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QUAD ERA-1 Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by FastAndClean, Apr 24, 2018.
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  1. Beagle
    Thanks. I thought it was obvious, but...
    I agree 100%. Hence my sarcasm.
    PaganDL, kid vic and Hifiearspeakers like this.
  2. FullBright1

    Sarcasm, used wisely, is a sudden means of inflicting enlightenment.
    And, another way to grasp truth, is to grasp this.:

    "truth and untruth went swimming..
    while truth's back was turned, untruth stole truth's clothes.
    Now.....untruth parades about as truth, while truth goes about as the naked truth. "

    So, today is Sunday, and im sitting here using my Mac, typing this to you, the reader..
    Headphones are on my ears, and yet, im not actually listening to anything thru them.
    Life is good.
    Quads are good.
    On we go.....:)

    PaganDL likes this.
  3. bagwell359
    Certainly large Maggie or ML speakers showed the break in quite obviously. Don't have much experience breaking in cans since my two best were used. I did break-in HD-600 and MD 4xx - and I can safely say changing them from SE to balanced was 5-10x more notable than any break in. Amusing how serious people are here. Negative ions... Bwhahaha . my idea of break is listen and when going out - fill up my back-up 5 disc CD changer with whatever CD's I reach first and then set on med-low volume, and leave. Repeat a few times.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
    Hifiearspeakers likes this.
  4. FullBright1
    Where is the chart or graph that proves that if you start with a horrible sounding headphone...(right out of the box), and you burn it in for 150-200 hrs, its going to sound great, better, acceptable.?
    More then likely, if you hate it at first, you will hate it for eternity, and if you think its "ok" or "pretty good", or "good" upon first listen, you will feel more inclined to like it more, as you wear it more.
    What we can prove, is that electronics change over time.
    But so does everything else according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, if we are considering headphones and listening to them as a "closed system".
    And whether they change for good or for bad, is based on what you think is happening that ither pleases you, or does not.
    "Burning in" is not them literally getting better, its just them changing into their next level of entropy, and maybe you will like them more once this happens.
    Roll the dice, as only time will tell.

    Can it be proven that electronics reach an end to this type of change?......their sonic ZENITH ???......i think not. I think that age and use created by time , is "burn in", and this never actually ends, anymore then you stop aging day by day until death removes your body from "life".
    Ive personally had quite a few headphones that sounded their best right out of the box, and lost clarity as they were burning in over time, and this is not "the honeymoon is over".....this is just a fact of my experience as i noted how they sounded different over time, as compared to other headphones that i used to compare them with......= when i first started listening to them that first week or 2.

    Its all fun.
    Lets do it more.
    I have AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbons arriving tomorrow.
    I can't wait to hear how a former $700 headphone that is reviled with gusto by the "everything needs more treble" fanatics, actually sounds to my Golden ears, now that its about $299 USD.
    Maybe i will feel, (after burn in......haha), that it needs more treble., or maybe i will agree with their designer that "trebleholics" are the devoted enemy of headphone review forums and online headphone reviews......:)
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
    PaganDL and trellus like this.
  5. dan3952
    I had told a senior person at The Source in Torrance, California (that is to say, the store that offers the largest listening area west of the Mississippi), that the Clears hadn't sounded any different after burning them in, and that they hadn't sounded strange right out of the box. They were supposed to become less harsh, and more balanced, but I don't know. They sound lively all the time. I don't if you really have to break them in at all. I had just played normal music on repeat all night and all day rather than pink noise. Even though I had been living in a hotel at the time, I was able to muffle the noise somehow while I was sleeping. Rafe at Inner Fidelity does a 150 to 200 hour break in on every product he receives, just to be safe. I don't blame him for doing that. I would if the situation was reversed.

    Boston's Greatest Hits, which I love (due to Tom Scholz and I both having been/being in the engineering profession), is highly processed, especially Higher Power, Don't Look Back, and Long Time. That band would overdub five or more guitars, and their songs have lots of brassy cymbal hits. For that disc, I prefer a dark headphone that is warmer and offers less detail, to a bright one that offers more detail, as the latter option would be quite fatiguing when listening to those tracks, and especially if you have a cold and detailed amplifier (and mine isn't warm, though I could still get my hands on a Cavelli Liquid Platinum). Kick drums and bass guitars in particular (anything below 150 to 200 Hz), seem to have less energy on an open back headphone (at least the one that I have), and really pound with the cheaper closed back. I might like something like the LCD-2C or the LCD-X with those tracks, that way I would get more detail than the Shures offer, without sounding shouty or brassy. Warmer too. Any Focal product I had ever tried, had sounded cold, speakers or headphones, and definitely not "tube like".

