Hands-on review: 1More ComfoBuds Mini True Wireless ANC earbuds
Image credit: 1More
Mini earbuds; mighty sound.
In such an extremely crowded, highly competitive marketplace as that for wireless earbuds, a product needs a definitive USP to help it stand out. In the case of 1More's ComfoBuds Mini, how about 'World's Smallest Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds'? That is, indeed, what they are (at least for now).
Available in either Obsidian Black or Mica White (also known as simply black or white), the ComfoBuds Mini really do live up to their name. More than just a novelty, their diminutive size will be a large part of their appeal for people who don't want their earbuds pointedly on display, for those who prefer a low-profile gadget, or for those who physically have small ears.
As the images here serve to illustrate, the ComfoBuds Mini simply slip into the wearer's ear canal - and that's it. No stalk, no protruding beyond the ear, they're about as low-profile as an earbud can be. Like musical earplugs.
This, coupled with their 3.7g barely-there weight, means they are very comfortable earbuds to wear for long periods. With the body ergonomically shaped to fit most human ears, the supplied choice of four sizes of silicone tips also helps round out your perfect fit and keep them secure as you move around.
Being the world's smallest active noise-cancelling earbuds is all well and good, but if they sound like angry wasps trapped in a tin can, no amount of world records will save them. Fortunately, this is very far from the case here. These 1More buds sound excellent - not just 'for their size', but excellent period.
There's a 7mm dynamic driver, graphene diaphragm and dual magnetic circuit design in each earbud for surprisingly rich reproduction of sonics across the audio spectrum. Support for Apple's AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) codec helps deliver high sound quality on iOS devices, but any file type and source material is impressively conveyed for pleasing results.
1More is, understandably, proud of the sound of its earbuds and has an agreement with "four-time Grammy award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi" to tune the response of its headphones. The fruit of this particular partnership is that these earbuds sound good straight out of the box, but the user can also take things further and personalise the sound of their ComfoBuds via the SoundID app.
This is the same approach used by Grell Audio for its TWS/1 and if you have a particular yen for more bass or a treble boost, it's an easy - almost fun - approach to finding your unique EQ preference.
We do wonder how many people opt to do this, or demand it as a feature, as we have a sneaking suspicion most consumers just want to jam something into their ears and have it already sound great, but there will always be tweakers who want to tweak. Sonarworks' 'Sound Calibration Technology', the AI behind SoundID, is highly regarded by audio professionals and multi award-winning, so you've always got this option in your back pocket if you ever feel you need it (or simply want to try it - what's the worst that can happen?).
That's the music. What about the silence? These earbuds feature 1More’s proprietary QuietMax active noise-cancellation technology, which can reach up to a maximum noise-cancelling depth of 40dB. That's a lot of quiet. As with many earbuds these days, there are three different noise-cancelling modes for different scenarios: 'ANC Strong' (up to 40 dB) to block out pretty much everything; 'ANC Mild' (to cancel out much of the surrounding ambient noise), and 'WNR' (Wind Noise Resistant, which automatically suppresses that low-frequency rumble caused by strong wind). Wearing these down at the beach recently on a blustery Spring day, we can vouch for the effectiveness of WNR.
There's also a 'Pass-through' mode, whereby the ComfoBuds Mini headphones let in more of the world around you, in case you need to feel safer on the streets, or be more aware of people and colleagues around you.
Voice-call quality is very good, as you might expect given 1More's focus on audio. A pair of MEMS mics in each earbud, powered by an AI DNN (deep neural network) algorithm, filter out unwanted ambient noise and help preserve speech intelligibility.
The ComfoBuds Mini earbuds also support Qi-compatible wireless charging and can fast-charge in just 10 minutes to give around 90 minutes of playback time.
Finally, there's a surprise bonus feature with the inclusion of '30 Soothing Sounds' directly in the earbuds themselves, via the 1More app. Relax and de-stress to the natural sounds of rain, streams, breeze, forests and more, with five different auto-off timers ranging from 30-150 minutes. It's a nice touch, for those times when you want a break from the world but music feels too distracting.
Perhaps the only downside here is the modest IPX5 water resistance, so not fully submersible. Given the tiny size of these earbuds, they seem like they'd be ideal for swimming, but you'd be advised to keep them out of the water. They're protected against a bit of splashing so should be OK worn poolside, just don't forget that you're wearing them before doing bombs at the deep end.
It's always refreshing to see a company designing products that move the earbuds aesthetic forward, rather than simply apeing what is already popular (see: a million AirPods clones). For some people, such a tiny earbud as these ComfoBuds Minis might be a diminutive step too far, but if you've ever wished that someone would produce a great sounding, true wireless earbud, incorporating cutting-edge features and with the most minimal footprint (earprint?) possible, your prayers have been answered.
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