This is going to be a comprehensive review of the 1More Sonoflow and we will be talking about it mainly in comparison to the SoundCore Space Q45. There will also be references to the Sony WH 1000 XM3 and XM4 and just for fun – also some premium models. Because – these are that good.
Build, Buttons and Design
So the 1More is $99 at launch, just keep that in mind as we go through this video. I mean – we’re pleasantly surprised by some things here, but let’s start with what kinda let us down. The build isn’t terrible, but it’s the one place we think 1More has cut some corners. Ok wait that sounds worse than it is. So let’s just start with the buttons. Because no matter what kinda touchy feely gestures the Sony’s and the Sennheisers of this world throw at us, we are simple dudes and buttons Do Have A Real Magical Ease about them.
Having said that – we got gripe about these buttons. They feel cheap. If you listen carefully, there’s a springy kinda sound that goes through your head when you wear these headphones and press them down. It all sounds – let’s just say – not premium. 1More has also made the unusual choice of placing all the buttons on just one earcup – the right one. To do this, it had to place buttons all around the ear cup and this brings us to gripe number 2. The placement of the power button isn’t very intuitive. It’s not where the index finger naturally rests or where the thumb can reach. The way I dealt with this was by using my middle or ring finger to hit the button, but by far this has been the most difficult power button to reach out of all the headphones we’ve ever tested. And you know what – if it were just a power button, it’d be fine. But it also doubles as a play/pause button when the headphones are playing audio, so that can be annoying. But other than that, we’re pretty satisfied with how the buttons work. You get clear separation between the volume buttons which double for media control with long presses and a separate button to toggle noise control – pretty standard stuff.
The hinge connected to the yokes is pretty much plastic and funnily enough I did get the cups stuck in a weird position once or twice, but was able to wiggle them out so that hopefully shouldn’t be a problem. We seriously hope that these last. Especially the hinge and the padding at the crown – are pretty much ripped off from the older Sony models like the XM3 and XM4. They’re just as foldable too. We like that part over the SoundCore’s rather measly use of padding at the headband.
The 1More’s case is also nicer than the SoundCore’s – especially on the inside where you have aninlay mould for the right and left earcup and a little area for neatly storing away your cables. The SoundCore has none of those and chooses instead to have a cheap plastic bit in there where the 1More has the inlay. Definitely the worst part about the SoundCore build.
We definitely think that SoundCore is a bit chunkier though. The footprint of the SoundCore’s round cups certainly makes it larger. The 1More definitely has a lower profile and a sleeker look with the shape of the cups – very reminiscent of the Sony’s – but then they’ve gone and put their branding all over the headbands! That’s 1Less point for them.
The 1More SonoFlow also manages to promise a ridiculous 50 hours with ANC on and 70 hours with ANC off. That is industry leading at this stage and in our testing – you know we don’t have the patience to wait 70 hours, but after 3 hours of continuous playback on the SBC codec at medium volume, they were still at 100%. So we can safely say you’ll be ok with these. It’s nice to have one less device to charge, but anything beyond 30 hours is basically plenty. Unless you’re in a really slow plane around the world. The headphones take 80 minutes to charge from 0 to full, but give you 5 hours of playtime with about 5 minutes of charge, very similar to the SoundCore. But only the 1More says the battery life out twice when you start up. You know – 1More time than required. The SoundCore and the 1More actually beat the Sony’s by a considerable margin and tie with the Sennheiser Momentum 4 for the best battery life numbers.
Out of the 2, the SoundCore has a slightly better build than the 1More. But of what use is build – if it’s not comfortable?
So having taken design cues from the older Sony’s – how does the 1More Sonoflow fare? Well – it ain’t too bad! The earcups are plush and soft, and they have some depth to them. They are heaps more pliable than the SoundCore’s cups which are more firm. But overall, we found that in day to day use, the SoundCore felt more comfortable for longer periods of time. It might be the bigger diameter around the cups or the depth, but they just won out. Again – this is not to take away from the 1More – we think they’re also pretty comfortable. Whether they especially shine – or rather not shine is – heat management. They get less warm than the XM3 and XM4. In terms of clamping force, we think all of these are pretty much the same which is to say – they’re fine so not much to talk about there.
reWhen it comes to pressure on the crown – the stingier padding on the SoundCore feels like there’s a harder object on your crown vs the padded goodness of the rest. So overall, the 1More does admirably on comfort and is just shy of the SoundCore.
Well most microphones today are fine in quiet conditions and that applies to all the microphones on this list – except maybe the XM3. That was the only one that now and again people complained about while I was sitting fairly still in a quiet place. Sony has really fixed its microphones on the XM5, its latest flagship. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today.
