The 1More ComfoBuds was a mixed bag that delivered neutral sound and erratic performance. After soaking in all the constructive criticisms, 1More headed back to the lab to begin work on the follow-up, the recently launched ComfoBuds Pro, which fixes several of its predecessor’s problems and throws active noise cancellation into the mix.
Stronger specs, longer battery life, and great audio capabilities give these budget buds solid talking points. The company’s proprietary QuietMax ANC technology is nothing to scoff at either. All that functionality for under $100 sounds too good to be true. Right? Well, seeing and hearing is believing. You just have to learn to live with its shortcomings.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Availability and price
The 1More ComfoBuds Pro is currently sold for $109 directly from 1More, but Amazon has it listed as low for $94. An extended warranty is also offered through 1More at different price points: $10.99 (1 year), $18.99 (2 years), and $26.99 (3 years). Black, white, and blue are the three colors options offered. Bundled with the purchase are a charging case, USB-C cable, three different sizes of ear tips, and a canvas pouch.
By comparison, the ComfoBuds Pro goes for less than category leaders such as the AirPods Pro ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279), as well as relatively affordable models like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro ($169) and Beats Studio Buds ($149). If you’re in the market for something cheaper, the Anker Soundcore Life P3 ($79) is a quality alternative with powerful sound and surprisingly good ANC.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Design and comfort
If you hate the AirPods design, then you’ll loathe the ComfoBuds Pro’s appearance. The long stem silhouette just isn’t trendy anymore, and the fact that 1More decided to go longer is far less appealing. Durability is decent with the buds boasting a durable plastic frame and IPX4 water resistance, much like the AirPods Pro. The matte finish is also a nice touch and shines best on the blue version.
Where 1More makes up for the buds’ unattractiveness is the charging case. This tiny, elongated piece of plastic is compact and lightweight (1.41 ounces) and is one of the most convenient EDC (everyday carry) items out there. Build quality is acceptable, plus the magnetic closure keeps the buds stored safely during commutes. The buds are displayed nicely on the inside, which is where you’ll also find a pairing button to manually connect the buds when Bluetooth acts up.
The ComfoBuds Pro might be larger than the AirPods Pro, but, surprisingly, both share the same weight: 0.19 ounces. This contributes to the buds’ pleasant comfort. I wore them for 2 hours straight, several stretches throughout the day, before experiencing minor soreness around the concha. Those with a higher pain threshold likely won’t feel anything.
Fit was fine as well. The silicone ear tips created a tight seal around the canal that prevented the buds from falling out.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Controls and digital assistant
A full suite of media controls is programmed into the ComfoBuds Pro, including playback, call management, volume, listening mode activation, and voice assistance. Input methods consist of double and triple taps, as well as a touch-and-hold gesture.
Two things bother me about 1More’s control scheme. While the touch sensors are accurately responsive, the narrow design makes them difficult to locate at times; I often missed and wound up tapping my face. Also, having no single-tap gesture seems impractical. Nonetheless, all the controls function properly and activate without any lag. On-ear detection for auto-pause/play does the same.
Siri and Google Assistant are available for hands-free voice commands and operate well. 1More’s three-mic array demonstrates terrific speech recognition, capturing every word and spoken phrase, while the AI bots respond quickly to inquiries. Those who own a Samsung device will also discover that Bixby is compatible with the buds. Voice activation would have been appreciated, but not being able to access the digital assistant via wake-word commands (“Hey Google,” “Hey Siri”) isn’t the end of the world.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Audio quality
Listening to music in passive mode rewards you with loud and crisp audio that packs a punch and enabling ANC gives the low end a bit more oomph. However, not all tracks perform well on the ComfoBuds Pro, which I’ll touch on further below.
The booming bassline on LL Cool J’s “Around the Way Girl” knocks hard without any distortion, leaving James Todd Smith to flow crisply and smoothly over the thumping production. Switching over to some funky R&B, the soundstage did Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” justice, reproducing the melodic piano chords and hard-hitting drums with precision.
Acoustic records were even more gratifying. Leon Bridges’ rendition of “River” was a captivating listen highlighted by the singer’s pristine tenor. You can also add Jazz to the list of music genres that the ComfoBuds Pro complements. These buds captured the mood and ambiance of soulful classics like Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” superbly. The gentle hi-hats and steady drums shined over the velvet-smooth sax and piano play.
If only the ComfoBuds Pro performed the same with low-fi recordings. Pulling up Slum Village “Yum Yum,” both rappers and the faded background vocals were severely bloated. The clarity was worse on garage pop-minimalist tracks like the Beat Happening’s “Our Secret,” which did little to articulate the singer’s droning.
Codec support is limited to SBC and AAC; no aptX. These aren’t the best codecs the market has to offer, and AAC isn’t handled well on Android devices, though iPhone users will get to enjoy hi-res playback.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Active noise cancellation
The ComfoBuds Pro won’t get you Bose-like ANC, but the noise neutralization it produces is shockingly good for the price. 1More created three different ANC Modes – Strong, Mild, and WNR (Wind Noise Resistant) – each self-explanatory and effective for specific purposes.
