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Bravery AE, The Brave, Refined and Graceful

Bravery AE, The Brave, Refined and Graceful

Author:Andy.EF

Pros

- Highly organic, natural and elegant sound
- Near neutral waveform tuning
- Superb overall coherence and cohesion
- Modest, yet detailed and highly textured Bass performances
- Transparent, rich and engaging Mids
- Slick smooth Treble transients, properly detailed
- Very premium build, packaging and wholesome accessories
- Exceedingly comfortable to wear for long hours
- Highly efficient to drive
- Scales great with more power

Cons

- Chin slider tend to loosen up
- NOT for BASS lovers, NOT for Bassheads
- NOT for Harman sound fans

 

Foreword

  1. At the point of this article, my Bravery AE has undergone over 200 hours of runtime
  2. I don't do measurements, I just describe what I hear, from my own POV
  3. My preferred sound tuning, Diffused Field Neutral (Etymotic)
  4. The entirety of my impressions was done with Bravery AE stock tips (both Xelastec and Foam)
  5. Ultimately, my reviews are purely subjective and biased to my personal preference in sound

Following the success of SeeAudio Bravery in 2021, ANGELEARS has teamed up with SeeAudio to release a variant of Bravery, aptly named as Bravery AE Limited Edition. With some build changes and improvements here and there (more details on this later). It is no secret that the og Bravery was one of my favorites, an IEM that I use regularly. Alas I used it so much that I broke my og Bravery due to my own mistakes of dropping the right side unit on hard floor. Long story short, here I am reunited with a new Bravery.

The Build


For the asking price, Bravery AE sure does live up to expectations.. and more. Unboxing the Bravery AE, I was greeted with beautiful sight of a pair of blue Bravery AE accompanied with premium companion accessories.

Let's look at the cable first. Just like the og Bravery, Bravery AE comes equipped with premium custom 6N OCC Hakugei cable, tastefully finished in robust nylon twist braid. It is elegant as it is wholesome to the touch and feel. Most importantly, Bravery AE now offers modular plugs too, with all three major sizes included - 2.5 BAL, 4.4 BAL and 3.5 SE.
I can't stress enough how much I love this cable setup, black is already my staple color and the fact that it is also somewhat minimalist in appearance makes it all the more appealing. The only caveat that I would mention would be the chin slider - the nylon sleeving is a bit slippery and thus it is difficult to make the chin slider to stay put. To mitigate this issue, I simply added a small velcro ring underneath the chin slider - problem solved. (chin slider is especially crucial to secure the cable from microphonics).

 

Then, there's the selection of tips. Bravery AE does not cut corners with the accompanying tips options. Absolutely critical to me personally, the inclusion of Foam Tips which is what I always prefer over most silicones. Even more crucial, SeeAudio foam tips were made of high quality slow rebound composites. These are not the cheap average tips we are looking at. The foam tips felt so pliable and will deform nicely when compressed, then slowly expand as it adapt to ear canals perfectly. Comfort is top notch, once settled in, I literally forgot that I am wearing an IEM. The isolation is great too. I can barely hear ambient noises even outdoors.

Then the premium azla Xelastec. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised how good this Xelastec can be. Normally I would avoid using silicone tips, they seemingly just would not work with my ears. But Xelastec, after initial insertion, takes a bit of time for the "body heat adaptation" to form - of which later it would also disappear when the music starts. I was impressed with the sonic output too, devoid of any unsavory resonances and reverbs (especially lower frequencies).

As it is, I can totally use either the foam or Xelastec silicones. But ultimately I ended using the foam tips more - just some die hard habit of preferring the feel of soft foam - also at least to my hearing, the foam tips sounded more open and spacious (more on this on Technicalities section).



So how does Bravery AE differ from the og Bravery? for one, Bravery AE is more compact and more ergonomic. As seen in the pics below, Og Bravery is visibly larger. The internals are practically the same, but the implementation of the shells makes Bravery AE looking even more sleek. The good news, this more compact body also means improved comfort.

Perhaps the most important aspects, the change in shells design also inevitably introduce some changes with the sonic output - and I would say the subtle changes are for the good. At this scale and size, especially true for IEMs, driver housings play huge role in shaping the sound, we are talking about sound wave here after all - where the surrounding enclosure will impart how they form.

 

In case I haven't mentioned it yet, Bravery AE is absolutely comfortable to wear. Once settled in, I literally forgot that I had IEMs plugged to my ears. Throughout of last week for example, I was working on my DIY bike project and from the morning until late afternoon, I had music accompanying me on shuffle playlist - my Bravery AE remained plugged practically from the start until I stopped for the day - not a single element of ear fatigue that I am aware of. Simply amazing. I daresay that Bravery AE is on par with my Kinera Idun Golden on this subject, both totally usable for marathon listening for hours on end.