    I had replaced the Alcantara stock pads with Brainwavz sheepskin ones on the Shures, and I believe that the sound stage was improved in doing so (it goes to right in front of my eyes). I think this is mostly because the space between the driver and my ears had been increased, where they hadn't angled the driver like Focal does (and Focal sound stage is still not great). I also prefer the tonality when using sheepskin instead of the semi absorbing foam. The LCD-X has enormous leather ear pads, could improving the sound stage be the reason they had done that, making making the product heavier and more bulky? SRH1540 has a unique driver that isn't shared with any of their other models, and that is the only model I would recommend to anybody, especially since the Mylar driver in the SRH1840 has unacceptably high distortion in the mid bass.

    As for the Stellia, I refuse to pay $3000 for any set of headphones. It may very well be that they are better than the Clears (and for twice the price, they should be), but I don't care. It may very well be that they use the same driver as the Utopias, in which case offering that in a closed back isn't exactly a game changing move.
    trellus and Beagle like this.
  6. FullBright1
    I'm with ya.
    Im a Boston - band Fan.
    Tom S. is an incredibly talented thinker/designer and he created one of the best Pop- (kinda) Hard Rock albums, ever created (Boston), and basically created it as a one man band.
    His "Rockman", and all the various versions of it, is still used by discerning studios all over the world.
    The "chorus" sound he created inside his original Rockman, is still the gold standard....and of course his Distortion sound....... Its uniquely musical, yet very distorted...... I love it.
    He did such an amazing job of making the original "Boston" sound...sound so good, with many greats songs of course....but the sound of the original tapes was so good that Eliiot Scheiner a producer/mixer/engineer. (Think all the Eagles best songs)......got the Master from Tom before Boston had a record deal with EPIC, dialed it up, listened to it, and gave it right back and told Tom....."you dont need my help, its perfect"......and yes it is.
    I was happy when Tom decided to remaster 1&2 a few years ago, as HE did it with some help, instead of just giving the tapes to someone like Bob Ludwig and saying.....>"do what you do".
    Tom knows best how Boston Music should sound, and so, he made sure it sounded as good as HE could make is sound, and the re-master of the first one is one of my fav Albums.
    I would post a video from it here, so that the mods and a few other members can get upset that someone dared post music on a Headphone forum Thread, and not JUST on the music thread section. but i told one of the mods i would not do this....so, sorry, can't.
    However.....Its kinda like i told one of the Mods here in a pm, when i was banned a year ago. (when they still allowed me to pm with other members)......."so, music posted in a video.... on a thread that is talking about headphones that are designed to be used for listening to MUSIC, is not allowed, unless its the "music" thread, only?
    I have to admit that to me, this is about as unbelievable a rule as could ever be created for such a site as this..
    Just my opinion..

    Also, i have a Cavelli headphone amp, but its not the one you love....:)
    And yes Focals (that i own) tend to be, not exactly warm sounding headphones. I don't currently own the Clear's, nor have i heard them, but, im sure they'll be a part of my Head-Fi's bio's page, at some point in the next 20 months.

    I am a fan of the Audeze X's that you are speaking about. Yes, they are not light as a feather, but the weight is distributed well, and i actually like the way the feel on me..(stock pads).... Kinda like they hug your head.......is my opinion.
    I use them as my context to evaluate all other "new" headphones i buy, as they have enough of a contemporary sound as well as a classic sound and enough of a natural presentation..... to work as my context guide.
    Tho recently ive discovered that the Alara is also a good "context guide" for evaluation purposes, as its quite a natural sounding headphone, with some contemporary tone tuned into its sonic signature.
    Tho, in general, i try to only listen to a "new" headphone purchase all by itself for a while, days, so that i can allow the gear to become how i hear music.
    It takes a little time......, and at some point after im use to how it sounds, i'll then go to the LCD-Xs and then i know for certain what is going on....
    I will say that the Ananda's, tone wise, sound wise, delivery of sound wise, soundstage wise.....are so diff from the LCD-Xs, that its been a new experience to try to access them..... Fun :)
    The Quads are easy to access using the LCD-Xs, as in both cases, they sound similar in many regards, ....sort of "of the same family of sound", tho the Quads are more mid plentiful and don't extend their Trebles/Bass as far into the heights/heights, as do the "X's.
    Nor do they need to, as the Quad has its own thing going on, and does it well.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
    PaganDL and shultzee like this.
  7. dan3952
    I found out Tom Scholz lives in Toledo, Ohio: not the most glamorous location. That's just like him: publicity shy. I found out he had recently returned to the Watertown home where Boston had started out of the basement, 42 years ago. I had just done some reading about the Rockman amp, and its significance. Like him, I enjoy taking components apart, and doing things to modify the sound (but with my full size system, and not the headphone one). It may sound silly, but I try to buy equipment that comes in a big case, figuring those probably contain fewer surface mount components inside (which are harder for someone with average fingertip dexterity to modify). The Boston distortion sound comes through, well, loud and "clear" on my current open back cans: it's very detailed, and reproduced accurately, but it can be a bit fatiguing to listen to given that headphone's signature sound, and I tend to turn it down a bit when the loud parts come on. Shimmering cymbals can be a bit much as well if that track had been mastered loud. This is why enthusiasts tend to own more than one pair: few cans sound good with every type of music. It doesn't surprise me that Tom had insisted on remastering himself; to have given that job to somebody else at that point, would have been pretty silly. I need to get those remasters, they aren't available on Tidal, and the Greatest Hits compilation had come out in 1997.

