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I'd give it 150-200 hours of burn in before any critical listening IMHO, your mileage may vary
even with tubes, it would probably depend on the tubes that you have rolled. the angled pads which were great out of a DAP and DS DAC just didnt sound good ouf of my R2R gear and tubes.
Was about to write it off already TBH as i rarely listen out of solid state amps nowadays, but then a swap to the flat pads brought it back to a Clear-like balance. I still enjoy my Hifiman Arya more, but then it costs almost double the Quad ERA-1 retail. For the price, I think the Era-1 and Elex are finely matched as competitors. One has a decent travel case, the latter is slightly cheaper and has 2 cables which are slightly better.
Have listened to them.
1.) Comfort :
Strap does not disappear and could use more padding.
As a matter of fact, the strap is not as comfy as it appears it would be, and you constantly feel it on the top of your head.
It does not disappear once you start listening.
Fit is comfortable and does not clamp or squeeze.
The angled pads are more comfy and offer (obviously) a better seal.
Headphone are not as heavy as Audeze, and not as light as Sennheiser H6's.
Pristine, smooth, detailed, refined.
Sounds good right out of the box.
I dont find them "midrange forward" or "low mid bloated"..., i find them really well balanced, overall.
Is their treble response (right out of the box) going to play better with Tubes?
3.) Soundstage :
Its actually wider with the cloth pads, and narrows a bit with the Leather, but, ither way, wide soundstage.
4.) Presentation of instrument within the stereo field :
Very much a "speaker like" presentation that lets you "sit inside" the music.
You will hear things in your music collection that you have not noticed before.
This is a vocal lover's headphone that plays well with acoustic instruments.
5.) Freq Response :
Treble : Sparkling and pristine. Quite extended.
Mids : smooth, detailed, balanced.
Bass : Ample without being overcooked. Detailed. Good extension but definitely not a bass lover's dream.
What doe they sound like?
Tonally....= I think they sound a bit like Aeon Flow Closed, yet with more lush mids, more resolution, wider soundstage, and a better (bigger) bass response.
As compared to Audeze (in general and not including the Sine or EL8 series) ......: The Quads are not as dark sounding or as thick sounding in the lower register and the mids are more precise.
There is nothing (sound wise or build wise) about the Quad to dislike. It sounds very good, it wears without discomfort, and its an attractive set of headphone(s) tho its not a beautiful set of headphones.
Box and Case are Utilitarian blase and do not represent the quality of this product's sound.
The only thing i have noticed that could be an issue, is a slight "pinging" in my right headphone, a metallic "ping" sound as if something is clicking against the cup.
I'll investigate further...... and if its an issue, i'll return for another set.
I enjoyed you're initial review I've been eyeing these for the past month guess it's time to order a pair..
Glad you liked it.
Ive used them now, for about 10 hrs, off and on, then off, then on again.
Ive listened to quite a variety of music, ive made a couple of music vids today using them, and i have not changed my opinion of their sound, or of its quality.
If you are a sound designer, then these are a top choice, in my opinion.
These are very good headphones. No frequency annoys, or overrides.
These are the type (non fatiguing) headphones that immerse you in sound, and i find that i want to keep listening to them.
If you buy them, you will have the experience of playing them too loud, as they have this effect on you, .... you want to keep playing them a little louder.....
They really are a compliment to the Audeze X, as they offer a much different sonic experience, that is as good, but tonally so different.
Whomever designed the Quad ERA-1's sonic signature is a fan of Sennheiser, and has an exceptional ear regarding tuning the midrange.
Its a warm and detailed midrange and the reason many reviewers say its "up front" is because the Quad's overall sound is designed as a slight "U", but its not out of balance, regarding the low and high frequencies.
The best way i can describe it, at this point, is to say the warm and detailed mids are wide, yet compliment perfectly the far reaching trebles and, in my opinion, nearly perfect bass response,
I've yet to play a genre of music through these and had the experience of thinking....."well, if it had a little more".......
