Love is in the air!
PROS: revealing natural tonality with an authoritative bass slam, hybrid design with Dynamic and Planar Magnetic drivers, solid metal housing, premium balanced cable w/adapter plugs, price.
CONS: proprietary oB-mmcx cable connector.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Those who are familiar with oBravo products will probably be surprised I listed “price” under PROS of their latest Cupid release. oBravo brand is usually associated with premium high-end hybrid earphones and headphones, utilizing dynamic driver for lows and either planar magnetic (PMD) or air-motion transformer (AMT) tweeter driver for highs. Since their start in 2006, the company spent first 5 years working solely on R&D, then developing their own PMD and AMT drivers, followed later by releases of first mass production IEMs featuring miniature PMD in 2015 and the same with AMT in 2016.
R&D work and manufacturing cost associated with custom in-house drivers is probably one of the main reasons behind their premium pricing which often being discussed at many global CanJam shows oBravo attends, even before people get a chance to hear the actual sound. But it’s also common for technology to become more affordable after its introduction, and that’s exactly where Cupid comes into the picture when it was announced as their new entry level model of Classic Collection. But to my surprise, there was nothing “entry level” about this IEM. After spending the last few weeks with Cupid, here is what I found.
Unboxing and Accessories.
I don’t have anything to share about my unboxing experience here since I received only preproduction unit. Will update this section if the final unit arrives later. Considering entry level status and budget price of Cupid, I don’t expect anything super fancy, but you never know.
The accessories include a set of silicone whirlwind eartips, comply foam eartips, 1.2m OCC Litz SPC cable with gold plated 2.5mm balanced plug, another 1.2m OCC OFC cotton braided 3.5mm cable (AC bonus), and 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. The “ultimate” pack includes a bonus 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter.
While I found 3.5mm adapter to be an average size, the 4.4mm one was longer than usual, extending the cable plug. Perhaps, it doesn’t look as compact when connected together, but this balanced 4.4mm adapter is probably one of the most transparent in sound I heard.
oBravo IEMs come with a proprietary oB-mmcx connector which has an interlocking design. Though it is mmcx based connector, there is a little notch on the cable side and the extended collar on the shell side where a cutout interlocks with a notch, preventing cable from rotation. There is no denial, mmcx connectors are more prone to issues, in comparison to 2pin, because the cable is not fixed from rotation, the dirt and moisture can get inside causing loss of contact and oxidation. This modified connector solution addresses most of these issues. But at the same time, many audiophiles already have various 2pin and mmcx replacement cables which they won’t be able to take advantage of, though you can use oBravo cable with any standard mmcx connector IEM. Also, you can request extra connectors from oBravo to update your custom cables.
The cotton braided OFC cable looks basic, with a gold plated straight 3.5mm TRS plug in a slim laser etched aluminum housing and a nice strain relief. Y-splitter has a matching design, no chin-slider. The earpiece connectors also match the headphone plug and y-splitter finish, and have a color-coded Red (right side) and Blue (left side) rings for ID. The cable jacket has a neat tight cotton braiding, making it look nice, but those are also more susceptible to wear after a while of use. Plus, due to a tight braiding, there is some microphonics effect. But overall, the cable does look nice, thin and pliable.
The new premium stock cable is also very thin and pliable. It uses 4 separate inner-twisted Litz conductors, each with 5N purity, using OCC (Ohno Continuous Casting) Silver Plated Copper wires. Headphone 2.5mm balanced plug is gold plated and has a durable metal housing. Matching metal Y-split is small and compact, no chin-slider either. The earpiece connector has a slim metal housing, oB-mmcx connector, and a color-coded strain relief (red-right side, black-left side). Wires have a transparent jacket, so you can see twisted Litz wires underneath, and provide nice isolation while keeping microphonics effect down to a minimum. Included adapters are very convenient, covering every DAP connection.
When comparing new SPC cable vs stock OFC – the change in sound is not that drastic, but the new cable does contribute to sound refinement with a more 3D soundstage expansion, more articulation in bass, and less harshness in treble. While I don’t hear night’n’day difference, the level of refinement is still greatly appreciated.
Due to proprietary nature of the connectors, I wasn’t able to do my usual cable rolling except for one premium cable from PlusSound, X-series GPC (Gold Plated Copper) I had custom made for RA C Cu. That particular cable brings up more sub-bass and more piercing treble details. It did increase slightly the resolution of the sound due to enhancement of treble, but to my ears it also made the sound more fatigue, and I preferred to switch back to stock SPC cable.
The inner housing of Cupid shells is made of brass, while the outer housing layer uses electroplating process to apply a shiny reflective coating. The shape of the shells does look like a heart, which “matches” the Cupid name. While my pre-production review model didn’t have anything printed on the surface, the final version will have oBravo logo laser etched on the faceplate of Cupid.
The shells itself are not very heavy, but they do have a noticeable heft, each one 8g. The ergonomics of the design is very nice, shells felt comfortable in my ears for extended period of time, and also felt quite secure with over-ear cable. As it was already mentioned, they use oB-mmcx connectors. The nozzle has a mesh cover to keep earwax and other dirt away from the drivers. Also, to my surprise it looks like the shells are not vented for their internal DD driver, perhaps to enhance the low-end response. There was no driver flex at all, impressive considering shells are not vented. Furthermore, Cupid offers a great isolation, eartips selection dependent, of course.
As for the inside, Cupid features 6mm dynamic driver to cover the lows, and 8mm planar magnetic tweeter driver for mids and highs. Cupid has an average impedance of 16 ohm, and slightly lower 105dB sensitivity which requires just a few extra volume clicks. But overall, Cupid is very easy to drive, quite efficient, and not a hint of hissing with any of the sources.