In this group the SoundCore, XM4 and the 1More are all pretty usable when things are quiet. But where things start to go south is when they encounter wind or noise. Check out the microphone tests in the video above.
So in our view – the SoundCore was clearly the star of the show here. It tries to cancel the most sound, but the flip side of that is that it sometimes cuts out the voice.. The 1More fell apart in the wind. And no, we’re not talking about this one sample you heard. We’ve used it for a couple of weeks and every time I’ve been outside in the wind – it was the same story. The SoundCore clearly takes the win here for us, but what about vakman controls?
Both give you the basics of course like answer and hangup, including volume adjustment. But the 1More is clearly inferior since the SoundCore lets you change the ANC mode while on a call instead of being stuck on transparency. The SoundCore is also the true vakman device here though because in addition to all that, it also allows you to mute your mic by holding down the play-pause button. The muting happens on the headphones though so you won’t see anything on your dialer screen.
ANC / Transparency
And what about keeping the noise out of your ears? Let us just say that the 1More is no slouch. Even ignoring the price class, it does admirably. And when pitting it against the SoundCore we do see a difference. But we’ll let you be the judge of that. Take a listen to the recordings for yourself or just continue reading.
The SoundCore is clearly better in cancelling out the low end engine noises and the voices compared to the 1More. We notice this primarily because we’re A/B testing. The difference is around 20% – noticeable but for most people not a deal breaker considering the price. We threw in the Sony XM5 for good measure since it is top-tier at the moment. And you know what. The SoundCore and Sony are very similar with cancelling out the low end, but the Sony wins out by blocking out more high end sounds. What was very surprising was that the XM4 and even the XM3 hold their own when it comes to noise cancelling. Another downside of the 1More is that it’s pretty bad in wind – listening to music or a podcast was a bit tedious while biking around in the Netherlands, simply because of all the wind noise in our ears.
And speaking of letting noises into our ears. Which headphones get you closest to not wearing headphones at all? Well, none of these actually get you there entirely. Like the AirPods Max. But which gets you closest? Here the SoundCore wins out against the 1More. The 1More transparency mode lets in quite a bit of ambient noise, maybe even more than the SoundCore but it’s all a bit muffled as if it’s stuck between noise cancelling and transparency. The white noise is also very noticeable. On the SoundCore it’s a lot cleaner sounding almost similar to the Sony XM5 with very little white noise, which is saying something.
In terms of controls we like the implementation of the SoundCore which is exactly the same as the Sony. One dedicated button on the headphones to toggle between either ANC, Transparency or off. But we personally don’t like the ‘off’ option, we either go all in or all out. And it’s possible to change this in the app. On the 1More you also get a dedicated button but unfortunately you’re stuck with cycling between all three modes of ANC, Transparency and off. There’s no way to change this in the app.
Speaking of app, on the SoundCore just like Sony you can adjust the level of Transparency. A 1-5 scale on the SoundCore and a whopping 20 point scale on the Sony. Talk about overkill. We always keep it on max. The same story applies to the ANC mode and its settings in the app. The 1More has no adjustment for either. And we kind of like the 1More design philosophy. Set it and forget it. We never find ourselves playing with sliders. Unless they’re an equaliser of course.
Multipoint / Extras
Another area where SoundCore and 1More are ahead of the curve compared to the Sony’s is when it comes to airplane adapters. It’s good to see some companies finally ignoring these damn airlines, always losing luggage and making you pay extra for service you should already get as a customer and have you even seen the state of Schiphol right now…
Ok.. on the topic of accessories in the box. You obviously get a type c charging cable but where it gets interesting is with the audio cables. Everyone has 3.5 to 3.5mm audio cables except the 1More. It decided it wanted to be like Bose and included a 2.5 to 3.5mm one. Ok that wasn’t as interesting as we thought, but we still thought you’d like to know.
Moving on, neither the SoundCore nor the 1More believe in smart pausing where you can get the headphones to automatically pause the music, when you, for example, take off the headphones. So you will need to put up with some FOMO if you forget to pause your audio the old school way. The Sony XM4 and XM5, for example, have a smart pause sensor, speak-to-chat and quick attention. So if you’re all about having a million ways to pause your audio and enable ANC, then the XM4 or XM5 are a good alternative.
And if you’re living that multi-device life like most of us, then all of these headphones do support multipoint except the older Sony XM3. The SoundCore and the Sony XM4 do have the slight upper hand though since the app gives you a list of connected devices so you can also manually disconnect and connect to devices you’ve paired to in the past. Multipoint support has worked reasonably well for us except for a few hiccups. For example, while travelling on a train I did tend to have some minor dropouts now and again since the 1More was paired with my laptop, but not sure if this was because my laptop kept waking up or if there was a lot of interference. And we’ve faced similar examples on the SoundCore as well.