Equipment Used

  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
  • Sony Xperia 1 iV
  • Windows 10 with Native USB Drivers
  • USB Exclusive Mode with FLAC files
  • CEntrance DACport HD
  • Cayin RU6
  • Ovidius B1
  • 7Hz 71
  • VE Abigail 4.4
  • VE Megatron

Test Audio Playlist

 
Sound Impressions

 
SeeAudio Bravery AE is a very mild V curved IEM. Normally I am not fond of V or Harman tuning, but just like the Bravery OG, Bravery AE is among the very few that appeal to my senses. The elevation of Lows and Highs are done sensibly moderate and thoughtful - to a point that it will even entice a Diffused Field Neutral junkie like me to savor the meticulous and graceful elevation of sound curve.
Most importantly, the tonal and timbre balance of Bravery AE is highly organic - quite a pleasant surprise considering that this Bravery AE being all Balanced Armature drivers, no dynamic driver or anything else in the mix. The tuning exhibited amazing cohesion and fluidity to emit output that is realistically natural, harmonious and believable. In comparison, I would say Bravery AE is almost as organic sounding as Kinera Idun Golden, which offers even more analogue timbre among all Chi-Fi IEMs I have tested so far (only bested by the ethereally realistic Shure KSE1500).

Complementing the natural sounding tone and timbre, is the equally polished and sublime dynamic transients presentation. The vibrancy and energy emitted by Bravery AE can best be described as highly controlled, sensible and mature. The euphony level being kept well in check - imparting great balance between disciplined articulation and fun element. This is evident especially when I subject my Bravery AE to handling myriad of music genres, from the most raw Lo-Fi Black Metal to Hi-Fi complex composition of modern Jazz or Electronic music - what is evident, how deft Bravery AE at handling the variance of transient interchanges - always smooth, always fluid with finesse and grace. Even the most offensive energetic tracks sounded bearable - listening to Lo-Fi is not an easy thing to do if the listening equipment does not exhibit agility to adapt to the chaotic dynamic contents.

Dynamic range and expanse is quite respectable too. Bravery AE lives up to the expectation. While not being an outright bold performer in this aspect, Bravery AE offers sublime depth outreach - it is present yet it is moderate. I can hear proper details on both end of the sound spectrum which indicate Bravery AE being well extended with dynamic range. The theme being highly sensible and does not rub everything upfront - what I am trying to say is that, Bravery AE may not be as bold sounding or resolving as Etymotic ER4SR, but it does not mean it lacks dynamic coverage - just that the presentation is toned mildly which in turn, will allow for longevity of listening without imparting sense of loss for better depth.

Being a V curved unit, Bravery AE must be commended for being rich and highly textured with Midrange presentation. Audibly, I sensed that the staging of Mids being slightly stepped back - just enough to avoid it from being sounding recessed or distant. This is especially evident when subjected to listening to some genres like Rock/Metal which are typically mixed and mastered with recessed Mids. When listening to Jazz, Ballad and Folk music, the Mids sounded as engaging and wholesome as can be expected. It is highly transparent and neutral - I do not sense any element of coloration beyond what I regard as realistic. The tone being properly dense and organic, the attack timed correctly, imparting believable energy and vibrancy - yet it is not warm or dry, just natural and neutral.

The best part of Midrange, being a Metalhead I am absolutely loving how Electric Guitars and Percussions sounded with Bravery AE. The attack of guitar riffs are crisp, solid and commanding - yet utterly smooth edged and harmoniously polished. It does not matter E Minor or D Major, they all sounded right and realistic - engaging and addictive. As I wrote this, right this very moment I am listening to "Heavy Chains" by Loudness, legendary Japanese Heavy Metal pioneer, I had goose bumps on how articulate the stringed notes are, flowing from low octave to high pitched crescendos. Akira Takasaki, Loudness lead guitarist, the maestro guitar legend, has some of the most commanding riffs and speedplay - his guitar solo are peerless, and Bravery AE managed to keep up with the pace and energy with deft fluidity - retaining the bold crisp bite while being smooth at the same time. Totally mind blowing.

On the aspect of vocals, I would say Bravery AE is highly transparent and faithful to the intended sound. It is neither warm nor it is dry, or lean. Be it female or male, Bravery AE handles them all faithfully with great realistic texture, depth and resolution. Alison Krauss with her piercing Contralto or Mariah Carey with her Soprano-Alto, to low key deep singing of Diana Krall contralto, or chesty Baritone-Tenor of Nick Cave. They all sounded neutral and natural. Very much similar to what I am hearing from the likes of Etymotic ER2XR. There's no hint of upper Mids sibilance or Pinna getting hotter than they should be, making even the most prominent piercing vocals sounding smooth and engaging.

As for the lower frequencies, let's just clarify this upfront. Bravery AE will NOT please those liking their Bass big and commanding. From my subjective standpoint, I love Bravery AE Bass end to end. It is slightly boosted from what is regarded as neutral, but in no way being overcooked or Bassy enough for Bassheads. The overtones of Bravery AE Bass is natural, fast, tidy and borderline lean (for those loving big Bass). Which also mean, Bravery AE will absolutely be free from any risk of getting bloaty Bass performances.

The articulation of Midbass and Subbass evidently well projected. They operate respectfully within their own space, the Midbass never attempting to overshadow Subbass, nor does it attempt to subdue Lower Mids.

