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oBravo ERIB-2a

Posted

Pros: amazing layered soundstage, intricately detailed, speedy, excellent bass quality & extension, beautiful mids, clear treble, neutral, tonally accurate

Cons: a bit like Frankenstein bolts off the ear, bass could use a touch more quantity

Acknowledgment    

Thanks @ejong7 for organising this tour, you are a gentleman and a scholar. Also thanks go out to the mysterious unnamed provider of the ERIB-2A. Mysterious benefactor, you redefined Easter for me. I’m not religious, but these headphones make me want to be a little blasphemous—altars built in high places only to be struck down by some highfalutin prophet and all that old-religion jazz.

 

Introduction

“Drip drip drop there goes an eargasm.”

-Big Boi

 

Why!? For the love of God, WHY!? Why did I have to hear these aluminum ear-boxes of absolute bliss, when I just don’t have the money to even think about bad decisions I could make. I’m not going to mince words. These are some of the best headphones I’ve ever heard, and I think they are good value for money at their price. I respectfully disagree with a previous reviewer who said these were too expensive, they absolutely are not. I think these are well worth £549 ($775) (the price at the time of the review). The rest of this review will be about telling you why my wife probably thought I was emotionally cheating on her for the week I had these.

 

First, I’ll tell you a bit about me, below the fold. If you think I’m not a biased reviewer, I’ve got a bridge to sell you, even if you’re from Arizona and have already bought a famous bridge. Read below the fold if you like, or swallow the blue pill and continue on in naïve ignorance.

 

 

About me (Click to show)

Like most sensible people I starting falling in love with music as a child. My first portable audio device was a Sony Walkman (the cassette kind) that I got when I was 10 years old (24 years ago).  I listened with the cheap Sony on ears that came with the Walkman until I bought a Koss CD boombox and started listening to UAF College Radio and 103.9 (alternative rock at the time) in Fairbanks, Alaska. I once listened to Louie Louie for 3 days straight, and I’m not insane. My musical tastes started out with listening to what my friends liked (Dr. Dre and Green Day) and what my parents liked (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) and I only really discovered my own musical tastes and sonic preferences in my late teens to early 20s. What I discovered is that I have very eclectic and some would say weird tastes. I could be listening to gay punk rock, Japanese dream garble pop, 8-bit chiptune, Scandinavian black metal, Latin guitar, the Mariinsky Orchestra, or Miles Davis, but I mostly listen to Classic Rock and Indie/Alternative. I’m a big fan of intelligent hip-hop like Metermaids, Kendrick Lamar and Aesop Rock, also.

 

I tend to like headphones that are all-around performers, this generally means a balanced or neutral sound. I somehow never manage to have much money, so I don’t want to buy infinity headphones to switch between my myriad genres that I play. I can hear all the way down to 10hz and all the way up to 23Khz—these are what I’ve heard doing test tones on headphones.  It has been a long time since I had a test with an audiologist. I’m sensitive to peaky treble but do enjoy smooth extended treble. I like deep rich tight bass and impactful drums, and dislike upper midbass emphasis.  I like my vocals crisp, so stay away from Josh Tillman’s voice you nasty upper midbass hump.  I hear soundstage better than just about anything I identify in music, but my words haven’t caught up to my ears. I listen at volume levels that others consider loud (72 to 75 dB), but I just set it to where the dynamics peak. I’m not here to shatter my eardrums. I like them just how they are.

 

I don’t believe in using EQ, not even for inexpensive headphones, especially in reviews. I won’t claim that I haven’t done it, but I generally try to avoid it.

I’m a firm believer that cables can make a difference, but I don’t think they always do. When I tried out Toxic Cables line, none of them had labels and the cheapest looking one was the one I liked the best. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to spend much to improve my sound. It turned out that the cheapest looking one was the Silver/Gold top of the line cable. I’ve heard the difference that USB cables can make, from upgrading from the crappy cable that came with my Geek Out 1000 to a Supra USB, and then again when upgrading to the LH Labs Lightspeed 2G with the iUSB3.0. When I picked up a cheap shielded power lead from Mains Cables R Us (who also sell iFi gear) to replace my standard kettle lead on my amplifier, I heard more crunchy and clearer treble. I switched the leads with my wife blinded and she heard the same difference. I didn’t tell her what I heard and let her describe it herself. But cables don’t always make a difference. When I switched from my standard HD650 cable to a custom balanced cable (Custom Cans UK, very affordable), the sound stayed exactly the same when hooked up via a top tier (custom made by @dill3000 silver/gold) 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm converter. Balanced mode made a difference in clarity and blackness of background. Your mileage may vary and you may not hear a difference, but I have.

 

oBravo does things a little different

To my knowledge, there isn’t another headphone manufacturer that is making headphones like oBravo’s line-up. They have a line of IEMs that pair a planar magnetic tweeter and a dynamic driver, the ERIBs, of which the ERIB-2A is one. Their IEMs come with choices of material for differently tuned sound, aluminum for crystalline clarity and balance, wood for warmth, ceramic for delicate detail. oBravo has a further technology that is unique to them in headphones, air motion transformer tweeters. They use this technology in their EAMT line of IEMs, and in their HAMT line of full-size headphones. I can’t wait to hear this technology next time they visit a show I’m at. All of oBravo’s lineup have a clean metallic industrial design, but all work in notes of wood to provide some organic flavour and warmth to their image. I’m a fan.

 

If you’d like to know more about these upstarts from Taiwan, check out oBravo’s website for some hot pics and information.

 

Vital Statistics (what the manufacturer says about their gear)

Almost every headphone comes with some summary measurements about the piece of kit you’ve just thrown your coin on the table and bought, and many of them aren’t relatively true. I’ll leave that judgment up to you. I found that the ERIB-2A lived up to it’s measurements, to my ear, at least. I’m also inclined to believe the frequency response is being conservative. They have another headphone that they list as having response to only 28Hz.

 

From custom-cable.co.uk, my local seller of oBravo goodies

  1. The world first Coaxial two-way IEM design by an implementation of Planar tweeter and NDD to deliver a rich sound stage listening experience.
  2. World class Comply ear tips implementation for balanced sound stage.
  3. A Wooden ear cup designed model - (erib-2w), and a Precision Ceramic ear cup designed model - (erib-2c) to provide a choice for different sound styles.
  4. Easy way to enjoy a ultimate sound from a balanced output by an optional 2.5mm Balanced cable.

 

Specification:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~35KHz
  • Tweeter: 8mm Planar Magnetic Tweeter
  • Dynamic Driver: 10mm Neodymium Driver
  • Impedance: 16 ohm
  • Sensibility in dB: 102dB
  • Weight: 35 g

 

Form & Function

The ERIB-2A comes in a large zippered container, like a little clutch full of foam and other things to make it look precious. It makes me think of blown plastic inserts on boardgames. They make everything seem organised, but they aren’t really fit for purpose, they are inflexible overkill that you end up tossing out to better use the space in your box. oBravo’s case is ludicrously large, and they appear to have learned their lesson with some of their other headphones (ERIB-5A comes with a logical sized pouch). The case has enough real estate to fit four sets of headphones in it. The case has enough real estate that they had to come up with new inventions to fill the ludicrous space. You’ll find in the packaging something besides the IEM that is special to oBravo, IEM tip organizers. These handy dandy little nails will hold your tips while you drop them down into specially cut foam cubby holes. I would have much rather they gave me an appropriate case to fit the IEMs with a couple sets of tips. The case is a pile of dumb. Luckily everything else about these is pretty brilliant.

 

They feel a tiny bit awkward at first, as they stick out a bit from your ear. It was emphasized on the tour that you shouldn't really jam the Comply foamies all the way into your ear, that they should be a touch loose to allow a bigger soundstage. What they say works. It doesn’t take long to get acclimated to the feel of the headphones when the sound makes you want to leave them in so much. The cable feels of sufficient quality, but I’m not a huge fan of the proprietary connector. I experienced no microphonics with the cable.

 

The ERIB-2A can be worn up or down, but I found them most comfortable down due to the big strain relief on the cables. Isolation is not great on these as they are basically an open design IEM, you can see little holes on the wood exterior of the headphones. You’ll hear all the traffic around you, but the music is so clear you still won’t care, and I live in one of the worst traffic cities in the UK. Like every other IEM I own, these didn’t anger any of my office mates when I blast some AC/DC. Win win.

