The clean, smooth and attacking character of the Cupid IEMs is offset by their lean and clinical character. They look great and build quality is fantastic for the price, but the oBravo Cupid don't quite deliver enough on the sound front to have you fall head over heels
- Surprisingly affordable
- Clean, smooth sound
- Attractive design and build
- Comfortable fit
- Lean character
- MMCX plugs are a pain to deal with
- Review Price: £169
- MMCX connectors
- OCC Removable Cable
- Weight: 200g
- 8mm planar magnetic tweeter
The oBravo Cupid are the boutique audio brand’s entry-level earphones, featuring planar magnetic drivers.
What’s with the name? For the oBravo Cupid it’s a statement of intent; oBravo believes that once you hear them, you’re sure to fall in love.
That is quite the claim. So does the Cupid’s bow aim straight for our heart?
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oBravo Cupid design – Attractive design that delivers more than you’d expect for the price
oBravo specialises in boutique earphones, with its more expensive IEMs coming in at £3000. oBravo describes the Cupids as “entry-level” IEMs, with prices starting at £169. That’s super-cheap by oBravo’s standards, but you’ll be please to discover that build quality hasn’t suffered one jot.
The splendour of the Cupid’s look can’t be overstated. The slim design, precise curves and beautiful glossy black and gold coating make for a stunning pair of in-ear monitors.
The metal enclosure is immaculate, and the Cupids have a weightiness (200g) – but they remain fairly light in the hand. Strangely, roll them between your fingers and they feel like a marble you’d have played with at school. Compared to the Campfire Andromeda, which cost ten times as much, they’re more attractive.
Less alluring are the MMCX connectors. If you’ve ever come across an MMCX plug then you’ll know it’s a pain to deal with. That said, the connection made is tight – but the process to get to that point took close to 20 minutes. Be prepared for some frustration.
The earphones come with an OCC detachable cable, and while it isn’t “tangle-free”, any knots will slip out easily. In the box you’ll find three tips from small to large, and it’s worth playing around to find the best fit. One thing to note about the packaging is that the IEMs are quite tightly packed in. As such, trying to extract the Cupids can be an unnecessarily arduous task.
The Cupids use an over-ear hook design and slip straight into the ear. The ergonomic design aids with noise isolation, with the Cupids effective at blocking out external sounds.
oBravo Cupid features – A planar magnetic tweeter promises detailed sound
The oBravo Cupids don’t come with a bundle-load of features, but there are some aspects that are notable.
Inside the metal enclosure is an 8mm planar magnetic tweeter and a 6mm neodymium dynamic driver. Planar magnetic drivers are often found in full-sized headphones, but recent years has seen the technology filter through to smaller IEMs. The reason for using planar technology is that they offer a fast and detailed sound, more so than conventional drivers.
The Cupids reviewed here are the Basic version, which cost £169. However, the IEMs ship in two other configurations: Prime (£249) and Ultimate (£299), the differentiators being the jack and cables supplied.
The Basic version comes with a 3.5mm non-balanced jack with OCC Removable Cable. The Prime features a 2.5mm balanced to 3.5mm adapter, while the Ultimate goes the whole hog with a 2.5mm balanced to 4.4mm Pentaconn adapter – used by some Sony and Cayin portable music players – as well as a 3.5mm non-balanced connector. Both the Prime and Ultimate feature an Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC) braided litz cable.
oBravo Cupid sound quality – Lean and analytical in its character
oBravo’s motto is listen and feel, and when in Rome…
oBravo appears to have neutrality in its sights, although if that’s the intent then it doesn’t hit that mark. The Cupid’s offering isn’t warm, but it does sound bright at times. Clarity and detail are served up well, but bass isn’t hugely pronounced.
It turns out that fiddling with the ear tips can help in this regard. After ditching the medium-sized tips and moving to the largest ones, bass response improved significantly.
A play of The Preatures’ Is This How You Feel? on TIDAL via the Shanling M2X PMP displayed a persuasive beat and flow to the track as well as a good nose for timing. There was no sense that notes were stepping on each other, or that you couldn’t hear the detail the Cupid digs up. However, it’s a sound that’s rather thin and slight, as if it could use more meat on its bones.
Give the Cupids a track where treble is of greater priority and the IEMs achieve more of their potential. Rick Smooth’s Bullet Cut from Danny Boyle’s Trance still lacked heft, but it was a smooth and enjoyable performance that retained detail. Dynamically, transitions from high to low – and vice versa – were communicated well; although, again, they’re rather wan in their description.
Even better is Joe Hisaishi’s piano work on Innocent from Castle in the Sky. The delicate notes were handled gently; it’s where the Cupids were at their strongest.
The oBravo Cupids are clinical and analytical in their behaviour. The presentation isn’t forward in terms of how it’s delivered, nor is it rich. The soundstage could do with being bigger; the mid-range warmer to soften some of the lean character.
That said, you can turn the volume up to create a bigger sense of space, scale and energy – although detail feels as if it suffers as a result. There’s some sibilance in Kendrick Lamar’s vocals in Good Kid when turned up high that isn’t present when the volume was returned to lower levels.
The planar tweeters help by injecting some drive into songs with The Weeknd’s Blinding Last delivered in a fast, fluid and attacking manner. It’s enjoyable, but also leaves you wanting something more… forceful.
Should you buy the oBravo Cupid?
There’s plenty to like about the oBravo Cupid; but not quite enough to fall head over heels in love. The clean, smooth and attacking character of these IEMs is letdown somewhat by their lean and clinical character.
At £169 for the Basic version, the Cupids are affordable considering the design and build quality on offer. There aren’t many models, if any, that deliver a similar set of features at this price.
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