In all the comparisons below, I used stock SPC cable and whirlwind tips. Also, I used LPGT as my transparent reference source, and volume matched every pair for consistency.
Cupid vs iBasso IT03 – When I started listening to Cupid, comparison to IT03 was the first thought that crossed my mind, after all, both are hybrids and in a similar price range. While both have a nice slightly out of your head soundstage extension, Cupid has a wider soundstage. When it comes to bass, the quality has a lot of similarities from deep sub-bass rumble to harder hitting mid-bass, but Cupid quantity scales up higher and overall bass is a little faster. IT03 lower mids are a little leaner and upper mids slightly brighter, while Cupid lower mids are closer to neutral and upper mids are a little more natural in tonality. But nevertheless, I’m hearing a lot of similarities in mids here, just with Cupid being a little more natural, more organic. Both have a good treble extension, crisp, well defined, but Cupid has better control in lower treble while IT03 can get a bit sibilant with some poorly recorded tracks. Since I was using stock 3.5mm IT03 cable, Cupid was used with its 3.5mm adapter for comparison.
Cupid vs HiFiMAN RE800 Silver – I hear a very similar soundstage width, perhaps with Cupid being just a touch wider, and soundstage depth is similar as well, putting you a little farther away from the stage. Both have a deep low-end extension and powerful elevated mid-bass slam, but Cupid has more control with faster attack and shorter decay, while RE800 is slower in both attack / decay, plus doesn’t have as clean transition into lower mids. As a result, Cupid bass is more articulate, more layered, while RE800 bass is more relaxed and more laid back. Mids have a different presentation here, with Cupid being more forward, more resolving, more detailed, while RE800 is pulled slightly back and thicker, less resolving. I hear RE800 lower mids being thicker with fuller body, while Cupid has a more neutral and leaner (in comparison to RE800) lower mids. Upper mids of RE800 are not as resolving, smoother and more organic in tonality while Cupid is more detailed, more layered, and more revealing. With treble, Cupid is crisper, brighter, airier, more extended, while RE800 is smoother, with less sparkle, even more rolled off in comparison. I know some might question why I am comparing Cupid to another IEM 2x the price, but despite their differences in mids and treble, they both had a very impressive bass impact and the treble of Cupid was somewhere in between of RE800 Gold (with its sparkle and airiness, minus sibilance and harshness) and RE800 Silver (with its more controlled definition, minus being too smooth and rolled off). Since my RE800 doesn’t have removable cable (both Silver and Gold), in this comparison I used Cupid with 3.5mm adapter for consistency.
Cupid vs Campfire Audio Andromeda – Some might be surprised by this comparison as well, considering 4x the price tag of Andro, but there are a few things they have in common. Starting with soundstage, while Andro has a wider staging in comparison to Cupid, Cupid extends more out of your head, putting you a few rows further away from the stage while Andro gives you a more intimate experience by bringing you closer to the stage. With bass, they both have deeper sub-bass rumble and punchy faster mid-bass, and Andro always surprises me how its low BAs can keep up in quality with DDs, but the quantity of Cupid bass is higher than Andro, this is where Andro can’t keep up with the amount of rumble and the heft of mid-bass punch of Cupid. With mids, I hear Andro being a little leaner while Cupid has slightly more body, but also mids/vocals presentation varies where Andro mids are more forward and closer to the listener, while Cupid is slight further away, a little out of your head. Also, Cupid has a little more natural tonality in mids, while Andro is brighter in comparison. With treble, we are back to more similarities, with both being crisp, extended, airy, but Andro has more emphasis around 6.5k peak which can make some recordings sound a bit harsh, while Cupid moves this peak to around 4k to give sound more edge and less sibilance, which makes Cupid more forgiving with poorly recorded tracks. In this comparison I used both with 4.4mm adapter.
Two more comparisons I would like to mention briefly is EE Legend X and oBravo own ERIB1C. Any time I bring up an authoritative bass in my sound description, people always ask me how it compares to LX. In my book, LX is still the basshead king with its hard-slamming low end, but when it comes to bass Cupid is a scaled down version of it with lots of similarities in bass quality down to a deep rumbling sub-bass and harder hitting mid-bass. ERIB1C is oBravo’s higher end hybrid with a more mid-forward focus where despite the same 8mm PMD size, the tuning of ERIB1C is more transparent, more layered, more resolving in comparison to a smoother and more natural tonality of Cupid. But when it comes to bass, ERIB1C is too neutral in comparison to Cupid having a stronger bass impact.
