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At $55, the SonoFlow SE headphones have a 70-hour marathon battery, delivering all-day listening for a small price.
You won't get any quality noise-canceling tech, and the physical button controls may not be ideal for some.
A good pair of headphones can cost you hundreds of dollars if you want deluxe features, such as supreme noise cancellation, fancy audio modes, long-lasting battery life, and more. And let's be honest -- many people aren't willing to spend that much money on one piece of tech that they only use a few hours a day.
1More's latest release adds to its over-ear headphones line with the 1More SonoFlow SE headphones. The SonoFlow SE differs from its predecessor, the 1More SonoFlow, in a few ways, cutting back on audio quality, noise-canceling, and other stylistic features in lieu of affordability.
So, can you find a good pair of headphones for less than $60? I think you can, but you should temper your expectations. Here's how the Sonoflow SE fared during two weeks of testing.
The Sonoflow SE's sound quality is great, but its strength depends on your listening volume. For example, when I listened to Sampha's Suspended at a low volume while riding on the subway, the sound came out tinny and hollow.
The more subtle notes of the song didn't fully deliver on low-to-medium volume, as the lower frequencies of the song failed to stand out. However, you do get beautiful and robust sound at higher volume levels, thanks to the 40mm dynamic driver inside the ear cups. While listening to Sampha's Only at a higher volume, the complexities of the artist's voice came through stronger, the bass became more profound, and the background vocals and instrumentals shimmered.
I tried out the headphones in various environments, from quiet office spaces and break rooms to loud subway cars, and I found the active noise cancellation (ANC) not as effective in noisy environments.
On the subway, where you'd ideally want the clanging noise of machinery to be muffled, I could hear nearly every sound outside of my headphones with noise cancellation on, and fiddling with the ANC button produced negligible results.
The Sonoflow SE headphones are lightweight and very comfortable, but their build quality is less sturdy than your more expensive options. I wore these headphones for an entire workday, free of any head, neck, or ear strain.
At over 70 hours of playback, the battery life is long-lasting, and if you need to replenish your depleted battery, five minutes of charging offers five hours of playback. When you turn the headphones on, a voice will announce the headphones' battery status, which is helpful if you don't want to access the app for battery life stats. I wore these headphones at the office, and it took a few long workdays before I got the battery down to 50%.
The button controls to turn the headphones on or off are finicky, as they're all situated right next to each other. Instead of a button for pausing and playing audio, you have to press the power button, which took me some time to get used to.
I found you have to press the power button for three seconds to turn the headphones on and up to six seconds to turn them off. I've sometimes accidentally kept the headphones powered on longer than I wanted because of this counterintuitive feature, effectively draining the battery.
I voice-recorded myself to test out the microphone capabilities. When I played the recording back, I sounded a smidge muffled and metallic. I wouldn't recommend these headphones if you're planning to take part in many voice calls or Zoom meetings. But for pure comfort and music-listening purposes at a great price, the SonoFlow SE headphones work well.
ZDNET's buying advice
The 1More Sonoflow SE headphones are the answer for anyone looking for a decent pair of affordable headphones. If you're looking for a pair of uber-budget-friendly headphones that promise great sound and long battery life, the 1More Sonoflow SE headphones are for you. But remember, for $55, you're getting what you pay for, plus a little more in some categories.
If you want strong noise-canceling features for an affordable price, these won't cut it. The noise cancellation doesn't deliver, and they'll leave you susceptible to interruptions in noisy environments. I can see these headphones being a great office companion if you don't want your expensive headphones to leave the house.
But if you want a pair of comfortable headphones that will last you a couple of days before even thinking of recharging, the SonoFlow SE headphones are worthy of your consideration.