With smartphone headphone jacks becoming the exception rather than the rule, the demand for wireless, Bluetooth earbuds continues to grow. One of the newest options is also one of the more compelling choices out there when it comes to premium wireless earbuds: the Libratone Track+ Earphones. I’ve been testing a pair for over a month and despite the fact that I’m not an earbud guy at all, I’ve frequently found myself wearing these instead of headphones, even for extended music listening sessions.
I’ve reviewed many Libratone products over the past few years, including several for GeekDad (such as the ZIPP wireless speaker). The Danish company makes high quality audio gear that offers a nice mix of clever design, performance, and a minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic. If you’re tired of the same old look in portable speakers and headphones, Libratone is definitely worth checking out.
The Track+ Earphones share many similarities with the Q-Adapt USB-earbuds I reviewed a while back, but these are wireless. They use a neckband design, with controls and battery mounted in modules on the side. The cable connecting the buds is rubberized and soft. Construction is premium, a mix of metal and glossy plastic. There is no carrying pouch included (an oversight, especially given the $199 price tag), but there are ear tips and a set of soft fins in the box.
Control buttons are raised symbols that make it easy to operate without looking. Dual noise-canceling microphones are used for voice calls, Siri and Google Assistant support, and they also come into play with active noise cancellation. More on that later…
These earbuds look and even feel luxurious. They’re available in Stormy Black and Cloudy White.
Regular readers probably know that with most earbud reviews I include a disclaimer about my personal challenges with getting a good fit. Without that fit and seal, audio is compromised and the buds fall out more easily.
The Libratone Track+ Earphones fit me comfortably and securely. There are four sizes of ear tips included, along with a set of soft fins, but I didn’t even need the fins for these buds to stay in place. They locked in easily and stayed put. They are also IPX 4 sweat- and splash-proof, making them ideal for wearing during physical activity.
The one caveat is the neckband design. It’s very comfortable, tangle-free, and I soon forgot it was even there, but it can result in tugging when doing exercises where you lie down, such as sit-ups (there is no clip provided). Not that I was doing a lot of sit-ups…
Battery life is up to eight hours on a charge, and the buds reach that full capacity after one hour on a charger (Micro USB cable is included). The buds are equipped with motion detection, so when you take them off, they automatically power down after a set time (you can adjust that wait time using the app) to help conserve the battery. Playing music loudly and using ANC will cut down on battery life, but I regularly experienced between six and eight hours, even while testing higher volumes and the noise cancellation.
When you are paying $199 for a set of earbuds, you expect high-quality sound. And the Libratone Track+ Earphones deliver. Audio is balanced and while I found the default bass to be a little underemphasized, the app includes an EQ feature (Voicing) that offers the ability to bump it up nicely.
The Libratone Track+ Earphones are at the level where they’re not just something you wear because they’re more convenient or more discrete than headphones. They actually perform well enough that they can hold their own for extended music listening sessions.
With a good seal, earbuds naturally block out some background noise, but the Libratone Track+ Earphones feature four-level active noise cancellation. This lets you fine-tune the experience from minimal blocking of ambient sound to an aggressive 100% ANC designed to block almost all background noise.
The system works pretty well, but not at the same level you get with ANC on over-ear headphones. It’s enough to block out background sound like people talking, but louder noises still come through—although they are muffled and less distracting. It’s not perfect, but certainly better than you’ll get with earbuds alone.
In addition, there’s a Smart ANC feature (you need to use the app to activate this setting), that automatically adjusts the noise cancellation levels. This worked well with fairly constant background noise, but in situations where there are occasional, random loud noises, the system doesn’t have time to react to block those.
These Bluetooth earbuds are wireless, but not “true” wireless, in the sense that there’s still a cable connecting the two buds.
This is my preferred design approach. It frees the wearer of the primary annoying wire—the one connecting the buds to your smartphone—but avoids the disadvantages of a truly wireless design. No worries about individual buds getting out of sync with each other, much better battery life (you can stick a larger battery in one of the control modules than in an earbud), the buds themselves are more compact, and you don’t have to worry about dropping or losing a bud.
Libratone’s Track+ Earphones are excellent Bluetooth earbuds with an extremely comfortable fit, great sound, long battery life, high-quality build, and a uniquely minimalist style. But they also carry a premium price tag. At $199, they cost more than Apple’s BeatsX with a similar form factor—although the Track+ offers active noise cancellation and (in my opinion) tops the $159 BeatsX on audio performance.
These aren’t the earbuds I would recommend for kids, unless you have a teen who’s really into music and is easier on electronics than my three teenagers can be. But if you’re a music lover looking for a great pair of wireless earbuds, the Libratone Track+ Earphones won’t disappoint. And if you’re on the fence, the company offers a free, 30-day trial…
Disclosure: Libratone provided earbuds for evaluation but had no input into this review.
This post was last modified on May 24, 2018 8:09 pm
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