boxart
Hardware Info:

1MORE EVO True Wireless In-Ear Headphones

Specifications:
In-Ear Monitors
10mm dynamic drivers + balanced armature
Touch Audio Controls
Built-in Six Microphones
42dB active noise canceling
Smart playback pauses when an earbud is removed
LDAC CODEC Support, Hi-Res certified
Dual-Device Connection for Seamless swapping between devices
Bluetooth 5.2 specifications
Charging case, with total 28hr battery life (8hr earbuds + 20hr charging case)
IPX4 water resistance
1 foot USB-A to USB-C Charging Cable
XS/S/M/L/XL Silicone Ear Tips Included
One year warranty
MSRP: $169.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you 1MORE for sending us this product to review!

UPDATE: This pair's right channel went quiet, just like the ComfoBuds Z (and eventually, PistonBuds Pro).  I can't recommend these until this issue is addressed.

The EVO is 1MORE's latest set of Bluetooth earbuds, and is their new flagship wireless product. Often when a company touts a new product as their flagship, they intend to put their best foot forward. And being the audiophile that I am, I get pretty excited for stuff like this. I know, I'm easy to please - and yet, this EVO is likely to satisfy many (most?) ardent audiophiles - I know I'm quite pleased!

First impressions, even when opening the box, are that a premium product is inside. It has a textured finish, with the Hi-Res Audio and LDAC certifications prominently displayed. When you open the box, it shows design art and displays Luca Bignardi's signature prominently. (Luca is a four-time Grammy award winning sound engineer that 1MORE is partnered with.) You also see the earbud case itself, and I was immediately impressed with the obvious premium finish as soon as I picked it up. The earbuds themselves also exude quality, with the shiny ceramic touch surface, surrounded by a brass trim finish. They are also fairly small though weighty, and feel great in my fairly large ears. The eartips have an oval shape, which naturally matches the ear opening, and while a unique shape as far as tips go, feels great and does a good job of creating a nice seal. It's also very comfortable.

I spend a lot of time testing these, and they do a whole lot right. I've already mentioned that they look great and are comfortable, so I guess it's time to attack the biggest reason we sometimes yearn for flagship audio products like this one: how they sound. 1MORE has promised that these EVOs will sound just as good as quality wired earbuds - a target that's not easy to reach, because Bluetooth is a low-bandwidth protocol optimized for lower power and low energy moreso than perfect lossless audio.

And yet, since Apple first decided to be 'brave' and stop including a 3.5mm headphone jack, music lovers everywhere have had to decide what is more important to them: audio quality or convenience.

Wired headphones are purely analog devices - the electrical equivalent to analog sound waves travels through the wires, and directly excites the drivers on the headphone. This is then converted, as directly as possible, to sound waves; the limit in fidelity then becomes the electromechanical interface between the electrical impulses and your ear, a.k.a. the driver(s). While no perfect sound reproduction device exists as all designs have tradeoffs, the dynamic, or 'normal' speaker is very well understood. Another, newer technology called a balanced armature (BA) is an earbud-only technology that allows for a much higher resolution result, but doesn't always offer the 'slam' of a dynamic driver. The reason that these, and many other earphones are now using multiple drivers is that you can take advantage of the strengths of both - in this case, the dynamic driver offers more exciting bass, and the BA driver handles the treble for what hopefully becomes the best of both worlds. 1MORE originally became famous by offering one of the early wired triple-driver designs at a price that normal listeners could afford.