    I do feel that this talk about music is on topic in that Boston's material would be a good hard rock test for any pair of headphones, as it's mastered so well.

    I don't think I will be getting a tube amp or hybrid just yet, I think it would be a better move to get a set of planars that sound warmer than the open backs that I have now first, then compare the headphones that I have. Only after that can I truly determine my amplifier needs. If the new cans turn out to be warmer than expected, but with less detail, I will probably keep using the cold and detailed solid state amp that I have with them, and not sell it. It's quite possible that tubes do things to the sound that I don't yet understand, and won't until I get one (also, I don't understand what happens when you roll them, how the sound changes). I am expecting a warmer signature, slightly less detail, and higher (but pleasing even order) distortion. Distortion of the headphone rig I have now, is definitely lower than that of my home system, and I'm still learning new things about my music collection because of that. Don't yet understand what spending more than double on another solid state amp will get me, either (I would probably be looking at Questyle or Violectric).

    I find that Focal's Clears offer more detail than most, and a "lively", in-your-face presentation. Some "darker" sounding headphones probably offer the same level of detail, but it had gone unnoticed because people thought "there's a hole in the midrange" (like when I tried the LCD-2), and hadn't listened any further. With the Clears, their resolution is high enough, that when listening to music that I know well, I am constantly hearing supporting, quiet instrument and voice tracks that I didn't know were there (and I couldn't hear those with my $1600 tower speakers either). Clears have an average sound stage (there's cheaper cans that have a larger one). Bass guitars and kick drums don't have the same authority that I get with my cheaper closed backs on some songs (that is to say, I tolerate less detail, and a darker signature). Fans of bass heavy techno music, probably should go with the Elegia or Elex. I hadn't gotten much out of using Clears with the small amount of techno and hip-hop that I own, and I tend to appreciate their high resolution more with music that isn't highly electronic or processed (Boston being one of the exceptions, their guitars still sound like guitars, with all the processing they had done). The Shures have a warmer signature that is pleasing with some instruments (but they don't make anything that sells for over $500). Not sure how they would compare with the AFC (and now I can't). The place that had sold me my (also warm) Quad 606 power amplifier had scoffed at me about the Shures, and I had explained to them that those are more fun than the polite Sennheisers with their weak bass, and three blob sound stage, at that price point, especially for rock music. They had told me that the HiFiMan Arya might not be distributed in Canada because its distributor is questioning its build quality.

    My next headphone will probably be one of the Quad ERA-1, Audeze LCD-X, HiFiMan Arya, or HiFiMan 6SE, and I will be reading more about those in coming months (after all, I may not be able to listen to all of them in person, and it's a nuisance to return or resell unnecessarily). Rafe Arnott had been taking care of a new addition to his family, so he hadn't been able to post any new reviews for a while (may have to look elsewhere). What you have described about the ERA-1 (which I had given about fifteen minutes of attention to, not enough), sounds like the Quad house sound, which they had no doubt carefully engineered (mid range has emphasis, signature a bit warm, ending up with something that is a good value that the working class can afford). I don't see how you could go wrong with the Alara at its current price point, I just don't need to be carrying all that gear around in my current situation. My memory is, the LCD-X didn't sound as lively as the Clears, but had more... what's the word I'm looking for.. "texture" as well as quantity in the mid bass, and a better sound stage. There's starting to be more reviews comparing and contrasting the three HiFiMan models in question. I probably own Audeze and HiFiMan at the same time, it will have to be one or the other.
  8. sithlord_1968

    I have been following your Headphone commentary for some time. I really enjoy and respect your headphone analysis. I'm hoping to you can provide some insight into my next steps since my Quad journey has been very frustrating.

