This article was written by Brad Moon and originally published on Forbes website here.
Before delving into details about 1More, to set the stage I want to revisit the infamous Beats Solo HD teardown by Bolt in 2015.
Disassembly of the Beats headphones revealed a $20.18 bill of materials for parts used to build the $199 headphones. An initial teardown was found to have been a counterfeit pair, but even then the difference in parts pricing between real and fake was only three dollars and change. The point of this isn’t that Apple Beats are bad headphones, it’s to say that there is clearly a lot of room to move on price when it comes to a decent, stylish set of headphones. Manufacturing and shipping obviously add to that $20.18 cost, but between there and $199 is a lot of marketing dollars and some impressive profit margins.
There is also a huge market of headphone sellers flogging ultra-cheap headphones. Search on Amazon for headphones under $25 and you’ll see nearly 60,000 options. However, if those Beats Solo HDs cost $20.18 just for parts, it seems pretty obvious that a sub $25 pair of headphones is bound to sound far from spectacular and the construction quality is likely to be suspect as well.
The middle ground –premium sound quality and engineering a la Beats, but without the huge markup– is what 1More is targeting, and the company says it is intent on “disrupting an industry where price hiking and design shortcuts are the norm.” 1More makes some bold claims, stating its headphones are “over-engineered and over-tested.” They employ features like Kevlar core cables, forged aluminum cable splitters, aerospace grade metals including titanium and aluminum alloy, and multiple ear tip sizes (for in-ear models) to ensure a perfect fit. They’re also custom tuned by a Grammy award-winning producer.
After selling 10 million units in its first year of operations and topping 24 million in year two, 1More began to target the U.S. market in 2015. As Forbes’ Aaron Tilley reported, the results showed just how ready consumers were for a change: Xiaomi’s Mi Store offered an $80 pair of 1More headphones in the U.S. and Europe and they sold out within 30 minutes.
My exposure to 1More began with a sampling of review units. My first impression was packaging that immediately reveals an attention to detail. As you can see from the photo above, everything is boxed attractively in a manner that showcases the products. The approach is minimalist, but upscale. If you don’t think those boxes are important, especially when it comes to consumer electronics, just ask Apple why it sweats the details to such a degree on its packaging.
Picking a few of the 1More headphones I’ve spent some time with, the quality to price ratio has been very evident. For the past month or so, I’ve been wearing the 1More MK801 Over-Ear Headphones on my morning run and on extended hikes with my dog (I prefer over-ear headphones to ear buds). The headphones are lightweight and sweat resistant, they look great –I’m especially fond of the bright metallic red of the review unit– and the sound quality is excellent. Steel (not plastic) ear cups rotate in four directions for a perfect fit that does a great job of isolating external sound. The headband is titanium steel with thick foam padding; it’s comfortable, holds the headphones on securely and stands up to twisting and other abuse. The tangle-resistant audio cable has a Kevlar core for strength, features an inline mic and controls for iOS and Android, and it’s removable.
The kicker is the price: at $79.99, they cost a fraction of what other manufacturers are charging for headphones of this caliber.