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…
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…
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.
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.