If you briefly review the changes in the digital product market in recent years, you will find a more interesting phenomenon. In the consumer field in recent years, the product categories that have changed the most are not computers and mobile phones, but headphones. The headphone industry has not only changed its head brands, but has even experienced a form transition from wired earphones to true wireless. And in just six years, the true wireless earphones products have continued to improve, their functions have gradually diversified, and the consumer experience has become more and more perfect.
According to data from Canalys, the shipment of true wireless earphones in 2021 will reach 290 million units, a year-on-year increase of 14.5%. In addition, according to a report released by StrategyAnalytics, sales of true wireless earphones are growing rapidly. In 2022, global shipments of true wireless earphones will increase by 38% year-on-year. If 2019 is the most competitive “explosion period” in the true wireless earphones industry, then in 2022, true wireless earphones have entered a “golden age”.
However, among the many true wireless earphones on the market, how should we choose a product that suits us? It’s not enough to just look at the manufacturer’s promotion, so this time we have selected 5 popular products in different price segments on the market, which are very popular, namely: 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini ($85), Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278), Apple AirPods Pro ($249), BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds ($228), Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD ($249). This time, starting from the actual user experience, I will make a horizontal comparison of these five true wireless noise cancelling earbuds, and at the end of the article, I will give purchasing advice.
01/ Wearing Comfort
If you ask me what is the most important thing for true wireless earbuds: sound quality, noise cancelling or battery life? In fact, before we discuss these core functions, the most important thing that should not be ignored is wearing comfort. If a product is uncomfortable to wear, it loses its meaning. True wireless earbuds have become an indispensable electronic technology product for some people in daily life. True wireless earphones are worn for a long time every day, so comfort is particularly important.
In the aspect of wearing comfort, the biggest highlight is the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini. These earbuds are the smallest true wireless earbuds I’ve seen so far that support ANC. The earbud weighs only 3.7g, which is 18% lighter than a sheet of low-density A4 paper. The light weight and small size make the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini basically feel the presence of earbuds when worn in the ear, and it will not feel stuffy when worn for a long time. The wearing experience of these earbuds is very good, and the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini is a well-deserved first place in terms of wearing experience.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 comes with brand new sponge eartips. According to the official announcement, the eartips are made of elastic material, and the wearing experience and noise cancelling effect have been improved to varying degrees. But the problem lies in this sponge eartips. This eartips makes the wearing experience of the Sony WF-1000XM4 the bottom of the five earphones. After wearing the sponge eartips for a short period of time, the ears will have obvious swelling and foreign body sensation. The wearing experience of the Sony WF-1000XM4 is unacceptable. Although the Sony WF-1000XM4 is 10% lighter than the previous generation and weighs 7.3g, this does not have a positive impact on the wearing experience of this earbuds.
The Apple AirPods Pro ditched the dive-in structure of Apple’s previous two generations and adopted an in-ear design. This change is mainly for earphones to get better feedback of the noise in the ear canal and achieve a better noise cancelling effect. AirPods Pro add eartips with an inner tapered design. The earphone can balance the internal and external pressure through the ventilation system on the fuselage, and it will not feel stuffy when wearing it. But the weight of a single earbud is still more than 5g. If you wear it for a long time, the ear can still feel the weight of the earbud, which will have a certain impact on the comfort.
BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds is the only product in this review that adopts the design of silicone eartips + silicone earwings, which are the “shark fin eartips” that BOSE is proud of. BOSE’s shark fin eartips can play a very good fixing effect, so it has a very good wearing stability. But even with the smallest eartips, the ears can still feel a certain amount of swelling. Friends with smaller ear canals may perceive it more clearly, and the weight of a single earbud of 8.5g makes BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds not suitable for long-term wear.
Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD comes with a lot of eartips, including 5 pairs of silicone eartips of different sizes and 3 pairs of memory foam eartips. Even female friends with small ear canals can find a size that suits them. After choosing the eartips size, it is also very fit and stable to wear. Although the earbuds look large, the weight of the earbuds can be well distributed on the various stress points on the ears, and the wearing comfort is excellent. However, considering that the weight of a single earbud reaches 7g, you can still feel the weight of the earbuds after wearing it for a long time, and there will be a certain sense of oppression.
