From what I can see, the audiophile community remains pretty split on oBravo as a company. As far as I know, oBravo is mostly known within the 2-channel communities though has fostered a small but loyal fanbase within the IEM community. Though it’s easy to see why they had such a small outreach, considering that their most well-known products were priced far in excess of the layman’s budget.
I myself actually had experience with oBravo way back before I had gotten into the whole measurements game. It was back in e-earphone in Tokyo when I tried the ERIB-1a, one of the first planar-dynamic hybrids in the market at the time. To keep things short, it was one of the worst IEMs I had ever heard regardless of price, and it was £1,100.
On one hand, oBravo products still remain pretty well-received amongst those who own them, despite their sky-high prices that can go all the way up to 9,000 pounds sterling (exceeding 11,000 dollars for our Yanks). On the other hand, a few of their models have shown to display absolutely atrocious measurements, for instance the ERIB-5a and the notorious HAMT1. So given my own personal experiences with oBravo before and having looked at these data, it’s pretty understandable that my opinion of them as a company wasn’t very high going into this review.
The Cupids are oBravo’s departure from their usual “exclusive luxury” business model, retailing at 250 pounds and sporting their signature planar-dynamic hybrid setup. Expectedly, hype for the Cupids took off almost the moment it was released as the common man could finally have a taste of oBravo’s ever-elusive sound. And with the positive reviews flowing in, my expectations for the Cupids were cautiously high.
MSRP: £250 (~$320)
Driver configuration: DD + Planar hybrid
The Cupids were originally loaned to me by Audio Concierge, but subsequent units were sent to me directly from oBravo (more details below).
Here’s some extra background regarding these Cupids that any interested buyer should take note of.
The oBravo Cupids were initially loaned to me by Audio Concierge, and for that I have my greatest gratitude to them for giving me that opportunity. The unit that was loaned to me was out-of-phase, and so Audio Concierge arranged with oBravo to send me a fresh new unit via exchange to identify the problem.
The second Cupid unit, this time sent directly by oBravo after knowing the first was out-of-phase, was also out-of-phase. At this point I was concerned if oBravo was actually tuning the Cupids intentionally out-of-phase as a gimmick, but it seemed too ludicrous to be true.
And so oBravo and I arranged for a third exchange, which is the unit that I am reviewing now. This unit, thankfully, is in-phase. In essence, 2 out of 3 Cupids that were in my possession had polarity inversion issues.
But herein lies the problem: whatever just happened could’ve just as easily happened to any buyer. I don’t know how bad the QC is for oBravo’s manufacturing processes, but the chance that you may get a unit that is out-of-phase (or broken in other ways) is not negligible.
Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.
28/11/19 edit: the following is oBravo’s statement regarding the matter.
“Thanks to Crin for initially finding and detecting a problem with the review sets of Cupid we had despatched to him. After reviewing his unboxing impressions we were able to accurately pin-point the issue and remedy the situation internally. Upon further investigation we established that the problem affected a small batch of Cupid Basic earphones that had been solely produced as review samples. Due to the feedback we promptly received from Crin, we subsequently put in place additional quality control checks so that we do not have these issues with commercial units or review samples going forward. A full statement will follow on the Official oBravo website.“
My unboxing posts are pretty much the only times I’ll ever talk about build quality, accessories and the like. I’m not really the person to ask about these things as I don’t really care about them that much.
Accessories: tips, a small cloth bag to house the IEMs, and a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter.
- Single-wire 3.5mm cable with cloth sheathing. Feels comfortable and supple.
- 4-wire litz 2.5mm balanced cable in a double-twist braid configuration. Very rough to the touch and extremely kinky.
Connection: MMCX with a proprietary locking mechanism. Standard MMCX cables will not work on the Cupid.
Build: metal shell, self-explanatory. Feels sturdy and durable.
Fit: negative profile (i.e. Shure/Westone-shaped). Should be comfortable for most ears.
Isolation: above average. No complaints.
- No sugarcoating here, the Cupid is not a good IEM.
- Bass suffers from overly-blunted attack and bleeds significantly into the midrange.
- Midrange tonality is very off and does not sound natural. It’s shouty yet muffled at the same time; very very odd.
- There seems to be coherency issues, particularly at the crossover point between the dynamic driver woofer and the planar tweeter that manifest themselves as high-Q phase cancellations.
- Treble tonality is all sorts of wrong. Probably the worst part of the Cupids.