Hands-on review: 1More Aero true wireless ANC earbuds
Image credit: 1More
Pseudo-spatial audio for the masses.
As you may (or may not) have noticed, Apple and the music industry has been heavily promoting 'Spatial Audio' as a new approach for more immersive listening.
It's linked to the metaverse, priming the pump, so to speak, for a time when it's hoped we're all roaming the virtual realm daily, preening with our suspiciously buff and attractive avatars, trying in vain to live our best life at least digitally in imaginary worlds. In those worlds, sound needs to come from all around us in order to feel even vaguely realistic.
In the meantime, in the normal world (which, contrary to Meta's inferences and ambitions, will continue to exist in all its natural 360° surround-sound glory), listening to spatial audio today is one way to experience that Dolby Atmos cinematic experience in your head.
The snag for spatial audio thus far is that there simply isn't that much content available at present specifically optimised for the format. It's like the early days of CD. There are roughly 10,000 songs available as dedicated spatial audio mixes on streaming platforms, compared to approximately 10 million standard audio tracks.
However, the number of plays of spatial audio tracks on Apple Music has, according to Apple, quadrupled in 2022. This is a result of heavy promotion and support for the format with the company's AirPods earbuds and the built-in spatial audio features in iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS devices.
In July this year, Netflix also made spatial audio available on its platform, collaborating with Sennheiser to use its proprietary 3D audio technology to convert stereo audio tracks into 3D spatial audio.
The demand for spatial audio is clearly there – and growing.
Hence, 1More's Aero true wireless, active noise cancelling earbuds, with their 'dynamic' head-tracking technology monitored by a built-in gyroscope, allowing the user to "venture into immersion", as the company says. In other words, to experience a close approximation of spatial audio without the need for dedicated hardware or optimised files.
Besides the inviting opportunity to dip your ears into the spatial audio waters, the Aero's are also Bluetooth 5.2 true wireless earbuds, with 1More's proprietorial 'QuietMax' active noise cancelling technology, Qi wireless charging, IPX5 water resistance and up to 28 hours of playback from a full charge.
The elegant, elongated inverted teardrop shape of the Aeros marks a return to a more 'obvious' earbud, after the 'near-invisible', entirely in-ear form of buds such as the company's own diminutive Comfobuds Mini and Evo models.
The Aero 'arms' host the capacitive touch controls, be it for track change and volume control or noise-cancelling features and voice calls. Commands are also customisable, via the 1More app.
The sound of the Aeros is good; easily as good as any other earbuds in this price range. The 10mm driver unit is not so large, but still delivers deep and solid bass and its carbon diaphragm exhibits sensitivity to sounds across the spectrum to produce a detailed, enjoyable sound.
There are additional ways in which you can sculpt the Aero's core sound to your personal liking, such as the 12 EQ presets by Sonarworks available via the 1More Music app and the ability to create your own EQ settings. Supported audio codecs are the dominant pair AAC and SBC, but not AptX or LDAC for Hi-Res Audio.
There's also 1More's 'Smart Loudness Technology', again accessible via the app, which enables the Aero to automatically compensate for missing detail in the low and high frequency regions when listening at lower volumes, so you can still hear the music the way you know it should sound with the volume cranked up. It's certainly an effect that works. Perhaps it's not exactly the same as simply turning the volume up loud, so you can physically feel that sonic energy, but in terms of helping to protect your hearing in the long term it's another healthy option.
The Aero's also have 1More's proprietary 'QuietMax Intelligent Noise Cancellation' technology, which involves three high-quality mics in each bud scanning your local environment for sound for greater noise cancellation from 40Hz-4,000Hz. 1More state up to 42dB of noise cancellation with the Aeros and they do seem to do a fine job of melting away the usual range of ambient distractions. Their noise-filtering prowess also results in clearer voice and video calls.
It's also not a 'one size eliminates all' approach to noise cancellation, offering five different modes including a fairly mild mode for situations that don't require the full blackout. Dialling down the cancellation level also helps eke out a little more battery life.
There's 1More's 'Wind Noise Resistant' mode, to help minimise microphone noise on windier days, and an 'Adapter ANC' mode, if you're happy to let the earbuds automatically detect the most appropriate level of noise cancellation according to the ambient sound around you. There's also the familiar 'Transparency Mode', so you can hear important sounds around you, e.g. traffic, public service announcements, your beloved shouting your name, that sort of thing.
Of course, the headline feature with the Aeros is the spatial audio aspect. 1More has taken the approach of dynamic head tracking, whereby gyroscopes in each earbud monitor the position and orientation of your head in order to keep it 'centred' within the audio field. This makes for a more realistic surround experience, keeping you in the middle of a 360° aural landscape.
It seems to work as advertised, testing a handful of spatial audio streams as well as TV shows and films. Whether you'll want to listen to all your music spatially, all the time, is another matter. If you even can. We are in transitional times right now. At least with the Aeros, if you are spatially curious, you can give it a virtual whirl today and also be suitably equipped for the future.
Battery life with the Aeros is good: 28 hours total (including the case) claimed by 1More, budget for a bit less if you like your music loud and you turn on all the features. A 15-minute quick charge should net you a few bonus hours before home time.
The Aeros also support dual-device connectivity, allowing simultaneous connection between two separate devices, so you can slap your laptop shut and switch to your phone for the journey, no fuss.
We also found the Aeros comfortable to wear over long periods, e.g. for several hours of office work. Everyone's ears are different, but subjectively the fit of the Aero is comfortable, snug and secure. Four pairs of silicone tips (S, M, L, XL) are included in the box. You could also fit your own third-party memory foam buds, if you preferred. The protruding part of each earbud also doesn't probe too deeply into the ear canal, which may be a welcome relief to some people.
The spatial audio side of things is nice to have and it's probably going to be the reason why you'd choose the Aeros over another similarly spec'ed product. In and of themselves, the Aeros are fine Bluetooth true wireless earbuds, ticking all the modern boxes, but they're also a relatively inexpensive route into exploring the spatial audio world, if that is something that appeals to you. As to available colourways, it's a simple black or white choice.
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