Most of the time, when the combination of a product’s pricing and features seems too good to be true, it is. That’s why it was with some trepidation that I accepted a pair of 1More Triple Driver In-Ear headphones to review. After all, it was a company I had never heard of, and the $99 retail price—which is currently discounted to $85 on Amazon—struck me as improbably low for what they offer. The hybrid design uses dual balanced armature drivers and a dynamic driver. I figured there had to be a catch, some fly in the ointment.
After months of rigorous use, including multiple trips such as going to CEDIA in Dallas, many dog walks, and a trip through a washing machine, I finally realized that these headphones vanquished all doubts and exceeded any expectations that I may have had when I first got them. Read on to find out more about these affordable in-ears.
Features and Specs
1More Triple Driver In-Ear headphones feature a hybrid design that utilizes dual balanced-armature drivers—derived from hearing-aid technology—for accurately reproducing detailed midrange and treble. Meanwhile, a dynamic driver (much like a tiny woofer) is used for bass. This gives them a specified frequency response of 20 Hz to 40 kHz.
1More touts tuning by Grammy-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi, who the company credits with crafting the accurate yet eminently listenable sound of these headphones. That would imply these in-ears are designed for “preference, not reference” but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Listenability is the goal here.
The aluminum alloy enclosures that house the drivers are light yet tough. Notably, the cable, which includes in-line controls and a mic for use with phones, is sheathed in ultra-tough Kevlar.
I appreciated 1More’s inclusion of eartips of various sizes in the package, nine pairs in all. Five pairs are silicone and four are made of memory foam, allowing you to find the size and type that is the most comfortable. Ultimately, the key to getting the most out of in-ears is to seal your ear canal without experiencing discomfort; the inclusion of the extra eartips goes a long way toward achieving that goal.
Subjectively speaking, these are great sounding headphones for the money—no question about it. Objectively speaking, measuring headphone frequency response is tricky and beyond my capabilities. However, I can still glean some useful data with my ears, such as approximate low frequency extension. And while I can’t print graphs of what I hear, I do know that I can detect significant frequency response non-linearity when listening to a sine wave sweep, and thanks to a recent audiology exam I know my ears are still working.
Using Room EQ Wizard on a PC and a Emotiva Big Ego USB headphone DAC, I listened to sine sweeps plus sine waves at specific frequencies. I quickly determined that the claims of 20 Hz bass extension are technically valid, but in practice they are overly optimistic—not at all shocking in the world of headphones. In practice, bass output began to perceptibly drop off around 35 Hz, and stopped being useful at around 25 Hz. On the other end of the audio spectrum, I cannot confirm that these headphones reach 40,000 Hz for the highs, but only a bat or a dog would care. The highs are crisp without ever being harsh, and if this is the result of the Grammy-winner’s tuning, then I’d say it’s a job well done.
Depending on your taste in headphones, the sound signature of the 1More triple driver will come across as somewhere between well-balanced and tad bit bass shy on the low end, well balanced from mid-bass all the way up to the highest frequency I can hear, which is just shy of 17,000 Hz these days. Because there are so many inexpensive in-ear options out there that offer exaggerated bass, the 1More’s comparatively subdued character is consistent with what you hear from pricier in-ears that are aimed at audiophiles.
I have listened to many hundreds of hours of music on the 1Mores and found them consistently enjoyable. They delivered smooth, detailed, engaging music that justified their modest cost. Except for a few tracks that contain subterranean bass that no headphones can adequately reproduce, I did not feel like I was missing the essence of the music I listened to when using these headphones. Challenging, multi-layered recordings that can sound muddy on mediocre cans or speakers consistently sounded good, with abundant detail, clarity, and precise imaging.
Specific tracks that offered great examples of the 1More’s audio reproduction prowess include “Rock the Beat” by Jon Kennedy, from the album Corporeal. It combines crisp drums, guitar, and a tripped-out bass sound that churns and swirls inside your head. Most notably, the vocals are very present and precisely rendered with uncanny realism. The track is a fun listen on a great pair of speakers, and much of that experience came through with these headphones.
“Sideways” by Bassnectar, from the album Into the Sun, is an example of a track that suffered from the competent but modest deep bass performance of these in-ears. This dubstep track offers a brutal aural assault when played through cans that can handle the deep stuff properly, but with the 1Mores it was decidedly tame. Now, while what I am saying may sound critical, when I compared the 1Mores to a pair of HiFiMan HE400S—check out the review here—the bass coming from the triple-driver in-ears was in fact deeper and more satisfying than the full-sized planar-magnetic HiFiMans could muster.
My Blue Mo-Fi headphones—read the review here—can legitimately get down to 20 Hz. As a result, they did a better job with the bass in “sideways” than the 1Mores, namely by making the deepest tones detectable. Full disclosure: when it comes to “Sideways” I’m totally spoiled by how it sounds played on a good speaker system with multiple highly competent subwoofers. Aside from the difference in bass versus the Mo-Fi cans, I thought the 1Mores offered as compelling a rendition of the track. Indeed, it was not tangibly worse than either of the full-sized (and costlier) headphones I compared them to.
DJ Cam Quartet’s “Espionage” from The Soulshine Session showed off exactly how sublime the 1Mores can sound with a good recording. The drums are full, every kick and hi-hat registering as authentic. The piano, bass, sax, and trumpet all blended perfectly in a fully panoramic soundstage, with very precise instrument placement, and a buttery-smooth delivery. For what it’s worth, I’m typing these words as I listen to the track! With a great recording, these headphones are hot stuff.
Sporting a retail price of $99, the 1More triple driver are a great option for listeners who want a high-quality, durable, comfortable, and very listenable pair of in-ear headphones. They survived all the abuse I could mete out over the course of a year, including an hour and a half spent in a washing machine. Miraculously, they look and sound as good as they did the day I got them. Honestly, they may be the toughest headphones I’ve ever owned and for that reason alone I feel they are worth considering if you seek an all-around solid pair of in-ears.