1More Evo review: Hi-fi sound at a killer price
“With the Evo, 1More proves it’s still king of value in the wireless audio game.”
- Awesome sound quality
- Wireless hi-res audio
- Wireless charging
- Bluetooth Multipoint
- Wear sensors
- IPX4 water protection
- Good battery life
- So-so call quality
- Limited control options
- ANC creates a slight hiss
- No EQ controls
While 1More may not have the name recognition of companies like Sony, Bose, Beats, or Sennheiser, the Chinese audio brand has been quietly cranking out a huge collection of wireless earbuds over the past few years. Quantity, however, doesn’t always equal quality and 1More has had both hits (Stylish, ColorBuds 2, ComfoBuds Pro, PistonBuds Pro) and misses (True Wireless ANC, ComfoBuds Mini).
Its latest effort is its most ambitious to date: The $170come with all of the usual bells and whistles of top-end earbuds like active noise cancellation, transparency mode, wear sensors, wireless charging, and app-based customization. They also promise wireless hi-res audio compatibility thanks to Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec and a hybrid driver design. Does that mean the Evo have set a new benchmark for what we can expect from a set of sub-$200 earbuds? Let’s take a look.
In keeping with their status as 1More’s new flagship wireless earbuds, the Evo have a decidedly upscale, sophisticated design. Shape-wise, they bear a strong resemblance to the oval ColorBuds 2, but the Evo kick it up a notch with glasslike ceramic touch panels encircled with bronze accent rings. But 1More claims the panels are about more than looks: The ceramic material apparently also helps the earbuds maintain a stronger wireless connection, with less interference.
The wirelessly charging case is an equally slick affair. Made from a black, anodized aluminum alloy, its curvy profile feels great in your hand. The lid opens easily and snaps closed with a satisfying magnetic click. It’s not quite as compact as the ColorBuds 2, but it’s still very pocketable. The company claims that aluminum material will prove more scratch resistant than plastic, and though I didn’t exactly torture-test the case, it stood up very well to being in the same pocket as my keys — something I’d normally avoid doing.
I found the 1More Evo very comfortable to wear.
A single LED on the front of the case indicates the case’s charge level as well as its charging status, while a similar set of LEDs on the earbuds provide feedback on their charge level and pairing status. The Evo haven’t been specifically designed for workouts, but with an IPX4 rating, they should easily handle sweat or rain without suffering any damage.
If there’s one thing I’d change, it’s 1More’s packaging. The box is heavily coated in special material, embedded with magnets, and contains plenty of plastic, making it impossible to recycle.
Comfort, controls, and connections
I found the 1More Evo very comfortable to wear. I’ve always found 1More’s buds to be very ergonomic, but I haven’t always been able to get them to stay put once they’re in my ears. The Evo avoid this problem, and I think it’s because of the eartips. There are five different sizes to choose from, which should help most people find a set that fits, but it’s the silicone itself that’s noteworthy. It’s a much grippier formula than most silicone I’ve used, and it does a great job of locking the Evos into place and keeping them there. It’s softer too, which adds to the comfort. Because they’re so soft and grippy, they might not last as long as more robust tips, but I think it’s totally worth the trade-off.
Like most of 1More’s other models, the Evo’s touch controls are accurate and easy to use. But they also suffer from the same limitations: A minor gripe is that there’s no feedback (tactile or audible) to let you know you’ve tapped correctly. More crucially, you get double-tap, triple-tap, and long-press gestures to work with, but that doesn’t create enough combinations to control all of the Evo’s available functions. So you’re compelled to use the 1More Music app to decide what’s most important to you. Want to control volume level and play/pause? No problem, but you won’t be able to track skip forward/back. Want to be able to access your voice assistant and still be able to play/pause? OK, but you won’t be able to control volume or track skipping.
I keep waiting for 1More to follow Jabra’s lead on excellent control gestures and customization (which are nearly unlimited in terms of flexibility), but for now, it’s stubbornly sticking to its limited system.
Big props to 1More for including Bluetooth Multipoint.
The Evo use Bluetooth 5.2, which provides a seamless and reliable connection, plus the ability to use each earbud independently for calls and music. Getting them paired is easy enough on iOS, but even easier on Android thanks to Google Fast Pair. And I have to give 1More big props here. It has even given the Evo Bluetooth Multipoint compatibility for those who want to connect the buds to two devices simultaneously — a first for 1More wireless earbuds and a huge convenience in a time when we’re all multitasking a lot more. But Multipoint isn’t enabled by default — you’ll need to dive deep into the 1More Music app’s settings by tapping on the 1More logo > Experimental features > and enable Dual-device connection.
In the earbud world, the two most common types of drivers are electrodynamic (or just dynamic) and balanced armature. In higher-end, wired in-ear monitors, it’s not unusual for companies to install multiple balanced armature drivers, each tuned to a specific frequency. But in the wireless world, we’re beginning to see models that use a hybrid approach: A single dynamic driver for the lower frequencies, and a single (or sometimes double) balanced armature driver for the mids and highs.
Those with an ear for subtleties will certainly hear a difference when using the LDAC codec.
With the Evo, 1More has taken this hybrid road, pairing one dynamic and one balanced armature driver in each earbud. I’m not going to tell you that this kind of hybrid arrangement always yields good results, as there’s a lot more to sound quality than just the drivers, But in the case of the Evo, it produces fantastic results.
