oBravo Cupid IEM Review – Reinvention

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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

Verdict – 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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