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1MORE Quad Driver IEM – Review

1MORE burst into the audiophile public consciousness just a short time ago with the release of perhaps one of the best pair of $99 IEMs to ever hit the market. For those keen to the subject of $99 headphones, the heavily populated land at the pivotal pricepoint is an area of constant fluctuations in quality and therefore some attentive scrutiny as well. While $99 is still a lot of money for many items of the everyday, in audiophile terms it is really the minimal investment to enter the hobby of high fidelity listening. 1MORE brought together hammer and nail head with the introduction of the appropriately named Triple Driver, including a hybrid incorporation of 2 balanced armature drivers alongside on dynamic driver, all for 99 units of monetary value. The subject of today’s scrutiny is the newest addition to the company’s in-ear lineup (they also currently sell a pair of over-ears as well) is the also-appropriately-named Quad Driver that is currently available for purchase for $199 USD.

Similar to the Triple, the Quad actually designates both bass and mid duties to the dynamic driver, with BA opportunities reserved for varying frequencies within the highs. The number of balanced armature drivers for the Triple is two, and in the case of the Quad, one additional driver has been added for “ultra high frequencies”. According to the company site, the dynamic driver is coated with a “diamond-like carbon film layer”.

Even with all the sonic technicalities at the top of mind, one of the stand out features for both headphones is the ergonomic, simple design of the unit. It is extremely comfortable to wear (in a somewhat uncomfortable headphone catagory), due in part to the well distributed weight and the way it rests on the ear. The smaller size with a 90 angle overhang for the cable attachment allows for less pressure against the ear canal and increased stability during movement. The current design does not allow for removable cables, but the Quad cable does deviate from the Triple – opting for a more transparent smooth jacket for the wire in place of a braided nylon cable. Either will suffice, but the Quad does carry a little more audiophile air about it with the updated appendage. An inline remote helps for listening control on the go for both Android and iDevice products. The actual housing for the drivers is a little larger and a little more jet-engine-inspired this time around, but fit well in the ear with only slight exterior changes from the Triple. All-in-all the Quad does feel like a small step up in terms of construct and design, and probably much more than what one would expect from an entry-level IEM.

While talking about the importance of a good ear seal and IEMs, it may feel like slightly redundant subject if you keep tabs on all of our IEM reviews. That’s because if you care about proper sound quality from the likes of these types of products, you will see that it is a comment that bares repeating, and so we will reiterate once again. Sean Olive and our good friends at Harman have even gone so far to accurately measure the impact of a bad seal for IEMs exactly like the Quad and have reported drops in bass from 20-30 dB. The good news is that both of 1MORE’s hybrids come fully equipped with many sizes of both foam and silicone tips to help elevate any issues that could otherwise impede a listener’s enjoyment. The included accessories are again very generous with the Quad, including a fairly slick leather carrying case, adapter and cable clip among others.

Once a proper seal is had, critical listening revealed a slight tightening of the bass over the Triple Driver, with a little less bloom and a little more refinement. The walking bassline across A Lovely Night from the La La Land soundtrack struck outward with more control and a decisive separation from the mids which led to even more total appeal to the already value-packed operation of 1MORE’s leading men. And while there are IEMs with even tighter bass on the market, none of them compete at a cost even remotely close to the Quad. In an even more rewarding move, the mids appeared to have gained a slight bump in realism and tonal fulfillment. This increased thickness in the mids comes across with a very clean, robust output, and is a very nice progression for the increased cost of the new budget flagship. Collectively the IEM retains good to great detail retrieval for the price, much on par with the overachieving Triple in this department. The treble strikes a very nice balance with the rest of the elements at play, providing plenty of reach without any screech. Its never too forward, which is an error that many lesser IEMs in this price category often fall prey to in an effort to conjure up the illusion of more resolution. The Quad plays nice across the entire range, with a slight bump over neutral in the low-end frequencies with a very closed off seal. This will vary slightly depending on the listeners choice of tip and other factors, but even the bouncy elevation shouldn’t prove overbearing to anyone familiar with these type of sonic executions.

So where does that leave us with the 1MORE’s Quad? For those looking to spend $99 on a pair of IEMs, our recommendation is still the Triple Driver. Its high performance and sonic retrieval meets our lofty expectations for an IEM, and does it all for under a Benjamin. The Quad throws a slight wrinkle into the equation. It keeps almost everything that makes the Triple great, but adds a little more presence to the mids and control to the lows, both improvements over the original. But it does so at double the cost. At $200 the overall impact could still easily be considered entry level pricing, a matter of rounding or something that can be easily managed by cooking for yourself for a few dinners. The equation to one’s ears is easily a improvement, and an experience that you likely get to rehash on many occasions during the morning commute or daily workout. I found myself reaching for the Quad given the opportunity, so first-time 1MORE owners may want to give the new guy a gander. For current Triple owners with the fever for upgrades the question is more nuanced, but the improvement is noticeable on a tangible level.

With both budget products in the field, 1MORE is really causing a disruptive state by bringing more definition, ergonomics and value pricing to the game that in recent years could really use the help. With high price propositions setting the bar for quality, its not only refreshing to see more of the magic hifi juice pulled down into the budget realm, but feels almost long overdue. With the value proposition question easily answered, the only remaining query left to ask is will 1MORE call their 6 driver IEM the “SEX”? Only time will tell.

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