TECHRADAR HEADPHONE GUIDES
Product name: EHD9001BA
Weight: 44.6 g
Cable length: N/A + 1m
Acoustic design: Earbuds
Drivers: 13.5mm full range + balanced armature
Features: ANC, wind noise reduction, AAC, LDAC
Battery: 15 hours
Wireless range: 10m
Bluetooth version: 5.0
IPX water-resistance: IPX5
PRICE: ZAR3100 (£150)
1MORE has certainly staked a strong claim for the near-audiophile headphone market, especially in the neckbuds category, where they have delivered at least half a dozen top-ranking models including the formidable E1001BT Triple Driver, the underrated E1020BT Spearhead VR and its predecessor the E1004BA Dual Driver ANC. Certainly, for sheer music quality, these are right up there with an excellent soundstage and audio frequencies clearly differentiated and combined into a well-balanced sound.
In this Pro model the unusual LDAC protocol is supported which offers far superior music throughput if your phone also supports it. Unavoidably, as good as these do sound, they do fall just slightly short of the true audiophile quality you might be shooting for. We found the overall sound lent itself better to jazz, folk, acoustic and "unplugged" music, meaning it was a warmer, more melodious sound and less given to furious hard rock or frenetic electronic dance music.
1MORE has carbon-copied the form factor that has proved so successful for its other "hi-fi rated" neckbuds, and then its added two-stage active noise cancelling and wind noise reduction. Both these features had some impact on our sound isolation, but neither was especially impressive. Likewise, the dual noise cancelling mics were good, but nothing special.
The 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro were supremely comfortable with the smooth rubber neckband providing no irritation even over hours of continuous use.
In general, 1More has looked to position its products in the space between standard Bluetooth buds (around ZAR1500, or £73) and the recognised audiophile tier (above ZAR3500, £170) and that's where we find the Dual Driver ANC Pro, priced at ZAR3100 (£150).
Far from a casual purchase this price point will appeal to price-sensitive music lovers aspiring to audiophile sound quality. Unfortunately, at this price 1MORE is also competing against a number of trusted audio brands including Sony, Sennheiser, AKG and JBL, and the budget-conscious shopper might not be willing to commit to relative newcomer 1More.
Even more complicated is that 1MORE itself makes several great-sounding headsets costing much less than the Dual Driver ANC Pro. Some of these pairs sound so good they appear on our listings of the best Bluetooth earphones on the market today:
- 1MORE E1004BA Dual Driver ANC (predecessor, without the Pro upgrades) - ZAR2700
- 1MORE E1001BT Triple Driver (with LDAC) – ZAR700
- 1MORE E1020BT Spearhead VR (with graphene and titanium dual drivers) - ZAR1200
1MORE perfected the neckbud design some time ago, using soft-touch non-sticky rubber for the "collar" which lies almost unnoticed across the back of the neck. The arms of the collar are finished in lightweight, anodised aluminium finished with 1MORE's signature bevelled edges and gleaming red detailing. This small cosmetic finish, for us, exudes quality and attention to detail, and subtly sets 1MORE apart in a crowded marketplace of Bluetooth buds.
All the controls, an there are six of them, are crowded together on to the left arm of the collar. This creates some problem ergonomics since several of the buttons feel identical to the touch, so I routinely found myself adjusting the ANC when looking for the wind cancelling function. The play pause button is also just too close to the volume rocker for comfort. Inevitably you become familiar with the controls over time making this less of an issue.
The buds themselves are an odd oblong shape but they fit in the ear no differently to any conventional round buds we've used. The buds themselves are magnetic and so they come together naturally in a kind of music lovers' necklace when you let the buds hang loose.
Overall, the 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro were perfectly comfortable, even for all-day wearing at the office.
On paper these ticked a lot of the boxes that matter to us. It has dual drivers: a full range driver using titanium which normally denotes a clearer sound, and a second balanced armature driver which normally delivers well on detail. It supports both the AAC high-definition protocol favoured by Apple's iPhone and the emerging LDAC protocol with delivers much higher quality Bluetooth streams (but is slightly more susceptible to signal drop-offs).
It seems hard to go far wrong with this combination of hardware and software and yet somehow, for us, the sound never reached the heights of dynamic delivery and epic soundstage we anticipated. The individual frequencies are all present when you listen for them, but they come together in a middling sound that's a little too warm, that feels unexciting and too safe.
There's plenty of bass, proper mid-range for vocals and crisp high end, but the sound comes together with very shallow soundstage and not enough of the toe-tapping quality we look for. Unavoidably, we are judging these quite harshly because of the high price tag, which pushes them into audiophile territory, and because previous, cheaper 1MORE neckbuds performed so very well.
In testing we used both the LDAC and AAC protocols playing both high and standard definition tracks across a wide range of music genres. Then, to eliminate the effect of Bluetooth compression, we used one of the more exotic features of the 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro. Included in the box is a USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack cable which turns them into a good old-fashioned cabled headset. While this did not change the sound signature much, it's a neat solution for deskbound workers who prefer buds.
NOISE CANCELLING These also include two kinds of active noise cancelling using four mics. The traditional ANC now has two levels and there's a new wind noise reduction feature too. In practice we found the ANC to be effective but nothing spectacular. Unfortunately, the wind protection was barely detectable. However, we were satisfied that these ANC measures also does not colour the sound or add any hiss which is often the case.
The dual ENC (Environmental Noise Cancelling) mics for handling calls are built into the arms of the neckband. This means they are better placed for receiving voice than mics placed in the buds themselves, as is commonly the case. 1MORE claims to be using an advanced algorithm to filter out background noise. In practice our voice came through clear and strong both on phone calls, on Zoom calls and on recorded voice notes, when used indoors and out.
SOFTWARE The 1MORE supporting app is not as full featured as the those from Samsung, Jabra or Sony, for example, but does allow you to set your levels of noise cancelling and, more importantly, to upgrade your firmware, which a great way to extract more value from the product over time. There is even a feature to "burn in" the headphones! Of course, at this price we might have expected a little more from the app, like a graphic equalizer perhaps, which might have significantly improved our listening experience.
Should I buy it?
Buy them if..
You want a quality music listening experience
Despite our reservations about the overall sound signature of these buds, they do provide a rich listening experience with decent amounts of bass.
You need active noise cancelling
If you commute using public transport or if you work in an office with traffic noise and other kinds of "noise pollution" you might want to invest in noise cancelling earphones.
Don't buy them if...
You are looking for a bargain
There are many headsets available with similar specifications, but which cost much less, including some from 1More itself.
You want earphones for gym or sport
There are more robust and more affordable neckbuds and also true wireless buds which are better suited to physical activities.
First reviewed: Friday 20201106