oBravo Cupid Basic - Reviews
Pros: Outstanding build quality and ergonomics, Excellent noise isolation, Outstanding detail retrieval, Great low-end performance
Cons: Thin, strained midrange, Long proprietary cable connectors, Unconventional imaging, Track dependent staging
TLDR –

The Cupid makes for a highly engaging listen and a truly unique package that’s easily worth more than oBravo’s RRP.


Introduction –

Most will surely be familiar with oBravo, a Taiwanese audio manufacturer who specialises in air-motion transformer (AMT) and planar magnetic drivers (PMD) and whose earphones have been known to stretch into the 5-digit price range. There’s a reason for this, these driver types are immensely difficult to miniaturise and oBravo design and build their driver’s in-house using a patented process. It’s been almost a decade since their first fully formed model was released onto the market and now, we’re seeing that cutting-edge technology filter down to a substantially more attainable price range. Enter the Cupid, a hybrid earphone sporting a custom dynamic driver + planar magnetic tweeter configuration that comes in at a very reasonable £249 asking price. With such a name and legacy, the Cupid competes viciously in one of the most competitive price brackets in the IEM market. You can read more about oBravo and peruse their line-up here and treat yourself to a Cupid here.



Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Danny from oBravo very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Cupid for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



Tech Specs –

Weight:
200g

Technology: Dynamic, Planar Tweeter

Colour: Black Gold

Audio Range: 20Hz~40KHz

Sensitivity: 105dB

Impedance: 16ohms



The Pitch –

DD + PMT with Physical Crossover


The Cupid is a very unique hybrid-driver earphone combining a 6mm dynamic driver (DD) woofer with a 9mm planar magnetic tweeter (PMT). Furthermore, where the vast majority of designs employ circuitry to designate each driver with a frequency range, the Cupid rather utilises acoustics. Usually, this is in the form of a low-pass filter on the DD and maybe a high-pass on the PMT though I would be unable to say as there are no further details on oBravo’s website. Physical cross overs are much harder to tune but can create a more coherent sound with better phase alignment.

For those unfamiliar with the technology, standard dynamic drivers have a diaphragm that pushes air driven by a small central voice coil. Planar magnetic drivers, on the other hand, employ a conductive trace that covers a much larger surface area of the diaphragm. The benefit to this design is that force is exerted equally across the entire surface which means you can employ a lighter, quicker accelerating/decelerating diaphragm material.

It also means that at high frequencies PMD’s experience less modal breakup due to the uniform application of force, hence, they provide better extension and lower distortion. Planars are often lauded for their powerful bass response, able to move more air with their larger driven surface. However, as oBravo are working within the limitations of a minute housing, they have instead decided to capitalise on their low-distortion nature to deliver an insightful top-end.



Accessories –

The Cupid comes in clean and space-efficient packaging. Inside the hard box is a foam inlet containing 3 sealed bags of Comply foam tips of varying size alongside a soft pouch with individual compartments for each earpiece to prevent scratches. An adjacent cut-out houses 3 sizes of whirlwind tips and the Cupids themselves. The whirlwind tips are quite intriguing, with reinforced ridging beneath the mushroom tip that provides a stronger seal when inserted deeper in the ear.

DSC08199

A pull-tab provides easy access to a lower compartment containing the 2.5mm balanced cable and Velcro strap. There are actually 3 variants of the Cupid, standard containing just the aforementioned accessories, the prime version including a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter and ultimate version that contains an additional 4.4mm Pentaconn adapter on top. The adapters are very nicely constructed and have a similar build to the cable’s plug, providing a congruent aesthetic.



Design –

Fundamentally, the Cupid assumes a pod-like over-ear design reminiscent of Shure’s highly acclaimed housings along with all their benefits. That said, where a basic acrylic complexion was to be found there, a defining feature of the Cupid is its dense and lustrous electroplated brass construction that exudes a very premium aura. These earphones are a spectacle; smoothly formed and immaculately finished, creating a play of light and shadow that’s certainly very difficult to capture on camera. Meanwhile, as they’re quite compact and produce a tremendously strong seal, the Cupid’s weight doesn’t feel burdensome in the ear while its density feels thoroughly convincing in the hand. The construction quality certainly belies their asking price.

