1More ANC TWS Review – Slipstream
Great ANC with usable modes and minimal artefacts, Stable fit, Well-considered V-shaped signature, Excellent foreground detail retrieval, Wide soundstage, Stable connectivity
Larger charging case, Large housings won’t suit those with small ears, App has questionable functionality
The 1More TWS ANC may not best market leaders, but gets very close for considerably less with a more technical sound on top.
1More are a US-based audio company who have built a strong cult following with their triple-driver hybrid in-ears and more well-received products since. The ANC TWS is one of their more coveted products and also one of their most unanimously lauded. It is especially feature packed, offering advanced ANC and a hybrid DD + BA driver setup not commonly seen on this form factor. So, it came as little surprise when 1More announced that their ANC TWS would be the first TWS in-ear to achieve THX certification. What was less obvious to consumers is that there’s more to this than a simple badge on the box; consider the THX certified models – that being manufactured around June 2020 onwards – as V2 hardware. This revision will also features a revised balanced armature driver, similarly, the firmware has been upgraded according to feedback by THX engineers alongside adding support for 1More’s QuietMax technology first introduced on their neckband model. This is a very nice refinement of an already very competitive TWS in-ear.
The 1More TWS ANC is available for $179.99 USD at the time of writing. To read more about it and 1More’s technologies see their product page here. To purchase one for yourself, please see here (affiliate).
I would like to thank Ari very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the 1More ANC TWS 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.
- Weight: 7.9g (single earbud), 63.2g (case), 79g (total)
- Dimensions: 38 x 18 x 28.5 mm (earbud), 81.32 x 30 x 38.5 mm (case)
- Bluetooth Version: 5.0, 10m range, apt-X and AAC supported
- Battery: 55 mAh (earbuds), 410 mAh (case), 5v 1A charging
- Runtime (50% vol): 6hrs (ANC off), 5hrs (ANC on), 22hrs total (incl. case ANC off)
- Impedance: 32 ohms
The Pitch –
The ANC TWS’ design opens up several avenues for enhanced ANC performance. QuietMax consists of dual-band ANC, intelligent wind reduction and methods to reduce wearing pressure. On traditional single-driver earphones, ANC diminishes sound quality as the driver must handle two duties. With the ANC TWS, 1More attempt to circumvent this by delegating the DD to ANC duties and allowing the BA driver to cover a wider frequency range with ANC on. 1More are also utilising two mics to offer feedforward and feedback ANC so it can detect noises within the ear canals in addition to ambient, offering additional attenuation.
The dual mic system is also handy for wind noise reduction, as the earphones are able to reduce the sensitivity of the ambient noise feedforward mic and rely more on the in-ear feedback mic to mitigate artefacts. There are also two ANC modes that vary not in intensity, but bandwidth. One is a wide-band attenuation to cancel a wide range of sounds including voices, the other focusing more on lower wearing pressure and the cancellation of explicitly more constant low-frequency background noise. Overall, this is a very intelligent approach to ANC with clear benefits to real world performance. This technology is further explain here.
When the TWS ANC first launched, it was slammed for sounding very different when ANC was activated, becoming overly bass heavy. This has since been remediated to some degree with firmware updates, now creating a more consistent sound profile – the more balanced one offered with ANC off is now mostly retained with ANC on. Furthermore, the V2 hardware units have also been updated with ANC and audio tweaks based on feedback from THX engineers. 1More explains THX certification and how to identify your hardware version on their website here.
1More always provide a stunning unboxing experience and the TWS ANC is no different. The box looks premium with high-quality print and renders. There’s a brushed metal tab on the magnetic tab that opens to reveal the earphones and case within a foam inlet. A separate box contains the remaining accessories. There are 3 sizes of retentive loops, 1More’s interpretation of stabiliser wings, in addition to 3 pair of soft silicone tips and 3 pairs of harder silicone tips. I found it especially important to find the right combination of both due to the size and shape of the ANC TWS. Also take note that the tips are directional, try rotating them 180 degrees if you can’t get a good seal.
If you’re familiar with 1More’s other TWS designs, you’ll find a similar experience with the ANC TWS. A key differentiator from the lower-end models is the all-black colour scheme with slick carbon-fibre faceplates and red accented grills. It gives the earphone a seriously sporty aesthetic that’s reminiscent of automotive design and also very distinct. They are one of the largest TWS in-ears I’ve tested personally, but are very lightweight, being mostly plastic in terms of construction. In turn, they don’t feel especially dense or high-quality in the hand, but the positive trade-off is a more stable and less obtrusive fit; you feel the size much less in wearing. They have no official IP rating, but 1More claim the design is suitable for workouts and light moisture if not any kind of submersion.