 

Inside the box you’ll find:

  • The aforementioned oversized case (clutch?)
  • The coaxial headphone cable
  • The IEMs
  • Silicone ear guides for helping the IEMs stay in
  • Some silicone tips
  • Comply foamies
  • An awesome stubby 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor (so good I asked if I could buy just the adaptor if nothing else)

Audio quality

I took these to work with me every day for the week I had them and ignored the world as much as I could, which is normal, but I was very committed to this ideal whilst I had these. I played these at home out of the 5W Airist Audio Heron 5 amplifier, and out of the 4W iFi Micro iCAN SE, and I played this out of a cheap low power DAC/AMP, and the iBasso DX50. These didn’t sound bad on anything, but they definitely sound better on certain pairings. I compared these to my favourite headphones I have on hand, and I took them into Richer Sounds and compared them to full size cans from Oppo and Audeze. These little IEMs are top tier stuff.

 

 

My first listen on these was using the Airist Audio Heron 5 (my next in line review) with the Chord Mojo as the DAC. I loaded up Roger Waters – Amused to Death and listened to Late Home Tonight Part I, Late Home Tonight Part II and Too Much Rope. These tracks have fantastic levels of micro-detail, big soundstages with lots of pans including one of the only sky to ground vertical pans I’ve ever heard in a music track (BOOM). If you are okay with highly political prog rock, you should definitely add Amused to Death to your listening list. The headphones took a couple minutes to warm up. Once they did they had a touch of warmth to the upper mids, super clear vocals, and supremely natural guitar on Too Much Rope. The soundstage width is spectacular, the height is impressive when the bomb drops in Late Home Tonight, and the image is layered with excellent depth and space for each element of the cinematic experience. The details of the woman leaving and entering rooms of the house holding her baby whilst the TV news plays and music goes on in the street were intricately and precisely detailed—like I was following one step behind her as she went about her everyday normal human day. If I spoke Arabic, I would have understood every syllable of the broadcast and speech. I haven’t had that kind of detail on any IEM I’ve listened to this track with.  My first observation was that the sound is crisp, like a collared shirt hard-edged with starch. I think some of this may be the effect of pairing with the Mojo, as the Mojo has a very precise, sharp sound while still having smooth flow and a natural sound. I was also still burning in my brain on the sound, it sounded smoother on future listening.

 

City of the Sun (on Chesky Records/HD Tracks in binaural+), recently released an album that is spectacular. The album has several fantastic test tracks, my favourite probably being the title track, To The Sun And All The Cities In Between. When I played the ERIB-2A out of the iFi iCAN SE with the LH Labs Geek Out V2 as the source with none of the iFi iCAN SE switches engaged the sound was duller and flatter with less bass than the Heron 5 pairing. Engaging the XBass switch to one dot had the bass show up, whilst three dots made it overbearing. The 3D switch on the iCAN SE boosts treble and made the sound less flat sounding. A comparison to the HD600 revealed the ERIB-2A to be a formidable competitor. I threw on The Beats, Man – Yummmmm and micro-detail was just popping all over like amplified water droplets from a soaking rain perched on a leaf diving into a lake teaming with activity, like a popcorn popper inside your head. The music would have given Salvador Dali a rise. The ERIB-2A was more detailed than the HD600, and not subtly so. The ERIB-2A has greater soundstage height, greater soundstage width, but slightly less depth than the HD600. It has insane imaging and clarity, and jaw-dropping separation between instruments. Every instrument has its own space, every note plucked has its own place. The ERIB-2A feels like it has a touch more body, while the HD600 has a more delicate touch. The HD600 is a great reference headphone, but this in-ear is blowing it away. I’m drooling like a St. Bernard now. Roll over Beethoven, some Pasadena family will be adopting me soon. Who can resist this face?

 

 

Switching back to the Heron 5 for the comparison on City of the Sun, the bass is healthier (no boost necessary with the right amplification). The sound has an airy ethereal quality with absolutely stunning mids. Higher guitar notes are something special to hear. Transients are naturally portrayed with excellent instrument decay.

 

With the Heron 5 and the iCAN SE, I did notice some buzz during quiet sections, but whether it shows up depended on volume level listened at. I also had an interesting effect with the headphones that I think was due to the supremely high amount of current feeding them. The ERIB-2A warmed up and shocked my ears a bit. I wonder if the case is being used as a ground. I think these should probably have a bit less powerful amp hooked up to them, even though they sound absolutely amazing on the Heron 5. I also tried these with the Geek Out 1000 straight out of the high damping factor 0.47ohm jack—they lost about half the soundstage volume compared to the iCAN SE, but still sounded lovely, but a bit thicker tonally. Luckily, I found an inexpensive but brilliant source that I absolutely loved them on, my iBasso DX50.

 

 

I listened with the DX50 (on high gain) for two days and compared back and forth with the DX50 alone and DX50 feeding the iCAN SE. I preferred the DX50 alone. I didn’t do a comparison of the DX50 to the Heron 5. I think the Heron 5 probably has a bit too much impedance for these, but the buzz isn’t noticeable on every track. I listened to Led Zeppelin for a whole day—Led Zeppelin I all the way through Presence. That’s a darn fine day. The bass was a touch recessed, but tonally accurate with rich timbre. Jimmy Page’s voice had a nice edge to it, and the DX50 is churning out a soundstage as impressive as the iCAN SE.

 

At this point, we’ve identified the one minor weakness of these headphones sonically, the bass is a touch recessed. I decided to throw down with Beck – Midnight Vultures, which is a bass forward album. The bass isn’t as forward as on other headphones but is deeply satisfying. The mids are special from lower mids all the way up to the top of the mids ladder. Drums kick right and falsetto occupies the sonic aeries meant for its creepy-cool vibe. I wanna get with these, and their sister, I think her name is EAMT. Get Real Paid is a big highlight; it has sounds popping all over the stage, verticality, width, panning, falsetto, electronic blips and bloops, cool percussion, etc…. I decided to take the ERIB-2A and the DX50 to Richer Sounds to compare to some full size cans using Beck - Get Real Paid.

 

At Richer Sounds I had to wait a bit to get into the goodie case, but when I did I asked for the Oppo PM3 (£349) and the Audeze EL8 Open (£599). Both the PM3 and the EL8 are designed to be able to be driven out of an iPhone, so the comparison is fair. The ERIB-2A was better than both. The Oppo PM3, was tops on my list for work headphones as it has silky smooth liquid mids and satisfying presentation on the rest of the spectrum. The Oppo PM3 had bass that was a touch slow and loose, the treble clarity was good and the mids were as liquid as I remember them. The PM3 had some boosting in the mids and some added warmth to the signature. Comparatively, the ERIB-2A was cooler sounding, it was clearer, had a much wider and deeper soundstage, more precise instrumentation, and tighter more accurate bass (though less quantity). The EL8 was clearer than the Oppo PM3 with a more forward signature. The treble on the EL8 is less detailed than the Oppo PM3. The EL8 has less stage depth than the ERIB-2A, is a bit warmer, has a touch of grain to the sound, and a more congested presentation. The ERIB-2A also has more height in the stage and better treble definition. The ERIB-2A has less bass, but better bass than the EL8. I handed the ERIB-2A over to one of the shop employees to listen, and they confirmed my preference. They also said I can come back and let them listen to headphones I’m reviewing any time I want.

 

The ERIB-2A at £549 ($775) beats the £599 Audeze EL8 in basically every way and it is an in-ear headphone.

