This year we reviewed two excellent headphones from indie darling 1More. The company gained fame in the headphone community by offering great-sounding multi-driver IEMs for prices that were orders of magnitude lower than more established competitors. Now 1More’s back with yet another interesting headphone — the Dual Driver “LTNG ANC”. It’s a Lightning-compatible IEM with active noise canceling and all the design DNA that made its predecessors so appealing. We think it’s excellent.
Like the 1More Triple-Driver and Quad-Driver IEMs, the LTNG ANC features a clean design and uses high-quality materials. 1More abandoned the jet engine design of its prior IEMs, though, this time opting for a shape that is called, according to Google, a “hyperboloid.” Made of spun aluminum, they’re beautiful and feel substantial. Accents like the brass-colored ANC microphones and long silicone strain reliefs on the bottom of each driver housing evoke a kind of old-school cool. The LTNG ANC’s ear fittings are set at a 45-degree angle which, at least for our ears, made them fit comfortably without the need for much adjustment. The LTNG ANC’s cable is standard tangle-prone rubber between the drivers and the Y-split, but is sleeved in a much nicer patterned fabric the rest of the way to the Lightning plug. The LTNG ANC is well-built, light, and attractive — we have no complaints.
Though the LTNG ANC’s looks and build immediately identify it as a 1More headphone, it has unique features that set it apart from its sister IEMs. As a Lightning headphone with active noise canceling, the LTNG ANC must include a DAC, amplifier, and ANC hardware in the cable. All these electronics are stuffed into the LTNG ANC’s control pod, located at the Y-split headphone’s cable. 1More abandoned the traditional three-button design for something new: a 5-way joystick. The gold-colored joystick moves with a satisfying click, controlling volume (up/down), track (left/right) and play/pause/calls (press). ANC is toggled with a small switch on the control pod’s side — it’s plastic and a little loose, but it does the job. In practice we like this control scheme, especially since it eliminates the need for double and triple clicks and, despite housing much of the headphone’s electronics, adds almost no weight to the headphone.
Again unsurprising for a 1More headphone, the LTNG ANC comes with a generous set of accessories. In addition to 1More’s standard carry case and shirt clip, the LTNG ANC also comes with various sizes of oval ear tips, along with unique egg-shaped wings to secure the LTNG ANC in the ear. We had no problem getting a secure, comfortable fit with the LTNG ANC. In addition, we found the ANC on these IEMs to be surprisingly competent. Walking through NYC streets, it did a great deal to block out ambient noise and enabled lower music listening volumes. The LTNG ANC does a particularly good job with truck engines, reducing their roar to little more than a high-frequency whine which is easily masked by whatever music is playing. One caveat — potentially a big one, depending on where you intend to use these — is that the LTNG ANC does not fare well in the wind. Wind howls over the external microphones, seemingly amplified by the LTNG ANC’s noise-canceling software. In windy situations, we found it’s actually better to leave ANC switches off. We didn’t measure the LTNG ANC’s effect on the iPhone’s battery life directly, but we think it’s fair to assume that using ANC will draw more power than it would with ANC switched off.
The LTNG ANC uses a dual-driver configuration — one small balanced armature driver for the highs, and one dynamic driver for the midrange and low frequencies. It has what we have come to know as 1More’s house sound. It’s warm but resolving, with surprisingly good bass extension and impact. As with any IEM, low-end response will depend on how good of a seal you’re able to achieve, which may require a bit of adjustment for some due to the LTNG ANC’s unconventional oval-shaped silicone tips. We may have detected a bit of roll-off in the highs, though many will hear this presentation simply as smooth and non-fatiguing. Imaging and soundstage are impressive on the LTNG ANC, and nothing about the music seemed to be affected by switching the ANC on or off. One minor complaint is that we would have liked a little more volume from the inline amplifier — even in a completely quiet room, the LTNG ANC didn’t start to get loud until 13 or 14 of the iPhone’s 16 volume steps.
During our initial testing, we ran into some minor issues using the LTNG ANC. Upon connecting our review sample to an iPhone 7 Plus, an “accessory not supported” error would occasionally appear. Other times, the LTNG ANC would not play music until we adjusted the volume up or down, or simply wouldn’t work at all. We contacted 1More about this, who sent us a replacement with an updated firmware. Thankfully, the newer unit worked without any of these issues. We have had similar experiences with other Lightning headphones — it seems that once software was introduced into the headphone world, instability came with it. Since our issues with the LTNG ANC were fixed with a firmware update (and our iPhone was running the just-released iOS 11), these hiccups don’t weigh heavily in our review score.
If you’ve read our prior reviews of 1More headphones, it should be no surprise that we like the LTNG ANC. 1More has is consistently released well-designed headphones that offer features well beyond their price points. The LTNG ANC is no exception, with good sound, quality design, and competent ANC all in a battery-free, Lightning-compatible package. We can only hope that there will be a quad-driver version on the horizon!
Company and Price
Model: LTNG ANC