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1More Dual Driver ANC Lightning Review – Traditional Audio, Evolved Features

Introduction –

1More are perhaps most renowned for their triple hybrid driver in-ear, a model that offered stunning value with its chiselled metal build and warm, inviting sound. However, their popularity stems from numerous factors besides sound quality and build; 1More are also an immensely progressive company with a plethora of designs tailored towards varied use case scenarios from critical listening to travel to gaming. Their new Dual Driver ANC earphone exemplifies this as an in-ear that best suits portable use with a smart device. And, with a titanium dynamic driver + single BA setup tuned to their signature house sound, 1More promise class-leading sound quality on top.

The earphones also assume a lightning connector suiting the transition away from the 3.5mm jack. Though I still find this trend to be inconveniencing and annoying, 1More’s solution beats a dongle any day and it does demonstrate a few benefits of digital output. Most notably, the integrated DAC/AMP and noise cancelling circuitry draw power from the lightning port, delivering cleaner audio and omitting the need for a bulky module on the earphone themselves. This creates what is easily among the most svelte in-ear noise cancelling solutions I’ve experienced. Let’s see how they perform.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Ari from 1More very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the ANC Dual Driver for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories –

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Few companies flatter the buyer with accessories quite like 1More and fewer yet package with such flourish. The Dual Driver ANC maintains 1More’s high level of presentation with a bold textured box with brushed metal magnetic flip cover.

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Inside are the earphones and accessories showcased within moulded plastic. 1More include a metal shirt clip, faux leather hard case in addition to 4 pairs of multi-size silicone ear tips and 4 pairs of stabilisers. The tips are all well-moulded if slightly flimsy for my liking with a tendency to collapse within the ear. Still, they work fine for the earphone’s intended style of wear, promoting a shallow, comfortable fit.

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The stabilisers are also quite interesting, functioning similarly to the ear fins seen on Bose and OVC in-ears. However, they instead lock into the rears of the ear and produce less skin contact which enhances long-term comfort. When perusing Amazon reviews, the majority of the neutral and negative reviews reported ineffective noise cancelling or weak bass, both things that rely heavily on seal. As such, it is vital to find the tip that offers the strongest seal so I would’ve liked to have seen some foam tips included.

 

Design –

1More’s visually arresting display continues to the earphones themselves that carry the high level of design and finish we’ve come to expect from the company. On a superficial level, the earphones resemble the Pistons and non-noise-cancelling 1More Dual Drivers but their design has been tweaked for long-term wear during travel and their dimensions have enlarged to incorporate ANC microphones.

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The housings themselves most immediately draw the eye with a machined metal construction imbuing their lustrous grey finish with some texture. High-polish chamfered edges accent this design and the earphone’s reflectivity is offset by their tasteful colour scheme. Gold vents at the rears house the noise cancelling microphones and the use of more rounded plastic inner faces and nozzles contribute to weight saving and a softer feel in the ear.

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One notable aspect of the DD ANC is the nozzle design; the earphones are using slender ovular nozzles that only accept the stock tips. They are also on the shorter side producing a rather shallow fit depth. That said, this greatly benefits comfort as the earphones don’t produce any wearing pressure, and I found them form no hotspots even after hours of listening. The included silicone stabilisers also work a treat for those looking to use the 1More’s during activity.

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The DD ANC has the standard 1More cable with supple fabric sheathing below the y-split and a rubber cable above. The cable is a little thin and the rubber does tend to catch on clothes, but it is a Kevlar reinforced and very supple in feel. The cable also resists tangles very well and construction is quite good; the earphones themselves have incredible strain relief with more minimal reinforcement on the jack and remote. As aforementioned, they do terminate in a lightning plug which provides a digital audio input in addition to power. At present, 1More do not offer them with a USB-C connector, limiting use to IOS devices.

