Having used the Space One now on and off for about two months, I have found them to be comfortable, effective, and flexible budget noise cancelling headphones. They are good for reducing everyday noise and in particular for customizing how much noise reduction or transparency you want.
In terms of sound quality, however, they have left me wanting. In my opinion, the more economical Life Q30 by the same manufacturer sound quite a bit better.
The Space One are decent for listening to podcasts, ambient music, and white noise while working or studying.
The default sound can be improved upon via the app’s built-in EQ presets to a point (see below).
Still, for listening to music, I’d rather use other headphones.
- Good-quality, adjustable transparency mode that can be used to remain aware of your surroundings and communicate but also to make a loud city quieter without feeling too isolated.
- Adjustable ANC that is effective at reducing noise in coffee shops and open plan offices, on airplanes, and along busy streets.
- Adaptable wind noise reduction that makes a significant difference when used together with transparency mode. (In ANC mode, the headphones already reject wind noise quite well without activated wind noise mode.)
The main downsides:
- The tonal balance of these headphones is off. Mids are way too recessed and vocals sound thin. Treble can sound grating. This can partially be remedied by using the Lounge and Pop EQ profiles, but several comparably priced headphones, including the Life Q30 (review and ANC test) and Space Q45 by the same manufacturer, sound better.
- Low frequency noise reduction is average. Against trucks, hums, music bass, I would like better ANC. In that range the Space One are not nearly as effective as the more economical Q30.
Fit and wearing comfort
I find the Space One comfortable and the cushions big enough for my comparatively large ears. I have no issues wearing them for a couple of hours.
Initially I had some trouble getting a consistent seal with these headphones though.
When looking straight ahead, the seal was fine, but when I turned my head, the seal broke and outside noise leaked in, in particular low frequency noise. I constantly had to make adjustments.
Then I tried a little trick I originally discovered using earmuffs: I put the headphones on from the back of my ears first (extended to notch 5), and then slid them forward. This provided a more consistent seal around my ears.
How does the fit of these compare to that of the Q30?
- I find the cushions of the Q30 to be slightly more comfortable.
- On the other hand, the headband cushioning of the Space One is plusher than that of the Q30.
- At 9.3 oz., the weight is about the same: (my scale: Space One 262g, Q30 265g)
In terms of long-term wearing comfort and seal-consistency, I would give the Q30 a slight edge, but I can live with either of them.
ANC and noise reduction details
The following discussion pertains to custom ANC set to max. In my experience adaptive ANC defaulted to weaker ANC settings, even in noisier environments. For other ANC settings also see the section on custom transparency mode.
In terms of noise reduction, the Space One are a good all-rounder:
Subjectively, I have found the noise reduction to be effective against cabin noise on airplanes, chattering and clinking in coffee shops, and rumbling, honking, rolling tires, shouting, etc. on busy roads.
To be clear, the active noise cancellation (ANC) of these isn’t nearly as powerful as that of the Sony WH1000XM4 (still my ANC reference, details below), but considering these are budget headphones, they perform well.
The weakest aspect is low frequency noise reduction. The Space One do a decent job in that range too, so they do suppress these noises adequately as long as they don’t get too loud.
But, louder trucks (that cause vibrations as they pass), low frequency hums (e.g. from HVAC systems), and bass in music can break through.
These types of noises are more effectively handled by both the Sony and the more economical Life Q30.
Here is a noise reduction comparison chart (based on my own testing with pulsed noises at increasing frequencies) for the Soundcore Space One headphones (blue line) and the Soundcore Life Q30 (red line).
The higher the line on the chart, the more noise reduction at that frequency:
The Space One perform substantially better than the Q30 against higher bass (160 to 250 Hz, e.g., lower end of speech) and mid frequency noises (250 to 2000 Hz, many everyday noises incl. chatter, honking, shouting…). They do a lot better in a louder coffee shop or open plan office than the Q30.
The Q30 shine against low frequency noise (LFN) <=125 Hz, such as trucks, LFN hums and vibrations, thumping bass noises. In that range, they outperform the Space One by a large margin! They are, however, quite a bit worse against chatter than the Space One.
For more info on the Q30, also check my in-depth review and ANC test of the Q30.
Both headphones effectively muffle high frequency noises >2000 Hz.
Overall, the Space One feel more effective in most environments I have tested them. The better mid-frequency noise reduction makes quite a difference.
If, however, you are mainly troubled by LFN, I would choose the Q30 in this price range.
And here is a noise reduction chart (again against pulsed noises) comparing the Space One (blue line) to the Sony WH-1000XM4 (green line).
Again, the higher the line at a particular frequency, the more noise reduction at that frequency:
As the graph would predict, the Sony perform better than the Soundcore Space One in all environments I have tested them, i.e., against traffic, music bass, hums, cabin noise, chatter, screaming, etc.
The Sony are substantially better against low frequency noise <125 Hz and against higher bass and mid frequency noise.
I would greatly miss the Sony WH-1000XM4 against low frequency noise (and yes, they also outperform the Q30 in that range).
They are also noticeably better against chatter than the Space One, but in that range these budget cans do 85 to 90% as well for a lot less money.