Strong warrants the best results and handles low frequencies exceptionally well. The buzzing AC condenser units on the side of the house were silent when standing right next to it. When wind was present, it was less harsh on my ears; the whooshing effects created in gusty conditions or when cars drove by didn’t break my concentration. In fact, Strong does a better job of dealing with wind than WNR because it also keeps external sounds to a minimum, whereas WNR focuses specifically on wind noise. It’s also ideal for putting a kibosh on household distractions like loud TVs, talkative relatives, and any rumblings in the laundry room. Just don’t expect the buds to silence higher frequency sounds like baby cries or whistling.
Mild comes in handy when you want to get some noise reduction and save battery life. Activating it during office hours helped block out my wife’s Zoom conferences, as well as delivery trucks and the landscaping that took place in our neighbor’s yard.
Pass-through works exactly like every other ambient-listening mode, piping in the noise around for increased awareness of your surroundings. It’s useful for keeping tabs on traffic during walks, though it serves better for communicating with people without having to remove the buds. Bringing the volume down to 50 percent let me engage in conversations with the missus during lunch breaks and talk with our babysitter when necessary.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: App and special features
The 1More app won’t compete with feature-laden rivals like JBL Headphones or Sony Headphones Connect, but it’s gotten a whole lot better. That’s because the company just updated it with numerous extras.
No changes were made to the presentation, which consists of a vanilla backdrop and images of both the earbuds and charging case with battery level indicators. Notice the new field for Listening Modes that has toggle controls for all ANC and ambient-listening settings, along with Smart Playback and Custom Settings to personalize the controls. But it’s the two new sound modes that steal the show: Equalizer and Soothing Sounds.
Selecting the Equalizer will grant you access to over 20 different presets that were engineered for specific genres and content. There isn’t a custom EQ to create your own sound profile, but it’s OK because you’re bound to find something to suit your hearing preference. Notables include Bass Reducer, Acoustic, Hip Hop, Electronic, Podcast, and Pop.
Soothing Sounds acts as a sound machine with 16 different profiles to mask the ambient noise around you with nature sounds. While each profile does sound authentic to their backdrop (River is very calming), the sounds do not run on a continuous loop and restart after several seconds, which becomes irritating after a while.
There is a special feature hidden in the settings called Smart Burn-In that supposedly breaks in the earbuds by using a special range of frequencies. Some people believe this concept enhances the overall sound of your headphones and others believe it’s a myth. Whichever way you sway, just know that it’s available.
Keep exploring the back end and you’ll stumble upon the experimental features section that has only one feature: Pop-Up Window. The app doesn’t really explain what it is, and the feature wouldn’t work at all on either my Google Pixel 3XL or Samsung Galaxy Note S20.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Battery life and charging case
The ComfoBuds Pro is rated at 6 hours with ANC on and 8 hours with ANC off. This is higher than the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) and about the same as the Life P3 (6 hours), but less than the WH-1000XM4 (8 hours) regarding ANC playback. Listening times drop by about 45 minutes when factoring in streaming, volume, and other features. I enjoyed 3 days of moderate listening (2 hours daily) before recharging.
The charging case can hold between 20 to 28 hours, depending on how you use the buds. If we’re talking about ANC use, then it falls short of the AirPods Pro case (24 hours), which is disappointing. A quick charge of 15 minutes will generate 2 hours of use. Wireless charging is not available.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Call quality and connectivity
Don’t expect grand call quality on these buds. Even with ANC circuitry stuffed underneath the hood, the mics picked up a lot of ambient noise, especially wind. My wife couldn’t hear much of what I said when taking her calls outside, noticing lots of muffle and hearing cars speed down the street. Inside was a slight improvement. My voice sounded louder, but also remained unclear despite having a quiet background. Something else I noticed was random dial prompts during calls as if someone were pressing numbers, but no one on the line had done this.
The ComfoBuds Pro operates on Bluetooth 5.0 and has a range of 30 feet (10 meters) for wireless listening, which is standard. Pairing seems to require a few extra steps, as removing the buds from the charging case doesn’t automatically enable Pairing Mode; I had to place them back in and hold the Bluetooth button. Once paired, there was no dropout during calls or streaming sessions. I also liked how fast the ComfoBuds Pro re-connected to known devices.
Google Fast Pair and multipoint technology did not make the cut.
1More ComfoBuds Pro review: Verdict
It’s hard to pass up such a good deal as the ComfoBuds Pro. The soundstage is finely tuned to feed your ears a balanced number of lows, mids, and highs. 1More’s QuietMax Technology lives up to its moniker and puts a muzzle on most ambient noises, completely blocking or diminishing their presence. ANC playtime is middling, but any pair of wireless buds that gets you more use than the AirPods Pro is good in my book. The additional features are a nice surprise too, especially since they enhance the listening experience.
Not everything panned out the way 1More envisioned. The longer design is simply an eyesore. Using the buds for phone calls is challenging. Audiophiles will also be disappointed by the mediocre audio quality on most low-fi recordings.
If none of these drawbacks are deal-breakers, then nothing should stop you from considering the ComfoBuds Pro as your next true wireless upgrade, especially if your budget is tight.