oBravo Cupid: it doesn't love everything, but maybe you'll love it?
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Neighborhood. As usual, it’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer coming at you today with a review of the oBravo Cupid.
At $269 dollars the Cupid is the cheapest earphone that oBravo produces. OBravo generally produces AMT and Planar Magnetic-Driven Earphones, which, let’s just say, fall into the “pricey bracket.” So how does the Cupid stack up?
Let’s get InToit!
So, let's start things off by acknowledging that this earphone has been a rather divisive one amongst the community. Most people seem to either love or hate this earphone. And, I think I understand why… "these…" are very amplifier dependent. In general, the Cupid seems to thirst for current. Without sufficient current, it sounds muffled, odd, and unnatural sounding to say the least. With sufficient current; however, the Cupid opens up, comes alive, and is actually quite lovely.
While amplifier current is not a spec that is generally listed, I have found that the Cupid tends to prefer Class A driven amplification for the most part. The THX AAA 789, Geshelli Archel Pro, and Loxjie P20 all produced sub-par results, while the FiiO BTR 3K, Centrance DACport HD, Bravo Ocean, and Gold Note DS-10 Plus were all excellent pairings for the Cupid. The Gold Note in particular really impressed me, but for its price, it should. Nevertheless, the Cupid sounded its most even, balanced, cohesive, and natural on the Gold Note DS-10 Plus (when utilizing an IEMatch from iFi as an intermediary).
With regard to tips, although they look remarkably similar to the stock tips, which are red, spiral-cored silicones, I prefer the sound of KZ, short, blue, spiral-cored, silicone tips best on the oBravo Cupid. In comparison, the stock tips produce a sound, which is admittedly less cohesive, more V-shaped, and exposes the cupid for its dearth of lower midrange amplitude. In contrast, the blue KZ tips sound smooth, more natural, less V-shaped, and offer greater cohesion between the planar magnetic tweeter and the dynamic driver; which happens to be a crossover-less design.
With regard to overall sound, when driven appropriately, I actually quite like the oBravo Cupid. I might even be so bold as to say that perhaps the Cupid has struck me with its arrow. Generally speaking, the Cupid is a warm, somewhat thick sounding earphone, with a diffuse low-end presentation, a punchy mid-bass, and an open and mildly airy sound-stage. Imaging within the soundstage is excellent with regard to immersion in particular, but I wouldn’t call it holistically accurate with further regard to its other sound-stage characteristics. More specifically, instrument distinction and differentiation are good, but imaging placement is notably questionable at times. However; nothing seems stretched or smeared here either. Having said that, the cupid is most definitely a HiFi sound signature, and accuracy isn’t its most pressing concern. Instead the Cupid seems to error towards the side of listenability in a number of categories.
Like I’ve already said, its timbre is warm, perhaps somewhat excessively so. While I generally tend to not like earphones with this type of sound signature, there is just something about the warmth of the Cupid that I find enveloping, and notably special; even if it contributes to some imprecision or fuzziness in the overall sonic picture. So, while detail is most certainly up to the price-point-mark here, the Cupid does miss the boat somewhat with regard to resolution for its price; at least in my opinion.
Micro and macro dynamics are a strength of this set given its crossover-less driver structure and configuration, and I would describe its presentation as percussive, yet with a soft-touch. At times, it reminds me of an over-ear, planar-dynamic headphone in this way. Where it falls short, is that on busier tracks sonics can get lost or become obscured, becoming somewhat muddy, dependent on the track.
There is a decent amount of looming sub-bass here, but it does roll of substantially in presence in comparison to the rest of the mix, and further, most of the low-end intensity here is derived from its mid-bass. The Cupid’s lower mid-range is less prominent than its upper mid-range, which does notably rise pretty quickly. Having said that, I did not find the Cupid to be overly aggressive, shouty, or strident in any manner to my ear. The general treble presentation is clear, but notably rounded and rolled off somewhat at the top end- just as it is in the low-end.
Vocals sound natural and deep, but somehow more intimate than the rest of the presentation, hovering gently on top of the diffuse low-end- like a rich chocolate resting delicately on top of a pillow at a fancy hotel. They aren’t forward, and instead are very much in the mix on this set, especially male vocals which were significantly less pronounced than female ones. As a result, you have a warm, inviting, articulate and dynamic earphone that is somewhat rolled-off in each direction, and smooth in presentation overall, yet might be perceived as muddy, here or there.
Lastly, let’s talk about build and fit, as it is not, what I would call, “ideal.” To start with, the Cupid is an all metal construction, and as a result it is somewhat heavy. The heft wasn’t a major issue, as I could wear them for short, to moderately long listening sessions, but I did notice some ear fatigue when wearing them throughout a day. I also found the nozzle to be somewhat short, and the Cupid’s fit to be somewhat shallow.
With its stock cable attached, its shape is somewhat reminiscent of a golf club, and I found myself pressing on the front of its club-face to keep a seal in my ear throughout a listening session. I also found the shaft portion of the golf-club-like shape of the cupid from its stock cable to be excessively long. This causes the connector to shoot out beyond my pinna and is therefore somewhat awkward to curve around my ear. Furthermore, this is worsened by the fact that the cable does not come with preformed ear-hooks, and the distance of the cable from the earphone itself to the y-split on the cable is also somewhat short in length.
The connection at the base of the earphone also appears to be proprietary locking MMCX connector, which might make using or finding aftermarket cables difficult with the Cupid. Having said that, the Cupid does come with a relatively high-quality stock cable, which is balanced and terminated in a nice, sturdy, 2.5mm connector. It also comes with a matched 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter in the box to be able to run this earphone unbalanced if one needs to do so.
So, despite its potential fit and build issues, do I still recommend the oBravo Cupid? I do, most certainly- provided you have a proper amplifier to match it. The Cupid is a warm, inviting, and dynamic earphone with top notch staging; making it worthy of its price-tag. It may not be the most resolving earphone, but it does scale well with the right type of amplification, and can almost keep up with an over-ear planar. So, if you're a planar junky, and you have the chance, give the oBravo Cupid a listen... it might just be "The One" for you?
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*thanks to Sal from the Discord for sending these in for review!
You can join the Discord too, at: https://discord.gg/tePQKfT