    Let me explain. I have a McIntosh MHA100 which I love dearly. The MHA100 took my HD6XX's to a whole nother level. They really shine on this amp. I also have a set of HD700's that sound good, but for anything, other than jazz, classical or simple vocals are harsh in the treble region. I don't like fatiguing treble at all. I read good things on the ERA-1's and enjoy the Senn Sound so decided to give them a try. I ordered a pair from an online vendor and fell in love with them for about 3 weeks. Any percussion or stringed instrument had a realism I didn't think was possible with headphones. It had sharper highs than 6XX but was never fatiguing. I can go hours with the Quads and they still sound like I just put them on, LOVE THEM. The midrange is magic and the lows and highs are great too although I'm not noticing much more 3D depth or width than the 6XX's. I was in audio nirvana.......then the right planar went out, out of the blue, no sound. I eventually got it back working (not sure how) and wrote to Quad who said it may go out again and to send it back to the online vendor since I was under the 60-day window. The 2nd pair came and had the same problem right out of the box. Sent them back and the 3rd pair had the same problem right out of the box but in the left ear. At this point, I'm thinking the online vendor got a bad batch so I sent them back this week for a full refund.

    So I ordered a set of ERA-1's from another vendor on Thursday and got them in today hoping for a good pair. I went with an open box special since it was $200 cheaper, wouldn't be older than 60 days and they assured me they would be tested and checked by their technical department. So they came in today, both ears working perfectly with no loose connections, Great. But something was off. Music that I listen to regularly had the center of the soundstage shifted slightly toward the Left, off center. Vocals were not originating dead center for tracks that I know they should. It kinda became maddening as I couldn't un-hear it. I switched the left and right headphone connections on the cable and everything was still shifted to the Left. If it was the cable, source material or amp it would have swapped to the Right. My MHA100 allows me to adjust the balance in 1dB increments. The Quads had to be increased +4dB to the Right to sound correctly centered.

    So I've been VERY UNLUCKY I guess. These are going back too. I just really like the sound but the quality is becoming a concern. BTW the first pair I had, had the same clicking noise you described at one time.

    I'm 51 and my listening taste have shifted from finding hidden detail to preferring Musical almost analog sound. That's why I love the McIntosh, HD6XX, and Quad sound.

    I'm wondering if you could make any recommendation for an alternate HP if I decide to finally give up on Quad or should I give it one more shot? Also, have you heard if they are coming out with an updated version for the Quad so that maybe I should wait?

    I really appreciate any advice, direction or suggestions you might have and really enjoy your informative postings. Thanks

  9. bagwell359
    You seem to be holding up against this difficult triple whammy. I haven't heard the Quad yet. If you want closed you could look at used MrSpeakers Ether Closed.. Open - used HFM HEX V2, and many more, try to get them home on your Mac.
  10. FullBright1
    Hello, SL1968

    Thank you for all your information.
    Im sorry to hear that you've been on such a frustrating trip, ...lots of trials and tribulations... regarding trying to get a set of Quad's that function correctly.
    I recall that when the Hifiman Sundara's first hit the ground running, many of them had QC issues.
    Mine did.
    So......perhaps you just ran into a small run of "QC" issues regarding the Quads..
    Well, if you really love them, be sure to buy from a vendor that allows at least a "30-day" return, tho you are already aware of this.....im sure. (if you decide to own them again).
    I can tell you that if you love the Quad's sound and wanted to try something that is similar, then the Alara is similar, regarding its sound signature.
    Where i notice the most difference is in the soundstage, as the Quad has a wider SS, and the Alara has more of an "in your head" sound experience, but, they have a similar sound.
    The Quads perhaps have a tiny edge in Treble response and the Alara has a slight edge in midrange punch, but, all this could be attributed to how the soundstage perspective lands in your ears.
    Recently, and also, i reviewed this inexpensive set of closed headphones made by Cooler Master, and you would like them., if you like the Quads.
    I learned about them from Z-Reviews, who loves/praises them, so, i tried them and they are impressive, especially when considering their cost/value ratio.
    They are comfortable, they sound good, and they are inexpensive.....so, what's not to like, unless you need "bass slam" or "8kHz treble glare".... and in that case, these won't take you there.
    So, whatever you decide, enjoy your journey and may your next set of headphones make you smile and keep you smiling......:)
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
    PaganDL likes this.
  11. fericske
    Hey :)
    Which model is that of CM?
  12. FullBright1
  13. DarKu
    Hey guys,
    Just stumbled upon this thread.
    I just posted my written and video review for my Quad Era-1.
    Well, so far, I am blown away by ERA-1! I enjoy them more than anything I had in the past, including my former Audeze LCD-4! Such slam, speed and articulation.. at 700 Euros how this is even possible?
    I am shocked only few of us know about this little gem of the headphone world.
    I balanced amp is coming my way (my balanced 4pin cable is already here), curious to know how they will scale with a higher quality amplification, will let you know.
    trellus, Laurenesi and Camper1995 like this.
  14. FullBright1
    The Quad is a really nice gear and you'll enjoy how it scales.
    PaganDL likes this.
  15. Laurenesi
    Thanks for sharing! Although the headphones is released for about 9 months, there are not that many reviews online yet.

    One question though. Does anyone know if the Quads are in fact a duplicate of the Yogoda JPM-101? Or have these headphones totally been designed and manufactured by Quad?
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