So, armed with a pair of high-quality drivers, the next challenge to retaining audiophile-level sound is to deal with the communications medium. Since wired isn't always an option, in our current era we need to deal with the limitations of wireless connections. Unfortunately, Bluetooth doesn't have the bandwidth for (or support) a pure PCM transmission method, since it would require a lot of power and it's simply not available in the Bluetooth spec. So we have to work within the limitations of it. To do so, Bluetooth supports various codecs to compress the audio signal on the source device (in this case your phone, PC, etc.) to send it over the air via Bluetooth, to be decompressed in your earbud before you can hear it.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Incredible feature set; excellent sound; SoundID works really well if you tweak it just right; excellent battery life; comfortable; very easy to pair; dual-device pairing is fantastic; good microphone quality, with excellent noise suppression; noise canceling is the best I've ever heard, with lots of options; premium build quality; does not require Location permissions on the Android app!
Weak Points: Occasional signal drops in high bitrate LDAC mode; SoundID is quite finicky and doesn't let you tweak the sound with music you are familiar with, nor does it show you what EQ changes were made in a graphical sense



For those not aware, a codec is a COmpression and DECompression algorithm that turns the original analog audio into digital bits, then turns those bits back into the analog waveform. Lossy means that some data is lost, even if the fundamentals are there, while lossless is bit perfect; many audio codecs are lossy because of the otherwise necessary tradeoffs of size/bitrate, and needed processing power. These support the standard SBC audio codec, which is pretty much a baseline for most Bluetooth devices, AAC, and LDAC. When it comes to codecs, SBC is the baseline, AAC and AptX is improved, and LDAC is the best. All are lossy, but each one is progressively superior. Apple designed the AAC codec, so all of their products use those, and is the best codec available on Apple products; Android supports more, and many support the excellent LDAC that supports bitrates up to 990Kbps, as well as up to 32 bits per sample, and at a 96kHz sample rate. While the bitrate is just a bit short of lossless, it's still quite impressive and is considered as close to wired quality as currently possible; close enough that the Japanese Audio Society has certified LDAC with their Hi-Res Audio Wireless certification.

So with the 1MORE EVO having a solid driver configuration to reproduce high resolution content, and using the best Bluetooth codec currently available, most of the important pieces are in place for a great-sounding headset. However, they believe that many people have different preferences on what sounds good to them. Out of the box, they are tuned a bit thin - they sound quite good, but have a bit less bass than many would probably prefer. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate it when bass overpowers the rest of the frequency range, so trust me when I say it needs more bass!

In order to deal with these and more preference issues, they turned to Sonarworks' SoundID system. It's a really neat system that works well once you get a profile you like - but I found it really difficult to do so. It took me close to a dozen tries before I finally figured out how to use this system well; before I would get results that sounded really bad. Part of the problem with SoundID is that in order to tune it, you need to listen to one of a set of preselected music tracks that you likely have never heard before, and tune your entire audio experience with them. After figuring out how it works, I thought I would share some tips to help get the best result; once I did, I was extremely pleased with how it came out. Until I did, I hated SoundID and was this close to giving up on it entirely.

The way SoundID works is that it presents you with the same audio track with two different slightly altered tracks, where each one has a different EQ profile. You choose A, B, or No difference. Do not choose No difference unless you really can't tell - it seems to choose something in between the two rather than do nothing, so listen carefully!

To start with, I recommend knowing generally what you want. In other words, if you want to add a little bit of bass, know that - but don't just accept anything that adds more bass. If you hear something that has more, chose that the first time, but the next time it offers you bass and more bass, listen carefully - in my case, I had to choose the option with less between the two, otherwise it sounded way out of balance (for me). Do the same with treble, midrange, and so on. I found that the first choice boosted both bass and treble, so in order to get the balanced sound I wanted, I had to later choose an option that brought the treble down a bit - then I brought it up again a bit later while trying to get the balance just right. It asks you to compare sounds about ten or so times (I never actually counted) so it's really important to take the time to really listen, turn up the volume as needed, and take the time to get it just right - once I did, the results were spectacular. I was this close to writing the whole thing off until I stumbled on the excellent settings I am using now. When the process is complete, it uploads the SoundID profile directly to your earbuds, so it's always there even if you connect them to other devices.