All across the frequency spectrum, there’s excellent clarity and separation. The soundstage isn’t especially deep when listening to two-channel stereo, but it’s pleasingly wide and very precise. However, if you have access to Dolby Atmos Music or Sony 360 Reality Audio tracks via Amazon Music, Tidal HiFi, or Apple Music, you’ll be treated to a much more open and airy presentation — Miles Davis’ So What is a joy.
Bass response is tight and fast, and it can produce those essential resonances when listening to jazz. Listening to Hans Zimmer’s Time or the soundtrack for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, you can feel his trademark cinematic deep bass notes and percussion.
The company says the Evo have similarly low levels of distortion to a set of wired earbuds, like its excellent Triple Drivers, and I’m inclined to agree — I didn’t detect any noticeable distortion across the frequencies, and at various volume levels.
If you’re an iPhone user, these observations will certainly hold true, but if you’re an Android user, you owe it yourself to switch the Evo’s Bluetooth connection to “Priority on Sound Quality” in the 1More Music app. This unlocks Sony’s LDAC codec, and under optimal conditions, it lends even more detail to the Evo’s performance. It’s not night and day — but those with an ear for subtleties (and access to lossless hi-res audio tracks) will certainly hear a difference.
The only downside to using LDAC is that it’s a battery hog. You’ll need to choose between maximum audio quality and maximum endurance.
The one thing missing from the Evo’s sonic résumé is some kind of EQ setting. Instead of discrete EQ controls, 1More has continued its use of SonarWorks’ SoundID — a custom tuning algorithm that uses a series of A/B hearing tests to create a personalized listening profile for you. Once you upload that profile to the earbuds, you can toggle it on and off to see if you like the results.
My experience with SoundID has been hit-and-miss. On some headphones, it can provide real improvements. On others, not so much. With the Evo, it offered a subtle enhancement of the default tuning, so I kept it on. But here’s a tip: If you try it, and you don’t like what it does to the sound, run the A/B test once or twice more, each time using a different sample sound — you may find, as I did, that this can make a difference in the results.
Noise cancellation and transparency modes
The company has been steadily improving its active noise cancellation (ANC) technology, and the Evo are its best effort yet. But despite 1More’s claims of up to 42 decibels’ worth of noise reduction, it’s still not as good as what you’ll find on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Apple AirPods Pro, or Sony WF-1000XM4, but then again, those earbuds cost a lot more than the Evo. Still, the Evo are quite adept at minimizing outside sounds, and 1More has added an Adaptive mode that tries to automatically respond to changes in your environment. That’s on top of the existing strong, mild, and anti-wind options that have been carried over from the ComfoBuds Mini. All are effective if used at the right times, but you will also notice a slight hiss if you aren’t listening to audio.
A 15-minute quick charge will nab you an extra four hours of playtime — one hour more than the competition.
Transparency mode is also good, giving you relatively unfiltered access to the outside world, and the new Voice Enhancement option helps to isolate the higher frequencies of voices from background noise. Switching between modes is as easy as long-pressing on the left earbud, but you’re forced to cycle through ANC > Transparency > Off modes, instead of having the option of toggling between any two of these modes. If you’re reading this 1More, please add this feature!
Calls are generally good on the 1More Evo. When in loud situations, there’s excellent noise reduction so your callers won’t be listening to the sound of traffic as you walk the streets. But 1More’s algorithms really struggle to keep your voice clear and uncompressed at times like these. My recommendation is to look for quieter locations — you callers will thank you.
There’s no sidetone for calls (which lets you hear your own voice clearly) but as with previous 1More earbuds, if you engage transparency mode before making or receiving a call, that mode will stay active during the call, which more or less does the same thing. Unfortunately, there’s no way to turn it off or on during a call.
The company claims you’ll get eight hours per charge in the earbuds and 28 hours in total when you include the charging case. That’s with ANC turned off. Turn it on, and those numbers drop to 5.5 and 20, respectively. From my testing, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. But keep in mind that if you run LDAC and ANC simultaneously, you could end up with as few as three hours per charge.
Should you need a quick top-up, a 15-minute charge will nab you an extra four hours of playtime, which is very good, even beating Sony’s three-hour quick charge on the WF-1000XM4.
With the Evo, 1More solidifies its reputation for audio products that punch well above their price range in terms of both sound quality and features. For those seeking a set of premium wireless earbuds for under $200, the Evo will not disappoint.
Is there a better alternative?
There are two products that you should consider before buying the 1More Evo:
Soundcore’s $170are neck and neck with the Evos in terms of features, including wireless charging, ANC, transparency, wear sensors, hi-res audio via LDAC, and Bluetooth Multipoint. Like the Evo, they sound amazing, but Soundcore provides tons of EQ adjustments in its app, as well as a wealth of control customizations — two things the Evo lacks. However, the Evo are smaller, more stylish, and more comfortable, and I think the same is true of their charging case.
For $200, you can get the outstanding. They sound great — though not quite as detailed as either the Evo or the Liberty 3 Pro. But they outperform in almost every other category, including ANC, transparency, customization, call quality, and even durability. they also have a fantastic IP57 rating for dust and water resistance.
How long will they last?
The case and earbuds seem to be very well built, from quality materials. I haven’t seen significant reports of 1More products failing, which is a good sign that the Evos should last a while. Their IPX4 rating should help protect them from daily wear damage, and 1More backs them with a one-year warranty. I suspect that the super-soft and grippy eartips will need to be replaced at least annually if you wear them a lot — and perhaps sooner if you use them for workouts.
Should you buy them?
Yes. Themay not be perfect, but they’re comfy, loaded with features, and deliver truly impressive sound for this price point, leaving them with few direct competitors.