The majority of the housing sits outside the ear while the portion that sits in the ear is compact and covered by a silicone cover. The user is able to choose between 3 sizes of silicone rings, the smallest having no retention for those with smaller ears. The experience can be likened to that provided by Master & Dynamic’s MW07 earphones; they feel soft in the ear and achieve a nice, locked-in sensation once tilted appropriately. This works in tandem with angled nozzles and oval ear tips, though do take note that users will be limited to the stock ear tips since the nozzles are also oval and elongated which can affect purchase with third party tips. Infrared sensors are also apparent to auto-pause when removed from the ear.
Fit & Comfort –
The earphones are clearly on the larger side, most apparent when looking at photos of the inner face as shown below. Accordingly, they protrude noticeably from the ear, so a far cry from svelte competitors such as the Airpod Pros and Pixel Buds though roughly on par with something like the WF-1000XM3. In turn, they aren’t suitable for sleeping on and do pick up a little more wind noise than the smaller aforementioned designs. In addition, they are not the best choice for those with smaller ears as I found them very unstable without the stabiliser rings attached. Due to their larger design, finding the right sized stabilisation rings and eartips is imperative. With the large rings and stock medium tips, I was able to achieve a consistent seal and stable fit for my ears.
I was able to run and skip without requiring adjustment, a surprisingly good result given that the medium rings installed out of the box were very awkward for me. I do also personally find the rings more comfortable than wing style stabilisers and even the small fins on the MW07 earphones. They form no hotspots and spread the force evenly over a large area, where the fins and wings tended to push on certain parts of my ears harder causing mild discomfort over time. If you have average sized ears and above, the 1More ANC TWS will provide a very comfortable and stable fit.
Though not nearly as compact as the Airpods case or even the Pixel Buds case, the 1More charging case has well-considered dimensions that make it more pocketable than most. It’s long but also slim and narrow, so it slides into the pocket comfortably next to a wallet or phone. The case feels great to handle, high-quality and solidly built with a gunmetal anodized exterior and silicone base that keeps it steady when placed on a table. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend repeating this, but the case is bottom heavy so it tends to fall towards the rubber base when dropped, offering some shock protection. The hinge feels solid as well, not the smoothest and the reverse lock feels stiff, but it works reliably and hasn’t popped out or caused other issues during testing.
The magnets that hold the lid closed are strong so you don’t have to worry about losing the earbuds when dropped or placed in a bag. Similarly, the earbuds seat themselves very snugly into the case and there is plenty of room for large tips and rings. The case charges via Type-C and supports Qi wireless charging. There’s a status LED on the front and a pairing button inside. Of note, the case will power the earphones off even if completely discharged, but it will not power them back on when removed requiring the user to hold the MFB on the earphones to power on manually. The case offers around 3 full charges and I found it to match that figure comfortably during testing. Fast charge is also available, offering 2 hours of listening time with 15 minutes of charging.
If you’re able to operate any other TWS earphone, you’ll have few troubles here. The 1More’s are easy to use with intuitive controls. Upon opening the case, they enter pairing mode or automatically reconnect to previously paired devices. Pairing can also be manually initiated with the button inside the case. Auto pairing was quick and reliable on my Pixel 4. Once setup, I was also very impressed with the connectivity. They offer among the best range of any TWS earphone I have on hand, able to traverse around 3 rooms with double brick wall before becoming intermittent, but even then, they held onto audio most of the time. With my phone on person, I experienced no issues with cut-out or interference, even in busy areas such as the CBD or public transport. Connected over apt-X, latency was also a strong performer with minimal lip sync making them suitable for videos, movies and some gaming.
Here I am experiencing a mixed bag, the physical controls work well, and the touch controls are among the better performers I’ve tried. I appreciate the use of touch for more complex actions such as ANC mode, and more reliable physical controls for volume, skip track and call accept/reject functionality. However, there are a few caveats that irk during daily use. For one, there is no ability to customize the control scheme, aggravating as I can’t set a dedicated button for instant pass-through mode. The touch controls also have a noticeable latency but have voice feedback announcing the ANC mode, passthrough, etc. Meanwhile, the physical controls lack any kind of auditory feedback, aggravating since skipping tracks requires a 2s hold, but only initiates once the button has been released. So, if you hold the button for too long, the earpiece powers off, too short and it only changes the volume; an unreliable control that I struggled to acclimatise to during my testing. You can’t palm the touch-sensitive faceplates like the Sennheiser MTW2 so they’re a bit difficult to tap when running per say, they are also nowhere near as responsive as the class-leading Google Pixel Buds with capacitive touch panel. That said, the touch controls are reliable enough, hitting about 95% accuracy during daily use.
1More Music App
It’s good to see some app integration here as it permits some functions that other more audio-centric earphones lack. That said, the experience is quite limited which seems like wasted potential here. The app is limited to basic controls of the features available. There’s a slider that adjusts the ANC mode between the 3 settings and a pass-through toggle just below. You can also adjust whether the IR sensors auto-pause music or both pause and play, however, you cannot disable this feature. OTA firmware upgrades are available alongside a quick guide for fit and controls. There is no eQ or other sound mode setting and no ability to change audio feedback. There is an addition 1More app available, however, this essentially only offers firmware updates and automatic burn-in for those wanting to extract maximum performance from their earphones out of the box.
Given 1More’s bold claims with the introduction of QuietMax, I was very curious to try their technology for myself – especially, since impressions online vary wildly. Of course, effectiveness will vary greatly based on seal, so ensure you have the best setup of tips and rings, I do personally get a very good seal with these. I also have not tried the non-THX V1 earphone so these will be purely impressions based on the newest revision.
Well, if my prior comments had you concerned about 1More’s ability to deliver on claims, the ANC performance will surely redeem them, it is superb. I found them almost on par with market leaders such as the Airpods Pros and Sony WF-1000XM3, which is to say, very effective and instantly noticeable. Those models cancel out just a little more midrange, so voices sound a bit more muted on both, however, low-frequency noises were similarly attenuated to near silence on the 1More’s, if not a little more so. The only downside is that high-frequencies are a little more apparent when ANC is on than these models, with a noticeable whoosh. That said, the 1More’s are also less susceptible to artefacts. A common area where I experience difficulties with the other models was chains rattling in the gym, the change in pressure when doors close on the train and a pop when the rope strikes the ground during skipping. The 1More’s had no issues with any of these noises where the Sony’s and Airpods would pop and clip noticeably.
As mentioned in my rundown of QuietMax, the ANC TWS offers two modes of ANC; one wideband, one low-frequencies and less aggressive in general. They are very useable with well-defined use cases for each – if somewhat inconvenient to toggle between. It should be noted that wind noise is still noticeable on these earphones, but was better controlled than competitors even on the more aggressive ANC setting (mode 1), and it was roughly halved in volume on the low-frequency ANC setting (mode 2). The worst performer here was the Sennheiser MTW2 that almost amplified wind noise despite being by far the least aggressive in terms of actual noise cancellation. The first mode does a sensational job at silencing background hums and drones, think road and traffic noise, AC, computer fans and distant chatter, in addition to a good job at lowering the intensity of voices and keyboard noise. Meanwhile, setting 2 cancels those hums and drones at about 80% of the effectiveness of the first mode, while leaving voices less attenuated. However, the 2nd mode also vastly lowers artefacts and there is almost zero wearing pressure, where some becomes apparent on the 1st mode when in louder environments.
I think this is a good trade-off and a very useful addition for frequent flyers who may prioritise long-term comfort over the best ANC performance possible. For reference, the level of pressure on the Apple and Sony competitors is similar to the 1st mode and only the Sony’s offer the ability to adjust ANC intensity. However, as aforementioned, it is a pain to cycle through each setting, of which there are 4 – ANC Mode 1, ANC Mode 2, Pass through (aware mode), ANC Off. Most notably, reaching pass through takes a good 5 seconds or so as there is an accompanying voice chime between each setting paired with a second delay, presumably adjusting the dual-driver duties. This means it is essentially useless for catching quick conversation and announcements as it simply takes too long to cycle around to this mode. You can manually select each within the app, however, you’d need to keep it open in the background as there is no quick-setting toggle or slider in the notification shade.
Despite being more inconvenient than most to access, the actual effectiveness here is very good. It doesn’t amplify sounds like the Sennheiser’s but passes ambient noises in a very natural manner akin to the Airpod Pros. They don’t clip on louder ambient sounds and don’t sound thin, sharp or shouty either as some do – for instance, the Sennheiser’s would amplify high-frequencies excessively to the extent that jingling keys would deafen. The 1More’s sounded almost open, not super clear once again, but a natural effect that leaves speech easy to distinguish even with music playing – so long as it is at a reasonable volume. Overall, if you’re looking for an earphone with effective and adjustable ANC and a very sound pass-through when you need spatial awareness, you won’t be disappointed with the 1More’s.
With an extensive microphone setup, call quality is easily good enough for day to day use but still clearly a setup below market leaders. That said, I would only recommend these other models over the 1More if the buyer were using them primarily as a headset as I find the ANC TWS to offer a fairly well-rounded experience with good performance elsewhere. Recipients noted my voice was immediate and discernible in noisy environments with good ambient noise cancellation albeit could be a little clearer. There is no pass through/sidetone during calls and also no ANC during calls as the Huawei Freebuds 3 are able to retain. However, other competitors do not offer this functionality either.
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