BRAVO ERIB-2A EARPHONE PLANAR UNIVERSAL IN-EAR MONITOR TAKES LISTENING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
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：
●1.2m 3.5mm earphone Cable
●Tweeter :8 mm PMD Tweeter
●Woofer:13 mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver
●Frequency Response Range:15 Hz～45 KHz
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.
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.
“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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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