I've not felt or thought this all day long., but a few times i have thought....>"wow, these are some fine mids", as the designer really worked on their presentation in this set of headphones.
Music lives in the midrange frequency, and the designer of the Quad's absolutely believes this and designed the Quad's sound signature around the midrange frequency.......absolutely.
I will say that as the hours passed, the strap became less obvious on the top of my head and the non cloth pads didn't get more comfortable, they just stayed at about the 8/10 comfort level.
The non-cloth, as i said previously, are more comfortable.
Im going to post a video, and i hope noone here freaks out.
The reason im posting it, is because i want you to notice the bass response in this video, regarding how your headphones deal with it.
What you should hear is a deep and fairly powerful and very well recorded upright bass sound, that does not in any way over-power the acoustic guitars or the duel vocals.
This is an extremely clean and well recorded live song, and it should sound amazing in your headphones, even if you are not in love with this genre` of music.
If the Bass-frq is too much in your headphones, then your headphones are giving you too much bottom end.
The Quads do not...but they do give you a powerful bass sound when listening to this video song, tho its very balanced as it perfectly jells with the acoustic guitars and vocals.
Be sure to use the 1080p button.....
Thanks for the review!! From what you say, are they similar to the Focal Clears?
@FullBright1 glad that you took the plunge (as I suspected you would). I am equally glad that you are enjoying them. As I said, Quad voiced these quite well which should surprise nobody given their achievements with speakers.
I'm looking for something complementary to my AFO. I wonder if these would do.
I especially want something with a slightly leaner, accurate bass but with better mids and vocals-oriented headphones.
I think if you want a really lean bass and can stand closed cans, then the Aeon Flow Closed is a winner, as its bass is quite lean, and these headphones have a unique sound.
The low frq response found within the Quad...... i would describe as detailed and balanced as it plays along with the mids and highs.
Some bass lovers define bass response this way......."i can feel it".........Others would say, "i can hear how low it extends".
With the Quad, you do get nice low range extension, tho its not a sub ..... and you can feel it, but its not a bass lovers type of skull rattling that it offers.
The bass in the Quad does not dominate, it enlightens, similar to the mids....as they do not dominate, but they involve you and immerse you.
A really good midrange being produced by a set of headphones, will have just a touch of dryness, as this is what happens when you allow the mids to shine and avoid a "V" shaped sonic signature.
Too much dryness in the mids, is something like you find in the HiFimann HE400i.
The Quads don't have this type of overarching dryness within their mids, but they do have a touch of dryness.
I can understand why Tyll's replacement at "Inner Fidelity" would be so enamored with the Quad ERA-1......Its because they are designed to sound like Hi-fi speakers make you feel when you listen.
Is everyone going to love them?........No. Not everyone.... But anyone who has experience with true audiophile hi-fi stereo speakers and tuners and amps, will recognize just how good these sound, and that is why the new guy
at Inner-Fidelity loves them.
I wish that everyone who bought them, loved them, but, thats not going to happen, but those who do love them, will strap them on, begin listening, and love them instantly.
Burn in will just make it better, but these are good to go, according to my ears, right out of their cardboard box.
I put them on, and started grabbing CD's and smiling, and then i had to try to not turn them up so loud........
The most irrelevant headphone discussion is the one where listeners are discussing trying to find a set of headphones that..... "sounds just like the music sounds".....
There is no such thing, as a headphone is not able to reproduce photographic likeness regarding sound.
Look, if you took all the readers here, and put us all in a room with a band that is playing live music, and were able to magically evaluate everyone's ears as they are listening, then you'd find that even Ears don't hear the same, and so, these same ears are not going to hear a set of headphones just like the next person's ears. So, in that case, you have to evaluate the value of a headphone according to the number of people who love it, vs the number of people who voted....."meh".
For example, the Senn HD600...... We've all owned it, and for so many of us it was our gateway drug that led us into the world of audiophile headphone listening//obsession.
Most listeners really like it........most.
Every set of headphones has its own tonality...it's own sonic identity, its own "sound thumbprint".
