Hands On: 1More Quadruple-Driver In-Ear Monitors

1More is a company that seeks to bring great-sounding headphones to the masses at affordable prices. The company made its name with its category-leading $99 triple-driver in-ear model, which I reviewed here. Now the company offers a $199 quadruple-driver in-ear monitor that promises even greater performance.

The quadruple-driver in-ear features a diamond-like carbon dynamic driver (essentially a mini-woofer) for clear and deep bass reproduction, as well as three balanced-armature drivers for enhanced midrange and treble clarity. This is a driver combination that typically costs much more, but 1More’s business model is built on the premise of creating headphones that outperform competing models at a given price point. So, did it work?

First off, 1More’s triple-driver model is hard to beat from a pure price/performance perspective. They are truly hard to criticize and set such a high bar that inevitably the law of diminishing returns will be in full effect if you go shopping for something better. Nevertheless, paying double does earn you audible dividends.

Specifications

If you love bass, these are headphones that are sure to please. The inclusion of the diamond-like carbon dynamic driver for the lowest notes means it almost sounds as if there’s a tight, well-tuned subwoofer in the IEM. 1More specs the frequency response of these headphones at 20 Hertz to 40,000 Hertz.

The rest of the frequency spectrum is split between three balanced-armature drivers—two for mids and highs, plus one for ultra-high frequencies. The sound of the four drivers working together creates a listening experience that is quite sublime, especially for headphones that work with a phone.

These are not the most sensitive IEMs on the block, they are fairly average in that regard with a 99 dB at 1mW rating. Peak power is rated at 5 mW, which is a bit low. But with a peak output of 107 dB, there’s enough headroom to satisfy folks who like their music loud, just please be careful of your hearing.

Impedance is 32 ohms, making these IEMs amplifier and cell-phone friendly. The eight is 18.5 grams, the durable (but permanently attached) cable measures 1.25 meters and includes an in-line microphone as well as remote control for portable devices.

As with the triple-driver model, these 1Mores come with a wide selection of eartips, both silicon and foam. Also, the buds themselves are made of aluminum, for light weight and durability.

Performance

Here’s the review in a nutshell: With 1More’s quadruple-driver IEMS, all you need to do is turn up the volume on some crisp, well recorded music that’s playing on your tablet or phone. You’ll swear you’re listening to an expensive stereo system.

A more nuanced take on my impressions is that the quadruple-driver offers an incremental improvement over the triple-driver model, but not enough for a budget-minded buyer to justify double the spend. However, if you have an appreciation for high-fidelity portable audio, the extra bit of definition these deliver is likely worth the extra scratch.

When it comes to specific, familiar tracks, when I play Jon Kennedy’s “Rock the Beat” from the album Corporeal, I can’t help but think how great it sounds, and how crisply Mr. Kennedy’s well recorded drums come through. The whole album is an aural treat through these IEMs, lots of textures uncovered that you might miss if you use mediocre cans.

It’s probably worth emphasizing that these headphones have strong bass. To my taste, it’s not excessive. But make no mistake, it is strong. If you dig modern electronic music, you’ll likely find the balance just right for dubstep and hip hop and other genres that dig deep. It also complements material like live jazz, classical music, and soundtracks by adding a sense of grandeur to the proceedings.

Regarding bass extension, it’s worth noting that I checked it by playing sine waves and found that the 20 Hz spec is reasonable, but in reality strong bass comes from higher frequencies, namely 30 Hz and above. But in the grand scheme of headphones specs, 1More stays away from the obvious exaggeration you see with some other brands/models.

There are other headphones out there that do ultra-deep bass better, which is worth keeping in mind if you get excited about hearing 16 Hz notes; these can’t quite pull it off.

Thanks to the four-way design, there are no obvious holes in the 1More quad-driver’s response. Midrange is present and clear, meanwhile the highs are detailed and when need be… delicate.

Durability is an important factor when it comes to IEMs. I’ve had the quad-drivers for a few months and done them no favors in terms of handling, although I have managed to avoid putting ’em through the wash. Overall, the construction quality appears to be very high and there’s no sense that they will break just because of a bit of rough handling.

Conclusion

As long as any given pair of headphones is comfortable and can make it through that playlist without stumbling while playing at high (but not dangerous) output levels, I’m generally willing to recommend it. In this instance, 1More’s quad-driver IEMs quadruple-driver IEM’s earn an AVS Forum Recommended 2017 nod for great performance, overall good design, and durability.

With the quad-driver IEMs, 1More has another success on its hands. While perhaps the value proposition is not as extreme as with the triple-driver model, it’s still exceptional in a world that’s awash with mediocre headphones at that price point.