Here is how Cupid pairs up with various audio sources. It was very convenient that I had a freedom to use stock SPC cable with either 2.5mm, 3.5mm, or 4.4mm terminations to accommodate different headphone outputs of the sources below.
Lotoo PAW Gold Touch LPGT (4.4mm) – wide soundstage with a little more depth than width. Nicely balanced sound sig with extra emphasis on bass which goes deep with a textured rumble and mid-bass with a powerful fast slam. Mids are very clear and detailed, a little more forward (thus a more balanced sig). Treble is crisp and airy, not harsh or fatigue. While bass hits hard here, it’s not too overwhelming but still puts Cupid into category of basshead audiophiles in this particular pair up.
iBasso DX220 w/amp9 (3.5mm) – very wide soundstage with a moderate out of your head depth (not too far out). The sound sig here is slightly more v-shaped with mids/vocals pulling a little back. Bass has a nice warm texture, deep warm sub-bass rumble, slightly more relaxed mid-bass slam (not as aggressive), more natural, more organic, smoother detailed mids with a soulful presentation of vocals, and crisp airy extended treble with a very well controlled sparkle.
Cayin N6ii (4.4mm) – wide soundstage expansion with a decent depth, not too far out of your head but just enough to put you a few rows in front of the stage. The sound is more balanced, more w-shaped with a nice deep sub-bass rumble and average speed mid-bass slam (not as fast as LPGT, and less relaxed than DX229). Mids are very clear and detailed, a little more forward, not overly analytical but with a great retrieval of details. Treble is crisp and airy, with a nice definition and no sibilance or fatigue.
A&K SP1000 SS (2.5mm) – very wide soundstage with a decent depth, putting you not too far or too close to the stage. The sound is slightly v-shaped due to bass slamming harder in this pair up. Bass extends with a deep slightly elevated rumble and a faster harder hitting mid-bass. Mids are pulled slightly back, very detailed, clear, with an excellent resolution and even more layering in comparison to some other pair ups. Treble has a more controlled sparkle, still well defined, probably a little more natural.
Sony WM1Z (4.4mm) – the soundstage here is more holographic, very wide and has more out of your head depth. Bass has a nice weight with a deep textured sub-bass rumble, not too elevated, and slightly more relaxed mid-bass. Mids are more organic, a little smoother, very detailed, but more natural. Treble is crisp and airy, with a little extra sparkle.
Shanling M0 (3.5mm) – wide soundstage with more depth. Overall a more balanced signature with a smoother and more organic sound. Bass is not as aggressive, slightly relaxed, with a good sub-bass rumble and moderate speed mid-bass slam. Mids are smoother, more natural, detailed. Treble has a good sparkle, well defined. Pretty good pair up, though a little more on a smoother relaxed side.
Samsung Galaxy S9 (3.5mm) – very similar performance to M0, wide soundstage with more depth. A balanced sound sig with a smoother, more natural tonality. Bass is not as aggressive, a bit relaxed, nice sub-bass rumble, average speed mid-bass (slightly laid-back). Smooth natural detailed mids, and well-defined sparkly treble without a hint of harshness.
The last oBravo IEM I reviewed was RA C Cu and following it now with Cupid feels like going from one extreme to another. You don’t know what to expect, especially when Cupid “prime” pack is $269 and “ultimate” pack is $329 (as offered by Audio Concierge). Actually, at the time of this writing and as part of introduction, ultimate pack with extra adapter was priced the same as prime pack, but you will have to check with Phil/AC for the final pricing.
Just the fact that we are talking about a hybrid design with dynamic and planar magnetic drivers, solid metal durable attractive shell housing, and a premium balanced SPC cable with selection of adapters – already makes it a great value. But its natural tonality with revealing details is what really surprised me, especially its authoritative bass slam. You almost want to call it a basshead flavored IEM, despite its tuning being quite balanced.
Of course, it’s just my wishful thinking, but if oBravo managed to introduce the affordable hybrid DD/PMD Cupid, why stop there and not continue with DD/AMT? Only time will tell, but I’m glad oBravo is listening to their customers to make this tech more affordable under new Classic Collection line and to give the sound more fun flavor with a serious bass slam!