 

Usability –

The 1More’s are controlled through a central remote located at the y-split. It is quite unique in design, containing a dedicated AMP/DAC in addition to the noise cancelling circuitry. However, as the earphones draw power from the source, 1More was able to omit an internal battery and drastically shrink down both the dimensions and weight of the ANC control box. Of course, it is noticeably larger than any remote on a non-noise-cancelling in-ear, but it’s also half the size of the ANC modules on the OVC H15 and Bose QC20, only the ADV 747 gets close.

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An interesting feature of the remote is its unique control scheme, utilising a joystick over isolated switches. The joystick controls basic playback, swivelling up and down for volume, left and right to skip tracks and inwards to play/pause. In use, it’s markedly easier to locate than discrete buttons and provides clicky, tactile feedback. It didn’t take me long to adjust and I experienced no accidental or misregistered commands during my testing. The right cable above the y-split also contains a microphone and recipients reported clear audio during my testing.

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The right side of the remote houses the ANC toggle switch that is coloured to denote whether the function is active. Battery life will vary greatly based on the attached device and loudness, but I did time a few cycles on my 6th Generation iPod Touch at 7/16 volume to assess the effect of ANC. With ANC disabled, the earphones still drew a fair amount of power, lasting just over 12 and a half hours on average. With ANC enabled, the iPod was reduced to critical battery in 10 and a half hours which is a modest difference considering the effectiveness of their noise cancellation.

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iPhone and iPad users will no doubt be able to extract vastly longer runtimes making them comparable to the very best ANC in-ears in longevity. That said, I would still liked to have seen a lightning port on the remote/control module to enable charging during use. 1More also have an IOS app that offers basic music player functionality and has an integrated burn-in protocol. I put my set through 3 phases of burn-in to ensure maximum performance before evaluation. The app also enables users to upgrade firmware, at the time of testing, my Dual Driver ANC’s are on version 1.4.5.

 

Noise Cancelling –

Given that the DD ANC is designed for travellers, my 9hr flight from Sydney to Portafes in Japan served as the perfect test environment for noise cancelling performance. If you aren’t familiar with active noise cancelling technology, the earphones use microphones and lightning fast calculations to analyse incoming noise and produce an inverse waveform that cancels out that ambient sound through destructive interference. These solutions mainly target lower-frequency noise such as the drone of engines or the whirring of air-conditioning, making them a top choice for frequent travellers. Though not quite as vacuum-like as my trusty Bose QC20’s, the 1More’s did a fine job cancelling noise during my flight, matching the more expensive headset in many regards.

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I was also pleased to find that enabling ANC doesn’t alter the sound of the earphones at all and 1More are quick to state that the DD ANC noise cancels over a wider range of frequencies stretching from 50Hz to 2000Hz through which they claim a 20dB reduction. For comparison, this is a similar range to the class-leading Bose QC earphones and almost twice as wide as the 40Hz to 1000Hz range provided by competitors from OVC and ADV. Through this, 1More reason that the Dual Driver will better attenuate voices in addition to low-frequency droning. In use, they don’t attenuate as much noise as my custom moulded earphones nor do they block out as much high-frequency noise as a good sealed in-ear with foam eartips, but they easily matched the customs when it came to suppressing drones and hums. With that said, I relaxed for the long trip ahead and took some notes comparing the 1Mores to a few other ANC in-ears I had on hand.

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OVC H15: The H15 is a terrific budget noise canceller but it does have the least aggressive noise cancelling solution in comparison to the following models. Passive isolation with ANC disabled is also just modest, higher than the 1More’s but not they aren’t nearly as isolating as the ADV 747’s and higher-frequencies such as voices and the hissing of air conditioning are less attenuated as a result. With noise cancellation enabled, they still attenuate the least noise in this comparison but they are the cheapest and aren’t affected by wind noise at all.

The H15 produced no audio glitches with ANC enabled even over months of testing. Moreover, they lack the sense of pressure usually exerted by ANC in-ears. Their main downfall stems from their sound, their ANC ability is affected by their inbuilt bass boost which noticeably reduces noise cancelling performance when enabled. However, they do sound somewhat bass-deficient without it, not ideal when listening for hours in a noisier environment.

