Hands-on review: 1More SonoFlow Hi-Res Audio wireless ANC headphones
Image credit: 1More
Headphones to take you Hi-er.
We've reviewed a number of 1More's 'headphone' products, although to date these have all been earbuds, each with their own USP, ranging from spatial audio, to being tiny, being tiny and red, and being tiny and Hi-Res Audio capable.
Now, we've lent both our ears to the company's latest full-size over-ear headphones, named SonoFlow.
We recently reviewed a very similar-looking pair of Bluetooth true wireless active-noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones, the OneOdio Focus A10. Much of what we said about them, including the core tech spec, also applies here to 1More's SonoFlow. Bluetooth 5.0; 32Ω impedance 40mm drivers; multimode ANC; multi-device connectivity; lightweight, mostly plastic, build; soft and comfortable, skin-friendly protein leather earpads and headband; easy flat folding for travel, with ziparound carry case included; long battery life; Hi-Res Audio certification; USB-C fast charging, and the option to use a wired connection (although, oddly, you'll have to use the supplied 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable, as the SonoFlow jack is the lesser-spotted 2.5mm).
Where the two diverge is in the small details – and the price.
The main differentiator is the SonoFlow's proper support for Hi-Res Audio (they also get a 'Hi-Res Audio Wireless' badge), with the LDAC audio codec decoding files at up to 900kbps. Listening to 24-bit/96KHz audio files via an HD Sony Walkman player the sound was rich and full, with excellent distinction between all the elements in the mix. New details? We heard them.
The sound is well balanced across the spectrum (the same Grammy award-winning sound engineer as has tuned previous 1More products is at it again here), with clear and present highs and mids, anchored by a solid, deep bass response – but nothing overly hyped or exaggerated. The stereo picture also has appreciable width. 1More state that the frequency response of the SonoFlows goes all the way up to 40kHz, which is well beyond human hearing, but should mean that this additional 'headroom' gives all frequencies more room to breathe.
1More claims a mighty 70 hours of playback time for its SonoFlow headphones, versus the already lengthy 45 hours stated for the OneOdio A10s, although this is also caveated with the "Playtime is tested in the laboratory under AAC format at 50 per cent volume, which may vary according to device settings, use habits and other factors". In other words, YMMV. Still, 70 is a lot higher than 45, however demanding of the battery performance you are in real-world use.
Like the OneOdios, a fast charge of only a few minutes will get you up and running again. With the SonoFlows, 1More state that five minutes should give you up to another five hours of play. From our testing, we found this to be true enough. A full charge only takes around 80 minutes.
The SonoFlows also connect to 1More's Music app, which opens up more features such as the 12 EQ presets, the 'Soothing Sounds' (rainforest, falling rain, ocean waves and so forth) and firmware updates. You are obliged to download this app if you want to connect the SonoFlow headphones to two devices simultaneously, which is mildly annoying – although any annoyance is forgotten when you experiment with the seamless experience of playing music on one device in your left hand, then pausing that to play music on another device in your right hand and it all works perfectly in your ears.
The ANC side of these SonoFlows is also very effective, using 1More's proprietary 'QuietMax' technology. Accessed via the button at the back of the right earcup, a single tap cycles through the three options (off; transparency mode; full ANC). The strongest noise-cancellation setting is impressively strict: almost nothing gets through.
All the controls are on the right earcup, so they're easy to operate with thumb and forefinger. Like the OneOdio's controls, they're physical buttons, not a touch-sensitive surface, so can still be used effectively while wearing gloves – very welcome during cold weather. All the buttons do double, even triple, duty, depending on whether you tap or hold. The power button at the front also acts as play/pause, as well as answering and ending calls or hailing your voice assistant of choice. Round the back of the earcup, the separate volume up and down buttons also do double duty as track selection forwards or backwards, while the ANC button handles the transparency modes.
Testing the OneOdio Focus A10 headphones at the same time as the 1More SonoFlow headphones has been an interesting experience. Holding the two very similar headphones – in their very similar boxes – in our hands, there doesn't seem much to choose between them. The styling of the A10s, with their contrasting two-tone colourway, may appeal more to some people, while the SonoFlows keep it subtle with complementary dark grey and black tones.
There are minor pros and cons with both products when you drill down into the minutiae of their spec, although no real dealbreakers either way. The key difference – and the main reason why you would chose the SonoFlows over the A10s – is that the 1More headphones have the far superior Hi-Res Audio support. For that, you'll have to pay around £15 more than the A10s.
If Hi-Res Audio is your bag, the SonoFlows are a lovely pair of headphones. They'll handle your bang-average MP3 files with equal aplomb, but the HD side of their toolkit is the main attraction here.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.