 

I also compared the ERIB-2A to the following: Trinity Audio Atlas (orange filter), Echobox Audio Finder X1, RHA ma750, 64Audio ADEL X2, and the Fidue A65 (watch for my review). The ERIB-2A dropped the trousers of the Trinity Audio Atlas, RHA ma750, and Fidue A65 like the class bully on the nerds at your high school. Those are all really good headphones, especially the Trinity Audio Atlas. The Echobox Audio Finder X1, and 64Audio ADEL X2 were closer to the ERIB-2A. The Finder X1 is an impressive little (emphasis because it is crazy tiny) headphone—superb detail, v-shape sound, excellent transparency, healthy but not overpowering in any frequency. The 64Audio ADEL X2 is very natural and fluid sounding, very balanced, with excellent decay and impact on bass and drums. When listening to Neil Young - Out on the Weekend (Pono 24-192) the bass chugged along beautifully with the other two guitars making good appearances and nice vocal reflections off the back of the stage giving an excellent idea of stage size. The ERIB-2A still beats both of the most competitive handily. Micro-details like string scratches on guitar and guitar placement are showcased. The bass is the fastest. The layering is the best. The resolution is the best. The harmonica is perfectly placed at the height of the vocals in a way that none of the other headphones accomplished. Listening to Queen – Loser in the End—a great track for spaciousness, crunchy guitar, wood blocks, and most of all drum impact—the 64Audio Adel X2 was more forward with good impact, but didn’t have the epic transparency, layering and instrument separation of the ERIB-2A.

 

Conclusions

These headphones are absolutely spectacular, unless you are an unrepentant bass-head or a glutton for the warm sound. I’m neither of these, so I was cursing my ill finances when I had to send these on to the next in line. I want to listen to these more. After sending them on and listening to other very good to great headphones I just find myself missing these. These headphones have spectacular resolution, speed, tonal accuracy and soundstage. I think these will beat many equal or higher priced headphones on sound, including full-size open headphones. There is only one sonic weakness on these headphones to my ears, and it is a minor weakness compared to the copious amounts of strengths these exhibit: the bass is a touch recessed. I didn’t EQ these, but in my experience low bass quantity is generally correctable with EQ. I would buy these with no regrets. These are top of the line, and £549 ($775) is not too much to pay for them.

 

If you’ve got £549 ($775) in coin and are looking for a new IEM, you should do your best to have a listen on these. You might never look for another headphone—but you will go buy another case, because the case is terrible; unless the EAMTs are as good as their reputation. Hopefully when I hear those I won’t end up divorced and compromising myself in horrible ways to afford them.

 

 

Posted

Pros: Build quality, instrument separation, smooth treble

Cons: Bloated upper bass/lower mids, leading to a thick and somewhat congested sound. Rolled off treble. Narrow soundstage.

First of all, thank you to @Takeanidea and @ejong7 for arranging for me to be included in this review tour.  It has been quite a bewildering experience, as I shall expand upon below...

 

I would like to say about myself that I am a lifelong lover of music.  I play the trumpet semi-professionally, teach music as my day job and I also mix and produce music.  My tastes are exceptionally broad and my love of all kids of music has inevitably led me to demand good sound quality.  I have been into audio since I was a teenager and as I've got older, and especially since I've been producing, accurate musical representation has become my objective when buying gear, as opposed to hyped or artificially 'good' sound.

 

I listen to everything from death metal to rap and classical.  The majority of my listening is large scale orchestral music, I guess, but I also lean heavily towards older hard rock/thrash metal. prog rock, jazz and all sorts of experimental music.  To me, great music is great music, regardless of genre.

 

My test set up was:

 

Hifi stream from Tidal>Chord Mojo>oBravo ERIB-2a

 

On to my thoughts regarding these IEMs...

 

Firstly, I'll post some pictures below, showcasing the great packaging and build quality that this unit exhibits:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I won't include details and technical specifications in this review, as that can all be found online.

 

When I first began planning for this review, I thought I would list the albums that I intended to listen to and make simple bullet points underneath each one about aspects of the sound that came to me.  During this process, I realised that I was repeating myself as there were a number of common points that emerged every time, no matter what was playing through them.  So, I've decided to quit that approach and give my more general overall impressions.  I have, however, included my unfinished notes for my experiences with individual albums after this general write up for your perusal.  That also includes a list of what albums I did test the oBravos with.

 

I must say that I'm quite sad to write what is seemingly such a negative review.  I must give my personal impressions though, and this is what they are.  What is puzzling is that my impressions seem completely at odds to what most other people have had and sometimes polar opposite.  There must be other factors in play here.  It is very relevant for me to mention that I used the comply medium tips, kindly provided by the tour unit organisers.  I wonder whether the fit of the tips to my ears affected the quality of sound I was hearing compared to others?  I understand it can make a big difference, but if I'm not hearing these IEMs correctly because I didn't get the tip fit right, then that's a negative point too as they felt fine to me and I tried reseating them a number of times, with no significant change to the sound signature noted.

 

General Impressions:

 

As I listened through track after track of various genres, the one thing that stood out in the sound signature of these IEMs was the bloated upper bass/lower mids.  This hump affected the sound of every instrument to me, dulling up pianos, thickening double basses to the point of them dominating the texture, giving too much warmth and thickness to male vocals.  This tonality was inherent in the earphone, lending itself to everything I listened to.

 

Bass extension and presence was good, but the lower bass regions were dwarfed by the above mentioned hump so locking in on detail down there was harder than I expected for a headphone of the price/calibre.

 

The instrument separation was good but there was a strange attribute to the soundtstage whereby the center image was given far more prominence than the sides, leading to an imposing middle and narrow sides.  The lack of treble energy and air didn't help things here and the overall presentation was a bit like a thick blob in the center, lacking width.  I also had the pervading impression that everything seemed compressed dynamically and lacking punch as well.  This is not good, is it?  How can this be when another reviewer describes these as exceptionally open sounding with a bright, open and airy treble etc etc??  To my ears, it was quite the opposite.

 

Detail retrieval was good, but I can't help feeling that there would be a whole lot more if the trebles opened up.  The treble was smooth and pleasant and I can imagine a benefit to poorly mastered/sibilant material.  But, for this kind of asking price, I need much more.

 

My time listening to these was mostly disappointing, maybe one or two moments of 'ok' but I couldn't find anything to even remotely impress me.  I could hear potential, but that thick and dominant midrange would need to go, and the treble would need to appear.  I'm surprised at their cost.

 

 

 

As promised, here are my initial notes taken and list of music used for the review:

 

 

Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit

  • Smooth, very forward vocals that sound rich but a little bloated
  • lower mid hump again makes the piano sound dull and lacking sparkle. Upright bass dominates the texture
  • Rolled off treble, lacking air and space, narrow soundstage

 

Doug MacLeod - There's A Time

  • Good separation of musical elements, although I would have liked a slightly wider, less congested soundstage
  • Nice warm and forward vocals, but a little hump around the lower mids causes some slight bloat to the sound
  • upper trebles slightly rolled off and lacking in openness

 

Guns 'n Roses - Appetite for Destruction

  • Soundstage again seems closed in, with everything focused heavily on the center image
  • Lacking high treble energy, rendering cymbals weak and distant, crunch of the guitar sound seeming rolled off
  • Mids very prominent and a boxy sound to the snare
  • Somewhat lacking dynamic punch

 

Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs - God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise

  • Again, upper bass/lower mids sounds somewhat bloated/thick and lacking in definition, getting in the way of the overall sound
  • Cymbals sound rolled off, high treble lacking in energy, although for this album, the smoother treble avoided the sibliance that can be present on other headphones

 

Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Respighi: Pines of Rome - Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue

Prokofiev: Suites from 'Romeo and Juliet' - Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti

Posted

Pros: Super inoffensive acoustically. Nicely open sounding

Cons: Tepid. Seriously wallet ouchy price tag.

Obravo ERIB-2a Quick Review

 

Thanks to the UK Loaner Tour for the loan.

 

Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/799583/obravo-erib-2a-review-by-mark2410

 

Brief:  Itty bitty Planar magnetic / Dynamic hybrid IEM’s

 

Price:  £549 or about US$765 (that includes UK tax though)

 

Specifications:  Frequency Response: 20Hz~35KHz, Tweeter: 8mm Planar Magnetic Tweeter, Dynamic Driver: 10mm Neodymium Driver, Impedance: 16 ohm, Sensibility in dB: 102dB, Weight: 35g

 

Accessories:  Giant case thing, a 6.25mm to 3.5mm adapter, 2 pairs of ear guide things, 6 pairs of silicon tips and I think 3 pairs of Comply’s. 

 

Build Quality:  It seems rather good, the buds are all metal, the cable seems fine and they are replaceable with very large strain reliefs. 

