JOINING THE FRAY – 1MORE TRUE WIRELESS ANC IN-EAR HEADPHONES REVIEW

Audio gear has taken huge steps in the last few years, and one of the most significant upgrades is the ANC or Active Noise Cancellation feature. It’s been so popular that even regular folks recognise the acronym, thanks to the launch of Apple’s Airpods Pro.

As the market ramps up to demand, 1More has introduced their version – the True Wireless ANC In-ear Headphones. The naming is a bit of a misnomer given they are earphones rather than headphones, but otherwise this hybrid ANC has some interesting differentiators that mark them worthy of being considered by people looking for brands to compare.

I have been sponsored these True Wireless ANC Headphones by 1More, but the views here are entirely my own. I have not been paid, am not an affiliate and will not receive any referral rewards when you click through my links.

For those of you who are familiar with the brand, yes, it’s endorsed by Jay Chou.

The 1More True Wireless ANC Headphones came in a box similar to the 1More Colorbuds I received previously – a little surprising, given the price point for this model was double of the Colorbuds, so one might have expected a more premium packaging?

Most striking was the iF Design awards 2019 stamp of approval, but otherwise I felt the box once again lacking in some pizzazz to bring out its contents. You wouldn’t be able to tell these were ANC earphones without reading the (rather small) title text.

That said, the box opened up to a more sleek presentation (minus again, the busy plastic cover that obscured the earphones below). The interior with its heavy sponge padding reminded one of those security briefcases, and the side displayed design drafts that hinted at the elaborate design process. In some ways, I felt this took away a little of the clean look, and the sketches also felt a little like an afterthought somehow.

Now, the box and most site descriptions mentioned you’ll be getting a pair of earbuds (8g each), a charging case (63g), 3 pairs of ear tips in different sizes (S,M,L) and 3 pairs of O-Hooks (the “wings” that hang on to your external ear structure) in different sizes, a booklet and a charging cable.

However, what I got a little more.

Other than a carrying bag, I also got another set of funnel-shaped ear tips, and an extra rounded ear tip on the earbuds themselves that felt like it was between the small and medium sizes of the extras.

This was nice, given that my history with the Colorbuds meant I knew having the right fit was important to a good sound experience. After playing with a few sets, I stuck with the original configuration – one that sat snugly and comfortably in my ear.

I’ll have to admit, the earphones do look awkward when unworn. The first few times I tried to put them on, I would always spend a few seconds trying to figure which side was up. Taking it out of the case is easier with its label, but otherwise their design can be directionally confusing.

Also when unworn, it can look look like it’ll a little cumbersome to wear. Even after putting on, it would feel like most of its body is out of the ear, but a quick check in the mirror assured me that it wasn’t hanging out obtrusively at all.

For the specs, here are some of the highlights from the 1More True Wireless ANC Headphones press release:

  • Active Noise Cancellation: Hybrid active noise cancellation with one feedforward mic and one feedback mic that allows the end user to have much more comprehensive noise cancellation through a broader range of frequencies.
  • Surrounding Awareness: Pass-through mode lets in ambient noise, so users are able to stay aware of their surroundings while walking down a crowded city street.  
  • User-friendly Compatibility: The latest Qualcomm chipset and Bluetooth 5 technology allows seamless aptX and AAC transmission compatible with Android and iOS devices.
  • Convenient Options: These headphones can be charged via type-c port or wirelessly using a Qi compatible wireless charging pad. A multi-functional button is also included on each earbud along with G sensors for touch controls that allows for control over ANC, song selection, volume, phone calls, and voice assistance.
  • Battery Life + Fast Charging:  Users can enjoy 6 hours of battery life (5 with ANC on) on a full charge, and 22 hours of total battery life with the included portable charging case that provides three additional full-length charges. Fast charge capabilities are also included, where users can charge for only 15 minutes to get an additional 2 hours of use.
  • THX Certification: THX engineers conduct hundreds of scientifically-formulated tests to ensure the highest audio standards are met. These tests include frequency response, channel balance, cross-talk, THD, and polarity. (Pending)

There’s also a table that compares key differentiators from leading models like the Apple Airpods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3.

That includes 2 levels of ANC filtering (for up to 35dB and 20 dB), including aptX coding, dual drivers, physical buttons, and fast charge, all at a price lower than the other two.

So how does it fare in the roadtest? I tried it out for a fornight in different scenarios and here are my key takeaways.

Pairing was similar to the Colorbuds and straightforward, although I did notice sometimes only one would connect when taking them out. I would resolve this by placing the one back into the case before taking it out again.

After I got used to putting them on, the next thing I had to adapt to was the combination of physical buttons for main controls and the touch point for ANC filtering. That was pretty easy to adjust to and in some ways, I found that good for separating the functionality as opposed to remembering the number of taps needed to adjust a feature.

However, I think it might be nice to have the main controls on the touch points instead as I use them more often, while the ANC filters can be switched to the physical ones for a firm shift in filtering.

The four modes with the ANC modes included one regular mode, one pass-through mode which allows for audio around you to come in directly, one ‘lite’ mode which filters up to 20dB, and one for the full 35 dB experience.

I found that when combined with the passive cancellation from the snug seal, the ANC did a standout job in taking out environmental noise. It took out the lower register the best, making bus rumbles and engine roars disappear instantly. Voices are significantly muffled, and with the addition of audio, are also eliminated. There was even one instance of a shrill lady talking on the phone on the bus, and I thought quite impossible to drown out. But I played some music and didn’t even notice that she had alighted the bus after I took the earphones off.

I would say that the ANC capabilities here place this in a premium zone, on par with the best out there. That said, I found that the difference between the two levels not particularly significant enough for me, especially when it adds one more tap before I hit pass-through mode. It’s just an additional step that slows down the switch if the need to hear things around you is needed.

The audio, like the Colorbuds, are great. But while the Colorbuds excel in voice and have a clarity that I have grown to love, the 1More True Wireless ANC Headphones are decidedly warmer. Once again, the benefit of having the Grammy-Award-winning Luca Bignardi audio engineering skills creates a lush canvas, with no distortions or tinny-ness that spoil heightened moments in your music.

There’s a nice depth and layering here that adjusts to all types of audio, from frenetic electronics to orchestral arrangements. The clarity in voice can also be found here, but this time sits more snugly in the instrumentals so the balance here feels more like the standard presentations out there.

The effort at the THX certification shows here too. There is a cinematic feel to the experience, thanks to the depth, granting a horizon to certain scores, but the theatrical feel is also more intimate, like those coming from a private hall than a huge auditorium. Really lovely.

Other than the additional tap to get to pass-through, my daily use showed up only one other possible improvement that might be needed – the battery.

Don’t get me wrong – the promised use time is pretty accurate, but I did notice that the battery drain while the earphones and case is on standby to be also fairly significant, so I needed to charge the case a bit more often than my Colourbuds (about once in 3 days as opposed to a week).

I also noticed sometimes the earphones would have not really charged even though they were in their case, but I’m not sure if this might be a glitch in my pair and happened infrequently so I couldn’t isolate the problem. The fast charge was in place though, which is great for quick spurts on the go.

The 1More True Wireless ANC Headphones promises a “Turn on, tune in, block out” experience, and through positioning premium quality sound with a decent ANC bundle, allows its users to do just that. This marks them as a worthy contender to other top makes out there, and require just some extra tweaks (especially with the packaging and literature) to make this pop enough to warrant more attention.

The 1More True Wireless ANC Headphones are available for purchase in Singapore on Lazada for a current promotional price of SGD$249. (Usual $329)

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