1More’s THX-certified Quad Driver headphones deliver superb sound and outstanding value for the audiophile who wants a reference in-ear-headphone.
I’ve become a fan of 1More since the company’s founding just three short years ago. I’ve had the privilege of reviewing a number of in-ear and over the ear headphone models. For me, 1More’s headphone products deliver high value sound, offering performance beyond their asking price. Needless to say, I was thrilled when 1More sent me an advanced sample of their new flagship in-ear-headphone, the 1More Quad Driver. The new Quad Driver one-ups the Triple Driver, which was their previous flagship model.
As its name implies, there are are four drivers, which 1More describes as a single diamond-like carbon dynamic driver and three balanced armatures. The tapered barrel is a streamlined aluminum sound chamber that is beautifully designed with a statin finish. The ear tips themselves are angled.
The multi-colored cable is tangle-resistant. It is stiffer than most audiophile headphone cables and the rubberized outer casing has a wax-like texture. The 3.5mm tip is right-angled with a reinforced rubberized jacket at the strain point. Almost without exception every single in-ear-monitor that I’ve owned that has failed has failed at the 3.5mm jacket. The 3.5mm tip adds a third ring for smart device remote control features.
Situated on the right ear cord at just below chin-level, the three-button inline remote control and microphone looks like a miniaturized flute. The buttons are not labeled but follow the typical convention where the outer buttons function as volume up and down and the middle button engages play/pause. For iPhone users, pressing and holding the center button activates Siri. 1More told me that the inline remote is compatible with Android-based devices though I did not test compatibility. A double press of the middle button advances to the next song and a triple press rewinds.
Unboxing the 1More Quad Drivers is luxurious. The packaging is impeccable and you think you’re unboxing headphones costing two or three times the price-point. There are a nine sets of included ear tips—both silicone and memory-foam based. You’ll also get a nice, hard-case with magnetic clasp for carrying the headphones. The case is small enough to fit into a man’s inside sport jacket pocket. A two-prong airplane adapter rounds out an accessory package that’s near perfect.
My biggest knock with 1More in-ear-monitors has been their absolutely terrible ear tips. Thankfully, with the Quad Driver, 1More has made major strides. Gone are the ultra-slippery ear tips that would slip out of my ear with only slight movements. That’s not to say that the upgraded ear tips are perfect. They still don’t get a perfect seal every time—like the ear tips included with the Bowers & Wilkins C5 in-ear-monitors. There were times when I had to fool with the Quad Driver’s placement and seal more than I liked. Getting a good seal is important because it impacts the sonics of the headphone in your ear canal—especially bass. I hope that 1More can finally nail down this one glaring shortcoming in an otherwise exceptional package.
That being said, if you want to get the best seal from the Quad Drivers, you’ll want to use the included foam tips or additional tips from Comply, which I have found to be the best in the business. Just note that using the included foam tips or the Comply tips will increase the headphone’s bass response because they create a far better and tighter seal. The included foam-tips likewise irritated the inside of my ears after prolonged listening sessions and is another reason why I prefer the Comply tips.
THX certification and Grammy-winning tuning
Speaking of exceptional, that’s a great way to describe 1More’s Quad Driver in-ear headphones. In fact, the Quad Driver in-ear monitors are the first headphones to achieve THX headphone certification—an announcement (http://www.thx.com/blog/1more-headphones-first-ever-earn-thx-certification/) that came well after I had been using the headphones—and didn’t surprise me when I received a copy of the release.
According to THX, for a headphone to obtain certification, THX engineers complete scientifically-formulated tests to ensure the highest audio standards possible. The rigorous certification program gives special attention to interpreting high frequency correlation, improving dialog intelligibility, and low frequency extension. In addition, THX says that it ensures nominal balance deviation between the left and right channels to create a well-transferred and well-balanced audio signal. The tests look for sufficient sensitivity levels to achieve a premium level of audio output, while maintaining minimal distortion at the required sound pressure level. THX engineers also look for virtually no crosstalk between channels to ensure the device will accurately reproduce the complexity of the spatial sound. In other words, THX headphone certification confirms that you’re getting a well-designed, high performance set of headphones.
In addition to their THX headphone certification, the 1More Quad Driver is tuned by Grammy winning sound engineer, Luca Bignardi. Having a Grammy winning sound engineer tune your cans just adds more street credibility to your brand.
Simply stellar sound
In case you haven’t gotten the hint already, 1More’s Quad Driver headphone rightly inherits its place as the company’s flagship in-ear-headphone model. The Quad Driver is well-balanced, with a warm sonic signature, and slightly rolled off top end delivering outstanding musical reproduction in a portable in-ear-monitor.
Playing tracks like “The Scavenger” from the Force Awakens soundtrack revealed strings to be lush and full-bodied. However, the midrange was a bit thicker than I personally prefer.
The 1More Quad Driver, delivered smooth, engaging renditions of Hi-res versions classic albums. Take Steely Dan’s Gaucho, for example. Sax lines on “Babylon Sisters” were silky smooth as were synthesizer notes on “Third World Man.”
Midbass punch is delightful. The kick drum on “Time Out of My Mind” had beautifully resolved impact. The same was true on the drums that conclude Patricia Barber’s “Too Rich for My Blood.” The dynamics were clean and enticing. And make no mistake, the Quad Drivers are no slouch when it comes to dives into deep bass either.
If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that are ultra-detailed and revel in uncovering every last ounce of micro dynamics, the Quad Driver aren’t that pair of headphones. They tend more towards a euphonic reproduction. That was certainly the case on the hi-res version of Patricia Barber’s Cafe Blue.
Guitar and bass lines were decidedly warm, full bodied, and controlled. Cymbals had nice crash and decay that revealed a slightly rolled off top end. You’d never mistake the Quad Drivers as being bright. Nevertheless, the 1More Quad Drivers failed to deliver a strong sense of space where each instrument stands firmly in its own space and time with air around it. To be fair, that’s not an easy task to accomplish with in-ear-monitors—especially at this price point. If you like a more open midrange, the 1More’s voicing may not suite your personal taste. By no means did that take away from my enjoyment to the music, I’ve simply heard these albums and tracks on so many different headphones and sound systems that they hopefully provide you, the listener, with a flavor of what the headphones sound like.
A high-value audiophile reference headphone
1More has done it again. The Quad Driver in-ear-monitors are a superb audiophile headphone that are a ridiculous value at $199. Their sound is smooth, warm, and inviting that will make bring just about any recording to life. THX certification just adds to a long list of recognitions and accolades these headphones are sure to amass over time.