1More ColorBuds 2 review: Upping the ante with ANC
“A great set of buds are now even better with ANC and a lower price.”
Great sound with SoundID personalization
Good call quality
Limited control options
No EQ settings
Mediocre transparency mode
Wired and wireless earbuds from 1More tend to provide great sound at great prices. For a while, it was one of the few brands that did this reliably, offering an excellent alternative to Apple’s iconic but pricey true wireless earbuds. But now there are tons of low-priced, high-value options from companies like Wyze, JLab, Soundcore, EarFun, and Skullcandy. Even Jabra now makes a set of buds priced well under $100, which means that 1More needs to find new ways to make itself stand out from the crowd.
Its new ColorBuds 2 are an attempt to do so, with an attractive price ($80) and several in-demand features like active noise cancellation (ANC), wireless charging, and personalized sound profiles. Do these new buds go far enough? Let’s check ’em out.
What’s in the box?
It’s been good to see that 1More has been getting better with its packaging lately. While there are no magnetic closures on the box and no foam inside, there still is some plastic to deal with. Inside, you’ll find the earbuds, their charging case, a USB-A-to-USB-C charging cable, and four sizes of silicone eartips (with the medium size ones preinstalled).
It’s pretty hard to tell the difference between the ColorBuds 2 and the original ColorBuds. It’s nice to see that 1More has kept the same size and shape for the earbuds and the charging case — we thought highly of the originals, so why fix what ain’t broken?
The rounded contours and egglike body are smooth to the touch, and our black review unit has a nice satin finish that helps to differentiate it from a sea of gloss white and matte black products. The buds are easy to pull from the case, and the magnets are just strong enough to help them snap securely back in and keep them in place.
Touch controls can be finicky, but the ColorBuds 2 respond nicely.
In keeping with the theme of consistency, the ColorBuds 2 hold on to the original’s IPX5 water resistance, which should be plenty of protection from sweat or the occasional splash of water. In fact, the biggest change isn’t one you can see at all: That egg-shaped charging case now supports Qi-wireless charging.
Comfort, controls, and connections
The ColorBuds 2’s rounded shape isn’t just for looks. It also creates a very comfortable fit. Unlike stem-based buds, or earbuds with large main bodies (ahem, Sony WF-1000XM4), there’s nothing preventing the ColorBuds from sliding as far into your ear as you need in order to find that balance between getting a good seal and avoiding unwanted pressure.
Touch controls can be finicky, but the ColorBuds 2 respond nicely. The large surface helps ensure you make contact, but thanks to the shape of the body, it’s also easy to get a grip on the earbuds without accidentally triggering those controls.
I’m no longer a skeptic — on the ColorBuds 2, SoundID works.
Unfortunately, 1More has been kind of stingy with the control gestures. You get a double tap and a triple tap on each earbud, plus a long-press gesture. That sounds sufficient until you get into the 1More Music app and realize that you’ll have to make some tough choices. The long press isn’t customizable — it always controls switching between ANC and transparency modes — and the other two gestures can’t be set on an earbud-by-earbud basis. You must choose from control groups: Play/pause, track skip, volume, and voice control. Pick any two. It’s not clear to me why 1More has nixed the idea of a single tap, but I’ve seen this done on other true wireless earbuds, so as strange as it is, it’s not a problem that’s unique to the ColorBuds.
On the plus side, you get in-ear detection with customizable autopause — when you pull an earbud out, you can choose if you want it to pause the music and resume it when you put the bud back in, pause only, or donothing at all.
Pairing the buds is easy on both Android and iOS. Simply open the Bluetooth control panel, then open the charging case and choose the ColorBuds when they appear in the available devices list. Once paired, it’s a reliable connection that also extends a good distance — I was able to put 30 feet between them and my Pixel 5, even with two walls in the way. That’s considerably better than our experience with the original ColorBuds, but perhaps that’s due to an upgrade from Bluetooth 5.0 to 5.2.
Out of the box, the ColorBuds 2 have an enjoyable, balanced sound signature, with plenty of low-end bass, clear midranges, and high frequencies. But you also have the opportunity to enhance the acoustics by setting up a SoundID profile.