DSC08201 (1)

Rather controversially, oBravo have chosen to implement keyed MMCX connectors. The key prevents swivelling and offers some additional reinforcement, however, those wanting to change the cable will have to modify the plug themselves which will naturally void all manufacturer support. The plugs are also ridiculously long which can cause them to rub on the temples, however, I didn’t experience this issue personally. Still, the cable itself provides a similar impression of quality as the earphones. It’s a 4-wire braided unit with OCC conductors in a Litz geometry. The connectors are metal and the jack reminiscent of Ranko plugs.



Fit & Isolation –

The Cupid is one of the best fitting earphones I’ve tested, compact, low-profile and with a very strong seal. Due to their size, they don’t contact any part of my average-sized outer ears, thereby forming no hotspots over time. As they are very slim and lie flush with the outer ear, they would also be a good choice for side-sleepers so long as the longer MMCX connectors don’t cause discomfort for the listener’s ears. I could spot no obvious vents which reinforces their excellent seal and passive noise isolation.

DSC08247

With foam tips especially, the Cupid would be perfect for frequent travellers and commuters. The upside to this is also their use of a dynamic driver, most of which are vented. The Cupid is an oddity in that it provides a rare combination of full, punchy and extended bass alongside excellent isolation and seal. I found the included whirlwind tips an excellent complement to their design in both sound and seal.



Sound –

oBravo Cupid

Testing Methodology: Arta via IEC 711 coupler to Startech external sound card. Note that 7-9KHz peaks are artefacts of my measurement setup. I also did not hear the channel imbalance in that region in subjective listening. Take this graph with a grain of salt. Measurements besides channel balance are volume matched at 1K.



Tonality –

Every now and then an earphone arrives that challenges my ability to analyse sound and the Cupid is such a model. Fundamentally, this earphone is highly engaging, with a naturally voiced albeit thin, vivid and highly revealing voicing. Technicalities are excellent for the price, no question, and this is brought to the fore through its W-shaped tuning that emphasizes the sub-bass, upper-midrange and middle-treble. As many others have mentioned, the Cupid is such a curious mix of qualities that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in addition to a great technical achievement. What it isn’t is balanced, linear or orthodox in tuning or staging.

DSC08205

Of note, the design of the Cupid makes it quite flexible in terms of fit. As aforementioned, the sound is tip sensitive, however, the stock whirlwind tips are an excellent companion. Should the user want a slightly tighter low-end, they can upsize and push the tips down so the grill of the nozzle is flush with the tip’s surface. This should also shift the high-frequency peaks slightly higher, but I found it a tad bright and fatiguing. My preferred pairing were the medium tips installed standardly on the lip of the nozzle which provided a bit more body to the sound while tapering off the high-end slightly. I also found the angle of the housings to affect the sound quite noticeably, perhaps due to the nature of the PMT. Pushing the housings deeper and angling the housings back provided slightly more coherent imaging to my ears.



Bass –

Weighty, articulate and with solid pressure in the sub-bass, the Cupid’s low-end has excellent extension and technical qualities. It has moderate emphasis, but not too much in the mid-bass so it isn’t ever-present and overbearing. The tonality is pleasing, with emphasis centred mostly around the sub-bass while refraining from over-extending into muddiness, only enough to provide affirming note fullness. The mid-bass is mildly enhanced, retaining a natural, albeit enlarged bass note presentation. Meanwhile, the upper-bass falls off smoothly into the lower-midrange in order to prevent excessive warmth. The result is a sound that is full with great kick and slam, carrying what I consider to be natural warmth but also minimal tubbiness.

Bloat and muddiness are also kept well at bay by excellent driver control delivering a tight sub-bass and concise, punchy mid-bass. This was most apparent to me when listening to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” where the rapid drums around 55s can become confused on slower drivers. It was apparent here, that both attack and decay are quick for a dynamic driver. You don’t get thick, lingering notes, but a tactful and pacey presentation with great definition, texture and kick. The low-end on the Cupid is very dynamic and its emphasized quantity will cater more towards those wanting engagement over perfect balance and linearity. Still, the Cupid will lure in unsuspecting audiophiles and captivate not with huge presence but moderate enhancement and outstanding technicalities.



