While most of the earphone market has gone the route of wireless Bluetooth technology, there’s still a highly sought after market for those who really want audiophile quality sound.
While you do lose out on the convenience that a no-wires setup can offer, physical wires produce audio fidelity not yet matched in Bluetooth in an in-ear monitor (IEM) set of earphones.
I’ve been using the oBravo Cupid Basic for a while and have been impressed by what I’ve been hearing. The oBravo company is not a household name, but this premium audio brand is well-know in audio circles for its high-end audio products that range in price from £169 for the oBravo Cupid Basic, up to £8,999 for the Ra C-Cu, which are also IEMs.
The Cupid Basic offers a premium build and sound quality at an affordable price. There is a more expensive version called the Cupid Ultimate which comes with a high-quality Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC) litz cable terminated with a gold plated brass 2.5mm balanced jack.
You also get a gold plated brass 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. The Ultimate version of Cupid contains the 3.5mm adapter alongside a high-quality 2.5mm to 4.4mm Pentaconn adapter.
The basic version just comes with a 1.2m OCC cotton braided, 3.5mm cable and three silicone ear tips S/M/L.
The 3.5mm OCC cable is detachable and uses a proprietary gold plated connection that pushes into a slotted gold plated port on the Cupid earphones. The big advantage of a separate cable is that if it breaks, it can be replaced easily.
Some of these high-end cables can cost into the hundreds of euros depending on the type of metal and materials used. There are no inline controls on this cable although oBravo says they have optional cables with controls.
The Cupids use oBravo’s hybrid configuration of an 8mm planar tweeter, alongside a 6mm neodymium dynamic driver. There’s a solid weight to the earphones themselves and this is down to the inner housing being made from brass with the outer casing having a stylish chrome-like finish.
However, I found over months of use, this stunning polished look faded with lots of micro scratches and scuff marks. The earphones do come with a tiny double sleeve soft pouch to protect them, but you have to be diligent if you want to avoid tarnishing the nice finish.
The Cupids do look uniquely stylish in your ears especially in a crowded market of plastic white earbuds. A small oBravo logo adorns the front of each earpiece.
When you pick up the oBravo Cupids for the first time, you can feel and see the excellent build quality. There’s a quality look, build and weight to them that provides confidence that these are going to last for a long time.
The OCC cable requires a little force to pop them into the earphones socket, but this is a good thing. There’s no chance they’ll disconnect accidentally as it requires a good amount of force to remove them.
The Cupid Basic only come with three silicone tips and I found the medium size fitted my ears the best. They provided me with a tight fit that was comfortable even for long listening sessions.
Like any earphones, a good fit is essential for both comfort and sound quality. I also found good passive noise isolation with outside sounds reduced to a quiet hum in most environments.
It’s also worth noting that sound quality is also dependent on how far you push the earphones into your ear canal and at what angle. Of course, this will vary from person-to-person, but it’s worth experimenting to find your optimal position.
Right from the first listen, I was blown away by what I was hearing and the sound only got better as the Cupids broke in. I could hear details in songs with clarity that I wasn’t expecting from earphones in this price range.
The bass is tight and powerful without muddying detail in the mids. The mid-range has a lot of clarity and detail with good separation in instruments and effects.
In particular, I really liked vocals which are strong and distinct. Modern tracks like Bad Guy illustrate the range really well, but equally, I was impressed with the reproduction in songs like a New York Minute from the Eagles Live on MTV or Dire Straits Sultans of Swing.
I could hear individual instruments clearly with good positioning in the spacious soundstage. Treble is crystal clear and bright without sounding thin.
Overall, there’s not much I didn’t like about the Cupid Basic earphones. Of course, you can buy better-sounding earphones, but you’ll have to pay a lot more for them.
If sound quality is more important to you than convenience, then at this price, you’re not going to find a better set of quality earphones.
oBravo Cupid Basic from www.audioconcierge.co.uk £169 (€195).