In terms of wearing comfort, I gave the following ranking: 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini > Apple AirPods Pro > Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD > BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds > Sony WF-1000XM4
In the daily use of true wireless earphones, portability is particularly important. Especially in summer, the clothes you wear when you go out are relatively thin and the pockets are relatively shallow, so the size of the charging case will be directly linked to portability. Among the five earbuds, the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini is the most portable, and the charging case is the smallest in this review, measuring only 56.5×24.5×50mm and weighing only 42.3g. The small and round charging case can be easily put into the pocket of pants or clothes, and it is very convenient to carry. In addition, the frosted charging case also has good dirt resistance and fashion sense.
Although the Sony WF-1000XM4 is not satisfactory in terms of wearing comfort, it performs very well in portability. The size of the charging case is 40% smaller than that of the Sony WF-1000XM3, with a size of 70×26×40mm and a weight of only 54.8g. The weight and size of the charging case is only a bit larger than the ComfoBuds Mini charging case, but it doesn’t have much impact on everyday portability and won’t be a burden when you’re out and about.
The Apple AirPods Pro charging case measures 60.6×21.7×45.2mm and weighs 45.6g. Fits easily into pants and clothes pockets for easy portability. It’s just that the charging case made of pure white glossy material is not scratch-resistant. It is easy to contact with other things in the pocket, and the pure white charging case will have scratches.
It is no exaggeration to say that after buying the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds, you basically don’t need to consider portability because it is too big. If your pants don’t have zippers, the charging case can easily slip out of the pocket, especially while riding. The BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds charging case is the largest among the five earphones, with a size of 89×51×32mm and a weight of 95.3g. No matter what kind of trousers you wear, the charging case has obvious foreign body feeling in the trousers pocket, and the weight of the charging case can also be clearly felt. Therefore, the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds charging case is more suitable to be placed in a bag or handbag.
The dimensions of the Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD charging case are 43×68×30mm and the weight is 60g. The fuselage adopts a cuboid design, and the charging case can be easily put into the pocket of sports pants without obvious foreign body feeling. But it’s a little troublesome to put it in jeans or other close-fitting clothing pockets, and the portability is average.
After comprehensive measurement from the size, weight and actual experience of the charging case, the portability ranking is as follows: 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini > Sony WF-1000XM4 > Apple AirPods Pro > Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD > BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds
03/ Control Experience
In terms of control method, in this horizontal review, in addition to Apple’s use of pressure-sensitive operation, the other four earbuds all use touch operation. In the operation experience link, it can be said that it is indistinguishable. If you have to rank, maybe AirPods Pro will become the “first” in terms of operating experience, but only the bottom one. Apple AirPods Pro uses a force sensor as a medium for users to control earbuds. The operation logic is exactly the same as that of Apple EarPods. For example, quickly press the headset stem twice to switch to the next song, and three times to switch to the previous song. However, due to the shorter headset stem, the operation speed will be greatly reduced, and the design of pinching the headset stem with two fingers does have a certain learning cost for users who use Apple earphones for the first time.
The touch operation of the other four products basically can’t pick out any problems, earbues can accurately identify the user’s action instructions. And these four earbuds will have sound prompts after the user successfully touches them, which is very intimate. If you have to choose a slightly worse one, the response speed of the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds will be slightly slower. After the touch operation is completed, the earbuds will have a response time of about tens of milliseconds. In addition, these five products all support operation through the mobile phone APP, and various advanced operations can be performed on the APP to meet the diverse needs of consumers.
In the control experience section, the ranking I gave is: 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini ≈ Sony WF-1000XM4 ≈ Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD > BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds > Apple AirPods Pro
04/ Noise Cancelling Effect Experience
There is indeed some unfairness in the project of the noise cancelling effect of this horizontal review. The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini, which costs less than $85, is compared to four other tws earbuds that cost more than $100 or even more than $200. However, after a few days of practical experience, the actual effect of noise cancelling surprised us. The noise cancelling effect of the $85 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini is infinitely close to the other four earbuds.
Usually noise cancelling headphones filter low-frequency noise in the frequency band below 400Hz, while the 500-1kHz vocal frequency band needs to be preserved to ensure the safety of users when using noise cancelling headphones outdoors. Taking the most common commuting subway in daily life as an example, these five true wireless earbuds can obviously filter out the low-frequency noise in the subway, while retaining the sound of the station announcement, so as to prevent missing the platform. In addition, the five true wireless earbuds all support the transparency mode, which is very practical to turn on this mode when talking with people, eliminating the trouble of taking off the earbuds.