Mids –

I will admit that personally, I am most sensitive to midrange timbre, which will be informed in part by the bass and treble but ultimately must strike some sort of balance throughout. The Cupid is evidently not balanced in any region, but overall, its vocals aren’t too wonky either. What immediately stands out is a lack of any warmth and diminished midrange body. There’s little upper-bass warmth and a large dip in the lower-midrange before rapidly increasing emphasis to an upper-midrange hump. As such, vocals are brought to the fore but distinctly lack power and density. Nonetheless, they also avoid the fallibilities of most clarity-focussed earphones. They aren’t too intimate for instance, and vocals don’t strike as over-forward nor strident even if they can come across as strained at times.

DSC08239

Evidently, this is not a presentation for those valuing a natural timbre or rich, organic instrumentation. Rather, the Cupid excels with clarity and definition, providing a revealing, delicate and open soundscape. There’s no veil, warmth or density to mire that crystal-clear image while sibilance is a non-issue with sharp 6KHz attenuation providing a very smooth articulation that takes the edge off the Cupid’s clear yet thin vocals. Altogether this weaves a presentation that is highly defined and hyper separated but without stridence or a metallic timbre. To reiterate, the Cupid isn’t especially natural and isn’t precise in its reproduction of albums with differing mastering style, but it never comes across as explicitly wonky either. This is a vivid and engaging presentation first and foremost.



Highs –

The top-end offers a split-character, organic and smooth in the foreground but crisp higher up, all the while upholding excellent clarity, technical qualities and separation throughout. It’s a brighter earphone so those averse to sharpness and crisp instrumentation head warning. It begins with a sharply attenuated lower-treble that saps percussion of any harsh, hard-edged quality before twin peaks in the middle and upper-treble. This grants treble pristine clarity but also results in a thinner instrument body. Higher instruments such as high hats are brought to the fore as are background and micro-details. The foreground, meanwhile, is slightly more laid-back, however, as the PMT provides a very precise attack and concise transient response, the Cupid has fantastic detail retrieval throughout the entire top end; if also further exacerbating the thin character of its presentation.

The tuning is undoubtedly unorthodox, with a bright background and abundant air rather than being aggressive in the foreground. There’s a touch of glare and grain in the background on some tracks that prevents the Cupid from achieving the immaculate, clean and effortless sense of distance rendered by higher-end earphones. Still, there’s excellent extension at play here alongside great resolution. Energy is abundant and there’s even a pleasing amount of sparkle. The Cupid is aggressive and easily one of the most detailed in its price class; it’s certainly very engaging and sheds light on little details that earphones around this price rarely do, if ever. However, in so doing, it also has less focussed and stable imaging than earphones with more orthodox tuning.



Soundstage –

Surely one of the most unique characteristics of this earphone as it is especially track dependent but technically very proficient. In terms of dimensions, the earphone can cast deep and wide, well outside the head in all axis. However, it doesn’t always create such a grand presentation as on some tracks, the background becomes more intimate due to its brightness, creating a more closed in presentation. Depth is always excellent, but not too distant so vocals remain defined and focused. Imaging, however. is a mixed bag.

There’s a sort of dead zone in the middle, vocals are well centred but panning and directional cues only occur to the sides. As transients are clean and sharp, the presentation is almost holographic, but instrument positioning also isn’t quite as precise and organised as one would expect. Additionally, the midrange is highly layered, however, the top end isn’t as the background and foreground lack contrast which can overshadow some fine details. The same can be said for separation which is excellent through the bass and midrange but reduced in the treble due to the lack of contrast and touches of glare that creep in every now and then.



Driveability –

DSC08213

The Cupid has a 16-ohm impedance paired with a higher 105dB sensitivity. I found it required a little more volume than most earphones but it’s easy to drive to high volumes overall. That said, you will want to drive the Cupid from a low impedance source. For instance, comparing between the 1-ohm Shanling M2X and 10-ohm Hiby R6 yielded a slower low-end and the high-end almost disappeared entirely. This smoother sound may suit some listeners, however, so those curious will want to experiment with low-value impedance adapters. Otherwise, the Cupid loves a clean and powerful source, scaling very well. Power is most notable with regards to the bass which gained control on my desktop setup. Meanwhile, the tweeter is a bit more sensitive to hiss, though I didn’t have issue with any of my modern sources.



