Truly wireless earphones might be a trend to look out for in premium audio going forward, but a good pair of wired earphones still has its appeal among purists. Wires still ensure the best transmission of audio between the source device and headphones or earphones, and audiophiles swear by a good pair, turning their noses at the lossy nature of Bluetooth.
While the type or number of drivers in a good pair of earphones doesn't necessarily define how good it is, it does set the bar for what to expect. We've heard of headphones with two drivers or three drivers in each earpiece, but the Rs. 13,499 1More Quad Driver earphones are a unique option that have, as the name suggests, four drivers each. Does more necessarily mean better, or will too many drivers make things messy? Find out in our review of the 1More Quad Driver in-ear monitors.
While it might be difficult for a lot of people to wrap their heads around a simple pair of wired earphones costing this much money, the 1More Quad Driver does its bit to appear convincing to those who do understand its appeal. The earphones are built beautifully, with metal casings designed like jet engines. Parts of the casings have red accents, which add to their good looks.
The canal pipes on the earphones are significantly larger than on most others we've reviewed recently, and are angled at 45 degrees from the main ear casings, which, 1More claims, improves fit and comfort. We found that the earphones fit us well when used with the included silicone ear tips, and we were able to use them for hours at a time without any discomfort.
The build quality extends beyond the earbuds, with the in-line remote and microphone module, Y-splitter, and 3.5mm plug feeling just as good. The cable has a twisted texture that helps prevent tangling, and although there is a bit of cable noise above the Y-splitter, the part below it doesn't have any such issues.
The 1More Quad Driver gets its name from the number of drivers in each earpiece There are three balanced armature drivers handling different parts of the high and mid ranges, along with a single graphene dynamic driver that handles the lows. The earphones are also THX certified, and have had their sound tuned by Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi.
The earphones come in an excellent sales package that offers much more than just an attractive box and presentation. You get a total of nine pairs of ear tips of different sizes, including three foam pairs. While we typically prefer foam ear tips, the ones that come with the 1More Quad Driver didn't give us a very secure and noise-isolating fit; we preferred the silicone ear tips with these earphones.
You also get a carry case, an airplane adapter, a shirt clip for the cable, and a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter to use the earphones with high-end audio equipment. The earphones have a frequency response range of 20-40,000Hz, an impedance rating of 32 Ohms, and a sensitivity rating of 99dB.
With its four drivers, the 1More Quad Driver earphones are unmistakably focused on audio quality. We used a Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Review) and a MacBook Air as the primary source devices when testing these earphones, and listened to a variety of tracks on Spotify and Apple Music as well as our own high-resolution audio files.
The first thing we noticed about the 1More Quad Driver is just how loud it can be. Even at moderate volume levels, the sound is loud, immersive, and balanced. Turning the volume up to the maximum level doesn't negatively impact sound quality at all; the four drivers hold their own even at the highest levels. This is the biggest advantage of having multiple drivers, since none of them have to strain to the point that distortion becomes audible.
Another advantage of the multi-driver setup is in the instrument separation and soundstage. The 1More Quad Driver delivered an open, wide sound which is impressive considering the size of the in-ear monitors. We enjoyed the interplay of the various instruments and elements of the track The Music by Marcus Marr. Everything from the lively beat to the synthesised guitar riffs in the track sounded present, distinct, and sharp, with a strong sense of direction felt from each individual element.
We were expecting a neutral sonic signature, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a bit of flavour to the sound. The dynamic driver does a decent job with its focus on the low end, while the balanced armature drivers keep things clean and defined in the mid-range and highs. Since different drivers handle different elements, we never felt like any part of the frequency range overpowered another.
Listening to Dave Brubeck's jazz classic Take Five, we loved the way the drum segments had their own distinct thump and power, even as the gentle beat and smooth saxophone elements held their own. It's an interesting approach to sonic neutrality that helps retain some of the punch, drive, and sparkle of the sound. Further, the track's arrangement and directional tuning got a whole new sense of purpose and fervour when heard through the 1More Quad Driver.
Switching to high-resolution audio tracks, we started with Life On The Nickel by Foster The People. This fast-paced track wasn't let down by the 1More Quad Driver, which was able to keep up with the aggressive beat and emphasised low-end. Despite the strong beat, vocals sounded clean and distinct. We did occasionally find the low-end dynamic driver pushing a bit harder than the balanced armature drivers, but this was only noticeable at very high volumes.
Even with the slower and more laid-back Riders On The Storm by The Doors, the Quad Driver was sharp, and we felt a definite difference in sound quality between a compressed streamed version of this track and a high-resolution audio file. The earphones definitely have what it takes to bring out the best in good audio, and an edge in the sound was felt when we used good equipment with high-resolution or uncompressed tracks.
The 1More Quad Driver does have a microphone that lets you use it as a hands-free device for voice calls, giving it a little more flexibility than typical pairs of audiophile-focused in-ear monitors. The mic works decently enough and we didn't have any complaints with sound quality on calls.
The 1More Quad Driver is, undoubtedly, an excellent pair of in-ear monitors. It's all about the sound quality, offering the benefits of a multi-driver setup and working wonders with decent equipment and tracks. It's built well, and also has a microphone for practical use when out and about. There isn't much to complain about here, except for the price.
At Rs. 13,499, the 1More Quad Driver is an expensive pair of earphones. This price means it has barely any appeal to non-audiophile users. The 1More Triple Driver is available now for a much more affordable Rs. 7,349 and also offers the benefits of balanced armature drivers in a multi-driver setup. However, the Quad Driver model does take things a step higher, and if you're willing to pay the premium, the improvement in sound quality will be worth it for you.
Price (MRP): Rs. 13,499
Ratings (out of 5)
Which are the best budget Bluetooth earphones and headphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.