Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.
As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it sounds like a paradox. For all tests, I used an Apple iPhone 12 Pro. This is a device that requires no introduction and will reduce its potential to be a limiting factor in our auditioning.
After over 50 hours of break-in time -- well above typical required time -- we put the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless to the tests. All tracks are high bitrate AAC or LAME encoded MP3s. All of the auditioning results were based on having active noise canceling on. I found it strange there is no true ANC off mode on the ColorBuds 2; the only options you have are ANC on or passthrough mode as mentioned on the previous page. Thankfully, it seemed these earphones were designed and tuned with ANC on, as having ANC on did not negatively affect or unintentionally distort the sound.
Coming into the tests, I was worried this will be a challenging auditioning. I remember how hard it was to compare the original ColorBuds True Wireless to the Stylish True Wireless, as the performance difference between them was not significant. However, the difference between the original ColorBuds and ColorBuds 2 was immediately noticeable. The ColorBuds 2 is a significant improvement compared to its predecessor.
To start off, I really appreciate the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless' fast pairing speed, since it starts the process right after you open the case lid. Once I put them on, I noticed the sound character of ColorBuds 2 True Wireless was generally neutral overall, just like its predecessor. I generally like neutral sounding products, so score one for this.
To get into the technical details, let us break it down into the "big three", which is the bass, midrange, and treble. The bass of the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless was pretty much neutral, which makes sense, given its neutral sound signature. It sounded less pronounced and forward than the original ColorBuds, which I appreciate. The ColorBuds 2's bass was consistently deep, round, and solid in the music I listened to. Its consistently clean, smooth, and defined low frequencies were well-articulated.
The latest ColorBuds' midrange was a clear improvement compared to the last generation. It was very good overall with its natural sounding output. I found its overall thickness to be noticeably better than the ColorBuds, with the ColorBuds 2's sound to be warmer, richer, more defined, and better saturated, especially in the lower midrange. The midrange was natural, clear, full-range, and smooth. All these characteristics were obvious at first listen.
The treble was also boosted just slightly above neutral, which remained clean, clear, and sharp in pretty much every scenario I have tested these earphones in. Again, the ColorBuds 2 True Wireless demonstrated significant improvement here compared to its predecessor, which was already well-rated here at APH Networks. The tightness and immediacy were good. I recall saying the 1MORE ColorBuds True Wireless does not have a whole lot of energy or brightness in this realm, and again the ColorBuds 2 True Wireless was noticeably made better in this area along with increased wetness and crispness. In my opinion, depth still has room for improvement, but in the grand scheme of things, the treble was pretty good. It was obviously better than the original ColorBuds.
Surprisingly, the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless actually has some depth and width to its soundstage. A non-existent soundstage is common to pretty much every pair of true wireless in-ear monitors I have tested, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Closing off with the auxiliary auditioning results, the imaging of the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless was realistic. It stayed mostly faithful to the original production or recording. The layers were produced with a great amount of detail. The resolution was good across the range, as it picked up most things in a quality encoded track. In complicated and messy situations, these earphones managed to retain small details well and better than the original ColorBuds. Deriving from this, the frequency separation was decent. Details were well-reproduced thanks to its clear and defined output. The entire spectrum was a smooth gradient with no immediately apparent banding effects, making it sound cohesive. The sound was clean and smooth across the range. Generally speaking, you will not be disappointed in these areas with the ColorBuds 2 True Wireless.
The 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless are closed in-ear monitors and comes with four different-sized sleeves for maximum compatibility. The earphones exhibited an excellent fit in my ears and passive sound isolation was good regardless of the environment I was in. Active noise canceling worked well enough to cancel out constant, low frequency sounds, but it will not blow your mind. As I have mentioned on the previous page, when I am running or walking, these do not lose its seal easily even though they are massive. It has never come close to falling out of my ears no matter how hard I tried either.
The 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless did not have significant background hissing noise when turned on, which was a pleasant surprise because this a common problem found in wireless earphones. In terms of lag, I did not notice any significant delay. Audio appeared to be properly synchronized to videos I was watching on my iPhone 12 Pro.
I have included two sample recordings from the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless' microphone. The first recording was done indoors, while the second recording was done outdoors on a calm day as a car was passing by across the street. The microphone worked well enough indoors, but the quality was not great. It sounded like I was speaking directly into the microphone, but I sounded very nasally -- like I had COVID-19 or something, which I did not -- and it was not very pleasant to listen to. In the outdoor test, you could hear it picked up some wind in the beginning even though it was a very calm day. You could also clearly hear the car passing by across the street as my voice was starting to get blocked out and the words I was saying became hard to distinguish. In both tests, the volume of my voice varied unnecessarily and there were audible background hissing sounds. Overall, the microphone was passable, but I would not recommend using it for more than a very short, casual call.
The company estimates the battery to last around 6 and 8 hours for ANC on and passthrough mode, respectively, on a single charge at 50% volume. I got 6 hours and 6 minutes at 50% volume with ANC on from my tests, which was right on point. However, I got the exact same result with passthrough mode, which fell 2 hours short of the estimate. The rated wireless range is about 10 meters, and from my tests, this is very underestimated. The maximum line of sight distance I was able to get, measured by a LIDAR device, was 93.4m. During normal usage, I have never experienced any wireless inconsistency issues paired to my Apple iPhone 12 Pro.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the audio performance of the 1MORE ColorBuds 2 True Wireless. I really enjoyed them, and I use them as my new daily driver. I found its audio performance to be a significant improvement compared to the first rendition of the ColorBuds while keeping the excellent exact same form factor. Even if you already own the ColorBuds True Wireless, the ColorBuds 2 True Wireless is a worthy upgrade with its better sound quality and active noise canceling. However, the original ColorBuds have a better microphone, so hold off if that is important to you.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis