Quad ERA-1 Planar Magnetic headphones launching

Head-mounted ESLs?

by Mark Hodgkinson Jun 17, 2018 at 8:30 AM


  • Hi-Fi News

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    Quad ERA-1 Planar Magnetic headphones launching
    Quad’s first-ever headphones, the ERA-1, use planar magnetic technology to produce a sound in keeping with the sonic heritage of Britain’s ‘original high-end audio company’.
    Quad has been responsible for a number of influential hi-fi products throughout its history, none more famous than successive generations of the ESL – an electrostatic panel loudspeaker with 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 said to deliver fast, open and transparent performance. The resulting sonic realism and fidelity to the source is, according to Quad, fully in keeping with the brand’s heritage, displaying qualities akin to the famous ESLs.

    A you may or may not know, most headphones use mass-produced dynamic cone drivers, the limitations of which can hamper transient response and cause an uneven frequency response. Quad’s planar magnetic technology promises 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 frequency response to be heard unsullied and the metal cavity behind the driver is specially designed for optimal acoustic. The drivers themselves are closely matched to ensure spacious, three-dimensional stereo imaging. When sound enters our ears, it has a planar wave front 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 is purported to have 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 performance with a wide range of partnering devices, from portable audio players to high-end headphone amps.

    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, 2018, with an RRP of £599.95 inc. VAT.

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