As far as the experience is concerned, the Sony WF-1000XM4 and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds are definitely T0 noise cancelling headphones on the market. The noise cancelling effect of the two true wireless earbuds is excellent, especially for the mid-low frequency noise canceling effect. Among them, the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds support 11 levels of controllable noise cancellation. If you adjust the noise cancelling level to the maximum, you can feel a kind of feeling like no one is there. WF-1000XM4 uses Sony’s newly developed integrated processor V1. According to the official introduction, it not only absorbs and improves the excellent noise cancelling performance of the previous generation HD processor QN1e, but also has lower power consumption and higher efficiency. Turn on the earbuds volume to 35% in the subway car, basically you can enjoy music relatively quietly. In short, the noise cancelling effect of these two true wireless earphones is very satisfying.
Among the five true wireless earphones, the one that surprised us was the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini. This earbuds is equipped with 1MORE’s self-developed QuietMax dual-feed intelligent noise cancelling, and the maximum noise cancelling amount can reach 40dB. After turning on the highest-grade noise cancelling mode in the subway, if the T0-level BOSE and Sony can filter out 70% of the noise, then the ComfoBuds Mini can completely filter out 65% or more of the noise. But remember, the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini are less than one-third the price of the Sony WF-1000XM4 and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds. Therefore, the noise cancelling effect of 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini can definitely be regarded as a T0.5 product.
Apple AirPods Pro and Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD ranked the last two in the noise cancelling effect of this horizontal review. It’s not that the noise cancelling level of these two true wireless earbuds is relatively poor, but there are too many “masters” in this review. However, these two products are also T1-level among the many true wireless noise cancelling headphones on the market. Apple AirPods Pro and Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD are also able to cancel 55% of ambient noise in noisy subways. The two earbuds have a good noise canceling effect on continuous low-frequency noise, but the filtering effect on surrounding vocals is average. If you want to listen to music quietly, you still need to turn up the volume.
BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds support 11 levels of controllable noise cancellation, but the noise cancelling level cannot be controlled on the home page of the BOSE Music APP. It is necessary to go to the secondary menu of the APP to switch the noise cancelling level through up to four preset modes. Such operation logic is indeed a bit troublesome. But fortunately, the problem is not big, it can be solved only by OTA upgrade.
In terms of noise cancelling effect experience, I gave the following ranking: BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds ≈ Sony WF-1000XM4 > 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini > Apple AirPods Pro ≈ Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD
05/ Battery Life Performance
These five earphones all support the active noise cancelling function, but the battery life performance only refers to the longest battery life of the earbuds when the ANC mode is turned off in a fully charged state. Among them, the most eye-catching performances of single battery life are Sony WF-1000XM4 and Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD. Both true wireless earphones have a single battery life of more than 10 hours, reaching 12 hours and 11 hours. 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds ranked second, with a single battery life of 6 hours. The Apple AirPods Pro with the shortest battery life also achieved 5 hours. In my opinion, earbuds have a single battery life of 4 hours, so there will not be too many problems in daily use. After all, in-ear earbuds will have an irreversible impact on hearing after wearing them for a long time. Therefore, I always recommend that you pay attention to the length of use when using headphones on a daily basis.
If the earbuds are used with the charging case, the comprehensive battery life will reach 20 hours without battery life anxiety. The most worrying of these five headphones is the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds, which have a combined battery life of only 18 hours with the charging case. Considering that this level of battery life is very inconsistent with the size of its huge charging case, such a battery life performance is really unsatisfactory. Fortunately, this earbuds supports fast charging, charging for 15 minutes, can be used for 120 minutes. The best overall battery life performance is the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD. The combined battery life of both true wireless earbuds exceeds 30 hours. And the Sony WF-1000XM4 also has super fast charging capability for 5 minutes of charging and 60 minutes of listening to songs. The combined battery life of 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini and Apple AirPods Pro is about 24 hours, which is quite satisfactory. However, the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini has a more powerful fast charging function, which can be used continuously for 90 minutes after charging for 10 minutes.
In terms of charging, the other four earbuds except Apple AirPods Pro use the Type-C interface, and the AirPods Pro uses the Lightning charging interface. The five earphones perform well in the daily charging experience. What’s more surprising is that these five earbuds all support fast charging and wireless charging. In my opinion, wireless charging and fast charging are not necessarily used every day, but they must be available when they are used. After all, these two configurations can greatly ease the battery life anxiety of some users, and can further enhance the product experience.