 

Isolation:  So so.  They are rather open backed so isolation suffers but then you get a nice airy soundstage so swings vs roundabouts.  It’s not really great for on a bus or out and about but with music on you’ll be fine.  However you’ll really want to use these somewhere more quiet and where you won’t disturb others.  You probably won’t notice traffic creeping up behind you so remember to use your eyes when using.

 

Aesthetics:  These in my eyes aren’t particular lookers.  That giant strain relief on the cable near the buds doesn’t look super either.

 

Sound:  Highly gently pleasant.  The sound is nice, mellow and soft and so unhurried.  You can just melt away into its gentle detail.  They are pretty wide ranging, the bass being full and for something open reaches nicely low.  It’s also rather cleanly articulate.  The treble too is all very proficient and unaggressive.  Mids are nice, a little on the warm, lower frequency focused.  No spikes nor shouts, the exact opposite of sibilant.  It’s all, err, very pleasant.  However there is something about them, they for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on they feel slightly veiled.  They are detailed but it’s so gently presented it could sail right by you without your noticing, noticing that were was even anything there to begin with.  I am not normally one for wanting more edge, aggressiveness or brutality but…. these are just so laid back as to be near comatose.  They haven’t any life nor soul, I want them to wake the hell up.  Even pairing with the relatively crisp Studio they are still just so benign.  Don’t get me wrong they aren’t “bad” just so tepid. 

Acoustically they are technically good, competent, detailed, on paper they are highly accomplished they just aren’t very exciting.

 

Value:  Erm these are frighteningly expensive, not bad sounding but that’s some serious wallet ouch.

 

Pro’s:  Super inoffensive acoustically.  Nicely open sounding

 

Con’s:  Tepid.  Seriously wallet ouchy price tag.

Posted

Pros: They disappear.

Cons: At this price, hard to find any really!

 

BRAVO ERIB-2A EARPHONE PLANAR UNIVERSAL IN-EAR MONITOR TAKES LISTENING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

obravo

oBravo is a company founded in 2006 and located in Taiwan have made air-motion technology a reality. David Teng, the owner and chief engineer, is creating hand made monitors that are one of the kind products that are both revolutionary in design and unique in the world. David has taken Dr Oskar Heil air-motion transformer speaker technology and incorporated planar magnetic drivers to create the world’s first planar-air motion-dynamic 2 way in ear monitor.

The ERIB-2A is a new design that incorporates an air-motion transformer tweeter to a planar magnetic driver.   The new design is a universal and users can easily adjust them with tips to fit their own comfort levels thus eliminating the need to visit an audiologist for ear impressions.  David has been working on perfecting the design since the company started manufacturing in 2006. Every pair is meticulously designed to provide the listener with a realistic and emotionally involving experience. The company is dedicated to making products that are both exciting and offer exceptional performance. The coaxial design is the world’s first two way that is using both planar and air-motion technology that includes a aluminum body, The company offers two other versions, one with a carbon body and another in wood.

CONTENTS

  • earphone body
    ●1.2m    3.5mm earphone Cable
    ●3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter

SPECIFICATION: 
●Tweeter :8 mm PMD Tweeter
●Woofer:13 mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver
●Frequency Response Range:15 Hz~45 KHz
●Sensitivity:105 dB
●Impedance:16 Ω

oBravo supplies a well thought out carrying case for the ERIB-2A that includes an optional 1/4 inch jack for use with larger systems. The tips vary in size and are made by Comply. The supplied large tips worked well for me and gave me an exceptional seal. My Astell & Kern AK240 has  a wide variety of different music loaded making it perfect for earspeakers. The reference system, which includes the Chord DAVE and VPI 229D tube amplifier, was also used while streaming Tidal. The VPI Scout turntable with the Ortofon Black 2M cartridge was spinning vinyl.

Listening

Doug McLeod’s “Run with the Devil” from his “There’ a Time “album is an excellent acoustic song that comes alive and makes you feel as if Doug is sitting right in front of you playing. The ERIB-2A  brought his guitar to life. The sound coming from the instrument was as if Doug was in the room with me and the tonality of his guitar and the body of the instrument was vivid, detailed and transparent. The tonality of the instruments was as good as I have heard in any in-ear-monitor and competed with products that’s are priced much higher.   The sound of his vocal work was transparent with articulation and clarity that was impressive. Never did the earspeaker compromise his performance. Doug was sitting in a chair and with my eyes closed I could envision him in the studio singing this tune and it always was engaging. The musicality of the performance was as good as when I had him preforming this live.

Imagine Dragon’s “Night Vision” has some terrific music and the track “To me” had my feet and body rocking with the music. The monitor had an excellent sound stage with good front to rear depth and nice air and space between instruments. The ERIB-2A  kept me involved and I never lost focus. Closing my eyes, the music was all around me and the performance was spectacular. The band was rocking on this tune and the sound was dynamic with a terrific top end without any harshness or grunge. The oBravo had its own sound signature which made music come alive.

“Demons” another track on the same album was more of the same. The song had terrific balance and once again the dynamic sound of the ERIB-2A was noticeable. The monitor was able to make the tracks come to life and the AK240 played the song easily and once again highlighted the performance with exceptional musicality.

Holly Cole’s “Temptation” is one of my reference discs when I when I want to know what a product is capable of doing in the bass and treble region, The “Train Song” also has excellent treble extension and the earspeaker made the tune come to life. Holly’s vocals were both seductive and  inviting. I could hear the acoustic bass definition with texture and extension. The bass is balanced and had excellent definition with terrific texture. The treble region was outstanding and the sound was never harsh. The room was present and the shakers were alive in the recording as well as Holly’s vocals. The ERIB-2A was able to reproduce all the music in a defined and realistic sound stage took me to the venue. The interaction between the performers was inspiring and easy to envision. The sound of the room was evident in this song and the sound stage was pinpoint with imaging and excellent air and space between the musicians.

obravo-2
“Jersey Girls” brought Holly front and center with background vocals on the left, The bass again was balanced and had good extension with excellent texture. The sound kept me focused with the performance and Holly’s singing was clear and articulate. Holly’s vocals always captivate me.

Leonard Cohen’s latest album” “You Want it Darker”  is  a prophecy of  Leonard’s final year and preparation for his departure from this world. Using the Chord DAVE with Tidal’s streaming service with the ERIB-2A  gave the planar monitor more power and dynamics using the supplied ¼ inch jack. The title track came alive and Leonard’s vocal was articulate and the sound stage sounded more defined with even better imaging and space. The bass also had more slam with increased dynamics and the top end once again sparkled and was never harsh. nor strident.

Van Morrison’s new album: “Keep me Singing” brought Van to my room. The VPI 229D headphone amplifier is a tube wonder. Using the VPI 229D and the DAVE as the source, “Let it Rhyme” had Van’s vocal dead center and his band in a well defined sound stage with exceptional imaging. The sound stage had air and excellent separation between performers. The VPI 229D delivered tube magic and increased the sound stage and improved the dynamics significantly. The imaging was taken up a couple notches as well. The magic of the tubes brought the tonality to another level and the ERIB-2A  never floundered in recreating the music.

“Hello Babe” from Madeline Peryoux’s “Secular Hymn” provided some excellent definition while  using the DAVE. Madeline’s interaction with the band had terrific synergy. Differences using the big system gave me more of everything. The sound stage was taken to another level and the power the amp brought to the earspeaker  increased the dynamics and bass extension considerably. Madeline’s interaction with the band was special on this track.

Conclusion

The Obravo ERIB-2A is an refreshing new design that is transparent and musical and provides outstanding tonality. The instruments all sounded realistic and the vocal presentation competed with designs that cost significantly more. The vocals were  articulate and presented for both male and female vocalists with clarity and spooky good transparency.  Listeners who are enamored with sound stage will not be disappointed as The ERIB-2A  delivers a fantastic image with both excellent width and depth. The space and air between performers is exceptional. Closing my eyes I was able to clearly identify all performers in a sound stage in a defined space. The detail within the stage was defined without ever getting overly analytical  and the imaging was  superb.

