The closest approach to the original sound - these words have formed the cornerstone of Quad's philosophy for many decades. More than just a slogan, it underlies the company's commitment to producing the finest audio equipment, capable of reproducing all the elements and emotion of a live musical performance. Quad has been responsible for many landmark hi-fi products throughout its history, none more famous than successive generations of the ESL - the world's most revered electrostatic panel loudspeaker, a technology invented by Quad's founder, Peter Walker. To create the ERA-1 - the company's first-ever headphones - Quad developed a planar magnetic driver delivering a fast, open and transparent performance. The resulting sonic realism and fidelity to the source is fully in keeping with the brand's heritage, displaying qualities akin to the famous ESLs.
Most headphones use mass-produced dynamic cone drivers, the limitations of which can hamper transient response and cause an uneven frequency response. Quad's cutting-edge planar magnetic technology delivers a more natural and accurate sound, ensuring you hear every nuance of a recorded musical performance. The Quad ERA-1 incorporates an ultra-thin, electrically active diaphragm - thinner than a human hair yet extremely strong and highly elastic, weighing less than the volume of air it displaces. This is fused with a precisely arranged magnet system, designed to maximise sensitivity and consistency of the applied force over the driver area.
Patented nonlinear vibration suppression technology allows the driver's effortlessly extended frequency response to be heard unsullied, ensuring supreme clarity. The metal cavity behind the driver is specially designed for optimal acoustic performance, and the drivers themselves are closely matched to ensure spacious, three-dimensional stereo imaging. When sound enters our ears, it has a planar wavefront with all spectrum components in phase. A typical dynamic headphone driver disrupts this coherence with its phase irregularity, resulting in less than perfect signal peak reconstructions. Quad's planar magnetic driver has much better phase coherency since all parts of the diaphragm are vibrating in concert without break up and delayed resonance. The driver's flat conductor pattern, with an absence of inductive components, eliminates inductance-related intermodulation distortion - this is especially common in dynamic drivers with high impedance and a high number of voice coil turns.
Many planar magnetic headphones require high-power amplifiers to drive them. The Quad ERA-1 combines high sensitivity with low impedance to enable excellent performance with a wide range of partnering devices, from portable audio players to high-end headphone amps. Quad's valve-based PA-One headphone amp/DAC makes a superb match for the ERA-1, combining sonic clarity and fluidity to stunning effect. Quad audio components combine the assurance of tradition with the buzz of innovation, and the ERA-1 headphones are a perfect example. Robust construction and a premium finish deliver a suitably luxurious feel, yet the headphones are comfortably lightweight compared to many planar magnetic designs. Two types of ear cushion are provided - one made of soft leather, the other of latex topped with a fleecy fabric - enabling a degree of personal tailoring according to the preferred feel and differing acoustic properties of the materials. A high-quality, detachable 215cm cable is also supplied, together with a durable carrying case. The Quad ERA-1 headphones are available from late July, with an RRP of £599. Info and photos by Quad.