the wired passage is on the right. The microphone picks up your voice without it sounding like you’re shouting.
The headband has decently thick memory foam padding that allows them to sit comfortably on top of your head, rather than having more pressure on the sides via the ear cups. The adjustment is a friction lock and held my chosen setting well.
The earcups of the Soundcore Space Q45 on-ear headphones can swivel and fold into a compact “ball” for transport, or rotate so the earcups lie flat in the same plane as the headband. Either one is nice for packing and carrying. The flat lay is slightly irritating in that the cups fold away from your head when you take them off, which means the ear cups will sit with the open end facing up, potentially accumulating dust and such. If you place them open end down, they are reversed – left cup is right and vice versa. I always place my cans face down so I would prefer them to rotate the other way or have the ability to rotate both ways.
They replaced my usual noise canceling headphones for vacuuming while listening to podcasts. I also tested them with several movies/TV shows with my Mac mini and the new Studio Display. The sound stayed perfectly in sync when I switched to the Q45s, and the microphone worked well when I took a call that interrupted my watch time.
What I like
- Provides an excellent soundstage and full sound
- Battery life outlasted my listening sessions (but I didn’t travel)
- ANC provides complete isolation, as well as transparency, where nearby sounds are allowed while canceling out background sounds.
What I would change
- The inward pivot. Why? I kept reaching out to pick them up, turned around to get them ready to put on, then realized the left cup was in my right hand.
I really liked the Apple ecosystem and am a bit spoiled by the full integration of Spatial Audio’s OS, pairing and ANC with my various devices. When testing other devices, it was a bit hit and miss with features like these. Soundcore, with its dedicated app, made it easy for all users to access the advanced features of their products, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quick response and powerful performance of these devices at such a low price.
The Q45s fit provided very comfortable listening during extended sessions, and I never worried about battery life. I can’t wait to use them on my next plane trip.