In this review, I’m looking at the new oBravo Venus IEM. Venus is a hybrid dual-driver unit with 1 dynamic driver and 1 planar magnetic driver. It retails at approximately $960.
Founded in Taiwan, oBravo audio is the result of a dogged pursuit of passion and determination. The brand is most known for its high-end earphones that utilize exotic materials such as Formosa wattle and advanced ceramics.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by KStudio for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Venus comes in a tall dark-grey rectangular box with a magnetic flap lid. Inside the box are two trusty black foam inserts holding everything securely in place. Here’s a list of what’s inside the box:
oBravo Venus IEM
Detachable 1.2m OCC litz cable
3.5mm single-ended, 2.5mm balanced and 4.4mm balanced terminations
3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
Rigid carrying case with carabiner
3x pairs of silicone eartips
3x pairs of Comply foam eartips
Proprietary MMCX to 2.5mm adapter
Venus’ shells are made from platinum-plated brass and have a smooth polished mirror finish. Despite the mirror finish, these shells do not attract fingerprints like stainless steel shells, such as the Moondrop KATO. Venus has a little bit of heft, making it feel premium without being heavy.
As far as physical shape goes, Venus appears to be the same as the oBravo Cupid, albeit with longer cable sockets. There’s a single small vent near the base of the nozzle plus L and R markings denoting the Left and Right sides respectively. The overall build quality feels fantastic.
Venus is a supremely comfortable IEM, at least for my ears. I would rate it as one of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve ever used. The deceptively simplistic form of the shells fits my ears almost as if it were custom made. Passive noise isolation is pretty decent too.
Venus comes with an OCC Litz silver-plated copper cable. The cable is upgraded to gold-plated silver with the Venus Signature version. In addition, the upgraded cable comes with oBravo’s modular twist-lock interchangeable termination system that allows you to easily switch between 3.5mm single-ended, 2.5mm balanced and 4.4mm balanced terminations.
When it comes to handling, the upgraded cable is exquisite. It’s very lightweight and supple. There is no microphonics, kinks or stiffness plus it looks and feels great.
The oBravo Venus has a fun, detailed sound with punchy bass, clean midrange and sparkling, crisp treble. Yes, I said fun: Venus adds some of the bass and warmth that several other oBravo models were sorely missing. As a result, Venus feels more versatile and can tackle any music genre with ease.
It’s easy to drive too. You can power Venus with a simple dongle DAC or DAP or even straight from a smartphone (assuming it has a headphone jack). But this is an IEM that can scale with the source so I strongly recommend pairing it with a capable DAC and amplifier.
Venus’ bass is, in a word: ‘phat‘. By that, I do not mean thick or sluggish. What I mean is that the bass is exciting and authoritative but it’s also tight. It’s a fun bass tuning but the quality is superb and it has good control.
Bass notes have good texture, speed and impact. Sub-bass and mid-bass notes play fairly evenly relative to each other so you get punchy mid-bass and nice sub-bass rumble too. Neither is overdone or bloated. Firing up Soen’s “Void”, the kick drums thump but with speed and agility. The drums and bass guitar are engaging but let the vocals and guitars come to the forefront.
Venus has a clear, vibrant midrange, aided largely by accentuated upper mids and treble extension. There’s a high level of transparency and resolution here. This is achieved not only by the raised mids and treble but also by the speed of the planar driver and the resulting fast transients.
It’s a spacious and detailed midrange but one that could use a hint more warmth for accuracy. In addition, Venus often rides the line of becoming sibilant but for the most part, manages to avoid it with a significant dip between 5kHz-6kHz. Vocals are slightly recessed, in favour of a more detailed upper midrange and treble.
I found Venus suits classical music particularly well, although brass instruments can sound a bit forward. Playing “Brandenburg Concerto No.2 in F Major, BWV 1047: II. Andante”, Venus is agile, displaying rich harmonics within a spacious stage. The violin and harpsichord sound clear and detailed with natural decay and clearly defined spacing.
Venus has a fairly forward and energetic treble. It’s well-extended with a plateau between 7kHz-10kHz, resulting in an open and airy sound. It is on the brighter side of neutral and can result in some occasional sizzle and sibilance.
This is where Venus gets its clarity from and despite the 5kHz-6kHz dip there’s plenty of crispness in snare drums and percussion instruments. What you get is a precise treble with ample energy and sparkle but one that’s not entirely accurate in tone. The upper treble elevation brings out a myriad of micro-details but only rarely results in harshness.
The soundstage is fairly large and is slightly wider than it is deep. Sounds tend to spread out more from side to side than they do in front of the headspace. It’s a spacious sound, aided by instrument separation and the precise treble. As such, instrument separation is strong with a black background in between sounds and fairly pinpoint imaging.
FiR Audio 5×5 ($999)
Although 5×5 leans towards bright, Venus is brighter again. It may not be as detailed but 5×5 has a more natural tone. Venus’ bass has better extension and texture, as well as slightly better definition. But to compensate, 5×5 has more upper bass and lower midrange body.
Vocals are more forward and denser on the 5×5, resulting in a warmer, more natural sound. Venus’ midrange is more recessed in comparison but its vocals are more articulate. 5×5 on the other hand has more vocal depth. Venus’ midrange has better spacing but is cooler and leaner than 5×5.
The 5×5 treble shines but Venus sparkles, albeit with a less natural tone. There’s more detail and definition in Venus’ treble giving it a brighter tonality which can sometimes lead to harshness. The 5×5’s soundstage isn’t as wide as the Venus and is rounder in shape. The Venus sounds more spacious and airy and has more treble precision but isn’t as smooth as the 5×5.
The oBravo Venus is an exciting IEM with an abundance of clarity and energy. It has a vigorous and playful yet well-controlled bass. Its lifted treble provides plenty of thrills and creates a large, spacious soundstage. However, it’s not a dry or analytical experience thanks to the elevated low frequencies. It’s an intoxicating mix of fun and precision that will impress you with its technical prowess yet at the same time, get your toes tapping to the music. Venus doesn’t have the most natural tone and it’s not for the treble-shy. But if you’re okay with those things, you’re in for one heck of a ride.