1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones: Focus on the music
1st June 2017
Having recently reviewed the company’s triple driver earphones, Paul Rigby ramps up the technology to test 1More’s Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones
When I reviewed the triple driver earphones, before I even sound tested the earphones, I reported my glee at the package design which reminded me of Japanese box art. That is, the packaging was precisely measured, cut and fitted within the book-like box. The quad driver packaging is still nice although it doesn’t have quite the aesthetic wonderment and has a slightly more plastic aspect to it. The delicate, arty-like nature is lost. No matter. Inside the box, which retains a magnetic clasp to secure the box cover, you’ll find a tray of eight alternative ear tips plus a 6.35mm headphone convertor plug along with a securing tie pin and a 2-plug airline adaptor. Beneath the ear tip tray is the usual documentation.
Inside the book cover you can still see the retro style pencil art that details the technology of the headphones in a rough sketch manner along with a few words from sound engineer Luca Bignardi.
I did remark within the review of the Triple-Driver In-Ear Headphones that the company needs to find a more exciting and memorable name for its kit and this design demands a similar report. Many people who walk into a hifi shop and ask for a pair of 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones will either fall asleep during the sentence, will remember that they have yet to eat lunch and will break off before the name has been fully stated or will forget why the walked into the shop in the first place.
The earphones are far more interesting, though. The large angled chassis hangs off the end of a tangle-free Kevlar cable which features a large inline remote with easy to locate buttons plus phone facilities. The cable terminates with a right-angled 3.5mm jack. A neat and sturdy carry case with a magnetic latch acts as mobile storage.
The design uses a “diamond-like” carbon dynamic driver and three balanced armatures inside a shaped aluminium chassis. Fit, meanwhile is good and the 1More earphones weigh in at 18.5g.
Firing up the 1More earphones, I noticed that they were slightly harder to drive than my reference earphones so more work was required by my DAC to reach a similar volume.
I began with Bob Marley singing I Shot The Sheriff at 24bit/96kHz via an Astell&Kern AK120 (Red Wine Audio modified) plus ATC HDA-P1 DAC. Before we get to the meat of this track, I wanted to talk about the important instruments that lurk around the edges of the soundstage. The ‘m-chakka-m-chakka’ guitar, piano and electric rhythm guitar hold the key in terms of layering and richness for this track. Get this bit right and you’re almost home.
I felt that the 1More had a relatively narrow soundstage but one that still illuminated the instruments. The 1More seemed to prefer to corral the left and right instruments into more of a homogenous grouping to present the music as a ‘whole’. The open and airy nature of the sound did provide an appreciable sense of reverb on that ‘m-chakka’ guitar, giving that instrument a slightly spaced out feeling. The piano, although slightly crowded with the associated instruments in its midst, still offered a sense of clarity and tonal realism that helped enrich the mix.
Onto the central part of the soundstage, Marley’s vocals were both clear and detailed with an exacting delivery that was relaxed and at ease while the dominant bass guitar and percussion offered a welcome focus. This accuracy enabled the track to move at a quicker pace, providing a foot-tapping rhythm to the music. Bass bloom here can mask a lot of important frequencies, the precision of the bass guitar helped to highlight more subtle noises such as the important Hammond organ.
I moved – as it where – down-market and played a MP3 file of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me through my iPhone 6S via the rather nice Cozoy Aegis DAC.
Of course, the issue with MP3 is the format itself because it strips most of the musical information away to fit into such a small space. Nevertheless, the 1MORE earphones managed to grab hold of the file and stretch it, like a concertina pulling outwards. By doing this, it illuminated a large amount of sounds and instruments which can be hidden by many other earphone designs. This factor plays well with the secondary percussion such as the fragile bells mid-way through the track. Effects such as these provided an enriching aspect to the music while the greater focus helped the backing vocals to remove the usual midrange smearing that can cause brightness during crescendos.
Finally, I attached the earphones to a Chord Mojo DAC and then onwards to my MacBook to play Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas at 24bit/96kHz via Audirvana+. Here, the 1More earphones showed their precision and focus in terms of the presentation of the Rollins sax. The sax was both clean but also ‘breathy’. You could tell that this instrument was being controlled by a human being and not a machine. The tiny changes in exhalation gave the play texture and emotion while the percussion backed the track with both impact and impressive transient speed. The piano, meanwhile, seemed to be always in control, never did it appear to be unwieldy or flailing.
If I could apply a label to the 1More earphones it would be neat and tidy. Music was always distinct and accurate and never wavered, never smeared or bloomed. That tonal discipline sometimes reigned in a touch of sonic freedom – heard by the squeezing of the soundstage but that aspect never really proved a major problem because the detail and midrange insight always allowed the ear to pick up subtle elements within the mix.
1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones
GOOD: accurate midrange, focus, characterful bass, transient speed.
BAD: narrow soundstage
Sennheiser IE 60
Astell&Kern AK120 [Red Wine Audio modified]
Chord Mojo DAC
Apple Camera adapter cable
Audirvana Plus music software
MacBook Pro computer
iPhone 6S phone
Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components