Comparisons –

Final Audio E5000 ($279):
The E5000 is a warmer, smoother earphone. It is noticeably more bass biased, there’s slightly less sub-bass quantity but similarly strong extension. The E5000 has more mid-bass, making it warmer where the Cupid is cleaner but also a touch less linear. Both have excellent control and definition, the Cupid being more agile, the E5000 more natural in decay and voicing. The E5000 has a much fuller and more organic midrange, the Cupid is thinner and more neutral in tone but both are quite smooth up top.

The E5000 has more laid-back vocals while the Cupid is more forward. The E5000 is denser while the Cupid is more open, defined and revealing. The Cupid has a much more aggressive top-end with sharper transients and more detail retrieval throughout. It also isn’t as clean or organised, the E5000 possessing a darker background and more defined layers. Both have excellent soundstage expansion, the Cupid has sharper imaging while the E5000 has more realistic positioning.

Campfire Audio IO ($299): The IO is a more neutral sound overall but possesses a similarly vocal forward character. It has substantially less sub-bass extension but also a similar amount of bass overall, focussing more on the mid and upper-bass instead. As such, the IO is warmer and actually a touch fuller while the Cupid has more weight, rumble and power. The IO has that typical sharper, quicker decaying BA bass where the Cupid decays more naturally delivering more texture and greater dynamics overall. The IO shares a similar midrange presentation too. As its centre midrange is more forward, it is a touch more vocal forward and has more warmth too.

However, it is similarly thin and a bit strained, neither specialising in perfect timbre. Both cater towards high vocal clarity, extension and definition instead. Within the high-end, the IO has a more focussed foreground and a slightly warmer tone while the Cupid has sharper transients with thinner instrumentation but also more resolution and extension. Neither have an especially clean background, but the Cupid has a much larger soundstage, the IO being quite intimate. The IO has slightly more stable imaging while the Cupid has sharper cues and is more holographic.

Periodic Audio Be ($299): Of note, comparison will be to a modded Be (detailed here) which has a more balanced sound than stock. The Be has a more linear low-end with light mid-bass warmth. The Cupid has more sub-bass bias and a bit more extension, delivering a thicker note but also less warmth, it delivers more power while the Be is more natural. Both have similar driver control, the Be has more natural decay and a smoother texture while the Cupid is tighter and quicker decaying, delivering more definition and slightly higher dynamics. The Be is much more linear through the midrange with a very accurate timbre. It’s warmer and fuller but still sufficiently clear. It’s also smoothly articulated and denser, overall, vocals are just as present but larger and more powerful with more life-like representation.

The Cupid has higher clarity and extension, it is more revealing with greater definition and separation. The Cupid has a more aggressive top-end, the Be is smoother in note attack with less concise transients. The Cupid is more detailed too with much better extension and higher resolution, clearly the more resolving top-end. The Be has a warmer treble and more body, slightly more texture in the foreground. It has a cleaner, darker background generating more stable imaging with more defined layers. Meanwhile, the Cupid has a larger soundstage with sharper imaging and higher separation through the bass and midrange especially.

DSC08211

Oriveti OH300($299): Also a W-shaped IEM but substantially smoother in its tuning. Both sport a sub-bass focus paired with a reasonably linear mid-bass and recessed upper-bass for a full yet clean low-end presentation. The Oriveti sounds a bit bassier as its top-end is less forward. The Cupid has slightly higher driver control and quicker decay where the OH300 is a touch smoother and more naturally decaying but also less defined. The OH300 has a slightly more forward vocal range as its emphasis centres mostly around the centre midrange.

It has more lower-midrange quantity with greater body albeit neither are warm in tone, being neutral and clean. The Cupid has higher definition and clarity with more extension, however the OH300 is hardly lacking here, and is noticeably more natural. Both are very smoothly articulated and laid-back in the lower-treble. The Cupid is clearly more detailed in the treble with better extension and micro-detail retrieval. Meanwhile, the OH300 has a much darker, cleaner background so it is a lot more composed, lacking the glare and thin instrument body of the Cupid. The Cupid has a larger soundstage and sharper imaging while the OH300 is more stable and realistic in its positioning with slightly better separation.

Acoustune HS1503AL (~$400): A similar style of sound from a single DD earphone with similar focus on acoustic design. The HS1503AL has a warmer low-end with more linear wide-band emphasis through the low-end, the Cupid being more sub-bass focused. The low-end on the Acoustune is slightly more natural in voicing, driver control is slightly higher on the Acoustune and decay is slightly more natural, it is more dynamic while the Cupid is a touch cleaner and quicker but also with less resolution. The midrange presentation is very similar, the Acoustune has more warmth and body from its low-end and a bit more density in the upper-midrange sounding more orthodox. The Cupid is thinner and more neutrally toned.

