Active noise cancelling is where most manufacturers are putting their efforts on recently and that’s because so many people used to commute – the situation where you really want to suppress external noises and focus on your music. With the world changing so rapidly, ANC can still be quite useful in home offices, where you want to concentrate and exclude noises coming from he rest of the family. The 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro offer a good upgrade path from last year’s Dual Driver ANC with new features and a new tuning as well.
Disclaimer: I received a free sample directly from 1More Europe (thank you, Tom).
|Well-made and comfortable
ANC works just too well
Warm yet balanced tuning
Very good technical ability
Great battery life
|High-pitched sounds are still audible with ANC on|
Packaging & Accessories
The 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro comes in the usual 1More box which holds a series of eartips, plus a carrying bag, a USB to USB-C cable and a USB-C to 3.5 mm jack cable. There’s also the usual set of leaflets and other stuff, including a sticker with 1More’s bear mascot.
Design & Comfort
1More used a design that proved to work in the past and adopted the same one they used for the previous Triple Driver BT and Dual Driver ANC: the neckband is identical to the previous models, save for the colour that’s now black, and the only marked difference is in the earpieces themselves.
The shell, although similar to that of the Triple Driver, is made of plastic in two different tones: with a metallic effect on the exterior and matte on the rest of the surface. It looks quite great, but it does feel really plasticky to the touch. It feels solid though, at least enough to withstand the daily wear and tear.
The neckband concentrates all buttons on the left side, while the right one is empty. The buttons include play/pause, volume (which double as previous/next track), power, ANC and wind cancellation modes. They’re all quite self-descriptive, easy to use and easy to distinguish even without looking at them thanks to their smart positioning on the band. There’s also a status LED next to the volume rocker, plus a small lid to access the USB-C port to charge the earphones.
The overall build quality is stellar, as it was with previous generations of wireless earphones by 1More. The earphones also offer IPX5 certification, so you can wear them in the rain or working out without issues. One thing I quite like is the fact that the earpieces come with a magnet on the external side, so they don’t dangle helplessly around, but instead they tend to stick together. They’re quite manageable thanks to this and I found the magnets are strong enough to allow you to have one earpiece outside the shirt and one inside so that they actually stay still.
Isolation is non-existent, given the earpieces are (semi?) open-back. Even in quite calm environments, with low-volume sounds, you can hear everything around you unless you are listening to music at a high volume.
Comfort is quite great, as it’s always been with 1More earphones. I can wear the Dual Driver ANC Pro for hours and still find them totally comfortable. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I tend to be rather picky with comfort (I lost the genetic lottery on that front, with an extremely sensitive skin…) so unless you are even unluckier than me you should be set. If you are, you have my full support. I know how it feels.
Extra Features & Battery Life
1More offers the latest & greatest in terms of connectivity, as usual. The Dual Driver ANC Pro offer Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC, aptX and LDAC codecs, which is quite a good set and leaves ample choice in terms of source. On top of the wireless connection there’s also the wired one. The rather ingenious thing 1More did was to include a USB-C to 3.5 mm jack cable, so one can use the Dual Driver ANC Pro with a wired source, too. The earphones have to be powered on for this to work, a limitation caused by the USB tech, but I don’t see this as an issue.
I am quite surprised and pleased about the noise cancelling technology. 1More really stepped up their game here and their tech can stand up to the giants of the industry without fear of looking lesser in any way. It works so well that I am left almost disoriented by the sudden lack of sound – I think this is the same sensation that people report after having been in an anechoic chamber. The cancellation tech, that 1More dubs the “QuietMax Technology“, is a hybrid one and therefore uses a microphone to pick up noise outside and one to pick up noise inside the acoustic chamber of each earpiece. It involves mostly the lower frequencies, with the lower mids that are cancelled as well but the middle and upper part that are left out together with treble.