Does the active noise cancellation work in wired mode?
The short answer is “Yes,” ANC on the Space One (unlike on the Q30) works in wired mode.
This is particularly important on a plane for reducing cabin noise while using inflight entertainment.
I have had no issues using the Space One wired with ANC enabled. Plug in your audio cable and turn on the headphones as you normally would.
The ANC button remains active and allows you to cycle through ANC on, ANC off, and Transparency.
Customizations you have made in the app also still apply: ANC mode (adaptive/custom), ANC and transparency mode strengths as well EQ settings are stored in the headphones and hence are still active.
To use the app you have to disconnect the audio cable and reconnect via Bluetooth though.
- When used wired, turn them on for the ANC and your EQ settings to work.
- Turned off, you can still listen to music, but without power you obviously won’t get ANC. Moreover, in off-mode the headphones sound quite muffled and hollow.
Sound quality is the weakest point of the Space One. With these headphones, I listened to mostly pop and rock, but also trance, and vocal music.
With the EQ set to the default Soundcore Signature, I initially liked what I was hearing.
The bass was strong and well extended and the headphones sounded clear.
However, the more I listened to vocals, the more I disliked how they sounded:
Both male and female vocals appear thin and recessed. The mids on these headphones are way too recessed. Vocals don’t sound natural and lack energy. In addition, there are substantial peaks in the treble that can be grating at times.
Directly comparing them to the Soundcore Life Q30 as well as the more expensive Space Q45, I like the sound of both of them better.
While I have to EQ the Q30 to subdue their oversized bass, I find doing so fairly straight-forward. Selecting “flat” instead of Soundcore Signature on the Q30 already helps a lot. On the Space One, flat doesn’t help much.
So I went through all EQ-profiles in search of something that might amplify the mid region and make vocals on the Space One sound more natural.
Indeed, I did find two EQ profiles with which the Space One sounded decent with most music: “Lounge,” and “Pop.” I started to like the sound better. The treble can still be a bit harsh at times, but overall the result is much better.
Looking at the curves you can see that that both profiles emphasize the mids:
Lounge preset and resulting EQ settings
Pop preset and resulting EQ settings
So I went back to compare the improved sound again to the Q30:
Well, the Q30 set to “flat” still sound better than the Space One (even after using the most favorable profiles), in particular with respect to vocals.
Perhaps I can further improve on this via the custom EQ, but in my opinion Anker should really look into this.
Make at least “flat” sound balanced!
I’ll update this review if I can come up with manual settings that substantially improve on the sound.
I wish they would have just made the Space One sound more like the Q30 (or the less bass-heavy Q45).
The Soundcore Space One have a capable, volume-adjustable transparency mode.
At max setting, I have found the environmental volume to be only a bit quieter than when not wearing headphones.
(The volume you preset here is what you get when later using the ANC button to switch to transparency.)
The overall quality of piped in sound is good.
There is a tad of volume reduction in the higher frequencies—a tad of muffling if you will, but I can understand well what’s being said. Vocals don’t sound artificial either.
Also, there appears to be no undue amplification of low frequency sounds, no boomy own voice, and no selective amplification of certain sounds (e.g., fans). I like this.
(In contrast to this, with ANC off (Normal mode), I hear growling and rumbling and perceive my own voice as loud and bassy; the Space One compensate for that in transparency mode.)
While you can’t use custom transparency as a hearing amplifier beyond what you would hear without headphones, you can use it to reduce the environmental volume should you find everything too loud:
At min setting, I am getting a decent loudness reduction and still good quality; I can use this in a moderately loud coffee shop or a mall to make things quieter but still hear quite well what’s going on.
What if you need it a bit quieter than the min setting?
Custom ANC comes to mind.
I have tried to find an even quieter “transparency” setting for louder places and found ANC level 2 to be a reasonable continuation:
After adjusting both the ANC level (affects ANC mode) and the transparency volume, you can toggle between the two via the ANC button (disable the ANC off setting in the app).
This makes the Space One quite flexible headphones for noise sensitive people.
(To get back to max ANC or max transparency though, you then have to use the app. Ideally, max ANC and max transparency would still be accessible via the ANC button.)
How does the transparency mode on the Space One compare to that on the Life Q30?
The Space One have a much more advanced and flexible transparency mode than the Life Q30, which I tested a while ago.
The Q30’s transparency mode sounds bassy and my own voice appears amplified and boomy. Also, there is no way to adjust its volume.
While useful for ordering a coffee, it is too much for me in many situations.
Easy Chat mode is an amplified transparency mode
The Space One have a second transparency mode, called Easy Chat. This one is activated as long as you cup the left ear cup with your hand. Alternatively you can set it to have it activated when you start talking.
Easy Chat is not adjustable but amplifies the vocal range compared to what you would hear without headphones. It does this in a similar way to the Q30 in transparency mode, but better. In addition to the vocal range amplification, Easy Chat appears to use ANC to compensate for the occlusion effect and bassy own voice caused by wearing headphones.
Still, Easy Chat sounds a bit blaring to me: OK for ordering a coffee. For longer conversations and situational awareness, I would switch to custom transparency mode, which sounds a lot more natural.
