Tom's Guide Verdict
At $50, the 1More SonoFlow SE offer much of the same high-quality performance as their predecessor, and for several dollars less.
Strong battery life
Superb call quality
Struggle with high frequency noises
No aux cable or LDAC support
Wonky app experience
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Price: $54 / £54
Battery life (rated): 50 hours (ANC on); 70 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC
Size: 6.9 x 3.2 x 7.55 inches
Weight: 8.4 ounces
The 1More SonoFlow SE (Special Edition) are the follow-up to one of the market’s most underrated noise-cancelers: the $99 1More SonoFlow. This more affordable version takes on many of its older sibling’s upscale features, including active noise cancelation, customizable audio settings, and multipoint technology to pair to two devices simultaneously. These headphones also share the same no-frills design and control scheme.
1More seems to have spent some time tweaking their ANC technology because the SonoFlow SE proves to be the series’ top noise-cancelling and voice calling headset. If only they added more popular features (e.g., aux port, LDAC), while also fixing common problems like their finicky companion app.
Despite these compromises, which were clearly made to accommodate the attractive $54 MSRP, the SonoFlow SE are one of the best cheap noise-canceling headphones based on overall performance.
1More SonoFlow SE review: Impressive sound for the price
The SonoFlow SE have the same engaging sound profile as the original SonoFlow. 1More’s 40mm DLC (diamond-like-carbon) dynamic drivers combined with their proprietary Studio EQ (default) produce punchy lows that can become overly aggressive on contemporary tracks. However, listening in ANC mode balances out frequency range to enjoy the headphones’ satisfying boom presentation, along with crisp mids and detailed highs.
You can swap out Studio with 11 other well-engineered EQs that suit their titles (e.g., Bass reducer, Classical, Podcast). Another option is to create your own sound profile by manually adjusting frequencies on the 10-band equalizer. I stuck with Studio when listening to music on DSPs (digital streaming services).
The instrumental separation on Nils Lofgren’s “Only Ticket Out” was stellar. Guitar strums, snare strikes, and steadily tapped cymbals were individually prominent. I was also shocked by how well the headphones handled reverberation. Every guitar chord had a pleasant, amplified effect that decayed and transitioned smoothly into the next one. That same effect carried over to bass-heavy tracks like Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘N Nite (Nightmare).” The expanded kick drums banged with veracity and blended nicely with the spacey-led synths.
Audio quality on Apple Music and Spotify tracks was satisfying, but even though there's no codec support for higher-quality audio transfers over Bluetooth, Tidal delivered the best performance overall with better clarity when listening to the platform's hi-res streams.
AAC and SBC codecs provided steady streaming across all platforms. I would have loved to see LDAC codec support, which is featured on the regular version.
1More SonoFlow SE review: Respectable ANC that performs best on calls
ANC is more effective on the SonoFlow SE than the previous entry. I could hear the improvements in noise neutralization, especially on calls. Standard noise cancellation blocked out 85% of incidental sounds in all environments. The construction and landscaping that took place outside of my balcony went silent. My son’s electronic boombox and wife’s speakerphone calls didn’t bother me either.
The SonoFlow SE aren’t equipped to deal with high-frequency sounds. Noises like bird chirping, crying babies, and sirens broke my concentration many times.
1More’s Pass-through mode won’t outperform other transparency modes, but it’s sufficient for increasing situational awareness. It kept me on guard for oncoming traffic during nightly strolls. I wouldn’t attempt using the feature for conversing since the mics don’t demonstrate the best vocal capture, at least not in Pass-through mode.
ANC and the mic array performed at higher levels during calls. My wife said she heard me loudly and clearly when walking through rowdy environments. Only a few mid-high frequencies entered our chats, and they weren’t distracting.
1More SonoFlow SE review: Monstrous battery life
I can’t think of any sub-$55 wireless headphones that offer up to 50 hours of ANC playtime. That’s more than enough juice to power through the workweek (10 hours daily). Turning off ANC extends battery life to 70 hours, which is significantly higher than luxury models like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones (24 hours) and Sony WH-1000XM5 (up to 40 hours). I’m going on my second week of testing and still have 15% of energy left in the tank.
The SonoFlow SE have some of the strongest quick-charging technology in the category. A 5-minute charge equals 5 hours of playtime. The WH-1000XM5 comes closest with a 3-minute charge generating 3 hours of use, though a USB-PD compatible AC adapter is required.
1More SonoFlow SE review: Generic craftsmanship
The first-gen SonoFlow were already bland-looking cans composed entirely of plastic with faux leather padding on the earcups and headband. Well, the SE version is also bland in appearance and detailing. Build quality isn’t the strongest; sitting on the headphones at the wrong angle will bend the aluminum extenders. The protruding buttons look and feel cheap. The lack of a wired jack is disappointing too. At least comfort and fit are decent.
There is no canvas carrying bag for the headphones, nor a USB-C to USB-C cable for wired listening. All you get is an extremely short USB-C charging cable with the purchase.
1More SonoFlow SE review: Companion app needs work
It’s nice that you get access to the 1More Music app. Except for LDAC, the SonoFlow SE receives the same features as all other 1More models: battery level indicators, EQ, Listening Modes (ANC/Pass-through), multipoint, smart burn-in, and Soothing Sounds (aka soundscape mode. The problem is that 1More’s software is riddled with bugs.
There is a new firmware update available, but every time I tried downloading it, I got a ‘Fail to Upgrade’ message due to the app thinking my headphones weren’t connected to phone, which they clearly were. Soothing Sounds didn’t work at all and stayed in a buffering loop every time I selected it. 1More Music would also crash on occasion.
1More SonoFlow SE review: Verdict
I’m just as impressed with the lower-priced SonoFlow SE as I am the regular version. These are great bargain headphones that take on many of their predecessor’s hallmarks and welcome stronger ANC to the soiree. Battery life is high at nearly triple the playtime as Bose’s noise-cancelling models. Call quality is also some of the best in the category.
The design isn’t anything to lust after and the lack of extras (accessories, special features) might be off-putting for some. Either way, there’s still plenty of value to be had here at the price.
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A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.