Great fit and sound, long battery, attractive design and pocketable case make for an excellent set of buds
Libratone has given us the better fitting AirPods that Apple wouldn’t, with great sound and noise cancelling.
The Danish audio firm’s Track Air+ are a set of true wireless earbuds, priced at £179, that follow the familiar design of earbud with stalk but no cable.
Unlike the vast majority of AirPod-a-likes the Track Air+ actually look different, with triangular-shaped metallic stalks that almost look like an earring mounted on a pill-shaped lump with an earbud tip sticking out one end. Even in white you’re not going to confuse these with Apple’s earbuds, and that’s a good thing.
The simple, attractive design is subtle enough to go fairly unnoticed in your ear, but different enough to be attractive, particularly in black and silver.
The lump containing most of the workings fits beautifully in the concha of your ear, with the earbud tip slotted into a secure and comfortable position down your ear canal with a small twist. Even the stalks fit nicely in the gap between your lobe and tragus. At 5.6g each the earbuds are pretty small and light, and not once did they feel like they would fall out.
Everyone’s ears are different, but the Track Air+ are some of the most comfortable earbuds of any size or shape I’ve worn.
The Track Air+ magnetically slot into a charging case that’s one of the best in the business. It’s small enough to fit in the money pocket of a pair of jeans, making it one of only a handful of truly wireless earbuds that are that pocketable with the Samsung Galaxy Buds and Apple’s AirPods.
The case charges via USB-C or wireless charging, which is handy, and will charge the earbuds up to three times. The Track Air+ lasted just shy of six hours with noise cancelling active, meaning you get about 24 hours of playback with trips in the case.
The only slight niggles on the case are that, while the lid shuts securely with magnets, the hinge feels a little flimsy and will need a little bit of care in handling and the plastic body is easily marked.
The Track Air+ support Bluetooth 5.0 and can be used individually. They also support the standard Bluetooth audio format SBC and Qualcomm’s high-quality aptX, but strangely not AAC. While that’s not an issue for Android and Windows users, as aptX is built into both, Apple devices do not support aptX, with AAC their highest-quality supported Bluetooth audio codec, meaning the Track Air+ default to SBC.
Most will not notice, but SBC has a higher latency, which means the Track Air+ suffered from a more noticeable audio delay with games on iOS than on Android. Lipsync issues were minimal with all major video apps on Android and there was only a minor delay noticeable with YouTube on an iPhone.
Connectivity was rock solid with the majority of phones, including a OnePlus 7 Pro and iPhone XS, even in the most challenging of situations. Only once did I notice a momentary blip with a Google Pixel 3XL exiting the London underground at Liverpool Street.
One of the weak points of the Libratone are the onboard controls. A double tap on either earbud can do one of the following: play/pause, switch noise cancelling mode, skip track forward or activate your phone’s voice assistant. I set the left bud to skip track and the right bud to pause, but there’s no volume control, meaning it’s a trip to your phone to turn the music up or down.
Removing both earbuds pauses the music and it resumes when you put one back in. A button in the case puts the buds into pairing mode, while the Libratone app takes care of settings. You can also check the battery of the earbuds and the case in the app.
One of the best bits is how the Track Air+ sound, with a good amount of punchy bass and clarity rivalling some of the better sounding true wireless earbuds, while falling slightly shy of the big Sony WF-1000XM3 as the best. Feed them some aggressive rock or electronica and be richly rewarded, but they manage to do a good job of most genres.
A basic EQ allows you to switch between neutral, extra bass or enhanced treble profiles, sounding best left in neutral. The silicone earbud tip, of which you get four sizes in the box, also does a good job of blocking out noise, but the Track Air+ also have noise cancelling built in. While it isn’t anywhere near as effective as that deployed by Sony’s new top earbuds or Bose, it dealt with the drone of plane engines well and managed to make a dent in most commuting noise too.
You can adjust the noise cancelling through 30 levels, either manually or automatically based on your environment using the Libratone app on your phone. The earbuds sounded slightly less full in the mid-range with noise cancelling cranked up to maximum, but the trade-off seemed worth it in noisy environments.
The Track Air+ struggled with wind noise with noise cancelling active. The ambient monitoring mode is excellent, sounding natural enough to hold a conversation fairly easy. I mainly used it to listen out for announcements.
Call quality was pretty good too, with recipients saying I sounded fairly clear with only a little bit of loud background noise audible.
- The Track Air+ are sweatproof (IPX4), so fine for running or the gym.
- The angle of the stalks can clash with some larger earrings.
- The case has an LED on the inside that shows when it’s charging, but you have to have the lid open.
- If you have Bluetooth 5.0 on your phone then when you pair the left earbud the right one requests automatic pairing immediately afterwards so you can use them independently.
- You can only connect to one device at a time (but can pair many).
The Libratone Track Air+ cost £179 in white or black.
For comparison, Apple’s AirPods cost £159, or £199 with wireless charging case, Sony’s WF-1000XM3 cost £220, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless cost £280, the B&O E8 2.0 cost £300 and the Master & Dynamic MW07 cost £279.
The Libratone Track Air+ are some of the best true wireless earbuds available at the moment – very nearly the isolating, noise-cancelling AirPods Apple won’t give us.
They have a stalk design but are attractive and don’t look like AirPod clones. They are some of the most comfortable earbuds I have ever worn: small and light enough you simply forget they’re in, but stay put and block out noise. The case is one of the best in the business too; truly pocketable with USB-C and wireless charging, and you can check the battery level in an app.
Connectivity was rock solid to both phones and tablets, with aptX for Android and Windows. Sound quality was really good, falling just shy of the very best true wireless earbuds available. And they have pretty effective noise cancelling.
They are not quite perfect, but the only minus points are lack of volume control on the earbuds and the curious lack of AAC support, which is only a fairly small issue for iOS users.
At £179 they’re not cheap, but undercut Apple’s AirPods with wireless charging case by £20 and Sony’s WF-1000XM3 by £40, making them pretty good value by comparison.
If you want great-fitting, great-sounding true wireless earbuds that last a long time and fit into an excellently pocketable case then the Libratone Track Air+ tick every box, and have noise cancelling as the cherry on top.