1More has flooded the real wireless earbud market, and is confident enough in their new ComfoBuds Pro sound-stop earbuds to outperform the AirPods Pro – for a fraction of the price. They range from the company’s flagship wireless ANC Wireless earbuds ($ 200) and less expensive options like the standard $ 50 PistonsBuds and ComfoBuds, and the latter has an open style design. 1More says with the Pro model, it is “sure to take the fight to Apple and leave a real legacy to their loyal fans in choosing which pair of earbuds is right for them.”
I don’t think pushing such a comparison is just the right move because, despite 1More saying that it offers “so much more” than Apple’s famous buds, the ComfoBuds can’t Pro matching with the Pro AirPods in all areas – as expected with such a price difference – but they are still an excellent product in their own right. The sound is great for the money, they have a number of useful ways to turn off the sound, and the equipment certainly delivers on the “comfort” part of their name.
The ComfoBuds come in either gunmetal gray or white, and lie flat in their long, capsule-shaped carrying case. This makes for a compact, pocket design, but the result is that the removal from the case is not so simple: you have to press down on the shaft, which pushes up the main earbud portion, and then pulling that out of the case. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll have it down.
LEDs hidden at the bottom of the teardrop gas indicate couple and charge status, and there’s also an out-of-the-case light so you know when they’re full. Battery life is estimated at 6 hours with ANC enabled, which outperforms the AirPods Pro 4.5-hours. Extra juice is in the case for you until you reach 20 hours of total listening time. It charges over USB-C but does not offer wireless charging.
1More also outperforms Apple on the scale, with each ComfoBud Pro weighing 5.2 grams compared to the 5.4-gram AirPods Pro. In your ears, they feel the same light and scarce there. This results in comfort that lasts over extended stretching, which cannot always be said about heavier options like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (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 the small, medium and large size. I had been impressed with the XL option, as even the largest size made some adjustments for a snug seal.
Instead of any real buttons, the ComfoBuds Pro has an external gas sensitive location. It works well enough, even if it’s not obvious exactly where you should be tapping. The most unsettling thing about 1More controls is that there is no one-tap function. You can choose what happens with a double-tap, long-press, or three-tap tap, but the single-press option – which other manufacturers commonly use for play / stop – is not just here. So while 1More lets you customize the controls here, you are a bit limited.
Typically, there are two stop taps, three activate voice assistant, and a long press lifts between the sound stop modes. I ended up changing the three-tap movement to control it, but that meant settling with no direct access to volume. Each external earbud has an IR sensor for automatic stop if you remove them. They reliably restarted the music whenever I put them back in my ears.
1More has a good reputation for delivering sound quality, and I think the ComfoBuds Pro could set a new bar for what you’d expect if you’re on a $ 100 budget. They have excellent brightness without the bass bloat is common in this price range. Everything will have plenty of room in the mix; the many vocal tracks by Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon on “Exile” are all unique and come through with clarity. The funny bell of “Hypotheticals” Lake Street Dive is a great showcase for the punk bass these earbuds are capable of. Usually, there will be one genre or even style of music production that reveals the weaknesses of a particular set of earbuds, but I found it hard to find that with the ComfoBuds Pro. They can change to almost anything without becoming so hard or thin. 1More doesn’t include any options for EQ customization, so what you get is what you get. Either earbud can be used alone.
But are they sound better than the AirPods Pro? You could do it, yeah. I think some people would prefer the deepest low tones and what 1More earbuds can feel; calls will still be placed in the center, but you will hear a ton of detail from the left and right channels. However, there is something to be said for direct audio reproduction of the AirPods Pro that is enjoyed by so many people across all different audio types. True Wireless ANC pricier 1More also sounds a bit more complete and detailed as they have a dual-driver design compared to the same 13.4-millimeter driver in the ComfoBuds Pro.
These earbuds offer slightly different levels of noise attenuation intensity. There is the basic “strong” option, which goes a long way in disturbing outside noise. But 1More also includes a less powerful mode that it says is suitable for “chat” environments like cafes and offices, and another that wants to avoid wind noise, which is common with earbuds that is noise canceling as they always use the external microphones to taste surrounding sound. If you’re out on a windy day, that might be a good trick to follow. (These last two methods require activating the 1More mobile app.) Finally, there is a full transparency mode for clear awareness of everything that is happening around you. Deleting 1More’s active sound worked well when I was sitting outside at a Brooklyn coffee shop, but this is one area where the AirPods Pro pulls forward. They don’t have the same kind of methods, but Apple’s high-end earbuds do an overall better job of bringing down the size of the outside world, which is what matters most.
Nonetheless, all of these things add great value to the ComfoBuds Pro. But the AirPods Pro still tops out in a number of ways. First, the ComfoBuds Pro case does not support wireless charging. Second, Apple’s publicity mode still feels more natural and airy than 1More’s. And 1More can’t match the software flexibilities (automatic conversion, spatial audio, sewing 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 quality-of-life facilities that you’d expect from a $ 250 result. And those don’t cost anywhere near that. But if 1More is going to make the comparison, it’s worth noting the differences. Despite putting a lot of focus on mic voice performance, 1More also goes up behind the AirPods Pro out there – as does everyone else. It’s an attraction to the fight against sweat, with both sets of earbuds rated IPX4.
1More has put together a pair of budget earbuds with the ComfoBuds Pro. I wish the company would have focused on the solid value you get in trading your $ 99 instead of trying to downgrade the AirPods Pro, which is not true. Despite matching them for comfort and putting them out in other areas like battery life, there are still legitimate reasons why many iPhone owners go right for Apple buds. It’s hard to put a price on those unique features of Apple’s ecosystem and the advanced noise suppression. But if you only have around $ 100 to install earbuds, the ComfoBuds Pro is a standout pair that won’t leave you missing much more. For one thing, the AirPods are far from the only competition they have to stand out.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge