A tiny pair of true wireless earphones that pack in a lot of value, the 1More ColorBuds 2 need a few tweaks to achieve the best performance. However, aside from a few operational issues, they offer decent noise cancellation for the price and a zippy, crisp sound.
- Comfortable, lightweight design
- Crisp, attacking sound
- Solid enough noise cancellation
- Good battery life
- AptX Adaptive connection doesn’t hold up in busy areas
- Lacklustre bass
- Slightly loose fit
- Inconsistent touch controls
- UKRRP: £72.99
- USARRP: $79.99
- QuietMax ANCRemoves noise while Transparency mode lets in sounds
- BluetoothSupports aptX Adaptive for better wireless connectivity
You can’t fault 1More for effort. Every few months, the Chinese audio brand springs into life with another set of earbuds, peppering the market with options.
The ColorBuds 2 launched in 2021 and are a sequel to the 2020 original. The fast turnaround suggests 1More already had improvements in mind for its affordable wireless earbuds, bumping up to aptX Adaptive Bluetooth and adding noise cancellation.
It becomes clear by looking at the spec sheet that 1More is seeking to wedge as much value as it can into its small-sized buds. It appears that ANC is making its way into more affordable models of earbuds, so how does 1More’s attempt at it on these cheaper noise cancelling buds play out?
- Tiny size
- Inconsistent touch controls
The ColorBuds 2 aren’t 1More’s smallest earbuds – those would be the ComfoBuds Mini – but I’d be surprised if these buds don’t come close. The ColorBuds 2 are positively tiny, weighing only 4.9g per earbud – and where comfort is concerned, they present few issues.
Their compact size comes with both positives and negatives though, since while they slip easily into the ear, they don’t give the impression of being too secure once positioned. I still felt some slight movement when walking about, so nudging them in every now and then became routine.
Some wiggling is needed, then, to get them to feel secure, with XS/S/L ear-tips packaged alongside the default medium. Once wedged in, noise isolation was surprisingly good for such small earbuds and sound leakage is minimised to decent effect. An IPX5 water-resistance rating is more robust than the usual IPX4 that most true wireless deliver, with these buds able to resist a low-pressure spray of water (from a tap, for instance).
The 1More’s svelte ergonomic shape carries a similar look to the Beats Studio Buds. However, unlike those buds with their physical controls, the curved shape of the buds here presents some issues when it comes to operation; I was never quite sure which area to press to get a response. In general, the touch controls sway from working fine to being inconsistent. The right earbud was especially aggravating for playback, while the left was more or less fine.
Despite the “ColorBuds” name, these buds aren’t available in a wide selection of colours, with just Midnight Black, Frost White and Twilight Gold to choose from. The charging case is as diminutive as the earbuds, with a LED indicator on the front that shows current battery life when the case is open, and a button inside to start Bluetooth pairing.
- Decent noise cancellation
- Connection suffers in busy areas
- Good battery life
Battery is claimed to be six hours with ANC (18 in total) and eight without it (24 in total). Two hours of use saw the earbuds drop to 70%, which suggests you could get more than the claimed six hours. If it’s needed, there’s fast charging available (15 minutes for two hours playback) and wireless charging support.
Noise cancellation is good. I wasn’t expecting any extraordinary feats – I don’t think most should at this price – but the performance of the ColorBuds 2 was solid.
As a result of the buds’ fit, there’s always some noises that make their way through – from the click of bicycle’s gears to the rumble of escalators and some general ambience (such as the air-conditioning on a train). Sharp sounds and voice announcements penetrated the ANC bubble, but that’s to be expected with most ANC true wireless.
The 1More ColorBuds 2’s QuietMax ANC tech is most effective at dealing with low-frequency sounds, and it was handy to have on the Tube. The howl of the Jubilee line was impressively reduced, and other people’s voices weren’t as noticeable (although pushing the volume up certainly helped here). With the right volume level, the music I was playing was never overwhelmed by the goings on around me, and that’s a positive takeaway from the ColorBuds 2’s ANC performance.
The Transparency mode isn’t too shabby, either. It sounds slightly small in scope and a little noisy, but in terms of hearing the surrounding environment with clarity, it’s a decent effort and doesn’t negatively alter the audio. There’s no way of turning off ANC completely; the earbuds can only be switched between the noise-cancelling and pass-through modes.
Bluetooth connectivity is version 5.2 – which, at the time of review, is the most current Bluetooth standard to ensure a stable connection between the earphones and source device. The 1More also come with Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring tech, which transmits to both ears simultaneously to reduce audio latency.