Speaking of other devices, there is an experimental feature that is absolutely amazing - though it does get buggy once in a while, the hassle is worth it. What you can do is have your earbuds connected to more than one device - at the same time. Once audio playback stops on one device, you can begin it on the other without having to disconnect from the first! I absolutely love this feature. If you get a call while listening to something on your computer, you can answer it. If you want to play a game (that isn't latency sensitive) you can - and then deal with your phone once you're done. I use it for work Microsoft Teams calls - I connect my earbuds to my phone and my work PC, and switch between the two all day as needed. And with the eight hour battery life of the earbuds, I almost never have to worry about battery life, either. It's fantastic.

To enable the feature, you need to install the 1MORE MUSIC app from the Play Store (or perhaps the iOS equivalent; that's untested). You need to make sure you're on the latest firmware. Once your earbuds are connected to Bluetooth and you're in the app, touch the red 1MORE logo on the upper right. You should see a 'secret' menu - from there, tap on Experimental features, and enable dual-device mode. As I said, it can be a little quirky, but I found the tradeoff more than worth it.

Since I tested this with so many devices, pairing with them all probably seems like a hassle. And in one sense it is, but the EVOs seem to have a decent memory of about four to five devices, so switching was sometimes as easy as clicking 'connect' on your device of choice, and whatever your second connected device was would be switched over to this new one. (My phone usually kept priority in my testing.) In order to pair with a new device, you can do this one of two ways: either open the case (with the earbuds inside) and press the case's button three times quickly to go right to pairing mode and connect from the client, or disconnect the earbuds from all devices and then pair them to the new one. On some systems, when pairing I would be asked to confirm a pin number, but not always. The main thing is that once I figured out the quirks, it was relatively quick and easy.

One thing to note about the app: it likes to run all of the time, and by default it will show you a notification constantly if you let it. Thankfully, I am happy to report that 1MORE removed the Location permission requirement for these earbuds! I was thrilled beyond reason when the 1MORE app didn't ask me to access my GPS in order to manage my earbuds. Thank you 1MORE for listening to feedback and implementing this change as soon as they could!

I find that leaving the app running, while a minor nuisance, is more useful than the nuisance suggests. I can quickly turn on or off SoundID, enable or disable 'Smart Playback', or change the listening modes. It also reports on battery life in a really useful way, including not just each ear, but the case battery life as well. I'm using them nearly constantly, after all.

One thing to note is that on the 1MORE PistonBuds Pro I recently reviewed, I noted that those things were incredibly resilient to signal issues, like from my microwave for example. Unfortunately, these act more like a 'normal' Bluetooth earbud; if the microwave is running, you better get far away from it - because you're gonna get drops. That's just the way it is. I also noticed occasional drops while LDAC is enabled - some of the time. Sometimes it works great with no issues, and other times it acts up. I can't say I know the rhyme or reason on why that is. It's important to note that in the 1MORE MUSIC app, there is a setting called 'Bluetooth connection setup'; if you choose 'Priority on Stable Connection', it disables LDAC but keeps a stable connection that's resistant to the microwave just like the PistonBuds Pro are.

1MORE EVO True Wireless In-Ear Headphones

Unfortunately, the PistonBuds Pro feature a low-latency mode that is great for gaming. While I don't think the audio latency is unusually high with the EVOs, it currently does not offer a low-latency mode at all, so if gaming via Bluetooth is a priority, consider another set of earbuds. Or ask them to add it - who knows, maybe they can add that feature on a firmware update!

I previously mentioned 'Smart Playback', but never described it. It's a really neat feature that I immediately notice is missing on other Bluetooth earbuds now. On the inside of each earbud, there is an infrared sensor that looks for a warm body; if it finds one, then it assumes it's in an ear. If both are in, the buds automatically send a 'play' signal to the connected device. If one or both are removed, a 'pause' signal is sent to the connected device, and they patiently wait for them to be put back in. While 'Smart playback' can be disabled, I saw no reason to do this - it's a really cool feature. It worked on both Android and my computer just as well. The only 'gotcha' is that it can act up with dual-device mode enabled, and was a source of 'quirks'. I also noticed some apps do a better job of listening to the play/pause events - but that's not the fault of the earbuds.

