I just reviewed the oBravo AI25P and AIS100 not too long ago, I knew I have confessed extremely on my love for them. But they are selling for more than 1500USD for the set, I dont think everyone will buy the bill although serious about audio, life is just too much to spend and too little to earn.
The much more cheap price oBravo AI-5 (399USD) seemed to be a better answer for those who looks for good quality desktop speaker set for tighter budget. Price different is very apparent and I will not be doing any extensive comparison between the AI-5 and AI25P, the price speak loudly for themselves and the fact really is AI25P is way better than AI-5 in term of audio quality, no questions asked.
When the AI25P and AI-5 arrived at Earmass review site lately, to be honest I don’t really listened to AI-5. This is very normal, it is like when you have the Stax SR-009 in collection and you still going to listen to your Sennheiser HD202, it is very normal that human tends to enjoy the best and forgot the ‘less’ best. However, AI-5 have impressed me as well when I first listened to it.
Audio Quality : Perfect Desktop Audio Setup Option
Source : Soundaware D100Pro Deluxe Edition, Asus Laptop
DACs : Firestone Audio Tobby, M2Tech Hiface DAC, Kingrex UPower and UD384, Arce MDAC3
I setting it up with my laptop and all units have been put on my table. Setup is very
simple, most of the time when I want to listen to AI-5, I just hooked it up with the M2Tech Hiface DAC and the outcome is already very good, honestly we don’t have to spent thousands to have an audiophile setup now, personally I think a simple setup like this will make me retire and quit audio hobby already, just don’t asking too much.
Firstly, I don’t think there is any desktop audio that is practically better or hi-fi than the AI-5. If weighty and heavy bass response is what you want then you should look elsewhere, oBravo is about Hi-fi, I have played some hip hop and R&B songs to test if AI-5 will suite them, unfortunately, the bass response is a bit pity and not enough to get you the pace factor or seduced by bass, it is not that bad but for R&B and electronica I honestly think that there is a lot of choices in the market, with lesser money can buy.
However, if you are looking for a reasonable soundstaging, very open and detailed sound, excellent near field listening experience, an excellent audio setup (with reasonable sizing) purely for music, then oBravo AI-5 is the speakers for you.
First of all, sound signature is quite balanced, not warm nor cold, sometimes it is lean towards thin sounding but overall sound impressively opened and detailed. In times I have not experienced any desktop speakers as detailed and as open sounding as the AI-5 yet, in the price range.
Treble is extensive and detailed, midrange is neutral and natural, bass is clean and fast. This is what I am looking for in a good desktop unit. Most of the desktop speakers that I have tested including the famous Harman Kardon Soundstick and those from Altec Lanscing, Creative, Sony, more than I can remember sounded muddy and closed, which make me feeling reluctance to buy them, however the AI-5 is different to them, to be fair AI-5 might not on par with them if your music preference are those R&B, electronica, dubstep, gaming and watching movie, but if your top priority is just solely music, then you are very difficult to go wrong with AI-5.
Detail level is impressive for a 399USD desktop speaker. I am a bit worrying that if I put the midrange unit at left then the sound will be oriented to left, however seems like I am worrying too much because there is really only little affection to positioning, but what my ears are telling me there is no orientation/sound sliding issue to left nor right.
oBravo AI-5 is a very capable speaker, at least for my ears it is little like Beyerdynamic in headphone worlds, probably the DT880, they shared a lot of similarity. With the money you get a ribbon tweet technology which others can only dreamed of for a desktop setup, although it is not as lush/superb sounding as AI25P which definitely sit in a different market, but on it own it really give a hard tackle for PC set that sit in the 450USD price bracket, I better be straight here, if you are not into R&B type of songs and not going to use it for gaming/movie purpose, AI-5 is my top priority for music purpose alone.