ADV 747: The 747 offers the most passive isolation with ANC disabled and therefore blocks the most high-frequency noise. Its ANC implementation is also very well-judged with similar if not slightly greater potency than the H15, and the 747 offers the most even noise attenuation of the bunch throughout the whole audio spectrum. With ANC enabled, hissing and higher voices are reduced in amplitude and low-frequency drones are drastically attenuated. They hold a notable advantage over the H15 in high and midrange-frequency attenuation but their ability to drown out low-frequency droning is only slightly greater. In use, the 747 produces a small sense of pressure that is noticeable but not irksome, however, when outside, wind noise is slightly amplified.

They also didn’t produce any glitches due to changing cabin pressure or slamming doors on public transport as the 1More and Bose in-ears tended to. For my personal tastes, the 747 provided the most desirable noise attenuating performance combining great ANC with good passive high-frequency isolation. Of note, the 747 can also be equipped with more isolating foam ear tips. With foams, they’re almost comparable to the Bose QC20 and even block more sound in some frequency ranges. This is specific to the 747 as the OVC, Bose and 1More earphones all use unique nozzle shapes and designs that don’t permit third-party tips; the 747 can fit any tip most to your liking.

1More ANC: 1More offers the most advanced, aggressive noise cancelling solution save for the Bose QC20. With ANC off, they block very little noise so the electronics have to compensate to silence ambient noise. Luckily, 1More’s implementation is excellent, and the Dual Driver’s easily block the most low-frequency noise; drones and hums that remain clearly audible on the other in-ears are essentially silenced on the 1More’s. Their noise-cancelling also covers the widest spectrum of sound but, due to deficient passive isolation, they still don’t lower higher frequencies hissing particularly well. That said, voices are well attenuated, move so than the 747 and H15 if slightly less so than the Bose. The 747’s do lower hissing and the rush of air-conditioning more though it ultimately comes down to preference as the 1More’s hold an equally strong advantage with regards to lower and midrange frequencies.

And, as they possess the most aggressive noise cancelling, they are also the most susceptible to audio glitches. For instance, wind noise is the most amplified and they produce frequent pops during changes in cabin pressure or closing bus/train doors. On the flipside, at least the 1More’s don’t create much pressure during wear. And despite these artefacts, my main gripe with the 1More is that they produce a reasonably noticeable hiss when ANC is enabled and often boost high-frequency noise rather than cancelling it out, something I haven’t experienced with any of the other in-ears. Luckily, 1More is able to update the firmware on the Dual Driver ANC, they’re a great performer as is but I’m hoping these issues will be improved or fixed in future.

 

Sound –

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Tonality –

Being a traveller’s earphone, the DD ANC is warm and smooth to minimise fatigue. However, it avoids the dull sound that the majority of ANC in-ears carry through tastefully enhanced upper midrange and lower-treble energy. As such, they assume a u-shaped signature with bass drawing the most attention followed by lower-treble. This added crispness serves to liven up their sound and heighten both engagement and clarity. They still remain very much on the unfatiguing side overall, designed to be listened to for hours on end, but when compared to the vast majority of noise cancelling in-ears, these are the most sonically balanced and the most revealing I’ve heard yet.

 

Bass –

The 1More ANC doesn’t excel with the technicalities, rather focussing on a warm, natural tonality that remains listenable for hours on end. These qualities stems from their mid-bass focused low-end that imbues body and fullness to their bass response but also bloat and bloom. Bass has great extension with clearly apparent rumble and nice slam when called for, but sub-bass takes a backseat to their enhanced mid-bass response overall. As a result, the DD ANC produces a low-end presentation that is lush and full if not particularly physical in its impact, thereby avoiding fatigue. Finally, upper bass is enhanced but less so than their mid-bass, feeding into a warmed lower-midrange that avoids excessive spill.

This tuning does come with some caveats as with any sculpted signature, and it doesn’t help that bass is on the sligthly slower side with longer decay to each note. Combined with their mid-bass bloat, the earphones do lack some definition and create a thicker instrument note size that compromises separation between instruments. Still, their warm response is intentional with a rich and dynamic sound that makes for an easy listen. Furthermore, though this response can be heavy-handed for home listening, they still aren’t nearly as bass-skewed as the ADV 747 or as tubby as the Bose QC20 while remaining full enough to sound balanced in louder environments where bass tends to become drowned out.

