Hands-on review: 1More Evo True Wireless ANC earbuds with LDAC support
A great solution for high resolution.
It's an immutable and important shopping fact: there is no pair of perfect wireless earbuds. Despite the ongoing deluge of options, no one single product offers everything that every consumer desires.
What is increasingly happening is some excellent products are addressing specific needs – in this case, high-resolution listeners and support for the LDAC audio codec.
1More's new flagship Evo earbuds are the company's premium pitch for the higher end of the true wireless market. 1More previously won an award at CES 2020 for its earlier-generation 'True Wireless ANC' earbuds and the Evo is the natural successor to its feted forefather.
E&T previously lent an ear or two to the company's (and the world's) smallest active-noise-cancelling earbuds, the Comfobuds Mini.
Now with the Evo, 1More has taken that small ball and run with it, upping the feature set in every respect to produce a very good pair of high-res audio earbuds.
With 10mm dynamic drivers paired with a low-distortion, balanced armature in each bud, 42dB of 1More's 'QuietMax' active noise cancellation technology – which automatically adjusts the adaptive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) depending on your environment, six microphones (three in each bud) for supreme ambient noise management and voice call quality (guided by a deep neural network algorithm), a dual-mode transparency setting, AI SoundID for customising the sound, a projected 28-hours of battery life with the Quick Charge case (four hours of music from a 15-minute fast charge), Qi wireless charging, dual-device connection, seamless switching between two devices, touch controls on the ceramic surface, Bluetooth 5.2, multiple silicone ear tips in the box, and an IPX4 water and sweat-resistance rating, the Evos undoubtedly present themselves as an attractive proposition for any true wireless ANC earbud shopper.
Evo's ace up its sleeve, though, is its support, and official certification, for 'Hi-Res Audio, Wireless' (as the official badge on the box proclaims) – specifically, support for the LDAC Hi-Res-certified audio codec.
LDAC is a proprietary audio-coding technology developed by Sony which allows streaming high-resolution audio over Bluetooth connections at up to 990kbps with sample rates up to 32-bit/96kHz. This is beyond DVD audio quality. Probably overkill in a mobile listening environment, to be honest, but it's always good to have that additional headroom.
Naturally, LDAC is present in a range of Sony products, such as headphones, earphones, smartphones, portable media players (such as the A50 Walkman), active speakers and home theatres.
It is also supported by an increasing number of third-party gadget manufacturers, including Audeze, AudioTechnica, Astell&Kern, Google, HTC, Huawei, JVC, Kenwood, LG, Shure, Sharp, TEAC, Vivo, Xiaomi – and 1More. If you're interested in high-resolution audio, LDAC is probably already on your radar and possibly also already supported by a device you own.
This won't include an iPhone, as Apple continues to ignore LDAC, much like it continues to ignore FLAC files. There are workarounds, with varying degrees of success, but it's preferable to have a device that directly supports true high-resolution audio.
If you are suitably equipped, however, the Evo earbuds will let you listen to the highest-resolution audio of which your device is capable.
Available in either black or white, both featuring a subtle and stylish rose gold ring around the ceramic touch surface, straight out of the box these are very good-looking earbuds, embodying 1More's signature low-profile, minimalist aesthetic. Some people are anxious about earbuds so small, with zero protuberances to anchor them to your shell-like, but we find them to be very comfortable. Their physical presence practically disappears, leaving you free to simply listen to your music.
All the usual volume and music control gestures are available via the touch-sensitive surface on each bud, so in all the core behaviours the Evo are much like any other true wireless, noise-cancelling offering.
Where the Evo buds rise above is in the handling and delivery of high-resolution audio. While they already sound really good with any kind of music and file type – e.g. streaming basic bit-rate tunes from Spotify, or stepping up a notch with Apple Music's higher-spec 'Lossless' tracks – it is with the higher-resolution files that the Evo earbuds truly shine.
We connected them to our iPhone first to check out their sound with our everyday streaming apps (as above), but we also connected them to a Sony Walkman A55 full of FLACs, some of Sony's own LDAC demonstration files and a range of 24/96 audio recordings for more analytical, immersive listening.
In either situation, the Evo buds did not disappoint. There's a beautiful clarity to the sound across the audio spectrum, with no obvious hyping or exaggeration, and an impressively wide stereo picture. Just a lovely, natural balance, all the way from their warm bass up to their clear highs, with good mixes spreading out before you, left to right, revealing exceptional detail. As you may imagine, the higher-resolution files really sounded fantastic.
As we mentioned above, there is also the SoundID app, whereby you can personalise the sound of the earbuds to your own unique tastes (an approach also taken by Grell for its TWS/1 earbuds), but we haven't felt the need to mess with the Evo's signature tuning just yet. Out of the box, it's fine as it is – musical and enjoyable.
It should be said that wireless audio still can't quite go toe-to-toe with a top-quality pair of wired headphones (e.g. the Audeze LCD-1), but streaming music over a Bluetooth connection is definitely getting there when you have earbuds as good as this Evo pair.
The only other minor caveats to note are that the water-resistance of these Evo buds is only rated IPX4, so perhaps not best-suited for running in heavy rain (and definitely not for swimming), and that listening to high-resolution audio – as you will want to – does drain the battery quicker (but you probably already knew that).
Other than that, if you're of the audiophile persuasion – whether longtime or aspiring – and you want a portable solution for high-resolution audio, a pair of 1More's Evo earbuds should definitely be on your shortlist.
$169.99 (direct), £159.99 (Amazon)
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