Bluetooth codec support goes to aptX Adaptive, and this version of aptX is intended to maintain a strong connection with compatible devices in busy signal areas. However, the experience I had walking through Waterloo station was so choppy that I couldn’t hear music for 10 seconds or more. The signal wavered at other train stations, too, but nowhere near as severely. In other circumstances, connectivity was fine; it’s only in busy areas that the ColorBuds 2 came a cropper. Still, more was expected given they adorn the aptX Adaptive logo.
The 1More Music app is where you can monitor battery life and update firmware. Smart playback is the auto play/pause sensor, and it works well, while Custom settings refers to customising touch controls. The default values for double- and triple-taps are playback and voice control, but they can be changed to support track-skipping or volume operation.
SoundID offers a means of customising the earbuds’ sound, playing a looped track and being asked to choose between two different versions of it to build up a profile. I must admit, I didn’t hear much of a difference with it on or off.
One of the more unique features of the app is the smart burn-in feature, where noise is played through the buds to improve sound quality. While you could let them lie for the full 12 hours, only a couple of hours are really needed. You can also listen to soothing sounds in the app, although the “summer rain” option is anything but soothing.
- Crisp, detailed presentation
- Punchy, attacking flow
- Diminished bass performance
For such a small set of true wireless buds, the 1More ColorBuds 2 conjure up a sound that’s bigger than expected – although at normal listening levels these buds are exceedingly quiet. Perhaps it’s a consequence of their small size; but at least they scale well in loudness terms – pushing up the volume to the top allowed them to sound, well, like they should.
The soundstage they describe is wide, which allows lots of space for instruments and vocals to co-exist. The crisp tone helps with the buds’ sense of definition and clarity with vocals, and they sound natural enough, showcasing good timing, rhythm and dynamism in describing the difference between high and loud notes. This ensures that with quick-tempo tracks such as Reel Big Fish’s Sell Out or Dario Marianelli’s The Book is Stolen, they don’t sound like a messy, confused mess.
Their organisation of the soundstage is tidy, and another positive aspect of their crisp tone is that they attack songs with energy, producing an often exciting and pacy listen. In my opinion, they sound as if their tone reaps more benefits towards the top-end of the frequency range and the mid-range. Treble notes are sharp, while the mid-range is packed with detail; the low-end is the weakest part of their performance.
Listening to Billie Eilish’s xanny, there isn’t a tremendous amount of bass. The ColorBuds 2’s sense of depth, extension or punch to the low frequencies is coy in its characterisation. Pushing the volume all the way to the top elicits some more presence to the low-end, but this is in no way a particularly weighty-sounding performance.
In the end, the 1More ColorBuds 2 prove to be something of a surprise. I hadn’t expected a sound quite as good as what’s presented here – which is a snappy, energetic and clear-sounding performer. Just remember to push up the volume so you can actually hear the ColorBuds 2’s at their best.
Should you buy it?
They boast plenty of value Active noise cancellation and a crisp audio presentation, alongside features you’d normally find in premium true wireless earphones, all delivered at an affordable price, means the ColorBuds 2 offer pretty great value.
They’re a little rough around the edges The fit is on the loose side, the touch controls don’t always work, and their bass performance could be more effective – these 1More buds could use some more spit and polish.
The ColorBuds 2 deliver solid noise cancellation, a sound that’s crisp and energetic, and a pretty decent feature set for the asking price.
They’re not the most polished performers, though, with inconsistent touch controls, Bluetooth connectivity that suffers when confronted with busy areas, and weak bass. If you can live with these issues, then these buds pack a lot of value into their small frame. If you’re after cheap ANC true wireless buds, the 1More ColorBuds 2 should, at the very least, be an option to consider.
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We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested over several weeks
Tested with real world use
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Yes, the Colorbuds 2 factor in support for aptX Adaptive to maintain a wireless connection between the buds and source device.
Wireless charging is indeed supported on this model if you have a charging pad at hand.
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ANCANC (Active Noise Cancellation) uses an array of microphones in a headphone to detect the frequency of the sound coming at the listener, with the ANC chip creating an inverse wave (i.e. opposing sound) to suppress any unwanted external noises.
IP ratingAn abbreviation for ‘Ingress Protection Code’, which lets you know to what extent a device might be waterproof or dustproof.
Qi Wireless Charging
The most common format for wireless charging and the one supported by the majority of devices. Charge speeds vary a lot by the phone.