The most common complaint I’ve heard about true wireless earbuds is the way they fit. I can’t go for a (socially distanced) beer without a friend claiming they have the world’s weirdest ears and are desperate for a pair that actually sit right.
It’s a conundrum caused by the relatively new technology inside the earbuds. To fit a battery and antenna alongside all the other normal headphone bits, companies generally have to compromise on size. Even with multiple ear tip sizes, you’re often out of luck if you’ve got smaller ears.
That’s why the 1More ColorBuds are my new favorite pair to recommend to most people. For $100, they offer the wireless listening future we all daydreamed about: great sound, a discreet look, and a comfortable, nearly universal fit. Sure, if you’re a hardcore workout enthusiast or you need noise-canceling tech, you should spend a little more for something tailored to your needs. But the ColorBuds get the job done better than anything that doesn’t cost nearly twice the price.
The Right Fit
You may not be familiar with 1More, but this isn’t the first time the brand has blown me away with a pair of wireless in-ears. The 1More Stylish, the ColorBuds’ predecessor, topped our Best Wirefree Earbuds list until now.
The Stylish, which are still available for a lower price, are small and comfortable little beans with cozy silicone ear tips and very secure ear fins. Nearly everyone I know who tried them commented on how comfortable and great-sounding they were. WIRED reviews editor Jeffrey Van Camp says he kept having to duke it out with his wife as to who got to wear them for the day; I ended up buying my parents each a pair for the holidays last year.
I liked the Stylish so much I was worried its successor would disappoint me. But once again, I’m impressed. The ColorBuds fit even better, which is a bit shocking, as I didn’t think in-ears could get more comfortable. It doesn’t even need silicone ear fins anymore! I don’t know if the engineering team spent tens of thousands of hours laser-scanning all the ears, but they clearly put fit above all else.
I’ve gone through a number of (wiped-down) fit tests with friends, and I have yet to find ears that these earbuds can’t fit. I honestly can’t say that for any other earbuds I’ve tested this year except the Jabra Elite Active 75t. If you’ve got stubborn ear holes, these are for you.
There are unseen changes that make the ColorBuds a bit better than the Stylish in other ways. The headphones now offer four microphones and can block out background noise better when you’re on calls (a boon for the person on the other end). You can also now auto-pause music just by taking them out of your ears.
Other tweaks aren’t as exciting. The headphones went from a single-button system for playing and pausing music on the Stylish to touch controls on the outside of each earbud. The touch controls work as advertised when listening at home and work, but if you’ve got long hair that gets sweaty on runs, you can now look forward to them occasionally playing and pausing music when your hair rubs against them. Bring back the button, 1More!
They have 30 minutes less battery life than the Stylish too, working for about six hours outside the charging case (which adds another 16 hours of juice). Honestly? That’s still better than Apple’s AirPods, and I’d rather have the more comfortable fit of the new model. Quick charging makes it a nonissue. A 15-minute recharge via the included USB-C cable will get you two hours of juice.
The charging case itself is as plasticky as the last one and doesn’t feel premium at all, but I do like how the rounded design easily slips into pockets and how small it is overall. If a company is gonna save money anywhere on $100 earbuds, it’s the case. The buds themselves are made out of very high-quality materials.
The ColorBuds support aptX and AAC encoding for higher-quality Bluetooth streaming, which means you’ll get a slightly higher bit rate from all modern phones. That encoding is nice, but it’s an excellent fit that really enables the headphones to sound so great. With a near-perfect seal in your ear canals, you get some of the most balanced sounds I’ve heard from true wireless headphones below the premium tier.
I found them awesome to move around with, in particular, because they don’t suffer from the weird, warbly sound problems that come when headphones are moving around in your ears.
The tuning, which was done by Grammy award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi, is excellent. Bass response is low and punchy, but the ColorBuds definitely err on the side of flat, detailed response, rather than energetic club headphones. For my ears, that’s a plus. I like jamming out to hip-hop during workouts, but the combination of movement and tuning often muddies the words. With the ColorBuds, I was able to pick out every element of the sound super well, right on up to Dr. Dre’s synth squeals.
Just like the Stylish before them, the ColorBuds offer a great listening experience for other genres too. I’m a jazz nerd and have recently been digging into the fantastic, calming music of Brazillian singer Rosa Passos. Her soothing alto and nylon string guitar come through the ColorBuds with round detail and crisp dynamics, transporting you to a tropical beach where you don’t have a Covid-era care in the world.
An excellent fit also means they have earplug-like noise blocking, so you won’t hear much of anything that’s going on around you when you’re listening.
The ColorBuds are a more comfortable, better sounding version of my previous favorite true wireless earbuds. Sure, they’ve got slightly worse battery life and the controls aren’t as great, but those are really small concessions when it comes to headphones that fit this well.
They’re about $50 cheaper than Apple’s basic AirPods and are better in every measurable way. If you’re after a brand new pair of in-ears, these are what I’d get.