On this site, I’ve managed to review and test numerous 1More design products under the Xiaomi/Mi branding, but in this article, I will be reviewing a 1More branded product for the first time.
The EO303 is also known as their “super bass” earphones, and are a more traditional earbud design rather than the popular in-ear design of most headsets. While many people prefer the increased isolation and better sound quality of in-ear designs, some people might still prefer traditional earbuds as they can sometimes cause less irritation of the ear canal. How will it sound compared to the other 1More products, such as the Xiaomi In-ear Headphones Pro?
This review is made possible by Gearbest who generously donated one unit for review.
The unit comes in a folded grey cardboard wrap-around box. The front side of the box has a Gearbest stocking label which indicates this stock comes from the 26th January 2016, and it appears to have been checked and re-sealed. The rear of the box has a label with basic specifications indicating a 14.5 gram weight, 1.2m cable length, 20-20000hz frequency response, 32 ohm impedance and 5mW power handling.
The box itself seems to have a decent amount of crushing because of international shipping. There’s no need to worry about this, because once the box is unfolded …
… we see that it unfolds like a flower around a metal-tin reminiscent of a mint tin. The metal tin is strong enough to keep the product well protected, and the petals of the fold-around cardboard box provide the product information in Chinese. Definitely one of the more creative packaging configurations I’ve seen.
The tin itself is embossed with the 1More logo and is a shiny steel with different shades of brown and yellow triangles. The lid and base pull-apart to reveal the earphones inside.
The presentation is very deluxe, with the earbuds set inside a chocolate silicone rubber “puck” insert complete with their logo. Unpacking this was a little more challenging, as the puck was a good fit for the case, meaning that it didn’t really want to slide out.
After some careful persuasion, we can see that the rear consists of a flap with a hollow chamber for the cable and some accessories. Unfortunately, it seems that shipping did have an impact on the case, with a small dent in the rear tin, but that doesn’t affect the product in any way.
The earbuds themselves feature a purple-grey body with mostly metal used in the earbud section. There is a thin skirt of rubber around the edge for comfort, with a perforated metal face towards the ear canal. The rear of the earbud is vented for better sound quality and frequency response, with the orientation printed on the stem. It seems the stems are made of plastic, despite having the same colour.
The two earbuds share a very symmetric design and have the high quality CNC metal milled finish with fine details which seems to typify products from 1More design.
The same sort of milled metal can be found in the remote, which has a different design featuring two buttons and a microphone hole on the front, and the centre button on the rear. Just like the Xiaomi In-ear Headphones Pro, it uses a thin braided cable which is somewhat tangle-resistant from the plug to the remote, and rubber-coated wire from the remote to each earpiece.
The plug itself is very sturdy, as with all of their products, and has white insulating rings. A tag also provides a QR code for more information along with branding. Strain relief is provided by short sections of rubber extending out of each plug.
Also included is a pouch of slip-on foam covers and silicone rubber edges for a better fit. We will mention more about this in the later sections.
In this section, I share my opinions about this particular set of earbuds. It’s important to realize that in audio especially, people have different preferences and are prone to disagreement depending on what their experience with headphones/earphones are, and what they expect things to sound like. I won’t be drawn into arguments, but I will acknowledge that people may have a difference of opinion – I personally tend to prefer more analytical, sharp signatures, with my main point of reference being an Audiotechnica ATH-M50x monitor headphones.
Accessories, Fit and Finish
The included accessories include a mint-tin like case, with silicone “puck” style holder, foam and silicone covers. This is not bad, especially when the price is considered, as some of their competitors don’t really give you anything but the headset itself and some disposable packaging. The puck itself is designed to display the earphones, but it’s quite a hassle to pack it in nicely and then to remove the earpieces due to their snug fit, so I suspect users will be just winding it up and throwing it into the rear flap. I suppose a little more practicality in that regard wouldn’t hurt.
The build is very much “1More” from first sight – the milled CNC metal plug bodies with concentric rings and rubber tube strain relief, CNC metal remote with braided cable to rubberized cable and CNC metal earpieces with metal grille vent are all typical 1More Design traits. There are no complaints here – it’s very similar to the Mi In-ear Headphones Pro in build. It seems that this set is slightly different though – the stems where the cable connects to the earpieces seem to be made of plastic rather than metal, probably because of difficulties in engineering.
The same sort of rubberized cable and braided cable seems to be used – it feels a little thin, but has very good anti-tangle properties and seems to be strong enough. During reviewing, I did yank it out of a jack a few times by accident with no ill effects.
The design itself is very symmetrical, with the remote hanging equidistant from the two earbuds. The earpieces themselves are quite symmetrical as well, with the stem in the middle and both left and right pieces virtually identical bar for a small mark on the stem. Unfortunately, this has rather negative effects on comfort – where many plastic earbuds are asymmetric and contoured to “slip” into the ear nicely, these seem to do the opposite. The smooth metal body with fine ribs instead likes to slip around and the symmetric conical shape doesn’t hold nicely in my ears even with their thin rubberized edge. Using them “bare” (as most might) was a bit of a let-down on fit.