Wind noise reduction
Wind noise reduction can be turned on when the headphones are set to either ANC or transparency mode.
In particular in transparency mode, I have found wind mode to be very responsive and useful.
In ANC mode, there seems to be not much of a difference. Mind you, in this mode the headphones already performed well in my tests in windy environments.
Back to transparency mode: Here wind mode makes a lot of sense.
In normal transparency mode, the mikes pick up wind and amplify it quite strongly, making it difficult to hear your music or environment.
With wind mode enabled, the headphones respond to increasing wind strength by dialing back the sensitivity of the microphones in steps. (That’s how I perceive it.)
In my experience, this effectively reduces wind noise. It obviously also reduces the ambient volume, i.e., you hear less of what is going on around you, but otherwise the wind would drown it out.
When the wind is very strong, the external mikes appear to completely switch off, but there is still some noise cancelling going on which keeps low frequency noise at bay.
Operation, Bluetooth, and multi-point pairing
I find the Space One easy to operate. The button layout is pretty much the same you get on most other Soundcore headphones, including the Q30 and Q45.
Buttons and major functions
- Power on/off
Keep this button pressed beyond the “power on chime” to put the headphones into paring mode; when turned on, double-pressing puts them into pairing mode as long as you are not yet connected to two devices.
- ANC button (cycle through ANC, ANC off, and transparency)
- Put your hand on your left ear cup to activate “Easy Chat mode”
- Volume +/- buttons (long-press for track forward and backward)
- Play/Pause button (answer/end call, long-press to reject call)
The headphones use Bluetooth 5.3 and can be connected to two devices (e.g., your phone and PC) at the same.
I have found the Bluetooth connection to be very stable and had no issues connecting them to two devices at the same time.
The Space One don’t support connection-pull:
So if you already have two connected devices and want to connect to yet another device, you have to disconnect from one device first, e.g., by going into that device’s Bluetooth settings.
Alternatively you can also toggle active devices (and pair to new ones) in the Soundcore app:
The Space One FAQ page by Soundcore contains a good overview of operation and basic troubleshooting.
I tested Space One call quality by making real phone calls in four different environments and compared them to the Life Q30 and the Space A40 earbuds. In my prior tests, the A40 handled noise very well so I consider them a good yardstick in the budget range.
- Quiet room
- Moderately loud coffee shop noise (ca 65 dBA)
- Loud coffee shop noise (ca 75 dBA)
- Unrealistically loud coffee shop noise (ca 85 dBA)
Overall, I have found the Space One to be good for making calls in a quiet room and OK in a moderately noisy coffee shop.
In a loud coffee shop, my voice became too choppy for holding a conversation. Performance when making calls is a bit better than that of the Q30 but overall comparable: the Space One have better noise suppression while the Q30 let in more background noise but better preserve speech quality.
With the Space A40 earbuds, my voice sounded a tad thinner in a quiet environment. However, in louder environments they performed better than both the Space One and the Q30. They had the most adaptive and effective noise suppression and remained usable in all tested environments.
Overall Ranking Call quality: A40 >> Space One => Q30
What do you get in the box and how well do they travel?
The Soundcore Space One come with a soft pouch, an audio cable with a 3.5mm jack, and a short USB-C charging cable.
To put them into the pouch you fold them like this:
This works well enough for traveling, but the pouch obviously doesn’t protect the headphones as well as the hard case you get with the Q30:
I tried to put them in the Q30 case, but they are too big. Moreover, the ear cups are set at an angle to the headband, so the Space One don’t completely lie flat and would need a taller case:
The soft pouch is not a deal-breaker for me, but it is definitely a step back.
The Soundcore Space One are a comfortable and economical yet versatile over-hear noise reduction tool that can help a noise sensitive person to quieten a louder city, coffee shop, airplane cabin, shopping mall, etc.
They are a good “mellow-down” tool so to speak.
I like that you can use sliders to independently dial in ANC and transparency strengths to make everything a bit quieter.
The adjustment range is good.
It allowed me to set everything up so that I have just enough transparency to communicate yet not get stressed out. (This obviously can only hold true up to a certain noise level.)
My own voice also sounds good in transparency mode, and not overly boomy or otherwise amplified.
Thanks to their effective wind mode, the Space are also good outdoors. I wouldn’t use them in the rain though.
For the coin, they do most things well, but I don’t particularly like the sound of the Space One.
The tonal balance is just not what I expect from good headphones, so I don’t recommend them if your focus is on listening to music. In terms of sound, I much prefer the Soundcore Life Q30, which are, unfortunately, less customizable (with respect to ANC and transparency).
Perhaps Soundcore could retune the Space One with a firmware update. Just make them sound balanced.
When it comes to low frequency noise (LFN) reduction (trucks, music bass, LFN hums), the ANC of these headphones is only average.
If LFN reduction is your main focus, I wouldn’t get the Space One: the Life Q30, for example, are way ahead in terms of low frequency noise reduction.
If Anker could add the LFN ANC capabilities and the sound of the Q30, they would have a winner.