- Brand: 1More
- Battery Life: Up to 7.5 hours on earbuds, up to 30 hours on carry case
- Bluetooth: 5.2
- Additional Tips: 4
- Noise Cancellation: Yes
- Charging Case: Yes
- Codecs: SBC, AAC
- Drivers: 10mm dynamic
- IP rating: IPX5
- Wireless charging: No
- Microphones: 4
- Weight: 4.5g/0.15oz per bud
- Great battery life
- Comfortable design
- Companion app is actually useful
- Fairly attractive design once out of the case
- Sound quality isn’t great
- ANC is poor
1More is on a roll with earbud releases, following up the launch of the ComfoBuds Mini with the upgraded PistonBuds Pro, now with hybrid ANC. Delivering professionally tuned sound and decent battery life with the promise of hybrid ANC for a very reasonable price, do the 1More PistonBuds Pro live up to expectations?
1More PistonBuds Pro Style and Comfort
The 1More PistonBuds Pro is an interesting mix of styles.
Picking up the case, you might be slightly disappointed with the overall feel. It is predominantly white plastic, and it does feel relatively cheaply made. Plus, on the review unit that I have, the case lid is slightly loose. One nice touch for the case, however, is the concentric circle effect laid underneath transparent plastic. The chances of getting some dirt in there seems likely, but it adds a little bit more flair and style to what is an otherwise relatively plain affair.
Once you take the buds out of the case, it’s a slightly different situation. The PistonBuds Pro are a button-style earbud and feature the same metallic concentric circles on the back of them, which is good. They are not chunky, and each bud weighs in at 4.5g/0.15oz—perfectly average for a set of true wireless earbuds. For comparison, Apple’s AirPods weigh 4g/0.14oz each, while 1More’s minute ComfoBuds Mini weigh 3.7g/0.13oz per bud. In terms of overall style, they are good. The PistonBuds Pro look nice when they are sitting in your ear and they don’t protrude too far from your head. They’re discreet in comparison to other budget earbuds.
The weight of the PistonBuds Pro also means that you can wear them for a long time without experiencing any ear fatigue, always a bonus when it comes to earbuds. You will also find several different ear tip sizes for you to choose from. And, as we always suggest, you should switch out the ear tips to find the correct fit as this delivers the optimal audio experience.
Overall the design of the PistonBuds Pro is good. The case might not turn any heads, and it’s not something you perhaps will flash about. But once you reveal the earbuds inside, you will be pleasantly surprised.
1More PistonBuds Pro Battery Life and Connectivity
The slightly less flashy case does mean that the 1More PistonBuds Pro offers better than average battery life for earbuds at this price point. On a single charge without ANC, you’ll get up to 7.5 hours of playback, which really is quite good. Switching ANC on drops that to five hours of playback, which isn’t great, but it’s definitely good enough. During my review time, I found that the battery life rests between the two, depending on your use of ANC and your playback volume. You will also find another 20 to 30 hours of playback in the carry case, which makes battery life one of the 1More PistonBuds Pro best features.
The PistonBuds Pro also have a charging time of around two hours for the case and one hour for the earbuds themselves. There’s also the fast charge option that will give you around an hour of playback on roughly five to 10 minutes of charging time, which is pretty good if you are about to head out of the house and realize that you’ve let your earbuds run flat.
Connectivity comes from Bluetooth 5.2, and as you would expect, once the connection is made, it remains strong, and I experienced no Bluetooth connection dropouts while testing the earbuds. The Bluetooth codecs are SBC and AAC, the almost “standardized” Bluetooth audio codec options. While there are no advanced Bluetooth audio codecs for low latency streaming or high-resolution audio, you wouldn’t expect to find any on earbuds at this price point. So, it’s no big loss for the PistonBuds Pro.
1More PistonBuds Sound and ANC
Now, on to the 1More PistonBuds Pro sound quality and ANC. Given that these are labeled a “Pro” set of earbuds, the sound quality and ANC on offer here are slightly confusing. Labeling these earbuds Pro is a bit of a misnomer.
1More has had the PistonBuds Pro earbuds expertly tuned by four-time Grammy Award winner Luca Bignardi to deliver a natural sound for the earbuds. Unfortunately, the PistonBuds Pro sound doesn’t quite hit the mark. It’s certainly not a natural sound.
When you listen to music, you’ll note the sometimes strained mid-range, the slightly dulled top-end, and bass that sometimes lacks depth and quality. That’s not to say that the 1More PistonBuds Pro aren’t a good listen. If you are not looking for audio excellence and just want something that you can throw in your bag and will do the job whenever you need it, these earbuds are a great shout considering the price you will likely purchase them for.
But if you are expecting something more, if you want more audio depth and want a wider soundstage that allows you to experience your music as it should be experienced, I suggest looking elsewhere. The slightly stunted tuning is particularly noticeable in tracks with a wide range of sounds and instruments playing out across various frequencies. At times the PistonBuds Pro simply lack quality.
The active noise cancellation is a similar story. Despite 1More claiming that the PistonBuds Pro use a high-quality active noise cancellation technology called Quiet Max, the ANC is lacking. Again, given that these earbuds are called the PistonBuds Pro, you would perhaps expect more from the ANC.
The ANC comes in two different modes: strong ANC and wind noise resistance (WNR) mode, which you can activate in the 1More Music app (more on the app in a moment). There’s also a transparency mode, which, if you like transparency modes, does the job, but it has the inevitable pitfalls of transparency modes in that it over-amplifies your external environment and makes everything sound needlessly loud. Now, this isn’t an issue with just the 1More Pistonbuds Pro earbuds. This is something that all earbuds attempting transparency mode face.
Change ANC and EQ Settings Using the 1More Music App
The aforementioned 1More Music companion app (available for iOS and Android) does come with a few audio tweaks that you can make. It does not feature a custom EQ. However, it does feature 12 “studio-grade EQ settings” developed with Sonarworks, a company that works closely with Grammy Award-winning sound engineers.
As you’d expect, the EQ settings adjust the overall sound in one direction or another. You can play around or find ones that suit the music that you like. For example, the Electronic setting amplifies the bass and extends the treble, while the Bass Booster pushes the bass up considerably, and so on.
Also found in the 1More companion app also are options to customize the earbud’s touch controls, the soothing sounds option if you want some white noise or background tones to nod off to at night, firmware updates, and other integrated settings.
Should You Buy the 1More PistonBuds Pro?
So, should you buy the 1More PistonBuds Pro hybrid ANC earbuds?
Well, first up, let’s take a look at the price. Retailing for $70, the PistonBuds Pro aren’t the cheapest earbuds on the market. However, they are also unlikely to break your bank.
It is important to examine the PistonBud Pro versus the original PistonBuds and competitors on the market. The PistonBuds Pro improves on many of the features present in the original PistonBuds, which were always positioned as a budget bud.
You have the addition of ANC, be that good or bad. The companion app works well and provides EQ customization, and the battery life on the PistonBuds Pro jumps up to 7.5 hours of playback from the 3.5 hours available on the original PistonBuds. That alone is a significant boost and is well worth mentioning. So, while the overall audio performance of the PistonBuds Pro might not wow everyone, it’s certainly an improvement from the original PistonBuds.
On that, if you’re looking for a tidy set of budget ANC earbuds that look pretty cool when they’re out of the case, the PistonBuds Pro might fit the bill for you. But if you have a slightly larger budget, I wouldn’t rush out to buy these. Even 1More’s ComfoBuds Mini, which retail for around 20 bucks more, bring more to the table.
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