Formed in 2012, when Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi Corp recruited three former Foxconn executives, 1More has been labelled as China’s answer to Apple’s Beats.
1More currently has 20 designs in its line-up, including true wireless options, triple and quad driver in-ears and gaming headphones. The Dual Driver BT ANC In-ear headphones (otherwise known as the E1004BAs) we have on test here are a neckband design, featuring two drivers in each earbud and a proprietary noise-cancelling solution.
They've actually been available a little while now, but that means the price is down to around £100/$100, potentially making them a strong option for wireless in-ear buyers on a budget. But are they?
With the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC In-ear headphones, you certainly feel as though you’re getting your money’s worth. Included in the box are detailed design sketches, stats and quotes from Grammy-winning sound designer and architect of 1More’s sound profile, Luca Bignardi.
There’s a neat carton with seven additional eartip sizing options: 10.5mm, 12.5mm and 15.5mm tips, plus 18mm, 19.5mm, 21.5mm and 23mm ‘Ear Secure’ fins, which slip on over the housing itself should you need a super-secure fit. We found the eighth, standard pair of tips, the ones that came pre-fitted, perfect for our ears.
Also included is a premium USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C to USB-A charging cable and a lightly-padded waterproof drawstring travel pouch with the 1More smartbear logo. There’s a brushed metal aeroplane adapter for in-flight movies on long-haul flights, too. So far, 1More is teaching other manufacturers a thing or two about value.
The rubberised black neckband is smooth, light and comfortable with the cool grey metal finish on both ends meaning the whole thing is nicely weighted and stays comfortably around your neck. Controls are found on the left side of the neckband, with a power button (which doubles as your voice-assistant hotline) and ANC (noise-cancelling) slider on the neckband’s upward-facing edge, plus volume controls and a circular play, pause and call-handling button on its inside edge.
For the right-handed (and because these controls sit roughly at collar-level) these controls take a bit of getting used to, but the wires from the rubberised portion of the band are well-placed, making the whole thing comfortable to wear.
The buds fit well, and there are magnets on the outer edge of each unit so that when not in use the in-ears can snap together like a necklace. The USB-C port for charging or wired use is hidden under a cap at the end of the neckband on the left-hand side – another high-end touch at this budget level. Red flourishes on the neckband and driver housing complete an impressive aesthetic.
As we mentioned, each ear bud contains two speaker drivers. A balanced armature handles the higher, treble frequencies, leaving the rest to a more conventional dynamic unit.
Charging time 1 hour
Battery life 7 hours
Wireless range 10m
Bluetooth version 4.2
There are two levels of noise-cancellation on offer, accessed by sliding the dedicated switch on the top edge of the left-hand side of the neckband down once for regular noise cancellation and once again for maximum noise-killing. A final toggle turns ANC off altogether.
Flick that same switch up for 1More’s voice enhancement feature. The slider itself functions well, with a voice telling you what’s going on and a beep to signify regular noise-cancelling and two beeps for maximum.
However, the success of the noise cancellation function is limited. Even with maximum deployed, the sound of our fingers tapping on our keyboard, along with some background chatter, is still audible. Using the voice enhancement feature highlights higher, treble frequencies while making other sounds less obvious. It works decently enough, though makes for a slightly odd, hissy and echo-y experience.
A single push of the power button should be able to provide access to your phone’s voice assistant, but this feature doesn’t work on our sample. Things are still in negotiation, according to 1More, but these headphones have been on sale a while.
Music playing time is a claimed seven hours, and charging from flat to full should take no longer than an hour. A quick ten-minute charge will supply three hours of juice, thanks to that fast USB-C charger.
We turn all noise cancellation off and cue up Neutral Milk Hotel’s On Avery Island album on Tidal. The guitar reverb, coughing and idle conversation between the band before Jeff Mangum’s vocal comes in for the first track, Song Against Sex, is well-separated and places us centrally in an airy mix.
Throughout Someone Is Waiting, the higher vocal harmony greets our right ear as the lower accompaniment joins through our left, although a shade of dynamic detail is lost here compared to our Award-winning Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 true wireless in-ears.
Switching to Stormzy’s Vossi Bop and the vocal is clear, with plenty of space around it. The headphones’ shortfall in bass depth and excitement is particularly evident in this grime track, though. The overall effect is spacious, but a little lightweight. It appears to be heavily focused on midrange to lower treble frequencies and, as such, there’s less bass weight and depth than we’d expect, despite having a good seal with the ear tips we’ve chosen.
We listen to Joshua Kadison’s Jessie and the keys are sparkling alongside a separate and distinguished wurlitzer and high hat, but we’re losing an extra dollop of dynamic energy, build and excitement. Over time, it becomes a mildly tiring listen.
There’s definitely something in this design – it feels similar to headsets from the likes of Sennheiser in terms of build, but the 1Mores will set you back around half the price. Sadly though, that’s where the favourable comparisons, and the praise, end.
The sound, though spacious, is heavily focused on the lower treble to midrange frequencies and, as such, we lose too much bass weight, depth and excitement to recommend the headphones. In terms of the noise-cancelling feature, a set of wireless in-ears promising four sound profiles at this level was always a bold claim and the 1More’s struggle to deliver effective noise-cancellation.
Our comparison headphones, the Award-winning Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s, dig up more dynamic excitement and bass depth, and also beat the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC In-Ears for rhythmic drive. Overall, 1More has released a model worthy of a second look, it just needs a bit of work.
We're told there's already a next-generation model on the way, and we're keen to see if that can deliver on the initial promise shown here.
- Sound 3
- Comfort 4
- Build 5
Read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review