I had an incredible Christmas break at home especially as it was my 9 month old daughter’s first and absolutely loved the time spent with all the family. I received some lovely presents but now-a-days the kids get the majority and i’m left with a few pairs of socks and a box of Lynx Africa. During the festive break however I was fully aware that a consignment was on its way to us containing a large quantity of high value, high quality earphones. Of course Audio Sanctuary was closed over much of the holiday period and Mr Courier man was unable to deliver the consignment on schedule. This made me even more anxious and eager to get back to work and get hold of the box.
The first day back was 3rd of January and I forced myself to get on with all of the emails and other admin work that had built up over the break before I went looking for the delivery that had arrived. It was a long, long day but knowing that at the end of all the tasks I could open the box and get to the earphones made it all worth while.
This delivery was from oBravo Audio a boutique manufacturer who have been researching and developing miniaturised AMT and Planar driver technology to put into earphones. We had ordered a number of their earphones including their flagship models for clients and a few for stock but alongside these, oBravo had included another earphone for me. This earphone was slightly larger than the EAMT1 flagship that we had in stock. It had the same cable connection and was similarly emblazoned with oBravo’s trademark natural Acacia wood fascia plate.
In my hand I had oBravo’s new king of the mountain. How can you go higher than the EAMT1 model?…..well you go to EAMT-0 (Codename Zeus). I knew the specification of this earphone prior to receiving it and had heard pre production models, but this was the production model. I was already VERY familiar with the EAMT1 Gen1 AMT Tweeter and this had already won accolades from the likes of headfonia.com as “Best Universal Earphone 2016” that same tweeter was also in the EAMT2 which won “Best Universal IEM 2016” with headfonics.com. EAMT-0 (Zeus) offers a Gen2 AMT Tweeter, capable of even greater extension and a massive 16mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver.
Slight tweaks and refinements had been made to the Zeus since last hearing it and David (oBravo CEO) was modestly happy with the outcome.
It was time for me to adorn Zeus with a pair of Comply TS-500 tips and see what these were capable of. Over the years I have accrued a number of test tracks that are able to get the best from any equipment (or worst). I am also very privileged to have heard some of the best systems around including full range hi-fi systems and active monitoring rigs from the likes of PMC. I was really looking forward to trying out my list of test pieces on these with a standard Astell&Kern AK380 and TIDAL.
For some reason I always want to test the bass first on new products I have so Oneohtrix Point Never – Along was first up. Flabbergasted is the only word I can equate. On every system I have ever listened to this track on the bass is beyond insane and completely overtakes the rest of the music with it’s thunderous low frequency murmur. Not so with Zeus…….You can almost hear that the bass has been produced and mastered to go as low as possible with lots of impact so that every headphone and speaker on earth is capable of reproducing it……With Zeus the track no longer appears that bassy, there is more to go. plenty more to go. This bass is now immensely textured and does nothing to cloud the rest of the track. Sure it’s low but you can hear that the bass is at the right frequency to engulf listeners using other earphones and headphones. This immediately got me wondering…..How on earth will i try and get the Zeus to show exactly what it can do in the bass if many tracks have been mastered/produced in this way. The only way I could think of was to try using a score. Time to bring out the big guns. Next up was Hans Zimmer’s – Why So Serious from the Batman Soundtrack of The Dark Knight. This score has an insane bass track three quarters of the way through that is just about audible on the best of systems. Again not so on the Zeus….The Zeus through up 3 separate bass sections during the entire piece that I had never heard before. The main bass bit 3 quarters in was obviously mastered again like the Oneohtrix song and pushed the bass at a specific frequency to accommodate the majority of systems. Why So Serious was “seriously” digging out the bass and sub bass was phenomenal. No room acoustics were in effect here and playing with the bass frequencies. It was just pure unadulterated low frequency. Lush and clean. I then began experiencing more and more tracks that completely blew me away with bass depth and speed such as scores by John Williams – Escape from E.T.
Moving on up was mid-range, vocals. My current test on this is a Marc Cohn song Maestro. This can offer a very up close and personal insight with the right system, with others the detail and vocal expression can be lost. The Zeus handled this with blissful ease. Providing a pin sharp vocal. These earphones present the vocals dead in the centre of the soundstage with plenty of airiness around them to provide ample space for the vocals to breathe and expand and produce the most accurate reproduction I have heard from any earphone or headphone. Forget the vocals and listen to everything else going on and you can hear instruments being played in the furthest extremities. The soundstage is incredibly immersive and enveloping. Bigger than you would get from many a full sized headphone and certainly more a one-piece soundstage than many headphones that offer a big soundstage but are somewhat disjointed.
The treble also excels with these earphones. Without being harsh the treble sparkles out from within the lush warmth of the Zeus. The overall presentation is full of body and the treble reaches out from beneath and accentuates way above the full bodied audio on tracks such as Annie Lennox – A Thousand Beautiful Things.
Scale these earphones up and put them on a Hugo, TT, DAVE, you name it these earphones will continue to get bigger, bolder, crisper, cleaner and the grandeur just keeps on giving and giving. At this moment in time the farthest I can go is with DAVE and I can honestly say it’s a dream to experience.
So as Christmas’ go…..having the opportunity to hear the production Zeus in its fully glory was exactly what I needed to top off my holiday. The icing on the cake so to speak…..But why am I a lucky boy? Well this is one of only 2 pairs of Zeus earphones currently in existence anywhere in the World. The other is with oBravo so I count myself exceptionally lucky for these to be with me in my possession. I also want to add that the earphones I hold – very delicately – in my hand has a tentative value of £6000. The Zeus is an exquisite, masterclass of audio wizardry that offers a sound that far surpasses that of its younger brother the EAMT1. The truly magical presentation offers an experience like no other and I feel honoured to be one of the first in the world to experience these earphones.