I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the oBravo Cupid. It sits in a great place as an IEM that’s both inexpensive and a joy to listen to. Having recently listened to a selection of Endgame IEMs and the legendary Meze Empyrean, it was nice to step off the mountaintop for a moment and take some time to focus on a more accessible everyday earphone – you know, one I can actually afford for myself. And, while it’s not perfect, something about the Cupid put an arrow straight through my heart.
Build and Design
First let’s talk about the general look and feel of the Cupid. It comes in fairly minimalist packaging with a proprietary cable, some eartips, and a small carrying bag. The Cupid itself presents as very premium with a smooth design and glossy finish. The fit was comfortable and tight, and I appreciated that the portion of the cable that goes over the ear isn’t tight or stiff.
In addition to the premium look and feel, the Cupid sounds premium. The vocals, particularly in pop and rock music, are where the Cupid isn’t just amazing “for the money,” it’s amazing, period. The Cupid provides an incredible level of detail and emotion in its vocal delivery, and it also shines with various types of instrumental solos that fall into that same dynamic range as tenor and mezzo-soprano voices – like guitar and violin.
Wanting to get the most out of both the emotional instrumental and vocal performance of the Cupid, I queued up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. While Roger Waters and Richard Wright sound great, what really stood out was how every bit of Clare Torry’s vocal performance on “The Great Gig in the Sky” is expertly captured and delivered. There are small quivers and little inflections – a vocal catch here, a bit of roughness there – that I had never caught before.
Despite having performed well with Pink Floyd, listening to some other classic rock, like Led Zeppelin II – even with the latest remaster – I found the balance to be just a little bit off. There wasn’t the same level of energy that the Cupid projected on other albums. Listening to a variety of genres, every now and then – maybe it was a more “noisy” sample in a hip hop track or a stab of the brass in an older jazz recording – would hit just a little bit sharp or piercing.
Using the Cupid for some extended, focused listening mostly brought out a lot of positives. One that surprised me was how competent the imaging was. I closed my eyes listening to “Please Forgive Me” off the new remaster of David Gray’s White Ladder, and I could place each new piece of the musical tapestry as it came in, filling the space around me.
The bass is also worth noting. It’s strong without being overpowering. While these don’t shake your brain on the same level as a Legend X or even a Solaris, when the bass drops, you’re going to feel it. If the vocals are the top highlight of the Cupid, I’d say that its balanced bass and sub bass would be second on the list.
I’ve been using the Cupid for regular listening for a little while, so I’ve heard it with a number of sources including directly out of my laptop and phone, as well as with the iFi hip-dac, Chord Electronics Mojo, and the Astell&Kern SP700. I used the Mojo and SP700 for intentional listening to gather my thoughts for the review. In my Budget IEM roundup, I specifically recommended the Cupid and the iFi hip-dac, but in general, I really enjoy the combination of the Cupid and the SP700.
The oBravo Cupid is an absolute marvel in its price range. It has a premium look and feel, and its unique variation on a v-shaped tuning does a great job capturing the energy and dynamics of music. It particularly excels at delivering the emotion and subtle expressions of vocal performances. If you’re an IEM collector, I’d recommend picking up the Cupid to hear its unique signature sound, and if you’re looking to break into the Hi-Fi earphone world without breaking the bank, the Cupid is a great place to start.