 

Mids –

This added low-end warmth extends to the DD ANC’s midrange that delivers a full-bodied, laid-back presentation. Mids do sit slightly behind the bass but vocals and midrange instruments never become overshadowed. In addition, due to a lift in the upper midrange approaching their similarly elevated lower-treble response, clarity is enhanced throughout and the earphones never come off as veiled or overly dark as a result. Lower mids are notably warmed but male vocals are well expressed and instruments such as guitar and piano are presented with fullness while avoiding excessive bloom. Upper mids are well balanced but with greater clarity and less colouration from the bass. As a result, female vocals and instruments residing within this frequency range sound more neutrally bodied and transparent if not explicitly neutral in the grand scheme of things.

Through this presentation, the earphones don’t fatigue but also don’t sound blunted, they are even admirably revealing within their upper midrange. The DD ANC is a very natural performer with clear and immediate vocals that lack any artificial sheen or raspiness and sibilance is kept in check. Midrange tuning is also relatively linear with no notable peaks or troughs resulting in consistent, natural voicing. Due to tinges of warmth and a smooth high-frequency tuning, the 1More’s don’t excel with separation and layering, but each element is still given its own space within the mix even if some background details do become overshadowed. The 1More’s don’t flatter the listener with absolute resolving power and clarity but they do strike a fine balance between engagement, balance and long-term listenability.

 

Highs –

This is probably the most interesting aspect of the DD ANC’s sound and what differentiates it from most other ANC earphones; it is within the higher-frequencies that their dual driver setup comes into play with a faster balanced armature driver offering up superior treble attack than conventional dynamic drivers. And in listening, the 1More is indeed one of the most detailed noise-cancelling in-ears I’ve heard but it also balances this with smooth, gradual tuning that avoids harshness and stridence. As such, though not well extended, the 1More’s effectively combine smooth, laid-back middle and upper treble with heightened lower-treble that gives them a crisp detail presentation that avoids fatiguing over longer listening.

Moreover, lower treble itself is nicely done, with tasteful, linear emphasis producing clear cymbals and guitars while maintaining accurate body and decay. Strings are nicely textured and the earphones possess pleasing shimmer without additional ring or sharpness. Due to the gentle nature of the roll-off above, instruments residing in higher up such as higher strings and high-hats do sound more distant than usual, but they remain well-resolved without sounding truncated or blunted. Moreover, sibilance is tamed entirely and some air is present, enhancing separation. They don’t compare to non-noise cancelling models including 1More’s own Quad and Triple Driver when it comes to resolving power or balance, though they are immensely smooth without sounding remotely dull.

 

Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –

With a somewhat rolled-off high-end, the Dual Driver’s don’t construct the largest, most delineated stage, erring more on the intimate side. Still, it keeps the presentation coherent and I didn’t detect any DSP strangeness artificially altering the sound during my testing. Otherwise, vocals are well centred and instruments are accurately placed overall, but the 1More’s clearly lack pinpoint precision and transience. Separation is above average due to enhanced upper midrange and lower treble clarity though they don’t excel with complex or faster songs.

 

Drivability –

The Dual Driver ANC’s employ in-built amplification circuitry and will sound identical from every source. Though I can’t comment on all of the qualities of that circuity, they aren’t susceptible to EMI interference and are free of any background noise and hiss regardless of source. That said, users also won’t be able pair the earphones with non-lightning devices or external amplifiers to provide additional volume. Still, they have decent sensitivity, achieving higher volumes than Apple’s Earpods at the same volume level and they block far more external noise than the vast majority of in-ears, meaning that volume doesn’t have to be turned up quite as high in louder environments. Ultimately, the nature of their design has its share of benefits and annoyances but 1More’s implementation provides an optimal experience.

