SeeAudio Bravery – Majestic Noir
It is best to understand that my reviews are entirely subjective from my point of view and heavily influenced by my own sonic preferences – I am a longtime zealot of Diffused Field Neutral sound (Etymotic DF Neutral). Additionally, I have also developed deeper appreciation for Neutral Balanced sound which offers a bit more of weight in the lower registers rendering organic, warm-ish sonic characteristics.
Bravery came in a beautiful package (if I ignore the immature Waifu theme). However, I will just say this one out loud. I wished SeeAudio could have forgo the need to use the Anime “Waifu” theme that has been going rampart among so many Chi-Fi audio gear manufacturers now. I just can’t understand how this would add value to an already beautiful and elegant looking IEM like the Bravery. In fact, had I not been looking at the IEM itself I would have been massively discouraged by the external packaging. The Waifu there just made the whole thing looked so immature and borderline hideous. Please stop doing this, please – it does not do justice to the product itself by a longshot. Stick to something simple and that alone is an understated elegance.
Okay enough rant. As noted above, Bravery is a very beautiful and elegant unit. Constructed of resin shells that’s somewhat on the larger side of things. In fact, Bravery is the largest IEM I have ever owned. Even slightly bigger than Etymotic EVO. Thankfully being resin means that it is not as heavy as the look suggests.
Bravery came paired with a beautiful Hakugei 6N OCC cable that is quite impressive looking. I am totally digging the cable construction. Additionally there’s two sets of premium tips, of which one of them being azla Xelastec and the other being slow rebound memory foams (which I liked a lot).
SeeAudio Bravery is a multiple Balanced Armatures IEM with 2 Knowles BA for lower frequencies, a Sonion BA for Mids and finally another Knowles for highs. Bravery is rated at 18 Ohm with the sensitivity of 110db.
SeeAudio Bravery as noted earlier is rather a large IEM. But once worn I did not find any discomfort or difficulties to wear it even up to 7 hours (yes, I spent 6-9 hours per day listening to music). The Hakugei cable is well designed with very useful ear hooks and solidly latched chin slider (to combat microphonics)
First time out of the box, I found the Bravery to be rather dark and warm sounding. Almost underwhelming. The good thing is, I was already attuned to liking warm sounding IEMs especially after Moondrop Aria and Yuan Li. So instead of dismissing the Bravery right away I decided to hold any judgement until the IEMs will have proper burn-in. True enough, throughout the next 12 hours when I listened to my Bravery it sounded better. Gone are the darkness and veil. Still on the warm-ish signature but it is as clear as I can hope for. Now we are talking.
The sound impressions described afterwards are after 100 hours of burn-in with the following equipment:
- SeeAudio Bravery slow rebound memory foam tips
- Samsung Galaxy S20 (USB 3.0 Power Delivery)
- Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (USB 2.0 & 3.5mm Out)
- HiBy Audio Player (USB Exclusive mode to bypass Android SRC)
- Traditional FLAC Files (CD Rips or Bandcamp)
- TempoTec Sonata E44 Dongle
- Ovidius B1 (3.5 Single Ended) Dongle
- CEntrance DACportHD Dongle
- Abigail CX31993 Dongle
- VE Run About Plus 5 (18v Amplifier)
Timbre AND Tonality.
The Bravery is decidedly an organic sounding unit. Very analogue tonality and close to balanced neutral timbre. I would not say that the Bravery is neutral, simply because the lower frequencies does sound a bit more muscular and denser that what I am used to. In lay man’s term the Bravery is a warm sounding IEM. Warm but not necessarily dark like what I have heard from the likes of Moondrop Aria. In contrast TForce Yuan Li is more accurate in presenting neutral balanced sound. All in all, this sound signature came as a surprise to me as I didn’t expect balanced armatures to sound this organic. Being so long with the likes of Etymotic Knowles based BA, I know how metallic and bright sounding they can be in native tuning. Bravery is definitely NOT bright sounding despite using Knowles BA as the dedicated High Frequency driver. Well, do I like it? Hell yes I do. I have been tuning my Etys here and there to get that analogue-organic balanced sound that I appreciate more than anything else now. SeeAudio Bravery came ready with all these. Overall tonality sounds proper to my ears, there’s no odd out of place to the nuances of each tones.