This extreme efficacy of the ANC also exposes its weak point: the fact that it does not cancel high-frequency noises, which tend to stick out quite a lot if they’re high volume. The fact that the Dual Driver ANC Pro only cancel the lower section makes the rest stand out more, just as removing the colour blue from a picture makes green and red stand out more. This is also because the earpieces are open-back and therefore the noise is free to enter the chamber, without the usual passive isolation that would reduce the volume of higher frequencies.
This is not an issue, except for situations where high-pitched noises are also high volume. To make a practical example, think of a plane engine: the noise is mostly concentrated in the lower frequencies, but it actually extends up to the upper limits of human hearing (at least when it comes to Boeing 737-800 planes I’ve boarded, while Airbus A320 planes are usually much quieter). An aeroplane engine is a prime example of a situation where high-frequency noise becomes an issue, as its volume is quite high and it becomes a constant fatiguing hiss. It is not an issue in most daily situations, though, such as streets or crowded places (e.g. pubs: as I am writing these lines I am in one and I can barely hear anything that’s happening around me!).
There are two levels of ANC: one is stronger and is meant to be used on public transport and in other loud environments, whereas the second is weaker and can be used in the office or in other situations where the noise is lower in volume.
All in all I am quite happy with the QuietMax tech. It also has barely any reflex on the music, which appears to me to be untouched by the activation of the ANC feature. That’s quite a good feature, as it means you can really concentrate on your music without having to deal with external noises.
One thing I really appreciate about QuietMax is that it also offers a wind cancellation feature: it promises to suppress the noise of wind, a feat which it manages to some degree but not completely. Wind is tricky to eliminate as it is not constant, plus the fact that the back is open makes wind come in the acoustic chamber without anything to stop or slow down its course. As a result you can always hear some wind, though it admittedly is reduced in volume. I wasn’t able to test the feature on a bike, but I guess it would be too much for the tech (plus, it would not be very safe, as other noises are cancelled as well, including those of cars!).
There’s also a control app for both Android and iOS smartphones, but its only really useful feature is the ability to install firmware updates. I say that because it doesn’t offer any additional features on top of those you can already use with the onboard controls. The firmware update part is however really important, as 1More changed the tuning significantly since I first received the earphones with subsequent updates – and they changed it to a better one. The app is overall well done and easy to use.
Battery life is quite good in general and actually even greater than what 1More promises. I tested the Dual Driver ANC Pro using a Shanling M2X and using LDAC as the codec, and battery life was around 9 hours without ANC and around 8 hours with ANC, while 1More promises 8 hours and 7.5 hours respectively. That’s quite astonishing honestly, so kudos to 1More.
Sound & Specs
I mostly tested the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro using my Shanling M2X, which was loaded with FLAC files in standard resolution (16 bit, 44.1 kHz).
1More Dual Driver ANC Pro
|Codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC|
The tuning follows that of the newer products by 1More such as the True Wireless ANC: a generally U-shaped signature with a greater focus on bass than on treble (so it’s actually halfway between an L and a U). It’s a pleasing and well-made signature that gives music a bit more of fun.
If the 1More Dual Diver ANC Pro were closed-back, their soundstage would be quite amazingly large, but given they are actually semi-open, it’s in line with expectations. Which is to say, it’s quite large but not expansive, with more lateral room than depth. Imaging is sufficient, as it gives you a rough indication of where the instrument is even though there is no precise, pinpoint-like location. Instrument separation is very good and allows you to tell the various components apart.
Mid-bass comes with a nice bump that makes the sound as a whole appear warm. Bass does extend deep down to about 40 Hz, but the most presence is upper towards the mids, around 100 Hz. It offers fairly fast transients, with a good attack but a relatively slow finish, and a decent level of detail. I say “decent” because there’s no super-duper-detailed detail here, but there’s enough depth and variety for bass not to sound monotone. The emphasis on mid-bass makes the general tuning relatively warm and appears to appeal more to “mainstream” listeners than to audiophile, but it’s done quite well as it’s not excessive and it never covers the mids.