 

Comparisons

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HTC ANC (Free): This isn’t a fair comparison as these earphones come bundled for free with modern HTC phones, but it does demonstrate that not all ANC implementations are equal. From a design standpoint, the HTC earphones are even more streamlined, interfacing through the USB-C port of the phone. As such, they lack a control box entirely as the phone does all the processing. However, while they do passively block some sound, they barely cancel at all, essentially just introducing hiss into the sound, I wouldn’t use these on public transport yet alone a plane. And speaking of sound, these are exceptional for a packaged earphone, but better sound quality can be found from something like the $15 Xiaomi Pistons 3 yet alone the $150 1More.

As expected, the 1Mores sound a lot better, they have better end to end extension, far greater balance and clarity and are much more detailed throughout; it’s not really worth breaking it down further as there is no competition. Of course, the bundled earphones are perfectly useable and they do have some unique and innovative features that I would like to see further developed, but there is better performance to be found elsewhere and you don’t have to pay nearly the $150 asking price of the 1More’s to find it. That said, if you do, the 1More’s will provide a huge upgrade in every regard and their beefed up build will be sure to last magnitudes longer.

OVC H15 ($50): The H15 is considerably cheaper but its performance is admirable considering. It does not portray nearly the same level of tonal balance or build quality that the 1More is capable of but nails the essentials. Both are also perfectly comfortable over longer listening though the 1More is perhaps slightly more so due to its shallow fit. Sonically, the 1More Dual Driver holds a large advantage. The H15 is very balanced during home listening but its sound is sterile and lacking low-end fullness when in a remotely louder environment.

The H15 has a relatively cool bass tone that can easily become drowned out when ambient noise is higher whether bass boost is enabled or not. The Dual Driver ANC has more warmth and extension, producing fuller bass with greater impact if greater bloat. Mids aren’t as clear as the OVC, but they are considerably more natural. The H15 similarly has extra treble energy though it is also very thin due to some peakiness and a lack of lower foundation, the 1More is more detailed and realistic as a result. That said, the H15 easily has the best high-frequency extension and air though this can fatigue when listening at louder volumes.

ADV 747 ($60): Advanced Sound’s newest in-ear is similarly very cost effective and though its aluminium build still doesn’t eclipse the almost jewel-like 1More, they are a solid and compact noise cancelling earphone with similarly strong ergonomics. When it comes to listening, the Advanced balances its weaker low-frequency noise attenuation with a considerably stronger bass boost and it is considerably less balanced as a result. Both are more mid-bass focused, though the 747 has greater emphasis in addition to more sub-bass slam. That said, the more balanced 1More is a lot more defined and far tighter within its lower-frequencies where the 747 is less articulate, tending to drone.

Mids are also notably more recessed on the 747 and they do lack the extra crispness and energy of the 1More within their treble which dampens the finer details. The 747’s midrange isn’t veiled but it is very warm with a lot of thickness pervading throughout both its upper and lower midrange. The 1More has a huge clarity and balance advantage, sounding more natural and realistic. Still, the 747’s thick presentation works in a louder environment but they do miss a lot of the resolution and clarity of the 1More and can sound congested. The 747 is more rolled off within the treble and, as aforementioned, is lacking lower-treble attack. As such, they aren’t as crisp and concise as the 1More’s and lack the same detail retrieval and separation.

Bose QC20 ($250): The Bose is the most expensive but also the most tried and tested. It has an admittedly mediocre plastic build, especially when compared to the 1More, but fit is terrific and the earphones are well constructed nonetheless. The Bose pioneered the warm, smooth traveller sound that almost every modern ANC solution carries. That said, it does not necessarily have the best execution and the 1More is once again more balanced and more revealing overall. This starts with the bass response that is slightly warmer and fuller on the Bose.

However, the Bose also has a notable upper bass boost that grants them a somewhat tubby sound where the 1More’s is cleaner, tighter and more defined within its low-end. Lower mids are warmer on the Bose and clearer on the 1More, both have more enhanced upper midrange clarity though the Bose sounds unrefined and lacking extension compared to the 1More. The Bose also has just a hint of extra lower-treble crispness to heighten engagement without compromising long-term listenability, but it doesn’t have the edge and attack of the 1More. Neither extend well into the higher-frequencies with truncated air and distant to non-existent upper-treble elements.

