If Apple decides to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next iPhone, you can rest assured if you have 1More’s iBFree Bluetooth wireless in-ear-headphone. The iBFree is geared towards the active audiophile or one who is on the go—and boy does this baby deliver.
While Chinese-based 1More has started gaining a solid reputation for their wired headphones, they have now ventured into the wireless headphone space with two new models. The $59.99 iBFree in-ear-monitor (the subject of this review) and the MK802 Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones ($149.99 and also in for a forthcoming review).
Great look and feel
The iBFree comes impeccably boxed. 1More has their packaging down pat and every single product has a premium look when. After opening the box and when you first pick up the iBFree, you feel like something’s missing. For me it’s still an odd sensation picking up wireless in-ear-monitors. They are just too short. But while the iBFree’s cord may be short on length, you don’t feel like the company’s shorted you on anything else.
The $59.99 iBFree comes in four colors—vibrant red, space grey, apple green, and aqua blue. My review pair came in space grey.
The iBFree has Bluetooth 4.1 and the aptX codec for near CD-quality streaming. Pairing the iBFree with an Astell&Kern AK70 immediately confirmed the pairing’s aptX support. I never had any issues pairing the iBFree with any device. Other than a rare blip, I didn’t note any major problems with Bluetooth reception.
The barrel housing is made of anodized aluminum and beautifully textured. The ends of the barrel are CNC carved in a cool disk-like pattern that moves with any light that hits it. The dual layer driver is made of titanium and PET. 1More says the PET diaphragm supplies the bass while the titanium driver enhances the response time, mids, and highs.
The cable is made of rubber. There’s unfortunately a bit of a stiffness with the cable as a result. It isn’t supple. The inline remote is located on the right side. 1More says the remote is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The MEMS microphone is said to eliminate cross-talk and background static.
For me, perhaps most surprising thing all is that the iBFree is IPX4 water resistant, which means that it is rated to resist splashes from water (but not be submersed in water). Sweat or rain drizzle won’t be a concern.
1More makes a point to note that the headphones have been tuned by Grammy Award winning sound engineer, Luca Bignardi. In my previous experience with 1More, Luca’s tuning was great.
Here we go again
The iBFree has a “C” shaped sports grip serves its purpose but still doesn’t trump the B&W C5’s loop, which is the best invention ever for keeping headphones securely in your ear.I have one long standing complaint about 1More in-ear monitors and that trend continues with the iBFrees.
But alas! The included silicone tips are the worst I’ve ever used. They have the same quality as 10-cent promotional IEMs. The silicone tips are too slick and just won’t stay in my ears. I’ve compared the 1More silicone tip to every single IEM I own and every review pair that’s come across my desk. The 1More are the worst. I strongly suggest that 1More changes either the materials or supplier of their silicone tips. Yes, they are that bad. Even if it costs them triple what they are paying now, it’s worth the extra investment.
That being said, just as with my 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphone review, I had to replace the tips to wear them for this review. This time I did so with a pair from the Meze 11 Neo that I also have in for review. Replacing the tips once again solved any issues of the iBFree sliding out. I could have worn the excellent Comply tips, however, when on-the-go I don’t like to have complete noise isolation. Just note that if you do chose to use Comply tips, it will elevate the bass response of the iBFree.
When you first turn on the iBFree, a female voice prompts you with the current batter level. You’ll get “Battery high,” “Battery Medium,” or “Battery Low” prompts. When the battery is low, the prompts will occasionally take place while listening to music—often enough that you’ll hear it a few times during a song. If you run the battery dry while playing, you’ll hear “Powering off” before things go dark.
1More claims that you can get 240 hours of standby time, 10 hours of talk time or 8 hours of music with the iBFree. Should you need to charge the headphones, they use a standard micro-USB cable. The micro-USB port is located on the inline microphone.
The iBFree IEMs are simply superb. The iBFree has a relaxed presentation. They also have an airy tuning. That combination complements recordings with lots of ambiance. Playing “A Taste of Honey” or “Too Rich for my Blood” from Patricia Barber’s Cafe Blue, for example, accentuated the ambiance of the room and opened up the soundstage.
Piano is a tough instrument for speakers to get right and even tougher for IEMs to nail. Regardless, on Adele’s Remedy, the iBFree IEMs did yeoman’s work.
The iBFree rendered crisp highs and the bottom end taut. This gave the maracas on “A Taste of Honey” a life-like snap to them and the bass and drums on “Too Rich for My Blood” or “Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass” came to life with good dynamics and definition.
For the audiophile who wants their music on the go without wires, 1More’s iBFree is a another winner for the company. The $59.99 price-point is just ridiculous. These don’t sound like $59.99 headphones and the fact that they are wireless is the icing on the proverbial audio cake. So whether you’re hedging your bets that the 3.5mm is going the way of the dodo or just want to be free with your audio, the iBFree has you covered. Highly recommended.
1BFree Bluetooth Wireless Headphones