Tonality is important in realistic sound production. Instruments sound realistic and lifelike with the ERIB-2A. The sound of acoustic guitar had accurate string tonality and you could hear the inner body of the guitar. Listening to acoustic instruments with this planar design was a treat. The sweet sound of the violin and the detail of the bow and body of the instrument at times gave me goosebumps and the treble extension was as good as it gets. The extension and clarity of drum cymbals were sparkly and never sounded harsh or splashy.  The Hammond organ recording I heard during this audition was never piercing; products with poor treble extension can make your ears ring while trying to reproduce a Hammond organ. The ERIB-2A reproduced horns and organs realistically and musically.

obravo-3

The bass was noticeable in recordings that require deep bass reproduction, rock and large scale recordings always sounded dynamic with good bass extension. Never did I feel that the earspeaker was missing anything in the bass region and the ERIB-2A benefited greatly when using amplifiers with power . The AK240 always delivered a terrific musical presentation but  switching to the VPI 229 and Chord DAVE brought the performance up significantly. The ERIB-2A scaled up enormously with increased dynamics making the music come to life.

So is it perfect? Well not exactly, as good as it sounded, there were some nitpicks that I had. The supplied 1.4 jack always came out while using the reference system. The jack was getting stuck in the amplifiers and if you moved the jack it would cutoff sound and  had to be jiggled to get it to work properly. I had to remove the bare jack from the amps on more than one occasion. Users planning to use this on a full range system would want to invest in an after market cable to address the jack issue. The US distributor Moon Audio offers cable upgrades for this planar design and would be well worth the investment to get the best cable and would eliminate the issues.

The ERIB-2A offers exceptional value rarely found in products ($899) in this price range. The sound was alive and had detail without ever sounding analytical. The ERIB-2A always delivered musical performances on recordings with outstanding transparency and unlimited dynamics. The product always had me involved with the music and my long listening sessions never made me want to use other earspeakers or full size headphones. oBravo has hit a home run with this revolutionary product and created the  worlds first hybrid planar-air-motion transformer design.  If you looking for the ultimate in transparency you need to check out the ERIB-2A. Outstanding product and highly recommended.

AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY IN THE US AT MOON AUDIO

https://www.moon-audio.com/obravo-erib-2a-earphones.htm

Posted

Pros: Sound more like small headphones than earphones, detailing, balanced, airy sound

Cons: Aluminium casing very delicate, build quality doesn't match price. Sound gets very messy the more instruments/layers there are

First of all, thank you to @ejong7 for arranging for me to be included in this review tour. I am in no way affiliated with Obravo or any retailer. I am a head-fi hobbyist and music lover :)

 

Preamble:

I have a set of around 30 – 40 tracks all in the FLAC from varying genres that I use as my test reference playlist. I try to cover as many genres and stick to recordings that have good reputations as well as tracks I know have been lovingly mastered.

I naturally prefer a more balanced sound signature and get treble ‘fatigue’ fairly quickly. Therefore I usually mark down anything that gives me discomfort in the higher registers.

I have experience in mastering, DJ’ing and have had a keen interest in Hi-Fi and Head-Fi for almost 2 decades. I love this hobby and like to share experiences with others.

For this test my source was the Onkyo DP-X1 DAP.

 

Aesthetics and Tactility:

These earphones are huge, almost to the point of looking ridiculous. Luckily I didn’t find their size to cause any discomfort during use and I could happily wear these for hour long listening sessions without needed to reseat or take them out. I used these with Comply Foam tips that had no problem forming a good seal with my ear canals.

The casings are aluminium and look like they will scratch/mark very easily. The earphones are not as heavy as they look like they should be. Even after prolonged use I did not find them working loose and falling out.

 

Cable Microphonics:

I would put these in the medium irritation category for microphonics. They do not exhibit the ridiculous microphonic noise of something like the Sennheiser IE 800 but they are not in the same league as many of the over the ear type earphones I have used. Rubbing the cable doesn’t appear to induce any unwanted noise but if you wear these whilst walking I found bumps to be very audible.

 

Sound Balance:

To me these sound like very well balanced but not entirely flat earphones. This may be due to a slight fit issue but to me these sounded like there was something missing in the lower end. The deepest bass frequencies were not there for me. In the lower frequencies there was a nice level of detailing and timing. Nothing was overly harsh or too squidgy, just tight and impactful.

The mids were a tad subdued but only marginally. There was a great deal of detail again and a lovely presence to certain vocal tracks. Timbre of stringed instruments was fantastic and tiny oscillations could be heard, especially with acoustic guitars.

The highs were very detailed but there is a roll off. These are not for treble heads as the upper treble is not prominent enough for lovers of earphones like the Shure 535s or Final Audio’s Heaven range. The Obravo’s handle delicate treble with panache and there aren’t many earphones I have heard that I would say equal or better their detailing.

 

Soundstage and Other Notes:

Although not the widest or deepest sounding earphones I would say these would be in the top 10% in those factors that I have heard. They have a large soundscape probably helped by the cavernous space inside the earbud. To me you sound like you are in the slightly forward of middle in an

auditorium, not up close and personal but also not right at the back with and ultra-wide and deep experience.

One flaw I would say with these is that they seem to present more delicate music much better than busier, more pumping tracks. There is something strange that happens when the music gets busy, let’s just say things get smeary and confused. Timing seems to go out of the window. This was a bit of a shock to find and doesn’t seem to happen with all busy tracks, just most. This is really disappointing given the price point and something that would make me think twice about buying them.

 

Overall:

My first experience with Obravo’s earphones has been very interesting. They are very quirky, distinctive and definitely stand out in a crowded market place. If you are looking for a very detailed and balanced sound then you should audition these. I have owned/auditioned well over 50 earphones and I would put these in my top 10. The biggest flaw is that when tracks get busy they lose coherence. With this in mind I cannot give these top marks but a very strong recommendation for auditioning. If this is what Obravo can design and manufacture in a relatively short space of time then I am very excited to see what they can come up with next.  

Posted

Pros: Big Sound stage, Transparency, Speed, Tonality - naturally balanced, Vocals

Cons: Case not that practical, down ear design only, bulky for an in ear design. Lacking some sub bass quantity and harsh top end with poorer recordings.

Obravo erib-2a Review

April 2016

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Sources used:

Sony ZX1 Walkman, HP X360 Spectre with MS Win 10 laptop, Tag Mclaren DVD32R cd player.

Amp & Dacs used:

Chord Hugo & Mojo with QED Reference & Vertere DFI USB cables.

 Vorzuge PureII+ portable amplifier with Whiplash Hybrid V3 LOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specification:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~35KHz
  • Tweeter: 8mm Air Motion Transformer Tweeter
  • Dynamic Driver: 10mm Neodymium Driver
  • Impedance: 16 ohm
  • Sensibility in dB: 102dB
  • Weight: 35 g

 

Please visit here for Obravo.com

 

 

 

Firstly need to say thanks to the Eu Jin for organizing this Erib-2a tour and the mystery benefactor who has supplied these to make it possible to listen to these for several days in the comfort of my own home with my pipes and slippers.  Also have to acknowledge Glassmonkey here for making me aware there was a tour of this intriguing earphones to start with otherwise I would be no the wiser!

 

Obravo is a name I have not been so familiar with until recently and with planner magnetic technology becoming ever more present in full size headphones today this looked an interesting prospect with these actually making this a Hybrid with a 10mm Neodymium driver and 8mm air motion transformer tweeter which sounds even more complex when this has to be implemented into an iem casing as opposed to a headphone design.

 

Obravo actually have three different versions of the Erib with a wooden ear cup model for a warmer signature sound and the ceramic version for a more detail and openness although the prices are reflected differently between the three. Here we have the aluminium version for a more balanced sound across the board which comes in at £550 here in the UK currently.

 

 

 

 

 

Ergonomics & Design

 

The design is not your usual iem affair which uses planner magnetic technology in conjunction with a dynamic driver which makes for a different type of listening experience ahead as it is the first such type of iem to be designed like this. The metal casing is fairly deep due to this which does tend to make it stick out of the ear to most iem’s.  The design has been made to wear down from what I can tell although I guess there is nothing to stop you wearing it over ear but the strain relief design makes it feel not so natural to have it this way.  

 

The actual plug system to connect the cable to the iems is a very solid design and just has a push snap shut connection. Then to disconnect just pull with a little extra pressure to release as it is a nice solid connection that will not come away too easily.