The tuning for Bravery is very matured, polished, and smooth. I am genuinely impressed with the level of coherence achieved by these four different balanced armature drivers to stage dynamic range that is expansive and hygienically harmonious. The funny part is, had I been doing a blind test on the Bravery, I would have assumed this being a magnetic planar instead – much akin to what I heard from a properly powered TIN HiFi P1 and FOSTEX T40RP MK3. The richness and density of the dynamic transients are practically TOTL like (depends on the source). There’s never a moment I felt that the body of notes being lean or dry. Always wholesome and with proper level of vibrancy to keep it realistic.
Bravery Mids are tuned towards being slightly intimate and warm. In fact I believe the overall warm-ish signature for Bravery starts here in the Mids with the Sonion single BA. Deftly tuned to emit rich realistic analogue tone with commendable textures and depth. Depending on the source characteristics, I am pleased that the Bravery is able to scale with the nature of sources Mids staging. For example on the already Mids intimate Ovidius B1, the presentation is outright forward focused – as if Alison Krauss is singing her peaky Soprano vocals right into my face at one step distance. When paired with something less intimate like the TempoTec Sonata E44 or Abigail, Alison now takes additional two steps back. This behavior is consistent with other vocalists (Sinne Eeg, Diana Krall, Nick Cave etc.). The Bravery remained faithful to the mastering depth as exhibited in the original recordings.
Instruments wise, Bravery offers yet again very analogue but precise sound – instead of being sharp and bitey edged, the tones are more rounded and with lots of polished smoothness. Natural length instrument decays with realistic reverbs. Suffice to say the sound attunement is geared more towards “Unplugged Sessions” type of presentation instead of “Studio Reference” – unplugged sessions being more focused on reliving the moment of live acoustical performances rather than outright precision as emphasized by studio recordings – if that makes any sense. All in all I am enjoying this rich, musical yet detailed Mids presentation quite a lot. The warmth is expertly balanced to remain realistic and not overly colored.
The Bravery Treble is very subtle. As a matter of saying it will not jump into my face and takes precedence over anything. Treble staging remained in check, harmonizing perfectly with the rest of the spectrum. However I do wish it could have a bit more pronounced presence. I am so used to the sparkly dominating Highs of Etymotic ER4SR and VE Duke. The approach for Bravery Treble is similar to Shure KSE1500, except that of course KSE1500 being a lot more airy, surgically detailed, and realistically pristine to the last aeons (practically perfect). The Bravery offered ample subtle shimmer and sparkle to keep things exciting. Treble details largely depends on the capabilities of the source. When plugged to the venerable VE Run About Plus 5 amplifier + TempoTec Sonata E44, healthy amount of air and details revealed, still subtle and polished but a bit more pronounced and with richer density. Extensions wise, I would say that the Bravery fell short of the extremes as exhibited by VE Duke, perhaps the Bravery Treble extensions are on par with Etymotic ER2XR or even HZSOUND Heart Mirror (with the HM being less refined and brighter). The Bravery Treble decays are the airy soft and smooth type, not crispy or snappy as compared to the likes of KBEAR Aurora or ER4SR. Being smooth and polished, there’s zero chance of getting Treble fatigue.
Perhaps the highlight of the Bravery, Bass performances. I have said this many times before, I hate bassy IEMs. Good thing is the Bravery does not qualify as a Basshead IEM, which is perfectly fine by me. What the Bravery offers is a richly muscled Bass elevation that is as smooth, disciplined, coherent and expertly controlled. Not a single moment I have heard any sort of Bass bleeding into anything – overshadowing any other neighboring frequencies. Sub-Bass performance is nothing short of amazing, very realistic with appropriate seismic sensations that is more felt than heard – the decays are kept sensible without being overdone. Mid-Bass punchy and tidy, yet still moderate enough not to make things rumbling unrealistically. As I said earlier, The Bravery is not exactly a balanced neutral IEM. This thing has bass amount more than any of my regular IEMs. Compared to VE Duke, it is like there’s no life there in the lower registers for the Duke, hahahahaha. What I love about the Bravery is, despite having seemingly more Bass than I am normally accustomed to, the projection and execution of sound enrich the lower frequencies rather than commanding it. That is the threshold of acceptance that I can tolerate, one hair beyond that and I will find myself not liking it at all. The Bravery Bass is what makes it special, twin Knowles BA that worked seamlessly to put most dynamic drivers blushing. There’s depth and textures akin to what one can expect from TOTL IEMs (when powered properly).
Details & Transparency.