I really like how fast and detailed the mids are. This is especially apparent when you listen to drums: in tracks such as Meniscus’ Fingers you can hear the stick hitting the drum and the transient is clean and clear-cut, plus you hear the leather bouncing. Other details I noticed include the pick hitting the guitar strings in Head Rush from the same album. There’s not much physicality, but that’s expected. Overall the balance is quite good: the lows tend to be in front of the mids, but the latter are still central to the sound and this makes the details stand out well. There’s warmth, which is however carefully balanced not to be overpowering, and this results in a signature that’s highly enjoyable and relaxing without too much compromise on the fidelity.
Treble often sits more in the background than the mids, but it has enough extension and overall presence to counterbalance the bass effectively. Detail is in line with what I would expect from Bluetooth earphones in this price range: not all the minute details are there, but you can hear the individual touches of the drumsticks on the cymbals so that they actually have individuality and a precise shape. Speed is good, but not exceptional, and this explains at least in part the detail. The good extension (which also comprises at least one peak around 10 kHz) means that treble sounds relatively open and airy.
1More Dual Driver ANC Pro Comparisons
I’m going to compare the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro to the previous-gen products by the manufacturer:
- 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro vs 1More Dual Driver ANC: the difference between the two generations is quite remarkable. The ANC Pro offer more bass, especially in the mid-bass region, so the sound as a whole is warmer; depth is similar, and so is speed – it’s mostly a difference in tuning, though there’s also more detail on the “Pro” model. Where the two earphones differ a lot is in the midrange: the older model is brighter and with the mids being further forward than on the newer one, but the latter offers significantly more detail. Mids are warmer on the ANC Pro, which also makes male voices more balanced. Treble is comparable in terms of tuning, with the Pro presenting it slightly more emphasised, but the largest difference is in details: the older model is not on par with the newer one. Soundstage is definitely larger on the Dual Driver ANC Pro, which also have the upper hand in imaging and instrument separation. ANC works quite better on the new model, although both have issues with high-pitched noises.
- 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro vs 1More Triple Driver BT: the Triple Driver are probably still the most-loved earphones by 1More, thanks to their good mix of sound quality and price. As the Triple Driver BT are basically those earphones with a Bluetooth neckband attached to them, they keep most of the good qualities of their wired counterpart. The Triple Driver BT offer a more balanced signature, with less emphasis on bass and more space for midrange. Bass is slightly faster on the ANC Pro, but deeper on the Triple Driver BT, which also deliver more impact; detail is comparable, which is quite interesting. Midrange is warmer on the Dual Driver, but it’s more in the foreground on the Triple Driver which therefore appear more balanced overall; interestingly enough, detail is better on the Dual Driver, which also offer more speed and physicality. Treble is less emphasised on the Triple Driver BT, which also offer slightly less detail. The Dual Driver ANC Pro offer a larger soundstage, while imaging and instrument separation are better on the Triple Driver. It seems like 1More took most of the good stuff of the Triple Driver and brought it to the Dual Driver ANC Pro, while also improving on some of that. The result is that the two earphones are close in sound quality, while also being quite different; I personally prefer the Triple Driver, but the Dual Driver ANC Pro are a very strong contender and I’d say they can be the preferable option for most people.
The only real downside of the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro is that its ANC technology is too effective and exposes the limitations of the open-back design, which is the lack of isolation from high-pitched sounds. But that speaks volumes about how well the ANC works, as the difference between having the feature on and off is beyond stark. The world suddenly becomes silent, which is quite disorienting at first.
From an acoustic perspective, the Dual Driver ANC Pro are quite good, with a fun-orientated signature that’s still highly palatable for audiophiles. It’s quite good especially from the perspective of technical ability, with a great portrayal of details, good speed and very good instrument separation.
These wireless earphones are as good as wired models in the same price bracket, which is quite rare. If you also count the fact that they offer superb battery life and great build quality, you can easily see why I recommend you to get them if you want the advantages of ANC in a more compact, easily transportable and often comfortable format than classic full-size ANC headphones.