1MORE has impressed with its range of headphones and in-ear devices that aim to make audiophile (or at least, audiophile adjacent) equipment a little more affordable. That of course, doesn’t mean cheap. 1MORE uses quality components and exceptional design to deliver superlative audio gear for a discerning listener who can’t afford the top-shelf stuff, or audiophiles who want something they can lug about with them without having to worry about increased personal insurance premiums.
They most ably demonstrated that with their famous triple-driver in-ears, which still stand as one of the best value high-end in-ears available. If you’re looking for bang-for-your-buck audio, there’s little that can touch them. Built on the premise of their namesake, I guess, comes the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear, because more is (sometimes) better.
From the moment you open the packaging, you know that you’ve got a quality product. Packaging isn’t really important, but as a portent of what’s to come, it does show that 1MORE has an eye for detail. When you’re paying a fair bit of coin, having it come in luxurious packaging helps allay buyer’s remorse. There’s the eye-catching blueprint inner design that’s reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci sketches, and the actual contents behind a plastic window, showing the earphones, the hard leather case, the included 6.5mm Stereo adapter, a shirt clip, a flight adapter and a selection of tips to help you find the perfect fit; 5 pairs of silicon ones and 3 pairs of foam ones. Don’t lose these though! Because the earpieces have a large bore, these are custom tips.
The earpieces’ large bore isn’t the only big thing about them. Milled from aluminium, they’re pretty large and somewhat heavy to accommodate the four drivers. Despite that, I managed to get a really comfortable fit, and thanks to the angle they enter the ears at, they don’t weigh the down much, if at all. The cable, though not removable, is one of the nicer ones I’ve used on a headset. It’s protected by metal at all terminal points, and the cable is sheathed in a heavy-duty Kevlar-coated core that makes it unlikely to break through normal use, and also resistant to tangling. There’s also an all-metal standard three-button control down the right cable that works on both Android and iOS devices, allowing for volume control and track changes.
1MORE’s Quad Drivers contain three balanced armatures and one “diamond-like” carbon driver. Balanced armatures work by pulsing an electronic signal through a reed-like bit of metal that’s surrounded by a stationary coil and balanced between a pair of magnets. As the signal passes through the coil, it changes the magnetism of the reed, moving it in the direction of one magnet or the other. This movement drives a diaphragm, which creates sound in a way that similar (but not exactly like) a reed-based wind instrument. Different balanced armatures produce sounds at different frequencies, with the net result being that you end up with a cleaner, clearer sound than you would with a single dynamic driver. It’s actually an astoundingly old technology, but thanks to science, earphone manufacturers have managed to shrink them down – and in this instance, there are three such drivers, along with a regular driver in each of the 1MORE Quad Drivers earpieces.
Importantly, it all comes together to provide a set of in-ears that deliver superlative sound. It’s a little more neutral and balanced than the triple-drivers, though there’s still a slight emphasis on bass and sub-bass. It’s there enough to be textured and noticeable, but not enough to detract. It means the bass has an impact, but it doesn’t muddy anything else. The highs are extended and have a fair bit of sparkle, but not enough to cause listening fatigue; this is a set you can listen with for hours. The absolute star here though is in the mid-range. The mids are slightly warm – somehow smooth and crisp, natural and consistent. Female vocals, strings and other elements that exist in this spectrum have an incredible amount of layering and separation that you’d usually only get in sets multiple times the price.
On top of that, there’s an incredibly wide soundstage that’s spacious and immersive, and something I’d not expect from in-ears at all. It’s dark, giving the effect of being in the middle of an audience as opposed to being right at the front, and it’s actually…well, it’s wonderful. It’s about the closest I’ve come to the experience of open-backed over-ears with an in-ear, making the 1MORE Quad driver a remarkable earphone. They’re also THX-certified, and while that’s almost a meaningless designation, they’re the first in-ears to get that certification.
If I have any complaint at all about the Quad Driver it’s that the Triple driver exists. While the Quad offers undeniably better audio quality, for most people the price difference between it and the cheaper set – about R1000 difference at retail – means that whatever benefits the Quad drive has are moot, when that set is so good. If you can afford the premium and want one of the best in-ears in its class (and frankly, several classes higher) then sure, it’s worth the R2899 retail price. For most, the R1699 Triple Drivers will be more than good enough.
Last Updated: December 5, 2019