Despite being on the warmer side, the Bravery did great at keeping believable transparency level. Again depending on the prowess of the sources, transparency is scaled appropriately. Plug it onto an already warm sounding unit like the VE Odyssey HD and there’s slight loss of transparency with the added warmth. The Bravery will need something more neutral to shine the best. Something like Ovidius B1, CEntrance DACportHD or at minimum, Abigail. With Ovidius B1 and DACportHD, I get lots of Macro and Micro details retrieval. Smooth and well rounded. Pairing with TempoTec Sonata E44 offered something a bit more euphonic and slightly colored in the lower registers, since E44 has some emphasis on Bass region. This non overly clinical transparency also means that the Bravery is very forgiving to Lo-Fi and poor sources much similar to TForce Yuan Li. I can listen to very shouty recordings from the likes of Burzum, Cult of Fire etc. without getting my eardrums ice spiked to oblivion.
Sensitivity wise, The Bravery exhibited the same symptoms to my other highly sensitive IEMs. I can hear background noises emitted from the crazily powerful Ovidius B1. However these are only observed on silent passages and are completely gone when the actual music plays. Similar observation with VE Odyssey HD.
Speed & Transients.
Make or break, this is where I ultimately decide if I am liking this Bravery or not. Happy to say that I am impressed with the speed. Nothing less from a set of well-tuned Balanced Armatures working in cohesion to achieve exemplary coherence. Dynamics transients are deftly handled without any hint of compression or congestion. Notes exchange and transitions between layers are well separated in their own spaces, with all four BA drivers responding with great agility to rhyme with each other’s and providing accurate responses that emit the final sound. Be it complex or outright speedy, the Bravery can handle them all with great finesse.
Soundstage & Imaging.
The Bravery soundstage seems to be largely dependent on the sources. It is outright narrow (but tall) on the likes of VE Odyssey HD and direct phone out. When paired with proper partners, the staging size expand appropriately with commendable depth. I am not a soundstage junkie and less critical on this segment. So, any sense of added space is something I consider as a bonus. What I do like the most is how clean the layers are separated despite being a warm-ish sounding unit. There’s no blurring of lines and this in turn help to keep spatial imaging and positioning sharp. It is as holographic as it can be when the sources demands for it.
Adaptability and Scalability.
SeeAudio Bravery is a very efficient sounding IEM. At 18 Ohm and 105db of sensitivity it will sound great even with direct output from most phones. However the best can yet be squeezed out by smashing it with more driving power. At which in these conditions, I only need low volume loudness to experience richer dynamics and larger headstage. In fact the best way to enjoy the Bravery is to run in on approx. 1-2 clicks lower volume than I would normally use. Feed it more than necessary power and there’s a tendency to become a bit glaringly loud. At this subtle level of volume, the refinement will be most evident to my hearing. This is especially useful as I would be able to train my ears getting used to lower volume which in turn will keep hearing health in check. Another element that I should have mentioned earlier, the Bravery has great sealing ability especially with the foam tips. With great seal, comes great isolation to enjoy focused sound output.
Cable swapping seems to work great with the Bravery too. The stock cable is already tuned to provide the “safest” tuning at which things are a bit more balanced. Swapping in a pure Black Litz OCC, I observed that the overall timbre losses some of the warmth, gained a bit more clarity and pronounced highs – at the expense of sounding leaner than stock. With Kinera Leyding, it is very similar to the stock Hakugei cable, except that Kinera Leyding has a hair better transparency and with better sense of airy space between notes. I also tried with TACables Obsidian OCC/Litz hybrid and getting some results that are in between the Kinera Leyding and the Hakugei 6n OCC.
SeeAudio Bravery. The Bravery marked the end of my search for multi drivers BA (at least for this year ). Almost a month ago I decided to take a break from #donglemadness to focus on acquiring new IEMs. I already have gotten my Magnetic Planar, DD, Piezo and even Titanium DD, The Bravery completed my collection to serve as normal rotation for my daily listening. I spent approximately 6-8 hours a day having something plugged to my ears, having varieties to choose from is what I needed to keep things exciting.
For a multiple BA, SeeAudio did a stellar job with The Bravery. It was not an immediate WOW for me from the first listen. But as I spent more time using it, I began to develop a fondness for the rich sonic presentation that always remained smooth and technically competent. I personally believe that the Bravery is delivering values above the asking price. I have heard similar sonic performances from IEMs that are priced double than this one. SeeAudio Bravery is a keeper for sure.
PS: As always, I would like to thank HiFiGo for the ever-excellent customer service provided facilitating my purchase of this SeeAudio Bravery.