A set of headphones are a sound transmission device, and they're going to sound the way THEY sound, and they are not going to sound exactly like any other model, even made by the same designer.
So, the best way to approach trying to find the best "sounding" headphone, is to notice if the sound it produces... immerses you within its sound and captivates you so that you nearly forget you are listening to headphones, or not.
The finest headphones captivate your hearing, and transform the music that you are listening to using them, into something that is almost magical, heartfelt, is surely wonderful, and at times can be an epiphany experience.
I never use floor standing speakers, unless im mastering music.
For me, the headphone listening experience is the gold standard for getting lost within the magic of music.
Im going there now..........talk to you later........
I A/B'd both Aeons when making up my mind which pair to buy and I didn't like the closed version's sound signature. It sounded somehow tinny to me. So I'm going to need something else.
This is why i said the Aeon C sound is "unique".
Its not for everyone.
Have you tried AKG K275s?
This one sounds much more expensive then it costs, and its closed.
But on the other hand, the Quad offers a very nice bass response.
Its is by no means, harsh, mushy, or lacking finesse, or small.
A bass lover would say...."well, they could use a little more", but the rest of us would not find that they do.
The way i think about how frq work in a headphone is pretty simple.
"Sound is a Trio"...it has a bass, a mid, and a treble.......so, when i think of the sound im hearing as a "trio", within a set of headphones.... i listen and judge..... are the 3 in BALANCE, or not.
If so, then i notice, resolution and soundstage and instrument separation, and extension on both ends, and all the rest ...
The Quad's sound offers a very "im in the middle of the music", type of listening experience.
You are inside them, NOT listening from the front row, or from the middle of the hall, but instead they put you are on the stage, in the middle of it all.
This is not a headphone that you want to decide to own, or not, by going to a headphone show or shop, and try to imagine you can hear it, over the din of voices, cars passing by, and such noise.
This is a headphone that needs a quiet place to provide you with its sonic magic.
They are not going to please every audiophile, and in fact, is it even possible for an Audiophiles to be completely satisfied?
If Audiofiles could
I think that audiophiles like me, dont necessarily live only for perfection in sound translation, but instead we understand and are connected to a certain absolute standard of fine quality in sound reproduction we need to hear, and if a set of headphones equals or surpasses the standard we use to judge their sound, then they become part of our collection, same as the others we love.
YES, there are sets of headphones that are "keepers", and i think that most listeners , 75%, would consider these to be in that family.
I normally use Audeze X's as my "go to", and the Quad's sound nothing like them.... They sound more open, less thick and full, have better mids, have equal or better resolution, and are not as heavy.
The X's offer a sound that is very fine, and the Quad's, in their own way, are every bit their equal.
Could you spend $6000 USD and get 3.5% better sound from some other brand of Headphones?
Yes., or you could live with that 3.5%, and own 20 other sets.
Thats what i do.
I like having many options that are all good.
Any comparisons to the hd600 or AFO? Im am i the process of selling a used AFO after a brief listening period that left me wanting more soundstage. Also wasn't the biggest fan of the dip in the upper mids/treble, felt like i lost some of the harmonics of the violin while listening, also piano sounded unnatural to me with the mid bass bump. I'm currently using the CTH/sdac but I'm waiting for the THX to come around again.
@FullBright1 your review got me wanting to hear the Quads (currently own Sennheiser 650 and Stax SR 407).
What in your opinion would be a suitable amplifier for the Quads ?
Thanks in advance
Very cool and desired early impressions. Much appreciated.
Anything with decent power.
No cell phones.
I feel that the Quad's scale up, nicely. = the best gear you have to push them with, the better they will sound.
One reviewer said they need a tube, but i think they work best without a tube, as they have a very rich sound and don't need to be warmed.
Ive been using a SS amp-dac (Grace M900) and a Rupert Neve HP-amp, and both of these sound very good thru a Quad.
Good headphones tend to sound good.....so, whatever you are using, is going to sound good, when you listen to them.
They are not basshead phones, and they are not going to pierce your eardrums with treble.
They offer a refined sound......very balanced.