The true wireless earbuds category has become oversaturated and it has become quite difficult for consumers to differentiate one brand from the other; most of them do the same thing and the degree of daylight between them is negligible for the most part.
Having now reviewed three pairs of true wireless earbuds from 1More, I feel that I have a solid grasp of what they can do and the design philosophy of the company. From the ComfoBuds Pro (probably my favorite affordable TWS earbud at the moment) to the ColorBuds 2; each has a somewhat unique character; promoting a different tonal balance and sound.
All three still fit within the “house sound which offers a very pleasing sound with enough bass impact for most listeners.
Using the 1More app, you can tailor the sound even further; as well as the house version of ANC technology. It may not as sophisticated as Sony’s WF-1000XM4 or the B&W’s PI-7, but it is effective in its own way.
The use of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) in the PistonBuds Pro is to provide for a better overall sound; but not let the ANC diminish the quality too much when applied.
With many ANC true wireless earbuds, the ANC takes center stage, isolating the user from the outside world, but also at the expense of true audiophile sound quality. 1More has worked to meld the two nicely, and the 1More PistonBuds Pro is the first to use this new approach in their lineup.
Labeled as WNR (Wind Noise Reduction, or Queitmax), 1More has focused on the reduction of bothersome outside wind noise with the strategic placement of microphones as well as the tuning of each. Coupled with 1More’s ANC technology, which promotes not losing audiophile quality sound and you have a solid foundation from which to start with.
A low latency mode allows the earbuds to be used for gaming purposes, where placement of sounds and the timing of those sounds is of paramount importance as well.
All of this combines to provide a respectable 38 dB of “hybrid” noise reduction, without losing the high definition audio characteristics of the music.
Using a full range 10mm Dynamic Driver, the PistonBuds Pro utilize Bluetooth 5.2 with the AAC codec for support. While 10mm is par for the course in smaller units, this does not diminish the quality of the sound because 1More have tuned these to be as full range as possible.
With up to 7.5 hours of playback time per charge (verified within +/- 15 minutes on four occasions, 5 hours with ANC on) you can get up to 30 total hours from the case (again verified within +/- 1 hour on four separate occasions, and 20 hours with ANC on).
A quick 5 minute charge will give the user 1 hour of use, which is pretty standard these days. It is nice to have that quick charge technology, should you need the earbuds for anything.
Rated at the lower IPX5 waterproof rating, I wouldn’t attempt to submerge these in water and expect them to work but they can take some rain if you are inclined to run with them inserted. The call quality was also quite good which will be a plus for those who use true wireless earbuds for that purpose.
Look & Feel
The traveling case is a small, black rectangular case with rounded edges. It was a bit slippery to me, but I think this was just my fumbling hands. On the back is the typical USB-C charging cable port and a little round button to reset the Bluetooth connection if needed.
I did use this the first time I connected to my iPhone 13 Pro Max, but after that I did not have a problem.
The fit was good with a bit of adjustment by rotating the buds once in my ear to get the best seal. Using the stock silicone tips, the fit and seal were quite good, and I could barely hear the clicking on my MacBook Pro’s keyboard as Peter Frampton played in my ears.
I will note that the shapes of each bud are similar enough that in low light I had a hard time discerning which earbud was which. I had taken both out to do a chore and placed them in my hand. Upon reinserting, I found I had them switched.
I even had to place both back in the case to identify the right from the left. This was of course, my fault as I also had gloves on in the frigid 25 degree day in the Upper Peninsula, but you of course should not have any issues. Once placed properly, fit and seal were good to go again.
Once inserted, I found the 1More easy and intuitive to operate. I will admit that with the plethora of different manufacturers out there, I struggle somewhat with the functionality of many TWS buds. Not so with the PistonBuds Pro. The round flat faceplate gives a good feel for orienting oneself when a change is needed.
A double tap is used for play/pause, so you do not accidentally hit it and stop music from playing. A long press activates the the ANC/WNR operation; using it in quieter situations isn’t necessary but I found that the ANC did not intrude as much on the sound, which is not always the case with other TWS earbuds
Playing action games on my iPhone using the low latency worked well, with no delay and the placement of race cars trying to pass me was quite accurate; you do lose some clarity and resolution in this situation but gamers care more about impact and proper placement within the soundstage.
Phone calls are answered or halted by a double tap on either earbud, and the four microphones (two on each) come across as clean with little outside noise. I purposely called my son on a windy day to garner his impressions. He said he could hear the wind, but it did not hinder our conversation.
When I moved to a really noisy and windy location, I found that call quality was still quite good and the person on the other end had zero difficulty hearing the conversation. 1More gets high marks for this.
The 1More PistonBud Pro are very balanced sounding TWS wireless earbuds that do very little to offend and offer tremendous value in the process. The bass can be tailored with both the app and through the ANC settings; what proved to be interesting was how the bass helped mask outside noise but never bled into the midrange and colored the rest of the sound.
Male vocals and the guitar are delivered cleanly with detail and I found the somewhat rich tonal balance rather pleasing with most music in this range. Listening to Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung,” I was struck by how powerful Ian Anderson’s voice was and the 1More placed him dead center on the stage between my ears which only added to the impact.
Female vocals came across as being slightly rounded off as the music extended into the treble which reduced some of the detail and airiness, but it’s a trade off that I think many would accept.
This to me is a strong point of the 1More family. A real sense of balance with these wireless earbuds that don’t put too much emphasis on any part of the spectrum. A case of less is more.
If there are some deficiencies, they exist in the low end where one would expect more impact from a 10mm driver; if you’re looking for a pair of bass heavy wireless earbuds, the 1More are not for you. The lack of top end extension might cause some to think that the sound is slightly dull but I would push back — it’s polite which is not the same thing when talking about the treble.
What makes the 1More PistonBuds Pro so good is the value for the money; $59.99 for a pair of true wireless earbuds this good is a tremendous deal and I can’t think of any pair of wireless earbuds below $100 that offer this much performance and call quality for the money.
The sum is better than the parts is a colloquial saying that definitely applies here.
As such, I really came to appreciate the near textbook neutrality of the PistonBuds Pro, which allowed me to tailor the sound to most genres I threw its way. Miles Davis sounded as good as Bach to me for a TWS earbud. And really, isn’t that the point? For an affordable true wireless earbud, you could do much, much worse than the PistonBuds Pro. It is well worth a look at this price.