New headphones: What a sound!
REVIEW: 1More is a powerful and affordable alternative to headphones from Apple, Sony and Sennheiser
‘The best true wireless sound we’ve ever heard’ was originally the title of this test.
Then came the corona pandemic and delayed the product itself. And not least, Sennheiser launched their Momentum True Wireless 2 and stole the title we had planned.
However, the True Wireless category is not an easy category to debut in. Especially when you promise active noise reduction and the biggest competitors suddenly are Apple, Sennheiser and Sony. But that’s exactly what Chinese 1More is now trying to do.
1More is a new brand for us, but they have generally gotten good publicity for their other headphones all around. Today we are therefore testing 1More True Wireless ANC.
They have what 1More (or 1MORE, if we were to follow their stylization of the brand) calls ‘hybrid dual driver design’ with balanced devices that take care of the high tones and a dynamic driver for bass and midrange. In theory, it should provide better sound than is possible with a single element that takes care of the entire register.
What a sound!
And we might as well take that bite first: 1More simply sounds amazing.
First of all, they have a sharpness and definition in the treble that we rarely experience, and they also sound right in the right place, so they do not get cut or tired. If it is possible to say that you have an ‘acoustic itch’ somewhere, then the 1More sticks itch us as hard as we want, and with just the right use of nails, so that the goosebumps sometimes spread down over the arms.
The treble is complemented by a very dry, precise and cash bass and a quite full-bodied midrange. The result is a pretty impressive whole that is downright enjoyable to listen to. Sennheiser, we mentioned at the beginning, will probably still rank a little ahead, but 1More follows right in the heels, and that’s just a matter of taste and pleasure.
Sennheiser is a little more airy, has a slightly higher level of detail and a more refined reproduction of the treble, while 1More gives a little more fullness, bass and dedication.
It could possibly be argued that the Chinese have pushed quite a bit ‘extra of everything’ in, and that a slightly more relaxed treble and midrange would have been preferable, but it also depends on what you are listening to. With a bit of insistent pop music or in a more rocky direction, it can sometimes be too much of a good thing, while warmer genres really sound fabulous here.
Both Apple’s Airpods Pro and Sony‘s WF-1000XM3 also sound good, but both tend to be too sharp at the top, perhaps Airpods more than Sony. Several times (especially before Sennheiser came up with their news) we went back to 1More just for the sake of sound – so good they actually are.
Corona got in the way
1More TW ANC was originally launched at the CES show in Las Vegas in January, and we’ve had the test copy for quite some time.
The reason why we have been so long with this test is twofold – the shutdowns in China led to delays both in production and not least in the development of a new firmware.
The original firmware that came with the headphones was far from fully developed. It mainly caused three problems:
1. The noise reduction changed the sound image too much. The whole thing was ‘muted’ with a more prominent and not least much more loose bass that went beyond the previously so clear and nice treble. It just does not sound so good when the noise reduction is activated.
2. The headphones were not reliable when it came to turn on when you first took them out of the case. In too many cases, they had to be turned on manually.
3. And the autopause function when the devices are removed from the ears was not possible to turn off and especially during races the music was paused in time and out of time, which was terribly annoying.
All of these things are improved with the latest firmware update (0.03.44), and 1More also tells us that they are working on improving the currently very basic app (called 1More Music, ed.).
The sound with noise reduction active is still a notch more bass heavy than the sound without noise reduction. But the two are now much, much closer to each other. We are no longer afraid to use noise reduction for that reason alone. That noise reduction affects the sound reproduction is also not unusual, but it is rare that the difference is as great as it was before the update.
Large but fits pretty well
1More TW ANC are also quite large units. They are not as Frankenstein-like as Bose’s SoundSport Free, but they are reminiscent of when we put the headphones in our ears and look at ourselves in the mirror.
They protrude quite a bit and are certainly not as discreet as some of the other devices we have tested recently. Fortunately, the weight distribution is decent, and they also have small rings that support in the ear canal, so they actually sit pretty well.
The exception is perhaps running, where the fact that the bulk of the weight sits so far outside the ear is felt extraordinarily much. For the undersigned, they slipped at least slowly but surely out of the ear and therefore need to be adjusted quite often. Both the Sennheiser Momentum TW2 and Jabra Elite 75t remain firmly seated throughout the race, despite having no wings or the like to hold them in place.
The units from 1More have an external touch panel, where double pressure allows you to switch between the four noise reduction modes – high, low, pass through and off. They also have a small button at the top of both devices that is used to raise (right) and lower the volume (left) or to jump between songs by holding down. It works perfectly, but we have experienced that there was a switch between the four noise reduction modes without that being the intention.
It’s surprising how difficult it is to get the sensitivity of these touch panels to sit in the closet, and 1More does not perform perfectly.
Noise reduction lags
The noise reduction is not the most impressive, but combined with the passive noise reduction you get a clear reduction of ambient noise. Other devices are significantly better at reducing more uneven noise, such as the sound of a keyboard, but 1More still does an ok job of removing the smooth, lower frequencies from traffic, aircraft engines, and the like. In that area, however, both Apple and Sony are better, and the former is probably the best in the true wireless category.
As mentioned, the associated app is very simple right now, and of things that we can not do directly on the earbuds, it really only allows you to turn the autopause feature on and off and update the firmware. Also, it’s annoying that a 1More account is required to use the app, which seems completely unnecessary. Manufacturers have to stop making such demands, especially when it has no other function than to collect our email addresses!
The headphones can be individually connected to the audio source, so the first device you remove from the case always becomes the main device, and then the sound is sent from there to the second. Unfortunately, the power consumption of the two devices is quite uneven, and the main unit uses significantly more power than the other.
Battery life is also not the strongest side of the 1More TW ANC, although the company claims that there has been a slight improvement after the latest firmware update. However, we do not notice much difference. 1More claims that the devices can last up to five hours with noise reduction turned off and four hours with the feature on.
It is probably measured under extremely optimal conditions, for about four hours without noise reduction seems to be the most we can get out of them. It should be said that the devices support the Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus feature that allows Android phones with at least Snapdragon 855 to send audio to both devices at the same time, resulting in both lower delay and smoother power consumption.
Unfortunately, the undersigned did not have access to it during the test, but the power consumption of the ‘slave unit’ gives a good indication of how it will work in practice. This device is likely to use 15-20 percent less power than the one that transmits audio from your iPhone or Android phone.
The case provides about two and a half extra charge, so the total battery life is up to 18 hours without noise reduction and 14 hours with, which must be said to be mediocre compared to some of the competitors. For example, the Sennheiser Momentum TW2 has a specified battery life of seven hours on a single charge and four additional charges in the case, for a total of 35 hours. We hope that 1More can push more with future firmware updates.
According to the company, a 15-minute charge in the case is enough for about two (optimistic, ed.) Hours of playing time, and the case supports wireless charging and cable charging with USB-C. It is well.
The call quality in noisy environments, on the other hand, is quite poor. If there is a lot of noise around you, the algorithms are not at all able to get your voice out, so your counterpart in the conversation gets ‘porridge’ served. However, for conversations indoors and in a quiet environment, they work perfectly.
And the conclusion in short form? 1More True Wireless ANC delivers some of the best sound we’ve heard in this type of product, but has only medium battery life and some other minor issues. But the problems are not so great that we will call them ‘dealbreakers’ u such a product.