The Obravos also come with clear looking silicone wings which wrap around the iem barrel so when you put them in they will help support the weight and direction of the iem to stay in place and low and behold it works and really does keep them in place which is quite an ingenious bit of designing by whoever done this at Obravo.  

 

The cord is a 1.2 Metre  cloth type design with 3.5 jack which is not too microphonic when music is playing which makes this passable on the microphonics  side.

I first tried  silicone tips with the erib’s but there seemed to be no bass and sounded washed out with a harsher top end so went on to the Complys which personally I have not got on with in the past but have to say these were okay and found the art of these iem’s as they were a little big on the bore even in small size that I am is to not try and shove the comply tip all the way into the canal like other iems out there, just push gently enough it forms the seal and let it settle.  as when I first tried getting them in further like a normal tip as well as asserting too much pressure it was muffling the sound so this also helps out with the soundstage effects doing this I found.

 

There is also a balanced cable which was not provided on this tour edition which was a shame as I have a Cavalli Carbon amp on loan from a good friend at the moment (shout out & thanks  to Rocketron around these parts for that) so could of  tested it in balanced mode and would have been interesting  with this iem having an already spacious soundstage already which I will go into in the Sound Impressions section.  For the price it’s just a shame they have not included a balanced cable. 

 

Accessories

 

 

 

.... Is a little hit and miss here with the case been a storage case big enough to get three pairs of these iems in theory if it was not for them filling the dead space with foam inserts to house the iem’s unattached and a cut out place for the 6.3mm plug adaptor (which my the way is a very gorgeous low profile plug adaptor to the normal ones you can buy) and then they have added six metal stalks in the foam cut outs that are meant to house ear tips which is really not practical really if you are travelling with them. Cannot fault the quality and finish of the case but it should really be a travel size case just big enough to store the erib-2a’s with tips and the jack plug adaptor. 

 

It also comes with silicone tips and comply soft memory foam tips and two sets of silicone wings.

 

 

Erib-2a Sound Impressions

 

The first thing you notice with first few minutes of listening is how clear and clean these Obravo’s sound and have a sense of a panoramic soundstage that puts it into the same league of headphones let alone iem’s!

 

A few tracks in and the erib-2a is balanced in its presentation and is not trying to be a cast type signature of any kind and is not predominant in any section with these iem’s.

The erib presents the music in a very clean and articulate way with plenty of black space around everything and feels quick in its start stop response with instruments which give it good pace and rhythm due to its planner magnetic design.

 

Instruments do not sound bloated or coloured and have a natural tone to them. The Erib-2a sounds like it should be a studio monitor as it is sounds fairly balanced but is far from flat in response and has a dynamic feel and with its punchy tight bass adds a dimension of been able to still have that emotional attachment to songs.

With my ZX1 Walkman once I worked out how to get the seal just right with these comply tips it was at home playing through the ZX1 which had enough to drive these 16 ohm erib-2a’s but it was around the 80% point on the volume with most songs so was not much left if there was an older recording that was a few db less in recording levels, normally my JH16’s would be around the 55-65% mark volume mark on my ZX1.

 

Then found myself listening to the ZX1 for a few hours with these with ease using FLAC files with there been a nice compliment between the ZX1 more warmer dynamic signature and the clean calm balanced quick step nature of the erib-2a.

 

It was just a shame I don’t think from my impressions in the design and ergonomics section outlined that I could use these for normal purpose of iem use on the go when out and about or commuting especially when I’ve been used to my custom iems flush fit or something like the Shure SE535 flush type fit.

 

Also with the open vented back design and the already outlined these are not so isolated to traditional iem’s but is only apparent when no music is playing which is great for when commuting as would not need to take them out to talk to someone as with the music stopped I could hear people talking just fine.  Unless you listen to quite passages of music all the time these should be okay for commuting or on the move.

 

 

 

With the Chord Hugo running from FLAC files on the laptop it goes up another level from the ZX1 and can start to hear the real response of the bass on these erib-2a’s and they can go low when they really want to all though some will still feel these will not go low enough. It is indicative to the erib signature been pulled off as without the real bass presence been there these would start to sound to washed out or treble edgy but the bass response is just right with the low bass only really going low when it needs too and not all the time.

 

As from my experience initially with these if you do not get any bass then it is going to be due to an incomplete seal with the tips but once you have there should be a good responsive well controlled bass with the erib-2a. The sub bass is not a big bloated affair covering every inch of room available kind of bass that blanket covers you but more a focused tight controlled bass drop that has a punch to it which you will never hear obstructs the information in the mids even during complex or busy passages of music.

 

The low bass frequency done in precise manner which is complimented by the mid bass section which really gives the Obravos its nice sense of rhythm & beats that gets me tapping my feet with songs and the upper mids giving clarity to the highs which never feel like they are hiding at any time yet clarity and precision is order of the day with this erib-2a’s.

 This iem doesn’t know how to do cluttered or messy with its magnetic planner technology keeping the pace tight and quick with harmonics and upper mids with trebles not been too harsh on the whole although it can step close to going over the line into slight harshness with some above average recorded tracks.

 

The only time the erib-2a does cross that line with been a bit too bright or edgy is if the recording is poor and noticed it certainly doesn’t mask poor recordings yet will reward in spades with a well mastered recording, so it’s one of those iem’s that’s going to at times be painful with songs you love but cannot enjoy as they are at best a torture experience with the Obravos exposing that or with a well recorded bit of material suddenly have a full body to the mids with crystal highs never too sharp with really transparent presentation with a good dynamic range.

 

It is a strange sense of listening to these in a good way which was, as the more hours I have racked up with these I find myself immersed listening to them even though they are very clear, clean and articulate they convey the nuances in detail in a very logical and coherent manner that you get all the information feed at the same time but my brain could easily decipher it all quick as it was been fired at me.

 

Some headphones or eim’s have a way with their signature which can be warm or bassy to add emotion to songs but the erib just tells it the way it is yet at the same time doing so not sounding cold or flat in in the process but this is one of those iems you just hear it instead of feel it.

The soundstage is what helps make instruments have the ability to come at you from the wings from a distance and add to the panning of the stereo image with great effect that it makes you feel like you are listening to a pair of open back headphones. 

 

In conjunction with the erib-2a seeming to have a very good “black ground” it lends to instruments just seem to be in their own space and time which I think is also helped by the different driver technology with the magnetic planner keeping the highs fluid with great transients which is a word that can sum up the overall package of this sound as it is just so uber clear and clean sounding like someone has stripped away a big veiled curtain from the music.

 

I have just recently fell in love with a totally opposite signature with the Meze99 classic headphones yet I find myself loving this just as much even though it is a totally different way of painting the picture with these iem’s although it paint’s a more lifelike painting or to me I would say it is more like a photo as the more I listen to these I think they really would be at home in the studio for mixing as they give a great realistic balance across the range with real tonal qualities to all instruments or vocals that are played through it.

 

Listening to Muse - Dead inside track I could just hear the vocals of Matt Bellamy project really well in a 3D sense with the more his vocals got stronger and louder yet all the way though this song I could always hear the clarity of the mids clear as a whistle as the mid bass and lower bass kicks are so clean and controlled it sounds like they are detached separately in their own sphere yet still all together sharing the same space as they never interfere with what I’m hearing in the mids with the electric guitars is tonal delight with no distortion or any over thickness to the strings.

 

 If anything I did notice with some string work was sometimes there was maybe not enough body or crunch to the chords on the guitar strings not that it was ever to thin sounding but felt there could have been a little more meat on the bones with string work on some songs. This did not detract from the overall enjoyment of listening as it still conveys guitars to a good level but would just like to of seen a tad more meat on the bones in this area at times.

 

Listening to Rob D Furious Angles (instrumental) and Clubbed to Death is easy to follow with great separation and great speed and agility keeping up and the spread of the soundstage makes these songs feel like you are in the middle of it all with the pin point imaging these eribs do with ease.  I might not be getting the full 10K fathom depth of bass on the Erib-2a to other bass hungry iem’s around or headphones out there but it still gives plenty of body to the mids and they still go low enough to give the impact needed to fulfil  dynamics to a song  that have a well recorded bass note.  

