1More is been one of the biggest brands to watch in the consumer audio world. It has made its name on delivering exceptional value, whether that’s with flagship true wireless earphones like the 1More Evo, over-ear headphones like the Sonoflow, or even gaming earphones, like the Spearhead VR. Each of its products bring higher-level sound quality to more accessible price points.
With the 1More Penta Driver (P50) Headphones, it’s taking a different approach. These are wired in-ear monitors (IEMs), but each side features five separate drivers and has been custom-tuned by a Grammy award-winning sound engineer. Consisting of a dynamic driver and four planar units on each side, they promise high-resolution listening in a comfortable package at a very competitive $169.99 price point. Let’s take a closer look as I explain whether or not they deliver.
- Current Price: $169.99 (1More, Amazon)
- Model: EH904
- Headphones weight: 21g
- Cable Length: 1.25m
- MEMS Mic Control: Available
- Wire Material: Silver Plated OFC Wire
- Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
- Frequency Range: 20 Hz - 40 kHz
- Impedance: 32 ohms
- Sensitivity: 105dB
- Rated Power: 5mW
1More Penta Driver (P50) - Design and Key Features
The 1More Penta Driver earphones were somewhat of a surprise when they were announced. With the trend toward Bluetooth and true wireless earbuds from most major audio brands, to find that its latest release isn’t, in fact, wireless was unexpected. But, the Penta Driver, or P50 for short, is a welcome change of pace and a downright treat for fans of high-res audio.
The Penta Driver headphones are unique in more ways than one. Despite their tiny size, they manage to pack five drivers into each side, and the arrangement is quite unusual. The bass is handled by the dynamic driver with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) diaphragm. The mids and highs are covered by two pairs of micro planar drivers. This assortment technically makes the P50s a hybrid IEM (meaning two driver types) but the absence of balanced armatures makes it rather unique in this space.
This driver arrangement allows the P50s to deliver a vibrant and dynamic listening experience that is rich in detail but doesn’t run short on body or presence. It’s a nod to the audiophile community that has embraced planar magnetics in the IEM space this past year as the prices have finally made them attainable for mainstream consumers (only a few years ago, planar magnetic earphones were uncommon enough that they could easily run $1,000 or more).
Planar drivers are so well regarded due to their unique timbre (presentation) and detail. That’s absolutely the case here, as the P50 offers a level of crispness with its listening experience that’s not common among mainstream headphones under $200. At the same time, the fact that these are micro planars and not full-scale single planar drivers changes the presentation from some of the pure planar drivers on the market currently.
If you’re confused, don’t be. I’ll illuminate more in the listening section. The important thing to know is that these earphones are revealing in a very good way. They extend high into the treble without sounding sharp and low into the sub-bass without sounding muddy. They’re balanced yet versatile, exactly like you would hope for from an IEM like this.
The P50s are crafted for enthusiasts and audiophiles and it shows. They have a refined look with a premium build quality that matches its premium components. Each earpiece is shockingly tiny – typically, IEMs with this many drivers would be at least twice as large. These are much closer to the Sennheiser IE 300 in form, which makes them especially easy to fit and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The shells are aluminum, as are the fittings for the microphone and 3.5mm termination.
The cable itself is detachable and uses gold-plated MMCX connectors. These are the “good” MMCX connectors that don’t freeze on the earbud making them almost impossible to disconnect. At the same time, they’re not loose. You can rotate each earpiece on the cable to match your ear, which also aids in their comfort. The cable also includes an in-line mic which provides clear vocal capture for taking calls.
Also included in the box is a selection of foam and silicone ear tips. There are four pairs of silicone tips, ranging from 10.6mm in size up to 14.3mm. There are also three pairs of foam ear tips that span 11mm to 12.8mm. The nozzles aren’t especially wide, so it should be easy for most listeners to find a comfortable fit.
In addition, there’s a soft travel case and a USB to 3.5mm headphone dongle. If you’re using an Android phone, you’ll be ready to go out of the box.
1More Penta Driver (P50) - Listening Impressions
The Penta Drivers surprised me. At $169.99, you expect high-quality sound. But with the sound quality ceiling being raised so highly by smaller ChiFi brands, I wasn’t sure they could live up to that price point. They definitely do. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re the best in their class, there is a lot to praise here and their small size and exceptionally comfortable fit do set them apart.
The bass reaches low and has strong sub-bass and mid-bass. Sub-bass is responsible for the rumble and tactility of music. Mid-bass covers bass guitars, and kick drums, and has a lot to do with the sense of body within a song. The extension on the Penta is very good and the DLC coating allows the dynamic driver to operate with speed and precision. Bass notes start and stop with exactness and have a rich texture that makes pop, hip-hop, and dance very fun.
The mids are especially good for male vocals. They come right to the forefront and have a natural timbre. Vocals are crisp but aren’t class-leading in the amount of detail they’re able to provide. Blink 182’s The Anthem Part 3 positions Mark and Tom right at the head of the band while the instruments play a supporting role. Female vocals aren’t quite as forward but have a smoothness that’s very nice.
The upper mids and high are crisp and detailed. Clean guitar notes, pianos, and percussion pop out to highlight the music. The bass pounds beneath these, creating a very dynamic, musical sound. The highs aren’t sharp at all, so there’s a slight roll-off before sibilance or fatigue would ever become an issue.
The soundstage isn’t especially impressive. It’s fairly closed in, which is par for the course for closed-back IEMs. The imaging is decent, however, and there’s very good stereo positionality. Even so, I wouldn’t use these for gaming without also enabling something like Dolby Atmos.
The planar drivers do a good job of making details sound crisp and etched, which I really like, but it’s not quite the same as a full-sized IEM planar driver. The level of detail and space aren’t as high. The micro-planar drivers feel much more like a middle ground between planar magnetics and balanced armatures. This isn’t a drawback, per se, but is a difference worth bearing in mind when considering these against more traditional single planar-magnetic IEMs.
One element that is a drawback is the included dongle. I experienced a lot of digital distortion when using it that isn’t present with other dongles in my collection. Whenever I used it, there was a constant level of digital background noise. I’m not sure what exactly was causing it but since I was able to isolate it to the dongle, it’s clearly related to it somehow. This may be an issue with my particular sample, however.
Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts
Overall, the 1More Penta Driver (P50) Headphones are a very solid set that offers a great balance between offering a full-bodied sound and crisp details. It’s not class-leading on its own but is a good value. Where they come into their own is when you combine their sonic qualities with their exceptionally small size and comfortable fit. This level of sound from a hybrid IEM is usually reserved for medium-sized earphones or larger, so having it in such a small package is very appealing, especially for listeners with smaller ears. At $170, they’re a good value in a great form factor.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Articles may include affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission to help support the site. Authors do not earn affiliate revenue or commissions.