1More has certainly flooded the real market for wireless earbuds, and it’s safe enough in its new ComfoBuds Pro noise-canceling earbuds to call them superior AirPods Pro – for a fraction of the price. They split between the company’s flagship True Wireless ANC earbuds ($ 200) and cheaper options such as $ 50 PistonsBuds and standard ComfoBuds, the latter having an open style design. 1More says that with the Pro model, it is “safe to bring the battle to Apple and give their loyal fan base a serious dilemma when choosing which pair of earplugs is right for them.”
I do not think forcing such a direct comparison was the right move, despite 1More claiming that it offers “so much more” than Apple’s flagship buttons, ComfoBuds Pro can not match AirPods Pro in all areas – as expected with such price deviations – but they are still an excellent product in themselves. The sound is fantastic for the money, they have several useful noise reduction modes to switch between, and the fit certainly gives the “comfort” part of their name.
ComfoBuds come in either metallic gray or white, and they lie flat in their elongated, capsule-shaped carrying case. This gives a compact design in the pocket, but the compromise is that it is not so easy to remove them from the case: you have to push down on the stem, which pushes up the main ear of the part and then pick it out of the case. Once you’ve done it a few times, you will have it down.
LEDs hidden at the bottom of the droplet stem indicate pairing and charging status, and there is also a light on the outside of the case so you know when they are completely topped. Battery life is estimated at 6 hours with ANC enabled, which surpasses the 4.5-hour AirPods Pro. The case has enough juice for you to reach 20 hours of total listening time. It charges via USB-C, but does not offer wireless charging.
1More also beats Apple on the scale, with each ComfoBud Pro weighing 5.2 grams compared to 5.4 grams of AirPods Pro. In your ears, they feel just as light and barely there. This results in comfort that lasts over extended distances, which can not always be said about heavier options such as Bose QuietComfort earplugs (8.5 grams) and Jabra Elite 85t (7 grams). Four sets of silicone tips come in the box, with an extra small size thrown in along with standard small, medium and large. I had appreciated an XL alternative, as even the largest size took some adjustment for a snug fit.
Instead of any actual buttons, ComfoBuds Pro has a touch-sensitive area on the outer stem. It works well enough, although it is not obvious exactly where to tap. The most confusing thing about 1More’s controls is that it’s not a single click action. You can choose what happens to a double tap, long tap or triple tap, but the single tap option – often used by other manufacturers to play / pause – just does not exist here. So even though 1More lets you customize the controls that are here, you’re a bit limited.
By default, two presses are paused, three activate a voice assistant, and a long press toggles between noise reduction mode. I ended up switching the three-tap movement to track controls, but that meant I did not choose to have direct volume access. Each earplug has an IR sensor on the outside for automatic pause if you remove them. They reliably resumed the music when I put them back in my ears.
1More has a good reputation for delivering sound quality, and I think ComfoBuds Pro can set a new bar for what you can expect if you have a budget of $ 100. They have excellent clarity without the bass bloating that is common in this price range. Everything fits well in the mix; the many layered vocal tracks of Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon on “Exile” are all different and come through with clarity. The funky groove of Lake Street Dives “Hypotheticals” is a good demo for the powerful bass these earplugs are capable of. Usually it’s a genre or even a style of music production that will reveal the weaknesses of a particular set of earplugs, but I struggled to find it with ComfoBuds Pro. They can adapt to pretty much anything without coming out as tough or thin. 1More does not include any EQ customization options, so what you get is what you get. Either the earphone can be used stand-alone.
But they sound better than AirPods Pro? You can do the thing they do, yes. I think some people prefer the deeper low tones and how much wider 1More’s earplugs can feel; vocals are planted in the center, but you will hear lots of details out of the left and right channels. Still, there is something to be said for the no-nonsense, simple sound reproduction of the AirPods Pro that so many people find comfortable across all sorts of different sounds. 1More’s more expensive True Wireless ANC also sounds a bit fuller and more precise, since they have a dual-driver design compared to the only 13.4-millimeter driver in ComfoBuds Pro.
These earplugs have a few different levels of noise interruption intensity. It is the standard “strong” alternative, which goes the furthest in silencing outside noise. But 1More also includes a less powerful mode that it says is suitable for “chatty” environments such as cafes and offices, plus another that is meant to avoid wind noise, which is common with noise-canceling earbuds, since they constantly use the external microphones to try ambient sound. If you are out on a windy day, it can be a good trick to lean on. (The latter two modes require the 1More mobile app to be activated.) Finally, there is a complete transparency mode to get a clear sense of everything that is happening around you. 1More’s active noise reduction worked quite well when I sat out at a coffee shop in Brooklyn, but this is an area where AirPods Pro is moving forward. They do not have the same range of modes, but Apple’s premium earbuds do a better job of reducing the volume to the outside world, which is the most important thing.
Still, all of these things make ComfoBuds Pro a great value. But the AirPods Pro still ranks in several respects. First, the ComfoBuds Pro case does not support wireless charging. Second, Apple’s transparency mode still sounds more natural and airy than 1More. And 1More cannot match the software flexes (automatic switching, spatial audio, seamless pairing, audio sharing, etc.) that exist between AirPods and other Apple devices. That’s a big part of what makes them so popular. Again, we’re talking about the quality of life you can rightly expect from a $ 250 product. And these do not cost anywhere near that. But if 1More is to compare, the differences are worth pointing out. Despite the fact that she put a lot of focus on voice microphone performance, 1More also wins behind the AirPods Pro there – as everyone else does. It is a drawing of sweat resistance, with both sets of earplugs rated IPX4.
1More has put together a fantastic pair of budget earplugs with ComfoBuds Pro. I wish the company had focused on the great value you get in exchange for $ 99 instead of trying to take down the AirPods Pro, which just is not realistic. Despite the fact that they fit together for comfort and edge them in other areas such as battery life, there are still valid reasons why many iPhone owners will go right for Apple’s buds. It’s hard to appreciate the exclusive Apple ecosystem features and the superior noise reduction. But if you only have around $ 100 to put against the earplugs, ComfoBuds Pro is a standout pair that will not miss you much else. The only thing is that AirPods are far from the only competition they need to stand out.
Photograph by Chris Welch / The Verge