To put both of the new Soundcore Space products to use I have been switching between them for testing with them paired up with my PC and my phone. This brings me to a feature that both the Space A40 and Space Q45s have that has come in handy. Both support connecting to two different devices at the same time. Whichever device is playing audio will take priority and in the case of phone calls that will take priority over any music. So with either device, you could keep them paired with your phone but when working on your PC or laptop have the audio from that playing.
Because I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week at my PC when doing that I spent more time with the Space Q45 headphones so let's start with how they have performed first. When given any option an over-ear headphone is my preferred choice over in-ear earbuds or smaller headphones and the Q45’s fit that bill. They are smaller than I would prefer for at my desk, I normally run a large headset which gives a lot of room around my ears, and the Space Q45’s fit around my ears but I would consider them to be a mid-size. The memory foam padding in the earcups was comfortable and even with the size, they had the thickness to keep up off of my ears which makes a huge difference for me in comfort. In extended testing, the Space Q45s were great on my ears and the smaller size helped some with heat even with the sealed design and faux leather padding which can be hot. The headband had the adjustment I needed and the metal top band would stretch when needed but they could use a little more padding across the top. It was comfortable initially but with extended use, the headband does lose some of its padding.
When using the Space Q45s I found the controls to be easy to pick up and use. You have the buttons you need but nothing else to complicate things. This is important for quick access to the volume or to the ANC button which turns the adaptive noise canceling on or off and lets you also turn on transparency which will use the mics to pipe noise from around you in. This is important because the headphones themselves cut out noise as well so even with ANC turned off you may have a hard time hearing things. Being able to turn transparency on means you can listen for something while wearing your headphones and with the push of a button cut the audio when you don’t want to hear anything. This is adjustable with five different levels in the Soundcore app but as of my testing my app hasn’t updated to support the Q45 or A40 yet so I can’t comment on how well this works.
This leads me to the main feature of the Soundcore Space lineup which is the adaptive noise canceling. When I see ANC active noise canceling comes to mind but in this case, it is adaptive noise canceling which is similar but doesn’t just blast canceling audio at full blast all of the time, it changes the noise canceling depending on how much is needed. As someone who has had issues with ANC in the past causing pressure in my ears this makes a big difference, I didn’t have any pressure issues but the performance is there to cancel louder noises like if you are on a flight. The Q45 and the A40 do have a three-stage adjustment which is in the software (that I couldn’t get working pre-launch) this lets you change the ANC differently for low, mid, and high frequencies depending on what you are hoping to cut out.
With the default setting, I was very impressed with the ANC, especially with low frequencies. Just putting ANC on would cut out the sound of the fan on my desk and the noise from our fridge. Playing around with it it can be creepy when you are tapping on your desk which without ANC on is loud but with it on I could only feel it but not hear it. Tapping with a fingernail was slightly audible but significantly cut back. We have a new kitten which sometimes is terrorizing our entire house and other cats, the ANC did a great job of cutting out the running around, clawing of scratching posts, and the full-on fighting even. I tested ANC when playing a TV show on my PC as well (without the Q45s hooked up to the PC) and I was surprised that while watching Street Outlaws it cut out most of the car noise but talking was still audible. I should also point out all of this testing was done without music being played at the same time, what noise that was left like the higher pitched sound when typing on a mechanical (all of the lows were cut out) vanished once I had even low volume music playing.
As far as audio performance goes, the Space Q45s weren’t bad and were in line with what Bluetooth wireless headphones can do. Compared to a high-end pair of headphones wired mids were a little muffled and bass and highs didn’t have the kick that I wanted but they were clear. Hooking up directly wired helped some with the bass but wasn’t perfect.
As far as battery life goes the Space Q45’s have 50 hours of battery life when running ANC and 65 hours without it which is enough to get a full work week of use without charging which is more than enough. Having a Type-C connection for charging means easy compatibility with phone and other device chargers all over the house/office and the Space Q45’s have a fast charge which 5 minutes of charging gets you 4 hours (with ANC off I assume) which is crazy. You could top off the charge to finish the second half of a day on a quick break. As far as the travel case goes, it does look like it will keep the headphones protected but packing the headphones into the case can be a pain, even with the insert that shows you the layout.
As far as the Space A40’s go a majority of the same features that I loved with the Space Q45 apply to them as well. Namely being able to connect to more than one device at a time and they of course have the same adaptive noise canceling. While the A40s are in-ear not over the ear the ANC performance was similar between the two devices. It cut out all of the base background noise in my office and did a great job of hanging things like the kitten running around, playing with toys, scratching her scratching posts/pads, and even the cats playing and fighting. The small amount not cut out which was normally on the higher frequencies was then handled by playing low volume music. I didn’t have to blast my music to cover up any background noise which long term will be a lot better for my hearing.
As far as comfort goes, like I mentioned earlier in-ear isn’t my preferred headphone type but I do use them at least once a week when outside doing law work which typically is with the Jaybird Vista or Vista 2’s so for my testing in addition to using the Space A40’s around the office I put them to use outside. Being more active they stayed in my ears when moving around which can be a concern when mowing because the vibration will sometimes cause them to work their way out but that didn’t happen here. They were easier to install than the Vistas because I didn’t have to work around the wing, you just push the A40s in you don’t need to twist them to lock the wing into place. They also provide a wide variety of earbud tip options so you can play around to find what fits you best which for me the stock medium size worked. Overall though they were more comfortable than I expected. The rounded carry case was nice as well, it would drop into my picket easily and wasn’t big enough for me to notice when carrying them around.
When using the Space A40s I did find the controls to be a little weird because they are touch and you don’t get any indication that things have worked. This is an issue with most earbuds for me really but the A40’s controls had a slight delay which exaggerated the issue. I would press play/pause and because nothing would happen right away I would press it again and then my music would play then pause again as it caught up. As far as battery life goes the Space A40’s have 10 hours of playtime on the earbud charge which is more than a full workday which means you don’t need to charge them mid-day though I imagine most people would take them out at some point. You do have a quick charge as well which 10 minutes of charge gets you four hours of use so even if you did need to charge them in the middle of your work day you could get enough time to finish the day out with a quick break time charge. Then the case itself holds 40 hours of use for recharges before needing to plug back in. If you do need to plug back in they use Type-C which should be easy to find as well. The charging case also supports Qi charging for even easier charging as well.
As for audio performance, I found the A40’s to sound noticeably better than the Q45s which had a few problems. The 10mm drivers had the kick I wanted on the low end and didn’t muddy up the mids or highs. I was surprised to see that the Q45s and A40s both had the same 20Hz~40KHz frequency range because it felt like the A40s had that and the Q45s are closer to 40Hz~30KHz