It has better extension and sounds slightly more open where the Acoustune sounds more natural while upholding very high clarity and definition. The HS1503AL has a more aggressive foreground and also sports a small middle-treble bump but is much cleaner in the background overall. It has more instrument body and sounds more focussed with better contrast and foreground detail retrieval. The Cupid meanwhile has more sparkle and air but is also a lot thinner, it has slightly better extension and a larger soundstage overall. The Acoustune has more stable imaging representing a more orthodox version of the Cupid’s tuning but also lacking the transient qualities of its PMT.



Verdict –

DSC08236

When you’ve been reviewing audio gear for half a decade you’re never really surprised. Over the years, portable audio has seen maturation not dissimilar to the smartphone industry. There’s no weird and wonderful proof of concepts, it’s been done and now refined, creating a spectrum of what is simply… good, sometimes great. The Cupid is such a surprising rarity, and it sounds different to just about everything else. And yet somehow, it works. Sure, it represents one of oBravo’s most affordable models but it still lies in a price range littered with models punching above their weight. Yet even here, the Cupid is a technical achievement, it is very, very detailed for its asking price and the quality of the low-end is superb; the overall listen, in turn, immensely fun and engaging. Imaging is sharp and holographic but with odd placement. Its design is also unique as you basically never see dynamic driver earphones with a sealed housing, yet alone one this deep-reaching and impactful. If you don’t mind a thin midrange, brighter background and odd cable connectors, the Cupid makes for a highly engaging listen and a truly unique package that’s easily worth more than oBravo’s RRP.

The Cupid is available from on Audio Concierge (International) for £249.00 at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with oBravo or Audio Concierge and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please see my website for more just like it!

Track List –

Adam Neely – thank u, next

David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

Dire Straits – Communique

Eagles – Hell Freezes Over

Joji – Gimme Love

Lauv – I met you when I was 18

Rich Brian – The Sailor

TALA – boy

The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl

The Weeknd – After Hours

Toploader – A Walk To Remember Music
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: endlesswaves
Pros: Details, Attack, Soundstage, Imaging, Transient response, Construction, Value
Cons: Timbre, Tonality, mid-range, balance, dissuasive mmxc proprietary cable
oBravo Cupid (Basic Edition) Review


SOUND: 8.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 7/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
DESIGN: 7.5/10
VALUE: 8.5/10


If David, Obravo founder, has to describe is company in one sentence it would be in this very words: ‘’It is a Taiwanese high-end earphone brand founded by a middle-aged boy who is brave enough to pursue his dream. ‘’ But it’s sure more complicated than this and needs indeed lot of boldness and perseverance to achieve it’s unique sound vision.

Since 2006 Obravo struggle to produce a unique sound experience that is more similar to high-end speakers than closed headphones or earphones. This vision is more about how the sound will be perceived in it’s soundscape and how it shouldn’t sound stocked in your head, but out of it as if you were in a listening room fulfill with high-end tower speakers.

For this, David test multiple of drivers technology, but find its holy grail only by developing its own. This explains in part why most of its long earphones and headphones line up use either patented planar magnetic driver or special Air motion transformer (AMT) tweeters as well as diverse type of dynamic drivers.

Mostly active in high-end audio, Obravo wasn’t really appropriate for more budget-oriented audiophile aiming for high sound value. This all change in 2019 with the launch of oBravo Cupid, a dual planar magnetic and dynamic drivers earphones selling for 350$. But today, I will review the Basic version, which is the very same Cupid earphones without the fancy balanced silver-plated copper Litz cable and adapters.

But how much cost the Basic version then? Well, as little as 200$, wich sure represent the insanely accessible price for such high-end technology and housing construction.

Like the standard version, the Cupid Basic use an 8mm planar magnetic tweeter alongside of a 6mm neodymium dynamic driver. In fact, it's extactly same earphones apart from cable and accessories. To say my expectation was utterly high for this promising earphones would be lying, and this is due to conflictual reviews that I read about them. We can be certain of only one thing about the Cupid: they let nobody indifferent.