Midbass of Bravery AE is markedly mild, especially when compared to the likes of Dynamic Drivers equipped competitors. Impact and slam being moderate at best. Yet it has good speed and pace, accompanied by sensibly detailed texture and depth despite not being commanding with overall presence. The best part, at least for me personally, when I listened to KRAFTWERK "Radioaktivitat", Bravery AE became very lively and vibrant - rich, dense and detailed Midbass with equally crisp and lush Subbass seismic responses. Yes it does not pound my head like most Bass heavy IEMs, but it does not lack in energy and excitement. Touching on the Subbass, Bravery AE is quite respectable with how the lower extensions are handled, again it is sensibly realistic and smooth - not as bold as would be observed from Harman tuned IEMs, but by no means lacking in quality - it is just modest yet present. The dispersal of decay edge being velvety smooth and polished.

Last but not least, Bravery AE markedly offer "brighter" upper frequency performances versus the og Bravery. In contrast, I can almost say that the og AE sounded like slightly "darker". It's like comparing Sennheiser HD580 with HD600, if that makes any sense. Bravery AE offer slightly more air, sparkle and shimmer. Treble transients being very disciplined with the presentation - always smooth edged and always dispersing gracefully with the decays. I can hear proper resolution of Macro and Micro details. From the bold overtones of metal Snare drums to the most subtle of Hi-Hats, all present and audible. Again, the overall theme of moderation applies here as well, which in turn making is less likely for Bravery AE to be offensive with upper frequency output. And yet again, I would say the overall Treble tonal and timbre being realistic and natural, I don't hear any element of the overtones being plasticky or metallic. In short, Bravery AE Treble is crisp, clean edged, airy, and highly polished.

Technicalities
Let’s start with the best part, especially when equipped with the stock foam tips, I am hearing wide open sound that is generous with headstage width and depth - perceived soundstage being expansive even for an IEM. This is a marked improvement over the og Bravery, which to my ears sounded a bit more intimate and less spacious.

The projection of soundscape is highly holographic with precise imaging and well placed spatial positioning. Effortless to track the source and layers of sound, each respecting their own space yet harmoniously intertwined regardless how complex the composition is. The cohesion between the four Balanced Armature drivers nothing short of being amazing.

When it comes to resolution and transparency, Bravery AE proved to be a competent unit. Not exactly surgically clinical when compare to the likes of Etymotic ER4SR or Shure KSE1500, but on its own I totally have no qualms about the ability of Bravery AE to project highly resolved output which offer great details and imaging. And this also means Bravery AE offer great balance between the need for analytical indulgence to musical enjoyment. I want to enjoy music, not analyze it 

Now to my favorite part, speed. Bravery AE is an outstanding speedster. That four BAs are not just for show, they all resolves and respond admirably agile in unified cohesion to emit an output that is capable of handling the most complex of composition, or outright speedy tracks exceeding 250 BPM. Bravery AE will never be subjected to sluggishness or being muddy.

Scalability


Rated at 18 Ohm and with 110db of Sensitivity, Bravery AE is freakishly efficient to drive. Paired directly to my Sony Xperia 1 iV, I will find myself glued to it for hours on end, not wanting to put them down, to be continuously immersed with my music.
Despite that, Bravery AE does exhibit great ability to scale with more powerful partners. Bravery AE sounds the best with the likes of Ovidius B1 and CEntrance DACport HD. With heightened density of dynamic texture (yet still natural) and more sense of air.
Perhaps I should clarify, I actually use Bravery AE more with my Sony Xperia 1 iV phone, direct out from the 3.5m SE. This is a testament for it being so engagingly usable - there's no sense of loss that I would be worried of. Bravery AE efficiency really is spectacular.

The only caveat I would like to note, Bravery AE does have tendency to get a bit sizzling if subjected to higher than normal volume loudness, so when paired with my obscenely powerful 4.1 Vrms of DACport HD, I will need to be mindful to crank the volume low. Even more so with 4.7 Vrms of VE Megatron, practically I need to set the volume at 02/100 and then further tune down on the player side to 30/100 otherwise the atomic power of Megatron will literally send me to the hospital with blown eardrums.

Being highly efficient, Bravery AE will also reveal floor noises on some DAC/Amps, Ovidius B1 and VE Megatron for example, yes they sounds amazing when paired with Bravery AE, but on silent passages I can audibly hear background floor noises. But really this does not bother me at all.

Final Words

 

At this point, it is evident how much I love this SeeAudio Bravery AE. The very fact that I am still wearing it since this morning, savoring my music nonstop is a testament of how great this IEM is - at least for my subjective preferences and taste.

Bravery AE is a superbly well rounded IEM that seemingly capable of anything I thrown at it. It does not matter what genre or what level of quality the sources are, they all sounded addictively appealing to my ears. That smooth dynamic transients handling, always fluid and harmonious, yet highly technical and succinct. Bravery AE is well balanced to sound highly technical as it is engagingly musical, simply amazing.

Without reservation, I would say that Bravery AE made it to the list of my regular rotation alongside Kinera Idun Golden and Simgot EM2 Roltion. All of them quite lovable for what they are.

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