Overall, the ranking in terms of battery life is: Sony WF-1000XM4 > Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD > 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini≈Apple AirPods Pro > BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds
06/ Sound Quality
Except for the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds, the other four earbuds use dynamic drivers. Unfortunately, according to the existing information on the Internet, it is impossible to find out what sounding unit BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds uses. On bluetooth audio decoding, Sony WF-1000XM4 supports LDAC UHD encoding, Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD supports aptX Adaptive protocol, and the other three true wireless earbuds only support AAC and SBC. Of course, the hardware parameters of earbuds are only for reference, and the specific listening performance still depends on the manufacturer’s voice tuning ability.
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini is a relatively thin sound style as a whole, the image is farther away, and it will sound a certain sense of space. The low frequency of this earbuds has a certain quantity sense and good elasticity. The intermediate frequency also has a certain sense of hierarchy, the details of the instruments can be well presented, and the vocals are clear. The high frequencies of the ComfoBuds Mini are slightly worse in my opinion. Fortunately, there is no loss of details, and there is no feeling of “stuffy” sound.
The tri-frequency performance of the Sony WF-1000XM4 will be more inclined to low frequencies. In particular, the quantity sense and density of the low frequency will be a bit more. I think this tuning style is more suitable for listening to music types such as pop, rock, and jazz. The high-frequency brightness of the WF-1000XM4 will be slightly lacking, but fortunately the sound is not harsh, and the details in the music can be clearly explained. In addition, with the support of LDAC and Sony’s optimized “DSEE Extreme” sound enhancement engine, this earbuds has a richer and fuller listening experience. Whether it is the layering of the sound or the details, it can be further improved.
The tri-frequency equalization performance of Apple AirPods Pro will not have a certain orientation like the Sony WF-1000XM4. The earbuds are a very balanced sound style with tri-frequency. The mid-frequency and vocal parts of AirPods Pro have a warmer sense of hearing, plus the low-frequency with good elasticity, whether it is listening to pan-pop music or rock music, it is still relatively durable. Apple AirPods Pro does not have the characteristics of Sony WF-1000XM4, but it has no shortcomings, and the sound style is relatively flat.
The sound of BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds is very “BOSE”. This earbuds pays great attention to the performance of low frequency, and the low frequency quantity sense is the most among the five tws earbuds. The vocal performance of this earbuds is a small highlight. The overall performance of the vocals is good, making people more comfortable to listen to.
In terms of listening sense, the sound styles of Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds are similar and the low frequency will be thicker, but it is obvious that the sound style of Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD is more advanced. The sound of this earbuds will be a warmer and slightly more low-frequency sound style. However, it has obvious high transparency in the middle and high frequency parts, which is a product with a very Beyerdynamic style. In addition to simple tri-frequency, FREE BYRD also has a very wide sound field and clear and loose imaging performance. In my opinion, the sound performance of the Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD has easily surpassed the Sony WF-1000XM4.
In the actual listening experience, the ranking I gave is: Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD > Sony WF-1000XM4 > 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini > Apple AirPods Pro > BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds
07/ Purchase Advice
Based on the above test results and the product price, we believe that 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini is the product with the best comprehensive product strength in this horizontal review. 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini has completely surpassed the other four tws earbuds in terms of wearing comfort and portability. And it has surpassed Apple AirPods Pro in noise cancelling effect, second only to Sony WF-1000XM4. 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini has no obvious shortcomings and is an “all-round” earbuds. But what you need to know is that the price of this earbuds is only one-third of that of Sony, Apple, and BOSE products. If the price/performance ratio alone is concerned, the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini has already won.
Sony WF-1000XM4 is also a product with relatively strong comprehensive strength, but the wearing experience of this earbuds is too bad, which can only be solved by replacing the silicone eartips by yourself later. And considering its $278 price, the road to “faith” may always be tortuous. For a long time, Apple AirPods Pro has been called the “true wireless earphones benchmark” on the Internet. After the actual experience, it is found that the performance of this earbuds is really good. Moreover, Apple AirPods Pro will not have obvious shortcomings like the Sony WF-1000XM4, and it can get an excellent experience when used with an iPhone.
BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds is a relatively “biased” product in my opinion, and the excellent noise cancelling performance is the most obvious advantage of this earbuds. The unpleasant sound style and huge size are the most obvious shortcomings of the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds. But if you happen to be looking for a true wireless earphones with excellent noise cancelling capabilities, I think the BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds are still very competitive. The sound quality of Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD can definitely be compared with wired earphones. But considering the price of $249, the Beyerdynamic FREE BYRD is destined to be an earbuds for a few people, and also HiFi true wireless earphones for audiophiles.
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Check the Sony WF-1000XM4 price:
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