 

It would be nice to have some more low end or a blanket sub bass effect with certain tracks but these will still surprise you once in a while how deep they are able to go like Queen’s You Don’t Fool Me all though just sits straddling along with a nice mid bass tempo which has one drum kick that comes out of nowhere almost goes sub sonic for these iem’s and is a like wow moment… where did that come from?! Dance oriented electronic bass seems to make these reach a bit further down with some tracks too which makes them perfect with the fast stepping mids & highs and the bass punch the erib-2a’s can deliver.

 

 

 

 

The erib-2a’s are so good at presenting everything else on such an even keelwith a still more than acceptable execution of how the bass is delivered from the mid to low frequency’s I can live with this bass quite happily (this is coming from someone who listens to JH16 bass and likes the new Meze bass) after all I have heard plenty of iem’s out there before that exhibit all the good points like the erib-2a is capable of only to have a very flat bass which equals no bass at all making it feel like the whole experience is flat lining a dull experience  with it too treble accentuated due to lack of bass balancing it all out, which I do not get close to feeling with these iems at all.

 

Detail is something else with the erib-2a as minute fine micro details come out of nowhere and will sound like they are passed to you on a plate separate from everything else that is going on around you.  Listening to Trombone Shorty has plenty of funk and dynamics on the erib and the trumpets and trombones are dominant as vocals are on these wonderfully focused vocal generators. 

Yes..  vocals sound so clear with great micro detail uncluttered, easy to follow with no warming, just a neutral & natural tone to vocals and harmonies are so well layered in the music too it makes following backing and lead vocals very easy with the erib-2a’s.

 

Listening to Dido has depth and space with her vocals feeling alive with a lush texture to the tone of her voice the erib sounds perfection whether it be the smooth vocals of Kate Bush or Lera Lynn to the gravel scrapping rock vocals of AC-DC’s Brian Johnson just sound so linear and unveiled and can hear all the nuances of his gritty powerful rock vocals.  It is a joy to hear the vocals so easily right in front of you but at the same time just as easy to follow all the details of the rest of the music which envelopes the listener.

 

Not the best of recordings for such a band but Queen’s Innuendo and Invisible Man really show how the erib’s deal with detail and imaging with the big soundstage available to great effect.

The depth of these iems mixed with the expansive soundstage makes you feel like you are sitting in the middle rather than traditional sitting in front of stage feeling which reminded me of an experience I had hearing a pair of Eclipse speakers for the first time last weekend (thanks again to Rocketron for letting me listen to them) where the imaging was staggering putting me more in the music than I have heard with a pair of speakers and the erib-2a has ironically done that to me immersing me into the music with its wrap around soundstage width, depth and imaging in spades.

 

Only trade off with this was sometimes something like drumming that usually comes from the front direction of stage in a song was firing from the side of me which was a bit strange at times was enjoying the overall signature of the erib-2a’s by now there was still enough natural information coming from the centre of the soundstage the times it felt a bit abnormally to the side which is where it probably feels like it is pulling you into the mix at the same time. 

 

Listening to Ed Sheeran X album has plenty of verve and wide dynamics with nice sparkle to the highs making Ed’s acoustic guitar sound realistically sharp at the end of notes yet still the Obravos still have a way of just sounding not over coloured with a nice balance to preceding’s with plenty of different sounds mixed into tracks on this album are easy to pick out and follow.

 

 Michael Jacksons 25th remaster of Thriller has so much air, speed & attack on this album with the quick response of the planer magnetic technology, its ability to be quick start and stop with musical notes with not much overhang gives Thriller a “live” feel with a sense you could be listening to this in a 80’s disco club. 

 

 

 

These went to another level was then listening to live music with the erib-2a made me go wow as it is just perfect placement soundstage feeling of measuring a room or auditorium correctly as if it was done by one of those laser rulers, it is uncanny listening to live performances on these, again that almost neutral and linear feel just with so much spaciousness reflect live performances on level of realism with the Obravos.

 

The erib-2a with live songs really became addictive due to the vast soundstage the Obravos provided and sense of depth and reality with the soundstage to a concert with vocals as good as they already are on the Erib-2a they are just cutting with clarity and my current fav track live with Cream’s Toad – live the Royal Albert with the drums sounding taught and with really great panning from left to right and the symbols clashing have a lovely sparkle and shimmer to them. I could play this track again and again on the Obravos with ease for sure as I get a rush hearing this every time. 

 

 

 

Conclusion

The Obravo erib-2a over the course of seven days in terms of sound have gradually won me over...

 

They may not be quite there with enough bass for some that place emphasis on plenty of bass type signature to go with their coffee & three sugars but it has a nice punchy focused well controlled bass which can plummet in quantity sometimes which can take you aback a bit.

 

The emphasis here seems to of been make a well balanced iem with less colouration than possible but yet still make it sound dynamic enough to breathe life into music and have a massive soundstage for a pair of iems that can rival many open backs out there.

 

I found where the Obravos can do rendering of micro detail with the soundstage well is because  it does not need to be a warm or bass heavy iem as it just brings clarity to everything you listen to.

Sure, it might not be too forgiving with poor or overly bright recordings but when a piece of music is mastered well enough the Obravos really can sing to the point you can listen to these for hours on end.

I am glad I decided to partake in this tour in the end as I have found a really addictive iem that does it in a very understated yet reassuring way of just letting you hear music without all the fanfare of bells and whistles and magic shows.

 

 It doesn’t try to be something it is not, the erib-2a is just straight down the line in presenting you with a well-balanced natural detailed listen. I just wish they were a little more low profile somehow fit wise with their sense of I’m playing Frankenstein's monster tonight and had a better stream lined storage case and maybe the price will deter some from investigating further as I feel at this price point you are paying for the technology as much as the sound but if you fall in love with these this probably might not deter you.

 

There is not too much to really moan about on the sound too much, a couple of smaller issues here and there which I have mentioned in the Sound impressions section but it really only losses out on stars for me with the culmination of the bulkiness and design with storage case been impractical and the overall price (they should be including a balanced cable at this price) is what hampers it for me otherwise it would be getting higher marks which is a shame as I like the overall sound of these. 

 

The short of it which in terms of SQ is Obravo have without doubt made a good sounding iem with over complicating it which is a Bravo from me for the Obravo!

 

Posted

Pros: Clearest voice string and keyboards I've heard in an IEM - lack of microphonics - works well even through your mobile

Cons: Bass needs boosting with EQ - accessories package is a bit strange - down from the ear design - some harshness on treble heavy tracks


Introduction

Many many thanks go to Eu Jin for allowing me to participate in this review tour of the ERIB-2a Universal IEMs. I have to tell you that I was completely unaware of Obravo as a company and do not keep up with the latest developments in the headfi world unless they are so huge it's difficult to miss them. I would also point out that I tend to take the latest developments in the world of Audio with a pinch of salt. That being said I try to keep an open mind and have products ranging from the old (AKG K1000 bass heavy)


to the new (Chord Mojo)

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My tastes in the headphone world have become quite expensive. These IEMs will raise a few eyebrows at the retail price of 549 sterling. I've bought more expensive in ears so this didn't in itself phase me.
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The Gear Used
I own a set of Sennheiser IE800s , single driver universals with a fixed cable. I have had these for around 2 years. Six months ago I got a set of Snugs Custom Shells for them as an upgrade. 

  I also have the ACS Encore Studio Custom In Ears. They have an over the ear detachable cable design and have 5 drivers and linum bax cables. I have had these for almost a year.  I own other IEMs but time being short I have concentrated on the Senns and ACS as sensible opposition for comparison purposes.

The Sennheisers are a down from the ear design and really benefit from the solid fitting earplugs I had made by Snugs. They haven't radically altered the sound quality of the IE00s but at least I'm not constantly adjusting the tips and the shells when they are trying to come out of my ears due to the weight of the cables and the shape of the driver shells. The IE800s sound rich detailed and have a lot of bass.

The ACS Encores have even more bass. They are arguably a more accurate sound signature than the Senns but don't have quite as big a soundstage. The fit and isolation is incredible , as you'd expect from the founding father of custom earphones , (at least in the UK ). 

The Obravos , for all their technological advances, were against tough competition.

The Design
The ERIB-2a has a new type of hybrid driver design . It has a planar magnetic and neodynum tweeter design. It is a wear down from the ear design. There is a means to get the comply foam tips to stay in place which is supplied with the Obravos. A simple silicon wing is pulled onto the barrel of the driver and swivels around to fit inside the earlobe. It's a first for me to see this but it really works! I was amazed but these things keep the IEMs in place even during a run. The cable is a cord affair which is detachable. 