SoundID, developed by Sonarworks, combines the specific acoustic properties of a set of earbuds like the ColorBuds with your personal hearing. It does this by guiding you through a short series of A/B comparisons in which you indicate your preference for one of two different sounds (or none if you can’t tell the difference). Once the test is done, SoundID uses your preferences to tailor the ColorBuds’ EQ.
I’ve tried the SoundID system before on other products like the Beats Solo 3 and wasn’t very impressed with the results, but that was an app-based version of SoundID that delivered adjusted sound to an otherwise regular set of headphones. For the ColorBuds 2, 1More has integrated the SoundID tweaks into the earbuds themselves, and I think it makes a world of difference.
Turning on ANC can make the difference between effortlessly hearing your podcasts or not.
For me, flipping on SoundID not only improved the overall sound quality, but also expanded the soundstage and created better stereo imaging. I’m not quite at the point where I believe all headphones and earbuds should be equipped with SoundID, but I’m no longer a skeptic — on the ColorBuds 2, it works.
Unfortunately, 1More has effectively outsourced EQ control to SoundID. If you don’t like the factory sound signature, your only option is to set up SoundID and hope that you prefer the results — there’s no other way to adjust EQ either manually or via presets.
It’s also worth noting that the ColorBuds 2 support both aptX and aptX Adaptive, two of Qualcomm’s Bluetooth codecs that can deliver higher-quality audio than either SBC or AAC. The catch is that your phone will need to support them. Unfortunately, iPhones don’t support any Qualcomm codecs and support for aptX Adaptive is still limited to a handful of Android models.
Noise cancellation and transparency
Considering their sub-$100 price, the ColorBuds 2 have very good noise cancellation. It’s not the kind of cone-of-silence effect you’ll get from something like the AirPods Pro or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, but it’s as good and perhaps even a little better than other earbuds in the same price range like the Soundcore Life P3 and.
Sounds like the droning of a loud fan aren’t eliminated, but they’re greatly reduced, and in a noisy environment like a gym with ambient music and the sounds of treadmills, turning on ANC can make the difference between effortlessly hearing your podcasts or not.
Transparency mode, on the other hand, is weak. Compared to ANC mode, you definitely hear more of your environment, but your voice will still be quite muffled.
Switching between the two modes is easy — a long press on either earbud will do it.
Battery life for the ColorBuds 2 when ANC is turned on is a claimed six hours for the earbuds and a total of 18 hours when you include the charging case. That goes up to eight and 24 hours if you stay in transparency mode (which is considered “ANC off”). When listening at 50% volume, these numbers are spot-on.
It’s not the kind of massive stamina we’ve seen from some earbuds (with as much as 15 hours per charge), but it will still get you through a full day of listening, which is really all most people need. Should you run out of juice, a fast-charge option gives you two extra hours of use with just 15 minutes in the charging case.
Calling with the ColorBuds 2 is generally good. In quiet locations, your voice will come through very clearly, with almost no compression. When things get a bit noisier, that can change as the earbuds try to compensate by canceling certain sounds, which can introduce some wobble and distortion. As long as you’re not trying to conduct a business meeting beside an active construction zone, you should get perfectly acceptable calls.
With a compact and comfortable design, good sound quality, and ANC that significantly reduces unwanted sounds, theare a very good value considering their sub-$100 price.
Is there a better alternative?
You’ll have to spend a lot more to get a set of earbuds that outperform the ColorBuds 2, but there are still some good alternatives around the same price:
- , $80: Longer battery life, adjustable EQ, more control options, but no in-ear detection.
- , $80: Longer battery life, better out-of-the-box sound quality, better transparency mode, but no control or EQ customization, and no wireless charging.
How long will they last?
With an IPX5 rating, they should have no problem dealing with moisture and rain, and the ColorBuds 2 appear to be well-built from quality materials. I suspect they will last as long as or longer than other earbuds at this price. The company backs its products with a one-year warranty.
Should you buy them?
Yes, especially if you’re looking for a very comfortable set of earbuds that sound great and offer decent noise cancellation.