For the following comparisons I used the AK120II as source.
- ALO RX: The musicality of the RX shines of most in the mids section. The Rx adds just a little bit of body to the Quad’s bass and vices become even better than when un-amped. A very good pairing but you have to like looser bass.
- The CypherLabs Picollo is the RX’s main competitor. I love both units and depending on the earphone used I prefer one of the other. The advantage of the Picollo however is that it also works great with a lot of full sized headphones. With the Picollo the Quad has a blacker background and sounds more defined and tight (bass) compared to the musicality of the RX (it can make the RX feel more fatiguing as not everything is as separated).
- Jan Meier’s Corda Quickstep is an excellent 9V battery powered amplifier that doesn’t really add anything to the sound. It just refines it and makes the Quad perform even better without changing its sound signature. A great musical and detailed amplifier.
- With the Cypherlabs Duet you get a comparable sound to the Picollo’s but it’s more refined, better layered and wider. I’m a big fan of the Duet as it is so versatile: it works incredibly well with so many earphones and full sized headphones and especially the balanced output is sublime. The EartechMusic Quad sounds really good with this amplifier in balanced configuration but I didn’t find it that good on the SE out.
- The ALO Audio CDM is a DAC/AMP unit both Nathan and I like very much. After my tube rolling article I settled for the Mullard tubes and the CDM with the Quad sounds superb. Of all the amplifiers I tried the Quad with, the CDM scores best. Best definition, detail, clarity, depth, layering and musicality. You get the full package, in full balanced mode that is. (Balanced input from AK and balanced out with a Linum cable). In Single ended mode the Quad still performs really well but it never reaches the quality of the balanced output. The balanced configuration doesn’t give the Quad the bass body it normally has though; you get a more “balanced” sound.
- The Chord Hugo, even after the launch of the new Mojo, is an incredibly good AMP/DAC unit for full sized headphones. I especially like the DAC side of the Hugo and the only little downside is that is doesn’t always sound best with inear monitors. When connected to the AK through optical the Quad sounds more airy than with any other amp. Bass is very light however and knowing how the Quad sounds with all the other sources and amps, I just can’t get used to this sound signature.
- With AudioQuest’s Dragonfly and my laptop as source, the Quad sounds really good. I have to say the Dragonlfly in general performs really well. It’s detailed, clear, has good depth and width and always sounds musical. Bass might be just a little bit looser when listening to the Quad and treble might not be as clear but the pairing is quite good.
- Fiio’s new K1, just like the Dragonfly, is a mini USB DAC/AMP. It has more body in the mids and bass than the Dragonfly does, but the treble is better extended. K1 has a more dark sound but it is very musical. The K1 isn’t as tight as the Dragonfly is and you with the quads get a warmer sound that focuses on musicality instead of details.
The Other Quad
Like I said, the only other quad driver in my collection is the Cosmic Ears CE4P with the full steam junk (a one of a kind). The CE4P has less bass body and depth than ETM’s Quad has, at the same time the CE4 has less body in the mid section and it shows a further extended and clear treble section. Both monitors are very different sounding but both sound really good, it all comes down to what you prefer. The CE4P also is a more hiss sensitive
Please let me know in the comment section if there is a particular custom of mine you’ld like to see compared to the Quad.
The EartechMusic Quad is really good and for $499 USD you get great sound in return. With almost all of my sources and amplifiers the Quad sounded sublime and that usually isn’t the case with most customs.
The Quad is easy to drive, perfectly built and sounds really good. That in combination with its high price/quality ratio is what makes this an extremely interesting monitor. Not only is it an affordable monitor for those wanting to make the first step into customs but it just as well is a perfect all-round monitor for artists and audiophiles. What’s not to love?
The EartechMusic Quad can be ordered directly from ETM. Do yourself a favor and get it as a Christmas present for yourself. You won’t regret it.