One thing to note though, on the Sony XM4 and SoundCore you’re required to live with limitations. You either have to choose between having the LDAC codec enabled or using multipoint. The 1More doesn’t believe in such restrictions. So you can have both – and we think that’s noteworthy because both features are really important to us.
Ok – let’s talk about apps. The SoundCore strikes a nice balance with a tidy looking app. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity, it packs a lot of customization. The 1More is on the other end of the spectrum with the bare minimum, no EQ or control customization or fine grained adjustment for noise cancelling or transparency mode.
We’re not here to do 1More’s marketing for them, so these are the specs. -on screen- Most importantly – these can support LDAC – one of the best codecs for resolution. But now – let’s talk about not what we read, but what we heard.
The SonoFlow has a much warmer sound with an emphasis on the bass and the mids.There’s good bass extension and the treble is not the star of the show. 1More’s going for more of a neutral sound out of the box than a real fun, exaggerated uber bass sound that most consumer headphones tend to go for. There is clearly a difference between the ANC mode and the normal mode though with the ANC boosting the bass and scooping the lower mids – which we see quite often. Everything up from the 400 hz range is pretty much the same though. All these headphones are plenty loud for us so volume should not be a problem.
Let’s zoom into the 1More’s sound. Starting with Bass – it is very solid. You should not be expecting Momentum 4 or XM5 levels of bass depth. But this can do bass and sub-bass quite well. The control on the bass is also very good and the resonance never gets too much. On a song like Marian Hill’s Breathe into me which is a good track to check if the low bass hits and strings are interfering with other frequencies, these performed quite well.
Timbres sound fairly natural – voices and instruments come across realistic and the bass is slightly forward in the mix, so voices can sometimes recede into the background, but it wasn’t too bad.
As we said – there is no sparkly treble to be had. In fact the entire treble region is very quiet. Look it’s not bad by any means, but that design choice means that these are not going to be very ‘open sounding’ headphones. It’s almost as if 1More knew that this would be an area of weakness, so it was best to keep this not upfront in the mix.
Also – in keeping with the ‘neutral’ sound profile – these have a narrow soundstage. You know what kinda soundstage you want, so we ain’t judging.
Again – 1More is leaving us hanging – no custom EQ – just its ‘studio grade’ EQ presets – without one for rock or metal! Look man – sure these may have been tuned by some grammy winners, but my ears haven’t won any grammys, so how about let me choose what I want for my ears! The funny thing is – the presets also don’t tell you what exactly is happening. I mean lower treble is self explanatory, but the genres – we’re not entirely sure what’s happening there.
But 1More did tell us that they plan to add custom EQ and they also did that in the past with their flagship earbuds, so there is hope. But if you don’t like the stock tuning or EQ presets, you’re stuck – for now.
Now what about pitting these against the SoundCore. The Space Q45 sounds ‘richer’ and a bit wider, but just like the Liberty 3 Pro – there’s something going on with their high end. Something about the treble sounds artificial and throws off the timbre to our ears. The 1More – doesn’t have that as we said – the timbre is great. You know I’m someone who likes fun sounding headphones, but weirdly the timbre issues with the Q45 kinda make me gravitate towards the 1More here. You can turn the treble down on the SoundCore but it doesn’t quite go away. Again – both of these sound good, but we’re just pointing out the differences here. We’ll have sound samples at the end of this video.
Fixability & future proofing
Now – before you say everything 1More and SoundCore does is great – remember that a lower price can sometimes come at a higher price for the planet. Whether it’s responsibly sourced parts, a net zero target or just recyclable materials, these two companies are not a shining example of any of those. Overall for those of you making a choice based on a company’s environmental scorecard – these should not be it. Sony is a much better choice on that front.
Should you buy the 1More SonoFlow, the SoundCore Space Q45 or the Sony WH-1000 XM3?
So guys we’ve had a bit of a roundabout way of arriving at the conclusion. Let’s look at all the options here.
For the Sony XM3 – the Sound and the ANC are probably the only two reasons you’d want to buy them. But they’re still quite expensive.
The XM4 is clearly in another league priceless, but not necessarily performance wise. Sure the ANC is great, you get multipoint, an in-ear sensor, it sounds good and has a solid app etc but does that justify the price? Not when you compare it to the crazy price of the 2 new competitors.
The SoundCore wins many of the categories here – including calls, comfort, battery life and ties for the app with Sony. The 1More does all of this well too – but except for sound, there’s clear daylight between the SoundCore and the 1More – not just in terms of price, but also for performance, especially when it comes to comfort, noise cancelling, microphones and wind management. So – it’s really close and on balance, the SoundCore would be our pick overall but we’d say if you buy either the 1More or the SoundCore – given the difference in price – you should not really have any regrets. The big boys need to be very afraid.
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