Simgot EN700 Pro ($150): The Simgot represents one of the best warmer non-noise cancelling in-ears around the same price as the Dual Driver ANC. The Simgot has a similarly impressive all metal build with a semi-open design providing average noise isolation that doesn’t touch the 1More’s potent ANC. They feature a removable cable that can be upgraded or replaced in the event of damage where the 1Mores are fixed to the housings. The Simgot’s are immediately a more balanced earphone, best suiting listening in quieter environments. However, as a result, they are considerably more resolving with better end to end extension, separation and higher definition.

Bass is similarly tuned but tighter, more balanced and more agile on the Simgot. The Simgot has more present mids with greater clarity and more neutral body that better adapts to different genres of music. Highs are also more prominent on the Simgot, both have some extra lower treble crispness and are laid-back but the EN700 Pro has far better extension. As a result, it is more separated with greater resolution, they resolve a lot more detail and present a much larger stage. That said, I have no doubt that many will enjoy the bassier, warmer 1More and they do provide significantly more isolation from external noise, these are two vastly differing earphones designed for very different uses.

1More Quad Driver ($199): I’m sure many are also curious how the Dual Drivers compares to 1More’s own flagship in-ear, the Quad Driver. From the outset, the jet-engine shaped Quad Driver is more visually striking with superior finish and a stronger, smoother cable. The Quad Driver also has a shallow, comfortable fit though it is heavier and less stable in the ear. The Quad Driver provides average isolation like the Simgot, the Dual Driver attenuates far more external noise and sounds much better in louder environments as a result. In listening, the Quad Driver is immediately more balanced but also less coloured, its sound is more detailed and resolving but can be considered less engaging. Bass is most notably different, the Quad Driver is quicker with a tighter sub-bass response and it is considerably more defined as a result. That said, it also lacks the mid-bass impact of the more emphasized Dual Driver.

Mids are inverted, the 1More has more vocal presence and greater resolution though it is darker and the Dual Driver actually has greater clarity as a result. Treble is similarly tuned, but the Quad Driver extends further before rolling off. Both have a crisp lower treble but the more extended Quad has greater shimmer and air up top. As such, the Quad Driver is the more linear, even earphone, producing a much more detailed sound and a larger stage. It also has very three-dimensional instrument placement that is a standout at this price point. As expected, these earphones were designed for very different uses and this is reflected by their respective sounds.

 

Verdict –

The 1More Dual Driver ANC fuses a sturdy, premium build with potent noise cancellation and a warm yet expressive sound. Though one of the most expensive models out there, the 1More is a little over half the price of competing models from Bose and offers similar levels of low-frequency noise attenuation in addition to significantly enhanced sound quality. The same can be said with regards to more economical options from Advanced Sound and OVC. They are cheaper and the Advanced actually blocks higher frequencies better, but none demonstrate the same level of build quality and sonic finesse as the 1More.

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This isn’t a cheap earphone nor is it a resolving reference masterpiece when it comes to sound. Rather, 1More’s ANC in-ear is built for the commuter with an opulent yet perfectly ergonomic design and great active noise cancellation. To top it off, the Dual Drivers carry a sound that is incredibly well considered towards their intended uses, completely devoid of fatiguing peaks or unnatural troughs without sounding dull or boring. Their streamlined ANC box and innovative joystick controls also serve to enhance user experience. This is an earphone that will be sure to keep users engaged whether it be a short train ride or an extended plane trip.

Verdict – 8/10, 1More’s active noise cancelling in-ear isn’t the most isolating solution on the market nor is it the most economical, but its strength stems from its combined attributes that form an astonishingly complete package. This isn’t an earphone for critical listening but it is a great option for frequent travellers wanting a detailed sound without sacrificing low-end fullness or external noise attenuation.

At the time of writing, the 1More ANC Dual Driver is available from Amazon (International) for $119 USD, please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

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