Not too long ago, I reviewed the 1More ComfoBuds Pro and was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality and features they were able to deliver for the asking price of just under $100 USD. Since then, 1More have released two new models and updated the ComfoBuds Pro model to include additional features. It would appear that rather than being quarantined at home like many of us, the 1More audio team has been locked in the engineering lab developing new models for the market. Since reviewing the original ComfoBuds Pro, I have received the updated EQ version of that wireless earphone along with the tiny 1More ComfoBuds Z and the new 1More ColorBuds 2.
1More has been aggressive with the pricing keeping all of them under $100 USD which is a smart marketing play in a market that is heavily saturated with inexpensive true wireless earphones.
ComfoBuds Pro EQ
The ComfoBuds Pro were already quite good for the asking price and the latest version helps strengthen their case for being named the best sub-$100 true wireless earphones.
One wouldn’t think that adding EQ to the mix would be a huge change, but when you combine the acoustic design experience of a Grammy-Award winning sound engineer (Luca Bignardi) and the work of SonarWorks into that EQ you have something.
I was impressed with the ComfoBuds Pro in their original form as the sound was quite good and the driver was quite reactive to equalizer changes so it could be tuned to the user’s preference. Luca did well in tuning the base signature to be a pleasant listen and offered some presets for different genres.
The presets were good but, as is usually the case, none precisely matched what I would have preferred. Sonarworks has been added to the new model. Some of you may be familiar with Sonarworks’ software as they have been around since 2012 and their products are used in a lot of recording studios worldwide.
The goal of Sonarworks is to remove speaker or headphone imperfections and artifacts and deliver sound as was originally intended. Since no two monitors or headphones sound exactly alike, without some form of calibration, no two listeners are hearing exactly the same thing.
That isn’t to say that if all listeners heard the same thing they’d all be equally pleased with it as personal preference is still very much part of the listening experience.
What Luca and Sonarworks have added are 22 preset EQ settings that incorporate Sonarworks’ SoundID technology into the settings. The first thing to realize is that these are not your typical rock, pop, or classical music settings that are overdone and dramatically alter the entire sonic signature.
Changes implemented by the presets are subtle and take some time to fully appreciate. While the bass boost and bass reduction are probably the most easily distinguishable, the others offer subtle changes that boost or cut small ranges in order to bring out the best in a particular genre.
I really liked the “Acoustic 1” setting for the 40 Fingers guitar quartet and the “Classical 2” setting for strings. The hip-hop and pop settings are more subtle than most but much more useful as a result.
This may well be a game changer for inexpensive wireless earbuds as the ComfoBuds Pro can now be tuned to exactly the preferences of the user. That’s a claim few can make and even fewer can deliver on.
1More and Sonarworks are working on incorporating the technology in additional models so keep an eye out for new releases as well. This level of sonic customization does not exist with earbuds below this price point and it’s an excellent way for 1More to differentiate their products.
The next new model in the 1More lineup is where things get rather interesting and clever.
The 1More ComfoBuds Z are a specialty model that few other companies have been able to bring to market. The “Z” is named as such because it was designed to be used while sleeping. Listening while catching some Z’s is becoming a thing.
Some people like to drift off to sleep to gentle music while others prefer a silent room. This has led to the use of IEMs by many who share a dorm room, or bedroom with someone that doesn’t appreciate music when drifting off. The ComfoBuds Z are tiny and lay flat in the ear, which produces no pressure points when you lay your head on a pillow as larger IEMs do.
The app provides an auto-shutdown timer with five different options from 30 minutes to 150 minutes before turning the buds off. The 1More app also provides 30 soothing sounds to listen to should you prefer ocean waves or campfire crackles instead of music.
The internals of the Z are a departure from the other 1More models here as well; a single balanced armature is used to deliver full range sound. Both the Pro (13.4mm) and ColorBuds 2 (7mm) use dynamic drivers but due to the design parameters of the Z, the smaller armature makes more sense.
This does limit the bass impact compared to the other two, but the Z still manages enough extension on both ends to be quite listenable and honestly if trying to rest, is big bass really required or desired?
The Z can certainly be used for music listening during the day as well but be forewarned, it has no mic for taking phone calls; because who is answering the phone at 2 a.m. while sleeping?
I’d prefer a cool, dark, quiet room to sleep in, but I will be the first to admit that the Z is more useful than I anticipated for long flights or train travel and has come in handy a couple of times when my neighbors have made sounds that intruded on my rest.
1More ColorBuds 2
The ColorBuds 2 (CB2) arrived the other day and immediately got my attention. These are the first 1More product with the full MySoundID implementation that 1More and Sonarworks have been partnering on. On the surface, they are a medium-sized tear-drop shape with fairly deep insertion and good passive isolation.
Internally, a 7mm dynamic driver, Bluetooth 5.2 receiver, and a 6 hour battery (ANC On) are the main features. The ColorBuds 2 offer a single ANC mode and no manual EQ options so these are not a replacement for the Pro, but offer a different take on sound customization.
Opening the 1More app now shows a SoundID option. To start, one does a series of listening tests and selects their preferences from each A/B set. The app then uses those selections to create a custom tuning based on the preferences.
The upside is the tuning is exactly what you chose. The downside is only a single profile is remembered so if your choices would be different for a different genre or style of music you’ll have to retake the test to adjust.
I found the overall sonic signature of the ColorBuds 2 to be mildly bass boosted particularly in the mid-bass with some rumble below it. The midrange is mildly recessed with the treble having reasonable energy and extension without getting too splashy in the process.
Using a parametric EQ showed the ColorBuds 2 to be very receptive to tuning so while the 1More app may only store a single profile, other options do allow for more tweaking should the user desire to do so.
With so much competition in the true wireless earphones category, 1More had to find a way to differentiate its products in order to stand out. The brand has been successful for the past few years offering great sounding headphones that are affordable but that’s no longer enough in the marketplace.
By now offering 3 different models in the category that deliver the ability to fine tune the sound or allow one to fall asleep while listening and not disturb others, or creating a very specific sonic signature based on your hearing preferences, 1More have delivered impressive sounding options that are both different and affordable.