Posted on Wed, 20 Jun, 2018
Posted by Bob

Quad ERA-1 planar headphones represent an ESL Electrostatic inspired headphone debut from one of the world’s oldest Hi-Fi manufacturers.

Quad: one of the truly legendary brands in Hi-Fi, and a brand which has been at the forefront of Hi-Fi development since the term “Hi-Fi” entered the lexicon. Astonishingly, in its long and illustrious history, Quad has never released a pair of headphones; that, however, is about to change.

After several decades wait, Quad is finally poised to release the ERA-1 planar magnetic headphones…

Quad ERA-1 landscape

Quad ERA-1

So, what do we know about the Quad ERA-1? Information so far is scarce, but we’ve managed to get hold of pre-release information, ahead of the ERA-1 launch in July 2018. What seems certain, is that this will be an authentic Quad product in every way, and one that upholds the Quad Legacy.

Quad has a historic legacy of producing outstanding transducers in the form of their legendary ESL series electrostatic loudspeakers; a range of loudspeakers which are often credited with ushering in a new era of transparency and audio fidelity. It begs the question as to why it’s taken Quad so long to branch out into headphones!

The Quad ERA-1 headphones utilise the magnetic planar principle of operation, in itself, very similar to the famous ESL electrostatics in operational principle. The key difference between a planar and electrostatic transducer, being that planar transducers utilise a permanent magnet, rather than a high voltage charge.

What a Planar and an Electrostatic transducer both have in common, however, is an extremely light, low-mass diaphragm. It’s this low mass which allows these transducer types to deliver unrivalled levels of transient response and transparency. It’s fair to say then, that the Quad ERA-1 headphones promise to be something quite special indeed…

Exemplary Design

The Quad ERA-1 headphones immediately scream their origins as a Quad product; an industrial influenced aesthetic of slate grey metallic grilles contrasting against black fittings, give these headphones a timeless, family look. Materials choice is premium, with a choice of both genuine sheepskin and synthetic leather earpads included.

An intimately enjoyed piece of Hi-Fi, a good pair of headphones needs to be comfortable for long periods of listening; even the best sounding headphones will soon become tiresome if they are uncomfortable to wear. Quad have ensured that the ERA-1 headphones are lightweight and comfortable in use, for extended periods of listening.

You’ll almost certainly want to enjoy long listening sessions with the ERA-1’s however, once again down to that beautifully designed planar driver. Ultra-thin, in fact, thinner than a human hair, it is also extremely strong and highly elastic, and weighs less than the air it displaces.

Quad ERA-1 transducer

Versatile and Adaptable

An Achilles heel of many planar headphone designs has been that they exhibit poor sensitivity; typically they’ve required a dedicated headphone amplifier to get the best out of them, which in turn largely precludes their use with mobile devices. Not so with the Quad ERA-1!

The Quad ERA-1 headphones combine a very high sensitivity (108db) with low impedance enabling them to perform well with a wide range of audio devices. Couple them with your favourite high-res portable music players to enjoy audiophile quality audio on-the-go, for example.

Naturally, a high-quality headphone amp will make the ERA-1 sing, with Quad’s valve-based PA-One headphone amp/DAC representing a natural and superb match for the ERA-1.

If you’re in the market for true-audiophile headphones, with pedigree, performance and affordable pricing, then the Quad ERA-1 magnetic planar headphones are highly deserving of investigation.

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