Last but not least, we have the fantastic active noise canceling (ANC) features. This one not only has all of the modes that the PistonBuds Pro has, but several more as well. There are four different noise canceling modes, and two transparent modes, all which have their place and I found quite useful.

The first ANC mode is simply called 'Strong'. This is the default mode that activates when you long press (about 1.5 seconds) on an earbud. This is the mode that gives you the 42dB of noise reduction - which is (or is nearly) class leading. Most earbuds top out at around 40dB. It uses the microphones to measure the difference between the world around you and silence. It works really well, especially against droning sounds. I tested it with my zero-turn lawn mower, and I was very impressed. It removes almost all of the lower frequency noises, and you can really only hear the higher frequency sounds the engine makes. There is also a 'Mild' mode, if 'Strong' is too much for you.

The third mode is called WNR, or Wind Noise Resistance. The 'Strong' mode works well against a lot of things, but it does really poorly against wind sounds; it's probably better to just turn off noise canceling entirely than to use 'Strong' while riding a bicycle or outside on a windy day. But WNR does a good job against wind, at the cost of letting more low-frequency sounds through. It's important to note that the earbuds remember which mode you used last - 'Strong', 'Mild', 'WMR' or 'Adaptive' - but you can't switch between the four modes without the 1MORE MUSIC app. So you can activate a noise canceling mode without the app running, but you don't get to choose which one. The final ANC mode is 'Adaptive', and uses the ambient noise around you to automatically decide how much noise canceling you need.

So other than the noise canceling modes, there is another that's opposite - it's called Transparent, which operates in two modes - 'Pass-through' or 'Voice Enhancement'. This is pretty much what it sounds like - it amplifies your environment, so that you can hear and understand people around you talking. This can be really useful in certain circumstances! If you are doing chores, but need to hear when someone says something to you? Use Transparent. Are you waiting on a package delivery, but want to listen to your music or podcast (or even participate in a phone call) in the meantime? Yup, turn on Transparent. Very useful, if situational. Of course, you can also always just turn off ANC entirely, or remove an earbud if you need to hear someone, but it's not always as easy as it sounds - or you may not want to, like during physical activity for example. 'Pass-through' just amplifies everything around you, while 'Voice Enhancement' specifically targets the vocal range to make sure that you hear the people around you, and less so the rest of it.

The multiple microphone array on each earbud also does a great job with phone calls or voice chats on a computer. I've used this with multiple Microsoft Teams calls at work with no issues, as well as several phone calls. When I tested it via Voice Recorder, it didn't sound nearly as good as a proper microphone, but it was certainly clear enough for most normal conversations, even if I probably wouldn't record a podcast using it. What I was impressed with was the background noise rejection, though. I expected them to pick up more background than they did - when testing on my computer, the recording showed a 0dB signal in between when I talked - a quite impressive result. Even if my voice recorded sounds a bit more bass-heavy/muffled compared to how I would prefer, I could still clearly understand myself talking. It's certainly good enough.

The 1MORE EVO is a fantastic set of earbuds, with a crazy amount of features and excellent sound quality. The build quality is excellent, though I feel like the case and earbuds might not handle a hard drop well. While a little quirky at times, the dual-device mode is so much fun to use, as long as you can handle the strangeness. For example, my Linux laptop supports LDAC - which sounds wonderful! But it seems to take over the earbuds; I couldn't get audio to come from my phone until I disconnected the earbuds from my Linux box. Strange, but not deal-breaking. Outside of this one issue, I occasionally had to put them in the case to start the connecting/pairing process over, but this wasn't too common a problem.

If you are looking for a higher-end set of Bluetooth earbuds, the 1MORE EVOs should definitely be on your short list. They sound amazing, are built really well, and the noise canceling is best in class. Highly recommended!


Allkeys

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