Cable pair up.
I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinion about it. It’s not my intention to change those minds, and instead I’m just sharing what I hear during my testing. What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which put together act as a filter between your source and headphones. Variations of these physical properties can affect the conductivity of analog signal, resulting in a sound change, from a subtle to a more noticeable level. If the talk about cables upsets you, please skip this section. Otherwise, enjoy these short impressions.
EA Ares II cable (copper – stock, baseline) – U-shaped sound signature with a good balance between lows/mids/high, even considering elevated bass and natural mids/treble.
Eletech Prudence (SPC) vs stock – mids/vocals are brighter and more forward which takes away from bass energy and impact.
Eletech Socrates (copper) vs stock – the tuning is more W-shaped, balanced, still great bass impact, though mids/vocals are also brighter; I like this pair up better than w/Prudence.
EA Cleopatra (silver) vs stock – the balance shifts more toward mids/vocals focus, making tuning brighter, losing some bass impact.
EA EVOx (upcoming new cable) vs stock – W-shaped sig, even tilting more toward U-shaped due to a deep bass impact and airy treble sparkle. Deeper bass than stock cable, and smoother and more soulful mids/vocals. Probably my favorite pair up since it enhances the bass in a very tasteful way.
PWA No 10 4wire (SPC) vs stock – sound has more W-shaped balance, deep bass impact, brighter more forward mids/vox, and natural treble sparkle.
The comparison was done using Bravado MKII with a stock balanced EA cable, stock Type-E eartips, and LPGT source, volume matched in every comparison. I will be referring to Bravado MKII as MKII in this section of the review.
MKII vs Legend X – LX soundstage is wider, while depth/height are similar, including similar placement of vocals, being more out of your head. Of course, everybody would be curious how does the bass compares, and it is clear that LX is still ahead when it comes to bass impact. Extension and rumble had a lot of similarities, but the impact of LX bass is still higher than in Bravado. I also find mids to have a little more quantity in LX and lower treble being a little brighter and more aggressive. In comparison, MKII mids are slightly more recessed and treble sounds smoother and with a little less air. From the moment I started to listen to MKII, I said right away they sound like LX Jr. To my ears, MKII sounds like a scaled down version of LX, and because of less bass impact and smoother lower treble, I actually found MKII to be less fatigue and more enjoyable during long listening sessions. I still love LX, its undeniably a true audiophile basshead IEM with a wider soundstage and more bass impact, but for those craving EE bass on a budget, Bravado MKII is a great alternative.
MKII vs iBasso IT07 – IT07 was a big surprise when I recently reviewed it, and considering a similar price range, I found it to be a good example for comparison. IT07 does have a little wider soundstage expansion while vocals placed a little closer; in contrast, MKII has a slightly narrower soundstage but it has more depth and the vocals are more out of your head. IT07 bass is no slouch and its sub-bass extension goes deep, but MKII still reaches down deeper and with a little more elevated sub-bass area. With mid-bass, MKII impact is stronger, but overall bass felt similar, just scaled down in quantity going from MKII to IT07. Surprisingly, mids and treble have a lot of similarities, though IT07 is a little more revealing and more layered. The biggest difference here will be in bass where Bravado MKII digs in deeper.
MKII vs Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 – In comparison to Solaris, I found MKII soundstage to be a little narrower; no surprises here since Solaris does have a wide stage to begin with. Also, overall signature was different with Solaris being more balanced while Bravado being U-shaped with more bass emphasis. And speaking of the bass, MKII goes a lot deeper with noticeably more sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass impact. In comparison to Solaris ’20, bass of MKII definitely scales up in quantity. I found mids to be quite similar, being more natural and detailed, though Solaris has an edge here with better layering and separation. Treble is another area where I hear a noticeable difference with Bravado being smoother and more natural while Solaris being brighter, splashier, not as organic, but with a better extension and more air.
MKII vs Meze Audio RAI Penta – In this comparison soundstage is dead on similar, not super wide, with above average width and more depth/height and mids/vocals being positioned more out of your head. Another similarity I found was in treble, both having a smooth treble, not super extended or airy, quite natural and non-fatigue. The biggest difference here is in bass where in comparison to a deep sub-bass rumble and powerful impact of MKII, Penta bass is relatively neutral, having a lot less impact. Mids/vocals is another area which I find to be different in tuning. While Bravado mids/vocals have more body and sound more natural and realistic, in comparison to that RAI Penta vocals are thinner, brighter, and not as organic/natural. Also, while testing and comparing using LPGT as my source, I found RAI Penta overall dynamics to be flatter in comparison to MKII.
MKII vs 64 Audio Trio – An interesting comparison to consider due to hybrid nature with DD bass. Both have a very similar soundstage expansion, though Trio vocals are positioned just a little bit closer. Bass impact and extension goes to MKII with a deeper rumble and more mid-bass impact. Trio mids are thinner and more recessed in comparison to more natural and fuller body MKII mids which are also recessed but more U-shaped rather than V-shaped like in Trio. The biggest difference here is in treble, where Trio is a lot brighter and splashier while MKII treble is more natural and smoother. I do like Trio, but its treble is usually a dealbreaker for me with many songs. Bravado MKII treble doesn’t have the same extension or airiness, but it is smoother, more natural, and less fatigue.
MKII vs FiR Audio M4 – If I’m comparing to Trio, I can’t skip M4. Here, the soundstage is also similar, perhaps with M4 being just a little bit wider. And I also find M4 vocals to be positioned just a little bit closer. Both have a similar sub-bass extension with a deep rumble, but MKII mid-bass impact hits harder. Mids/vocals are more balanced in quantity in M4 while slightly recessed in Bravado MKII, but their tonality is similar, being smoother and more natural. Treble, again, is where I see the biggest difference. Bravado MKII is smoother and not as extended, while M4 is brighter and airier, but not as bright as Trio.
Bravado MKII vs LX