Indeed, my listening story with them was a roller coaster, and rolling into Cupid sound is one hell of a fun ride!

Let’s see in this very critical review if the Obravo Cupid Basic worth more than a fast listen.

The oBravo Cupid Basic can be bought directly from AudioConcierge SHOP.
More info about oBravo products can be found on their official WEBSITE.

DISCLAIMER: I wanna thanks Phil from Audioconcierge for sending me this review sample free of charge. I contact him after having read conflictual reviews about the Cupid that makes me curious about its sound profile. I’m in no way affiliated to oBravo and fully independent in my reviewing work.

UNBOXING

As expected, the unboxing experience is well…..Basic! Just a small box with minimal accessories. While I expected to have this Basic cable, I didn’t expect to as so few eartips. We know eartips is cheap, but we know too that it can have a drastic impact on proper sound rendering, just including a more diversify eartips choice could improve the Cupid Basic experience.

CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN


Yes, the Cupid is gorgeous looking, the black gold coating of its housing is as much eye appealing than durable, the shape is oval and organic and promises a secure fit. Sure, the nozzle is long and thick but has an angled shape that helps a good fit too. The whole construction is simple yet elegant, housing is 2 pieces of thick high-quality metal put together. Level of sturdiness look very high, you can drop this multiple time and it will never get broken, just perhaps scratched but even that looks not that easy to achieve. When it comes to mmcx connector, you are happy to see their high quality too, they are made of gold plated metal and connect tightly to the included OFC mmcx cable….but this is when you discover it uses Obravo proprietary mmcx connector too, which is a bummer for mmcx cable collector like me. Is it really for better connectivity or to make consumer dependant of Obravo cables, which are quite costly to say the least? I think it’s both of this answer, but still, it’s not good news. I wish all audio companies stick with either mmcx or 2pin connector, to not make things more complicated or pricier for their consumers. If every audio company follows oBravo example, our audiophile life will be doomed by cables monopoly. Sorry for being a drama queen here, but yeah, it really frustrated me to be stock with basic cable of Basic edition.

About this cable, it’s a beautifully named ‘’Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC) braided cable terminated with a gold plated 3.5mm jack’’, but it does not say the number of copper cores we have in there and looking at how thin it is, it sure hasn’t a lot. Connectors and jacks are of nice quality, but I’m still a little afraid about the durability of such a delicate looking cable. Well, i guess it’s your punishment for the 150$ discount you got over other Cupid version.

Comfort is very nice, but must not be confused with the right fitting. As the Cupid has a long thick nozzle, using long ear tips isn’t suggested as it will perhaps make your ears canal sure du to the inner pressure. Like with the TinHIFI P1, I use similar wide-bore eartips with a not long nozzle. The seal should be not too deep, this will offer higher comfort as well as a more open and balanced sound.

I consider the Obravo Cupid as very capricious about eartips pairing, so it should be in your top priority to find the perfect one. With wrong eartips, sound can be either boomy, trebly or lacking in soundstage.


Driveability of planar earphones are infamous for being hard to drive, though it’s not the case with the Cupid compared to harder to drive TinHIFI P1, the Cupid are still capricious about audio source pairing. Both Impedance output and signal to noise ratio is extremely important. You will want lower Impedance output and higher SNR possible otherwise it can hiss or sound unbalanced. I got a very good result with my Tempotec HD PRO, wich isn’t more high-end source but has a very high SNR of 128db, with this dac-amp, treble was less forwards and overall sound was smoother.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS


Gear used: Ibasso DX90, Xduoo X20, Xduoo XD-05plus, FIIO BTR5, Tempotec HD PRO

My first out-of-the-box impressions of the Cupid were a mixed one, while I was impressed by overall resolution, clarity, and details retrieval of its vivid sound presentation, I feel there was something wrong about the tonality. Depending on music genre, the bass too was a little too boomy to my taste. So, I begin by giving the Cupid proper burnin of 30H as well as playing with eartips. This do improve both bass response and treble, wich became more balanced with rest of the spectrum. Still, the tonal balance was a little strange as well as the timbre of some instruments and voice. The planar driver used in the Cupid act as if he was used for the whole treble response and the dynamic for low to mid or lower mids. Coming from TinHIFI P1, the Cupid sound less natural and transparent, more like if it was an hybrid BA+DD than DD+ Planar. On the other hand, level of clarity and the vivid imaging it offers at such a price is nothing less than breathtaking, we can’t have everything but I sure consider the Cupid to deliver in spectacular wow effect.