I must let you know straight away that I am a fan of both IEMs and Full Size Headphones. I have always considered full size to be the winners for wearing indoors and IEMs are for out and about and on the move. Some exceptional IEMs may be good enough accomodate both needs. I have maybe a dozen different headphones ; full sized closed , full sized open , earspeakers, full sized bluetooth, in ear bluetooth, on the ear , in ear universals , Custom In Ears, 4 driver IEMs, 2 driver IEMs you name it. But what if just one set of IEMs could deal with it all? That's half a room full of amps, Dac Amps and DAPs and headphones all cleared out and a set of In Ears in my pocket instead......


The Sound Quality
Let me tell you now ;  I am a fan of these IEMs. The sound signature is light and airy and has much to compare it with a full size open headphone. There is a sparkle in the mids and treble which is immediately apparent. Acoustic guitar strings keyboards and vocals have a shimmer. The clarity of these IEMs is stunning ; I have seldom heard anything of any size which makes vocals so easy to follow. The Obravo does not have the silky velvet smoothness of the IE800 but what you get instead are studio tricks literally flying out of the mix at you. I never expected to hear that level of clarity when I'm out on a run listening to my phone. 

This level of clarity will inevitably have a trade off. Poor recorded music is treated without forgiveness. Anything which has an edginess to it will be glaring these IEMs. Thankfully sich tracks are few and far between. I found a few I can share with you whilst listening to Deezer- Galveston by Glen Campbell which is shrill throughout and Both Sides Now by Judy Collins which has a distorted electronic keyboard and a glaring quality in some of the vocal peaks as well as having a dullness in the vocals overall. I can live with a track or 2 being unlistenable if I'm getting so much reward with the rest. And I listened to the ERIBs for hours and hours with classical acoustic folk pop rock electronic music and films and documentaries aswell.


The Special Touch
The quality of the spaciousness in these IEMs is stunning. The IEMs are on a par and go beyond many full size headphones in the sound stage and precision of mids and highs.


I did the usual trick I reserve for my AKG K1000s when I put these on and switched on my Acoustic Zen Maestro Virtual Speakers to watch a film in 7.1.



Yes , I time took the earphones off because I thought I had left my surround system on and was hearing those speakers. Furthermore , the phone rang in one of the scenes I was watching . I did the classic and took my IEMs off and looked around for where I had left the landline. EVEN THOUGH I knew the phone I have doesn't have that ringtone. Doh......
Explosions , gun shots dialogue all sounded like full size speakers were blasting at me. Just as accurate as many of my full size headphones, the oBravos proved themselves capable of reproducng the sound that the Out of Your Head software was designed for , namely the feeling that you were in the same room listening to those speakers playing rather than the sound signature of your headphones.


More info can be found at https://fongaudio.com/out-of-your-head-trial-download/

Obravo ERIB-2a v Sennheiser HD800 Trek Modded

Given the performance as a pseudo speaker , I decided it would be interesting to see how the oBravos measured up against a decent set of full size headphones. My Sennheiser HD800s modified with a Trek mod - my own version of the Anaxilus mod. The anaxilus mod made my 800s sound like a set of Beats so I removed 2/3rds of the materials used and got what I wanted in bass improvement without the dulling of the upper frequencies. I have also changed the cable for a 3.5 mm terminated lower impedance cable so it sounds louder now.
I plugged my 800s into my Ibasso DX100



and made a quick comparison with the ERIB-2a over the course of the next 15 minutes.


It will come as no surpise that the HD800s sounded larger- voices had more depth and a richer tone. The impression of a large sound stage is well documented for the Senns, the oBravos were no slouch in this department and I felt there was little to choose between the 2. The overall refinement and effortlessness of the HD800s is in contrast to the punchier thinner shimmery signature of the oBravos. My opinion of the comparison was that the HD800s were a world class headphone


whereas the oBravos were a top class IEM that had some of the attributes of a good full size headphone and 1 of the attributes of a world class full size.
Time was spent comparing the IEMs I had which were of a similar retail price.

Sennheiser IE800 v oBravo ERIB-2a

Both IEMs are a down from the ear design . The shell on the Sennheisers are much smaller than the oBravos.


However, this is where it gets interesting. The shells on the IE800s have to go partially inside the ear and to get a decent bass response they have to fit slightly into the ear canal. There needs to be a reasonably tight seal to get the best sound which is hard to achieve and needs constant readjustment. The fit , for my ears , is awful.
The oBravos driver shell sits outside the ear. The design is ear bud as opposed to ear canal and for the sound stage to be right they should not be forced tightly into the ear canal.




There are silicon wings provided that sit over the nozzles - they rest against the inside of the ears and keep the tips nicely in place, even when running.
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The fit is comfortable and the thought behind the design makes the best sound easy to achieve.
The tips on the Ie800s are patented by Sennheiser.


This means the only ones you can use that will consistently stay on the barrel are the silicon tips provided. They irritate my ears. The only solution for me was to buy Snugs Custom Sleeves for them ; this set me back another 120 sterling on top of the 600 pounds already laid out.
The oBravos come supplied with Comply Foam Tips, they stay in place and are comfortable and give a small bass boost. This is definetely needed for the oBravos.
The isolation of the oBravos was average. The combination of the ear bud fit and given the holes around the front which vent to the outside this was unsurpising. This means there are limitations as to how much one might enjoy classical music out and about, but on the same token traffic noise intrudes enough for there to be some positive safety factors. The IE800s do not isolate well - the sound leaks out of the gap between the ear canal and the flex in the silicon causes plenty of leakage.
The sound of the IE800s - if you can get them adjusted well enough and for long enough - is lush , spacious and has plenty of bass. On the move , with stock tips, they don't stay in my ears for long enough to appreciate the qualities.
The sound of the oBravos is thinner , more spacious and has a much quicker bass decay . On the move, much of the finer attributes are still present as the signature makes vocals much clearer in the mix and the bass doesn't go low enough to get lost with the pounding of my feet if I'm runnning.
The microphonics of the IE800 are not good , the cable is heavy and noisy and, as mine has done , tends to go stiff after a few years. All of which contributes to it wanting to come out of your ears. The construction is kevlar and it has less flex than most cables I've used even from new but it is extremely strong. Custom Sleeves alleviate some but not all of these issues.
The cable for the oBravos is a cord construction .


It's not the most elegant looking cable cosmetically in my opinion, but there are no microphonics from it and it is flexible and won't be likely to go stiff over time. The cable from the oBravos is a snap connection and is solid and gives a decent length between the driver and the cable which contributes to the lack of microphonics.


The cable to the IE800s is fixed.

OBravo v ACS Encore Studio Pro Custom IEMs

The ACS has a custom made fit which is the most isolating IEM I've ever used , more isolating than custom sleeves Westones ER4Ps etc. Classical music can be enjoyed anywhere or any other quiet passages of music.
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The cable has no microphonics and is linum bax so is thin and strong.
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The sound has more bass than the IE800s has a smaller soundstage and an accurate but warmer feel to it than the oBravos.
The carry case for both ACS and oBravo is too large to be transported around.
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Whilst you could probably get away with putting the oBravos in your pocket loose there would be a tangled mess doing that the ACS. Both need there own small carry pouch or case which aren't supplied.

Conclusion





The oBravo ERIB-2a proves to be a capable perfomer with much to like ; notably the sound stage , the shimmering mids and highs , the comfort , the lack of microphonics and the versatility from phone to dap to DAC to full desktop setup.
The price is 549 - some will find this steep considering there is a thinness in the sound which will take time to adjust to . The bass is accurate and fast but does not have the impact of full size or similar prices IEMs. The down the ear design makes sense for the ERIB and doesn't get in the way but arguably lacks the elegant looks of a snazzier looking cable with an over the ear design.
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For a means of being almost a jack of all trades I would say that these IEMs would be hard to ignore amongst similar competitors , even Custom IEMs , at this price level , so I think 4 stars out of 5 are in order.
oBravo ERIB-2a
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oBravo ERIB-2a in ear monitor hybrid with dynamic and planar drivers.

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