1MORE SonoFlow hands-on: A simply amazing ANC headset for less than US$100
The 1MORE SonoFlow is the brand's first wireless over-ear headset to feature noise canceling capabilities and, as we will see in today's hands-on review, it also leaves room for a future improved (or maybe one with a "Pro" label on it) version that would get almost everything right. The SonoFlow is tuned by Grammy Award Winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi and comes with 12 studio-grade EQ presets like most of the recently released 1MORE products. Just like the popular 1MORE EVO TWS, it also carries the Hi-Res Audio Wireless certification alongside LDAC support.
The tech sheet includes five microphones that use artificial intelligence to boost speech and reduce environmental noise, a mere five minutes of fast charging for five hours of autonomy alongside a battery life on a full charge of up to 70 hours, as well as the ability to work as a passive headset in wired mode.
The highlights mentioned above are only scratching the surface and, before moving on, I must add one essential detail for those who are thinking about purchasing the 1MORE SonoFlow: In my opinion, these headphones need a complete burn-in cycle to unlock their potential. Obviously, this only applies to people who are picky when it comes to their audio experiences, since most will probably enjoy what the 1MORE SonoFlow can deliver right out of the box.
Box contents, design, build quality
Although Luca Bignardi is involved in the SonoFlow's design and tuning, the retail box doesn't come with any interesting graphics to remind me of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. However, all the essential information is laid out on the front, back, and on the left side of the retail box, which is painted black and resilient enough to withstand rough handling.
The retail package includes a well-made semi-hardshell protective case and the SonoFlow's user guide. Inside the case, we find the headphones, a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging, and an aux cable (2.5 mm to 3.5 mm) that can be used to turn the SonoFlow into a passive, wired headset. A card with a QR code that leads to a validation page for checking the authenticity of your headphones is also in the box.
When it comes to color/design choices, there aren't any. White would have been a nice addition, but the headphones and protective case look great in black and gray. For those who want all the details, I should highlight that the headphones combine black, gunmetal, and a few red touches. The case looks and feels great, but contact with water/sweat should be avoided (it applies for both the headphones and case, as none has any IPX rating).
The headphones are light and very comfortable. They should fit most common head sizes. In my case, extending them to the maximum made it clear that the 1MORE SonoFlow would fit people with larger heads than mine. On the other hand, my 11-year-old daughter said that the headset was a bit loose without extending the headband at all. Button placement feels a bit awkward to me, but I usually control my audio settings from the source, so I don't usually have to mess with the physical controls.
The build quality and materials used are both excellent, although only time will tell how resilient are the earpads and the soft synthetic leather part of the headband. Those who encounter foldable headphones for the first time might have some trouble placing the SonoFlow back in the case for a few times. Thankfully, the folding mechanism feels quite solid.
Specs, features, real-life usage
The 1MORE SonoFlow carries the model number HC905 and weighs 250 grams (about 0.55 pounds). The other essential technical specs are the speaker impedance of 32 Ω, a frequency response of 20 Hz to 40 kHz, Bluetooth 5.0 support, and a working temperature range of 0 to 45 degrees Celsius (32 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit).
The autonomy is nothing short of impressive: 70 hours with ANC off, 50 hours with ANC on, and a brief charge of just 5 minutes delivers no less than 5 hours of autonomy. A full charge takes 80 minutes to complete.
The SonoFlow features 40 mm drivers with a DLC (diamond-like-carbon) composite diaphragm and soft PET film. The wireless sound it provides is Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified, and the LDAC codec allows an audio transfer rate of up to 990 kbps (with the most stable connection I have ever witnessed so far in a wireless headset, I must add).
The five microphones deliver an excellent audio quality when using the headset for phone calls or conferences. Surprisingly, a few of my friends told me that my voice was coming through at a low level in regular phone calls. However, when I recorded my voice using a wireless connection to the phone, the clarity and volume of the audio recorded were impeccable. The same can be said about the audio recording quality when using the headphones in wired mode, but in this case the phone's microphone is employed to capture sound, so it is irrelevant.
Since I mostly listen to rock/metal, I chose to avoid using the EQ settings when enjoying the SonoFlow entirely. Obviously, I tried various settings with other genres for testing purposes, but I decided to go with the default/flat EQ. For now, there is no possibility to create custom EQ profiles. Thankfully, this feature will be added in the near future via a software update, although SoundID is not in the cards (this information has been confirmed by 1MORE, with the release date of the update set for mid-October).
Thanks to the 1MORE MUSIC app (that I already had installed, but anyone can grab it for free and it's available for both iOS and Android devices), I was able to easily get started with the SonoFlow on my phone. Sadly, if I were an iPhone user, LDAC would have been out of question. I should also mention that aptX support is not available, so Android users should choose between AAC and LDAC (SBC is also available, but I see no point in using it when AAC is available).
Just as expected, the sound latency is present, but not annoying. However, I did not play any shooters to be bothered by it, and I can live with latency in games like NFS No Limits or Asphalt 9. The audio quality is excellent and the sound signature can vary quite a bit depending on the audio source. If I had to describe the sound delivered by the 1MORE SonoFlow in a single word, that word would be "warm" and the label would apply to most scenarios, from movies and games to black metal or classical music, in both wired and wireless modes.
Multi-point connectivity is also present in the list of features and works fine. The controls require a bit of exercise and I think that left-handed people will find them less convenient than right-handed ones, especially since the volume controls and the switch for NFC are on the back of the right earcup. Sadly, there is no way to customize these controls.
As I write this, the firmware version installed on my 1MORE SonoFlow (and the latest available, of course) is labeled 0.12.3. As I mentioned earlier, a custom EQ will be added soon. Obviously, various tweaks and fixes will be provided via firmware updates in the coming months as well.
Just as it happens for other 1MORE headphones that work with the mobile app, this piece of code can be used to upgrade the firmware, to burn-in the headphones, enable one of the existing EQ presets, check a quick user guide, or play soothing sounds. Wearer detection is not available, but this also looks like a feature to keep for a more expensive version and, to be honest, I never felt the need for it with the SonoFlow (might be useful for most TWS users, of course).
The software companion for the 1MORE SonoFlow will get the needed custom EQ feature soon and, overall, I am quite happy with the options provided for this headset. Sadly, there are no ANC and transparency modes to choose from. Also, the part of the app that provides soothing sounds still feels pointless.
The good, the bad, and the truth
The 1MORE SonoFlow is pleasant to the eyes for sure, but feels and sounds much better than it looks. Its ability to work as a wired headset even if the battery is depleted or damaged/completely worn off is a great plus, especially when considering the fact that many similar products cannot be used in wired mode without battery power. The sound delivered when used in wired mode is excellent, but it might require a good source (I tested it with my old Xiaomi Mi A1 to play radio, and I used the FiiO M3 Pro and FiiO X3 II to play lossless music, with great result in all these cases).
In my book, both active and passive noise isolation are excellent. Transparency mode, although without any settings to choose from, is simply amazing. Wearing the 1MORE SonoFlow for hours is very enjoyable and completely free of any pain or lack of comfort.
The awkward control buttons, lack of SoundID support, and the single color choice are the only bad parts I can think of. EQ presets for at least one of the Rock/Metal/Heavy Metal categories would be great, but I might be asking too much.
Since the regular price is US$99 and there is currently a US$20 off coupon available on the 1MORE website, the SonoFlow is a "must buy" product no matter what. As a final note to highlight the insane value provided by the 1MORE SonoFlow, I must say that a protective case like the one that comes with this headset is often priced around US$25.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the 1MORE SonoFlow from 1MORE free of charge for the purpose of testing.
1MORE (official product page, US English)