1More has absolutely flooded the true wireless earbud market, and it’s confident enough in its new ComfoBuds Pro noise-canceling earbuds to proclaim them as superior to the AirPods Pro — for a fraction of the price. They slot in between the company’s flagship True Wireless ANC earbuds ($200) and less expensive options like the $50 PistonsBuds and the standard ComfoBuds, the latter of which has an open-style design. 1More says with the Pro model, it’s “sure to bring the fight to Apple and give their loyal fanbase a serious dilemma in choosing what pair of earbuds are right for them.”
I don’t think forcing such a direct comparison was the right move because, despite 1More claiming that it offers “so much more” than Apple’s flagship buds, the ComfoBuds Pro can’t match up with the AirPods Pro in all areas — as is expected with such a price discrepancy — but they’re still an excellent product in their own right. The sound is fantastic for the money, they have several useful noise cancellation modes to switch between, and the fit certainly delivers on the “comfort” part of their name.
The ComfoBuds come in either gunmetal gray or white, and they lay flat in their elongated, capsule-shaped carrying case. This makes for a compact, pocketable design, but the trade-off is that removing them from the case isn’t so simple: you’ve got to press down on the stem, which pushes up the main earbud portion, and then pluck that out of the case. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll have it down.
LEDs hidden at the bottom of the teardrop stem indicate pairing and charge status, and there’s also a light on the case’s exterior so you know when they’re fully topped off. Battery life is rated at 6 hours with ANC enabled, which outlasts the 4.5-hour AirPods Pro. The case has enough extra juice for you to reach 20 hours of total listening time. It charges over USB-C but doesn’t offer wireless charging.
1More also beats out Apple on the scale, with each ComfoBud Pro weighing 5.2 grams compared to the 5.4-gram AirPods Pro. In your ears, they feel similarly light and barely there. This results in comfort that lasts over extended stretches, which can’t always be said of heavier options like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (8.5 grams) and Jabra Elite 85t (7 grams). Four sets of silicone tips come in the box, with an extra small size thrown in alongside the standard small, medium, and large. I’d have appreciated an XL option, as even the largest size took some adjustment for a snug seal.
Instead of any actual buttons, the ComfoBuds Pro have a touch-sensitive area on the outer stem. It works well enough, even if it’s not obvious exactly where you should be tapping. The most confounding thing about 1More’s controls is there’s no single-tap action. You can choose what happens with a double tap, long press, or triple tap, but the single-press option — commonly used by other manufacturers to play / pause — just doesn’t exist here. So although 1More lets you customize the controls that are here, you’re a bit limited.
By default, two taps is pause, three activates a voice assistant, and a long press toggles between the noise-canceling modes. I ended up switching the three-tap gesture to track controls, but that meant settling for no direct volume access. Each earbud has an IR sensor on the outside for auto-pause if you remove them. They reliably resumed the music whenever I put them back in my ears.
1More has a good reputation for delivering on sound quality, and I think the ComfoBuds Pro might set a new bar for what to expect if you’re on a $100 budget. They’ve got excellent clarity without the bass bloat that’s common in this price bracket. Everything gets its ample space in the mix; the many layered vocal tracks by Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon on “Exile” are all distinct and come through with clarity. The funky groove of Lake Street Dive’s “Hypotheticals” is a good demo for the punchy bass these earbuds are capable of. Usually, there’s one genre or even a style of music production that will expose the weaknesses of a particular set of earbuds, but I struggled to find that with the ComfoBuds Pro. They can adapt to pretty much anything without coming off as harsh or thin. 1More doesn’t include any options for EQ customization, so what you get is what you get. Either earbud can be used standalone.
But do they sound better than the AirPods Pro? You could make the case they do, yeah. I think some people will prefer the deeper low tones and how much wider 1More’s earbuds can feel; vocals stay planted in the center, but you’ll hear a ton of detail out of the left and right channels. Still, there’s something to be said for the no-nonsense, straightforward audio reproduction of the AirPods Pro that so many people find pleasing across all sorts of different audio. 1More’s pricier True Wireless ANC also sound a bit fuller and more precise since they have a dual-driver design compared to the single 13.4-millimeter driver in the ComfoBuds Pro.
These earbuds offer a few different levels of noise cancellation intensity. There’s the default “strong” option, which goes the furthest in quieting outside noise. But 1More also includes a less powerful mode it says is suitable for “chatty” environments like cafes and offices, plus another that’s meant to avoid wind noise, which is common with noise-canceling earbuds since they constantly use the exterior microphones to sample ambient sound. If you’re outside on a windy day, that could be a good trick to lean on. (These latter two modes require the 1More mobile app to activate.) Finally, there’s a full-on transparency mode for getting a clear sense of everything happening around you. 1More’s active noise cancellation worked pretty well when I was sitting outside at a Brooklyn coffee shop, but this is one area where the AirPods Pro pull ahead. They don’t have the same variety of modes, but Apple’s premium earbuds do a better overall job of bringing down the volume of the outside world, which is what’s most important.
Even so, all of these things make the ComfoBuds Pro a great value. But the AirPods Pro still rank above in several respects. First, the ComfoBuds Pro case doesn’t support wireless charging. Second, Apple’s transparency mode still sounds more natural and airy than 1More’s. And 1More can’t match the software flexes (automatic switching, spatial audio, seamless pairing, audio sharing, etc.) that exist between AirPods and other Apple devices. That’s a huge part of what makes them so popular. Again, we’re talking about quality-of-life conveniences that you’d rightfully expect from a $250 product. And these cost nowhere near that. But if 1More is going to make the comparison, the differences are worth pointing out. Despite putting a huge focus on voice mic performance, 1More also winds up behind the AirPods Pro there — as does everyone else. It’s a draw on sweat resistance, with both sets of earbuds rated IPX4.
1More has put together a fantastic pair of budget earbuds with the ComfoBuds Pro. I wish the company had focused on the sheer value you get in exchange for your $99 instead of trying to take down the AirPods Pro, which just isn’t realistic. Despite matching them on comfort and edging them out in other areas like battery life, there are still valid reasons why many iPhone owners will go right for Apple’s buds. It’s hard to put a price on those exclusive Apple ecosystem features and the superior noise cancellation. But if you’ve only got around $100 to put toward earbuds, the ComfoBuds Pro are a standout pair that won’t leave you missing much else. Only thing is, the AirPods are far from the only competition they’ll need to stand out from.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge