A few months ago, we reviewed the 1More Triple-Driver IEM, a $99 headphone that we still think is an excellent value. 1More is back with a new headphone that’s been highly anticipated by headphone enthusiasts, the Quad Driver IEM ($199). We’re going to try to resist the temptation to make a joke about 1More adding “1 more driver” to its headphones, especially because we know that the company’s name is a reference to their quality control procedures. Still, we’re glad 1More added “one more,” because the Quads sound great.
Like the Triple, the 1More Quad comes in a well-crafted box covered in Michelangelo-esque sketches that highlight the headphone’s design details. A rep for 1More told us that this ornate packaging is intentional — they aimed for an unboxing experience worthy of gifting. Inside the box is a pleather carry case with a magnetic closure, metal shirt clip, airplane adapter, and wide array of silicone and foam ear tip sizes that practically guarantee a comfortable fit. With all metal housings and four drivers stuffed inside each, the Quad feels dense but not heavy – we never had a problem with comfort.
We liked the physical design of the Triple, but the Quad takes things to higher level. The Quad’s cable — though a little long at 1.25m — is translucent, revealing the braid of cables within. It seems to have just the right mix of stiffness and grip to feel sturdy without being prone to tangles. The control pod, y-split, right-angle connector, and driver housings are made of metal with a matte gray finish; all feel great in the hand. We found the Quad’s controls to work well, though the buttons are surprisingly loose; given the attention to detail evident everywhere else on this headphone, we have to consider that this might be intentional, but we can’t imagine why. Saving the best for last, the Quad’s gray and red jet engine-shaped driver housings are beautiful; they’re larger than those of the Triple, but they fit perfectly in our ears, partly due to the angle of the tube that actually enters the ear canal.
Four independent drivers are crammed inside each of the Quad’s housings. In theory, a multi-driver setup allows the manufacturer to assign frequency reproduction to individual drivers that are specifically designed to handle those frequencies — there should be less distortion and a wider frequency response. The Quad uses a dynamic driver to reproduce frequencies from 20–9,000hz, two balanced armature drivers to reproduce frequencies from 9,000–20,000hz, and a third balanced armature driver to handle ultra-high frequencies from 20,000–40,000hz. This isn’t the craziest setup on the market — some custom IEMs offer eight or twelve drivers per ear — but it’s certainly an impressive one at this price point.
Compared to the Triple Driver, the Quad offers an upgraded, more coherent sound. There’s still a bass boost, just not so much that it overpowers the midrange as we found in the Triple. There’s still a v-shaped sound signature, but it’s not as extreme, allowing the Quad to pair with a wider range of genres. The Quad doesn’t have the widest sound stage, but its frequency response extends far in both directions. We found music to sound very natural, but were a bit surprised by what seemed to be a lack of crispness in the upper mid and highs, which made some tracks sound more relaxed and less intimate than we’ve heard on other headphones. This might be a good thing for some users, as a slight roll-off of the treble would reduce ear fatigue and make the Quad easier to use for longer periods of time.
Based on what we’ve heard, we can’t help but wonder if the multi-driver setup could be used slightly differently for a more detailed sound. The Quad’s frequency response goes way beyond that of human hearing; while it’s debatable how important those ultra-high frequencies are to music reproduction, we have a hard time believing that it would be significant in the noisy environments where the Quad would most likely be used.
There is an audible improvement in the sound when moving from the Triple Driver to the Quad driver, but it’s subtler than the price tag might make you expect. That is not to say that doubling the price will always yield double the sound quality — this is rarely the case, especially with higher-end audio gear. However, where we found the Triple to have too much of a bass emphasis for our tastes, we prefer the sound of the Quad. Still, the Quad delivers upgrades over the Triple in every way, looking and feeling like a $200 headphone should.
Company and Price
Model: Quad Driver