Accessible Audio’s first Bluetooth earphone review is from non other than 1More, a US/Chinese company that has been making waves in the earphone market with their very affordable and high quality designs.
We would like to thank 1MORE for this opportunity to review the 1MORE iBFree Bluetooth Earphones. We received this unit free of charge. The iBFree costs 59.99USD – click here for more info!
1More is an audio company headquartered in San Diego, California but probably has strong ties to China, which in my opinion is great because the Chinese personal audio market is hyper-competitive. I first heard of them a few years back when I had just started to get interested in the audiophile community and hobby, as the Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 in ear earphones was making waves in the budget segment and it turned out 1More was the company behind the production of that cheap wonder. They eventually decided to go off on their own to make their own products, and needless to say, with their great track record I only had high hopes for their newest earphones.
Since the launch of the iPhone 7 there’s been a surge in wireless solutions for the 3.5mm jack-less smartphone, and 1More is probably also targeting this market. I haven’t tried that many Bluetooth earphones before, but there were a few that were trying to target a budget segment while claiming quality that utterly failed.
1More hasn’t let me down so far (check out the 1More Triple Driver review!) with their aggressive pricing yet ability to achieve amazing sound, so I was also interested to see what they could achieve with their first Bluetooth product.
Summary for the Lazy
-Comfortable and well built, modern design
-Extremely ergonomic and snug fit
-Long lasting battery life
-Acceptable sound quality
-Low amounts of bass impact; not for the bass lover
-Mids and highs are artificial sounding
Driver: Single dynamic driver
Charging Time: 2 hours
Standby Time: 240 hours
Talking Time: 10 hours
Music Play Time: 8 hours
Wireless Range: 10 m
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1
Bluetooth Protocol: HFP / HSP / A2DP / AVRCP
Input: 5V 1A
Weight: 14 g
In-line Remote Control: Included
Design, Comfort, & Connectivity
If there was one thing that stood out to me as a relative wireless earphone amateur, it would be the design and build quality of the iBFree. Aesthetically, it’s not especially unique – it has a time tested cylindrical barrel design, but the finishing is nicely polished. The nozzle area is made out of a smooth matte plastic which transitions to a metallic material for the rest of the housing. In this case, we received the red coloured version of the iBFRee (it also comes in grey, turquoise, and lime!), stylishly interjected by bands of black due to the cable strain relief attachment point being black as well. From here, the colour shifts yet again back to a red for the cable. The volume, power control and mic is made out of a sturdy, smooth, high quality plastic that I could find no faults with. The cable is also very soft, matte and easy to manipulate.
Combined with the soft plastic “ear hooks” that come out from the nozzle and nestle snugly in the concha of the outer ear, and only weighing 14g, the iBFree might look quite hefty as the housing is on the large side and sticks out slightly, but in my testing it has been one of the most comfortable earphones I’ve worn. All of its edges are rounded, soft, and comfortable, and if the tips or ear hooks don’t fit, it comes packaged with S, M, and L sizes. I tried swinging my head around quickly, jumped around, and tried to dislodge it and for the most part it stayed very secure in my ears. Very impressive.
Connectivity was as simple, painless. Simply hold down on the middle power button for around 3-4 seconds and it’ll power up and automatically be visible to your mobile device for syncing. I also did not experience any disconnections. I used it with Skype for over an hour, walked around and went to the toilet while my phone was in my room, and the connection never faltered even once. The battery has so far been admirably long lasting as well. My initial tests in the first few days where I tested it on and off with phone calls and simple music playback, left it lying around before powering it down immediately still left it with ample amounts of battery, and I have no doubts that their specified battery life is anything less than listed.
Although my experience of it has mostly been positive due to its good ergonomic design and battery life, and I do think that the iBFree is a great budget wireless option, as a pretty serious audiophile I couldn’t help but notice that the sound signature/tuning was just a bit askew.
My initial impression of its sound was over emphasized high end clarity. As dynamic drivers are usually decent at producing bass, and most budget options these days tend to emphasize bass strength, I was slightly taken aback by the huge amount of midrange and treble presence in the iBFree.
Bass impact, while not completely absent from the experience, was very light, and will leave EDM and bassheads wanting more – much more. It can eek out some subbass rumble if you play very bass heavy songs, but the bass quantity is decidedly lacking.
The lack of a full low end presence is also glaring in the lower mids area, with a significant dip in the frequencies here. Coupled with an over emphasised upper midrange and highs that are a little too eager to draw out every tiny treble detail, the iBFree tends to have a bit of thinness to vocals and instruments and slightly too much sibilance as a result.
However, I could tell that the actual ability of the driver to produce decent resolution sound was actually very acceptable, and so whatever drawbacks I felt the iBFree had were merely tuning issues that could be resolved through some quick EQ (equalisation).
Through some simple equalisation on my phone, I was able to bring back much of the fullness and body of the sound by pulling back the extreme peaks in the high end, and while it’s not the strongest bass ever, it is much easier on the ears as the sibilance is dialed way down.
If you’re looking for a nicely designed, reliable, comfortable, water resistant, Bluetooth earphone at a great price of 60USD, and either don’t mind a bass light and high emphasised sound or are willing to play with your phone’s EQ settings (I swear it’s not hard), the iBFree is a very good choice of product. 1More hit many of the right spots in their design, especially in the ease of connectivity and ergonomics, but in my opinion slightly missed the mark in terms of audio quality. I have high hopes that 1More will be able to create a much more balanced sound in their next iteration of the iBFree.