The first thing you notice when you start listening to music is how clear the Quad sounds. The presentation of the music is effortless and light. That’s light as in unfatiguing, not light bodied.
The Quad has a pretty good detail level and together with the clarity it immediately sounds impressive. The Quad has that right mix of air and musicality to make it very addictive. The Quad also is very dynamic sounding and precise with great left-right imaging. For a four driver, the sound is fairly outside your head but it’s not at the same level of most of my 6, 8 and more drivers. It however does outperform some of the 5 drivers I have reviewed in this regard. Sound stage is pretty good and on par with most 4 and 5-drivers. Sound stage is wider than it is deep and like with several of the other 4 and 5-drivers the layering is missing a little bit. (compared to the more driver ciems)
ETM’s Quad is pretty fast sounding and has good body in bass and mids with a nicely contrasting treble section. Bass is fast and tight and goes deep but you get more punch than you get rumble down low (like the Aether has). Bass in comparison to the mids and treble actually is pretty well layered. The mids section is musical and very easy to listen to and it doesn’t stand out. I mean that in a positive way: the mids don’t do anything wrong but they don’t excel either, the mids are just good. I especially like how the Quad delivers vocals: naturally and flowing.
Treble is something I like a lot in the Quad. It’s actually fairly detailed and extends pretty well but most of all it is sparkling and lively. The energetic treble with the great bass and musical mids make the Quad very easy to love and listen to. Everything with the Quad just falls in place and the end result is something I like a lot.
The Quad has a more neutral kind of tuning with a bit of a bass lift. I would never think of calling these monitors cold or analytical but they’re not warm sounding or bassy either. It’s more like they are neutral in a musical and smooth way. I think EartechMusic succeeded in making a monitor that is easy to love and enjoy by all type of listeners.
The Quad comes delivered with a very basic a 50” or 64” “4-way” grey looking generic cable, it doesn’t do anything wrong and if you’re happy with how it sounds and you don’t want to improve the comfort than there’s no reason to change to another cable.
I didn’t want to influence the Quad’s sound too much (imho nothing needs to be changed) so I switched to the Linum balanced cables with my Astell&Kern DAPs and the ALO CDM. With the normal balanced Linum, the most impact is on the Quad’s bass (less quantity) but in exchange you get an even more open sounding monitor. The Linum SuperBax balanced cable (a pre-production prototype) basically improves what the regular balanced cable already does very well. Both are extremely comfortable, even if the SuperBax is a lot thicker.
Again, the stock cable is perfectly OK but if you do want to change the Quad’s signature or want something more comfortable, there are a whole lot options to choose from.
Driveability & Sources
The EartechMusic Quad is very easy to drive and it doesn’t need an amplifier to sound really good. Using an amplifier will tune the sound a bit as the sound signature of the amp you’re using it with will be passed on to the monitors. The Quads never hissed with any of my sources and amps, which is impressive. I mostly used the Quads straight out of my DAP but here are some impressions with popular gear.
- Luxury & Precision L5PRO: The L5Pro is a very good sounding DAP. While its user interface still needs a lot of work, its sound is up there with the very best. The L5Pro adds body to the Quads, mostly in the bass and mids section. That is very typical for the L5Pro, it’s what it does best. A very black background, good detail, great musicality.
- With the AK120II you get a more spacious sound with better/more layering and air. There isn’t as much body as with the L5Pro but the Quad itself already has enough of that already. The advantage of the AK is that you can listen to it balanced. (see above)
- Fiio’s X7 has surprised me in a good way. While Fiio for the moment only offers an IEM amplifier module with the X7, it sounds extremely good. To me this is the best DAP Fiio has put on the market. You get a very good sound stage, good depth, a very clear sound and lots of detail. It’s a very good pairing with the Quad, it’s just a shame the normal IEM module doesn’t have a 2.5mm balanced out.
- Going back to the user interface of the Fiio X5SG wasn’t easy. All of the above DAPs are just so much easier to work with as they all have a touch screen. Luckily the X5SG sound wise doesn’t disappoint. Compared to the X7 you get a more centered less wide sound with bigger body in bass and mids. The X5SG also has a focus on bass, more so than all the other DAPs used in this review. While the X5SG has good detail and body (like the L5Pro) it’s missing on layering, detail, refinement and depth compared to all of the above DAPs. I personally don’t like the Quad on the X5SG as much as I do on all the other DAPs.
- A while ago iBasso discontinued the lovely DX90 which was a favorite of mine for a very long time. Instead they now have the DX80 which doesn’t sound bad at all but it still needs (a lot of) work on the UI and the swiping (review soon). The DX90 and Quad pairing is very nice with great (deep)bass and lovely layered mids. That in combination with good detail and especially good depth make it a very musical combo. What I miss here most is clarity (it’s on the warmer side) and treble focus/extension. The DX90 & Quad isn’t a bad combo but there are better ones.
Even more comparisons on Page 4