Reviews by amigomatt


1000+ Head-Fier
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
  1. Smooth, very forward vocals that sound rich but a little bloated
  2. lower mid hump again makes the piano sound dull and lacking sparkle. Upright bass dominates the texture
  3. Rolled off treble, lacking air and space, narrow soundstage
Doug MacLeod - There's A Time
  1. Good separation of musical elements, although I would have liked a slightly wider, less congested soundstage
  2. Nice warm and forward vocals, but a little hump around the lower mids causes some slight bloat to the sound
  3. upper trebles slightly rolled off and lacking in openness
Guns 'n Roses - Appetite for Destruction
  1. Soundstage again seems closed in, with everything focused heavily on the center image
  2. Lacking high treble energy, rendering cymbals weak and distant, crunch of the guitar sound seeming rolled off
  3. Mids very prominent and a boxy sound to the snare
  4. Somewhat lacking dynamic punch
Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs - God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
  1. Again, upper bass/lower mids sounds somewhat bloated/thick and lacking in definition, getting in the way of the overall sound
  2. 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