TONALITY is a hint dry and bright, but smooth in the definition. It has a slight metallic taste too it in the high range that can tend to make sound artificial some instruments. Male vocal can sound a little boxy while female one can sound a little shouty. The piano can sound thin while the violin can sound slightly strident.

TIMBRE is on the thin transparent side except for bass which is very thick and opaque. Texture can sound dulled, lacking in natural grain.

CLARITY is very high, especially in the treble region. In lower and mid-mid-range it feels tamed and darker compared to the higher range, so the woodwind instrument will be affected tonally as well as lower range piano and male vocals. Still, we are in near analytical clarity level here, and it makes the listen very exciting and revealing.

SOUNDSTAGE is quite wide but has good tallness and deepness too, If I can compare it to something, it would be a hall like but with a sense of being in the middle of it. It’s both airy and out of your head with a good holographic feel to it. It’s the Cupid highlight with imaging and clarity.

IMAGING is sharply presented with the Cupid, while it does have a revealing bright sound, the macro resolution is better than micro-definition of instrumentation which tends to feel slightly unbalanced, so you have no difficulty to pinpoint the singer, bass, snare or percussions which have more presence than some other more nuanced (or complex) sound layers added together in a more recessed way. It’s vivid, yet intensely layered and alive. Cupid extracts all it can at an impressive speed, sometimes it’s near too much.

BASS is fast, thick and weighty, but lack transparency and long natural extension. Sub tend to swallow mid-high bass definition and give a heavy thumping presentation that lack refinement but sure not impact. Timbre is rather dry and opaque. Though the bass is beefy, it’s far from sounding juicy or liquid, due to an aggressive presentation that is too much in a hurry to jump at you. Acoustic bass will sound wrong due to lack of natural extension, synth sub-bass will sound thick and well articulate, slap bass will sound very clear but a little too bright as well. For electronic, rock, pop, rap and R&B, the Cupid offers a very talented bass presentation with good separation from mid-range, keeping overall clarity intact while adding extra punchy liveliness to the music.

MID RANGE is very clear and offers plenty of details even if most of its energy come from the upper mids-lower treble. It’s not very warm or thick, and tonality is a hint unbalanced. The attack is impressively fast even if not super weighty, piano note attack is very fast but the impact feels little tamed, especially in lower and mid mids range. Instrument like saxophone suffer from this recessed mids area and have a thin presentation that lacks natural timbre. Male vocal is hit or miss, while female vocal tends to jump more at you in a bright way. We aren’t in lush, full and well rounded mid-range presentation, more in a rough high resolution one, that feel sometimes too rushed in its desire to impress you. Anyway, this particular rendering has the advantage of keeping clarity very high, so the vocal sound always well centered and separated from another instrument. As I get use to its unique tonality, I tend to like more and more the audacious mid range technicalities.

TREBLE is the more emphasized region after bass, and to me, it’s the best part too. Lower treble from around 3khz to 7khz is very forwards, sometimes a little too aggressive, and after it relaxes until 9khz to 12khz rounded peak that adds brilliance and a sense of airiness to the overall sound. The level of details that Cupid digs is near overwhelming in upper highs, but due to the use of planar driver it never mixes together or distorts with unwanted resonance. As well, it isn’t intensely harsh or trebly even if yes, I would not suggest the Cupid to treble sensitive people. Let’s say it: the Cupid are vivid analytical earphones that boost micro details for the better or the worst. Percussions are insanely resolved and delivered at supreme speed, sometimes it can distract from another instrument, especially with jazz, but with electronics it can offer intense satisfaction. I tend to like this type of sharp energic treble especially when it got a high level of agility like this.