The foam pads were somewhat difficult to get on because of their thinness, and did improve the fit somewhat, at the cost of potentially being lost (as I’m sure regular earbud users would have experienced at least once).
A bit of salvation was found using their silicone tips with “loop”. This seems to be engineered to solve the exact issue with fit by being a tight fit to the earpiece (so it doesn’t get lost) and using the loop to push against the inner of your ear for additional support. As my ears are a little large, the loop didn’t exert as much force as it should have, and instead, it was a better fit solely because the silicone material around the whole body had more friction. Sadly, after prolonged listening, this proved to be uncomfortable because of the increased size of the earpiece with the silicone tip installed. How unfortunate.
I suppose, depending on the shape of your ears, you might find these will fit you better than they fit me.
Isolation and Leakage
As these are merely earbuds that really don’t seal the ear canal nor seal around the ear as a whole, predictably, isolation is one of the weaker points of using earbuds. For this particular model, isolation is slightly worse than the average earbud as the rear vent is practically “in-line” with the ear canal, so ambient noises seem to make it through a little easier. As a result, when listening at high volumes, there is also some leakage of sound.
That being said, when using some of the attachments to get a better fit, the seal does improve a little, but if you want to have isolation, you’re much better off with full-sized closed headphones or canalphones.
Your low-end earbuds are normally are either one of two sorts – either an overly bassy “woofy” presentation with indistinct treble and somewhat reminiscent of a cheap pocket radio, or they’re tinny, all treble, with no bass at all. Some more pricey earbuds can strike a balance between the two to some extent. When I saw this unit was named “super bass”, I chuckled. It’s a hard thing to achieve especially given that it’s not a “sealed” connection between the ear and the earpiece, so I was somewhat skeptical.
As it turns out, it sounds quite similar to the other 1More design products. It does have a consumer bass-bump style signature, but unlike the Mi In-ear Headphones Pro or the Mi Headphones, the bass is not overwhelming precisely because the earpiece doesn’t fully seal around the ear. In this case, the bass bump nicely equalizes the normally “bass-lacking” earbuds to resemble something more neutral.
Its lower mid-range seems more pronounced, with the higher mid-range a little recessed by comparison. Vocals and instruments sound quite decent for a set of earbuds, with a decent amount of definition. The audio quality was enjoyable, and had a bit of a warmer, darker presentation as compared to the M50x’s I normally use. The upper mid-range does sound a little muffled and lacking in detail, but for causal listening, it’s not too noticeable. The treble is present, but again, more recessed than the bass-end. Its presence adds a welcome sparkle to the instruments but does not overpower.
The vented design does amazing things for the sound-stage however, as it sounds much more like I am wearing a set of open over-head cans rather than earbuds, with an open liveliness that I rarely hear from earbuds. You can tell this, as if you partially obstruct the vent with your finger, you get back to the tinny mess that some of the cheaper earbuds are like.
On the whole, if you’re in it for sharp treble or heavy bass, a canalphone is probably still your best bet – e.g. the Mi In-ear Headphones Pro. That being said, the EO303 seems to present a very nice soundstage with decent audio for the price and earbud form factor, with a little less pronounced bass-orientation.
A few tests with more objective quantifiable figures and recordings were undertaken, although it must be remembered that my test equipment is limited, and I am not a test laboratory, so do keep that in mind when interpreting the results.
As with the other 1More products, the microphone does a good job of picking up voice, and sounds fairly true to life without being overly bassy. It also shares the same characteristics with the Xiaomi In-ear Headphones Pro in having a capsule that is slightly more hissy in the background, although this isn’t likely to impact on intelligibility when used with VoIP/voice calls.
The unit claims an impedance of 32 ohms, however, measurement seems to show it is only “roughly” in the ballpark of 35 ohms. It has a small resonance near 2.4khz, and otherwise shows an increasing impedance trend with frequency indicating the use of a dynamic driver. The impedance is sufficiently low to be well driven by mobile devices, making it very suitable for use with normal mobile phones and tablets without concerns about whether it will play loudly enough.
The 1More EO303 earphones have a good soundstage and very decent audio presentation for a set of earbuds at this price range without any major deficiencies. If I had to critique its audio presentation, I would have to note its slightly muffled upper mid-range and recessed (but still present) treble. Their construction quality is exactly as expected, in-line with former 1More products (branded Xiaomi/Mi), and as with most earbuds, the isolation is relatively limited.
Unfortunately, I found its simplistic symmetric design and metal body to be too slippery to form a good fit for my ears. With the silicone tips installed, the larger size and increased friction wedged it in the ears more securely, but it was not very comfortable for long-term listening. Also, don’t be fooled by the “super bass” name, as their bass is more “neutral” or slightly raised rather than being “super”.
Those interested can purchase this item directly from Gearbest, where it is currently listed for about AU$22.69.
UPDATE: Gearbest has a promotion on these, use coupon code LHD to receive these at US$12.59.