-QUANTITY – -QUALITY-

LOWER BASS: 8.5/10 LOWER BASS: 7.5
MID-HIGH BASS: 8/10 MID-HIGH BASS: 8/10
MID RANGE: 7/10 MID RANGE: 7/10
LOWER TREBLE: 8.5/10 LOWER TREBLE: 7.5/10
MID TREBLE: 7.5/10 MID TREBLE: 8/10
HIGH TREBLE: 9/10 HIGH TREBLE: 8/10
TIMBRE: 7/10 TIMBRE: 7.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE: 8.5/10 SOUNDSTAGE: 9/10
ATTACK-DECAY: 8.5/10 ATTACK-DECAY: 8/10
IMAGING: 8/10 IMAGING: 8.5/10



COMPARISONS


VS TINHIFI P1 (160$):

The P1 being a single Planar driver, it cannot compete in term of bass impact against the dynamic driver of hybrid planar Cupid. Though it lacks impact and weight for proper dynamic presentation, the P1 has a more natural and balanced sound nonetheless. The Cupid has a more V shape aggressive presentation and struggles to balance bass thump by over pushing upper mids region, while the P1 offers a more natural and emphasized midrange and treble that feel cohesive and laid back. In the end, bass sound perhaps more recessed, but more articulate too. Mid-range is more hollow with the oBravo and have more peaky upper mids which tend to make vocal sometimes shouty or boxy. With the P1 it’s flat and balanced, it’s smooth, transparent and tonally right. The vocal does not sound at you like the oBravo, but offer richer timbre and more natural tonality. Treble is more forwarded with the oBravo, as well as more sharply detailed and snappy, the P1 is delicate and relaxed with smoother and fuller thighs.

All in all, the Obravo is more V shape and vivid sounding while the P1 is more mid centric, lush, laid back and natural sounding.

VS AUDIOSENSE T800 (300$):

The T800 uses 8 Knowles balanced armature per side, let’s see how one of my favorite earphones compare against the Cupid.
The biggest difference that hit me is in terms of timbre, the T800 is way thicker and warmer which is very evident in mid-range and lower treble where the cupid sound bright and thinner.
The soundstage is slightly wider and more holographic with T800, while it’s more airy and deeper with the Cupid. Imaging is presented in a more layered way with the T800, which tends to extract instrument from all frequencies range equally while the Cupid is more about treble and bass imaging, keeping the mids hide behind, still, it gives the illusion Cupid have better imaging due to more space between instrument.
Bass is weightier, warmer and thicker with the T800, making it even more bassy than the Cupid which has less good separation between bass and mids as well as dryer timbre. Tough bass is more boosted, it feels more balanced with the rest of the spectrum while the Cupid has a less natural bass transition. Mid-range is where the T800 really outclass the Cupid, everything sound fuller and more natural in this range, should it be wind instrument that sounds overly thin with Cupid or vocal that sound too bright and tonally unpredictable. Vocal has more presence and wideness, while Cupid delivers a more intimate presentation that tends to separate vocal from instruments with more space. Now, the treble of T800 sound fuller and more balanced than Cupid which concentrates most of its energy in upper highs, this makes the T800 less trebly but less sparkly too, it gives us the impressions the Cupid is more analytical and percussions are crisper with more resonance.

While the T800 is better both technically and tonally, it’s warmer and less vivid and airy sounding than the Cupid.


CONCLUSION


oBravo unique approach to sound tuning sure is a demonstration of musical vision bravado. It does not make a compromise by trying to tune it too safe or laid back, which can lead to boring sound too. No, it boldly offers a muscular yet vivid sound presentation that isn’t faint of heart about the lively treble response.

The Cupid is both fascinating and spectacular to listen too, and while I wouldn’t suggest it for classical music that need pristine tonality and timbre, it do extremely well for anything else even if vocal is not the best in class for it’s price range.

With its razor-sharp imaging, fast thumping bass, vivid treble, and grand soundstage, the Obravo Cupid offers an unforgettable sound experience that sounds like nothing else on the overcrowded earphones market. The founder of Obravo achieve its sound experience dream with the Cupid, which is to give high-end speakers in big room sound impressions deliver trough planar hybrid earphones, and he makes it available to the mass with an extremely competitive price tag.

If you like single planar earphones but feel it lack bass, the Cupid is for you, if you like V shape sound with a high level of clarity and details, the Cupid is for you, if your a treble head, this is for you. Only people I would not suggest the Cupid is those that are either very sensible about instruments timbre or higher range treble. Nonetheless, it’s slight imperfection, I learn to really love the Obravo Cupid for what it offers: a vivid holographic sound experience that wakes you up and keeps your curiosity alive.




......

For full review version (more pics) as well as other reviews, please give a look at my audio blog HERE
Top