Attack of the Blons
- Ergonomics, fit and comfort.
- Clarity of sound.
- Ability to detail.
- Quality/price ratio.
- Simple packaging and accessories.
- Basses too neutral.
- The amount of energy of the mid-highs can generate fatigue.
- Low three-dimensional scene.
Link to the Store
BLON is a brand based in Dongguan City, China. Founded in 2014, they have several headphones under their control (such as the B8 or B20), it was with the BL-03 that they have jumped to worldwide fame. The BLON BL-03, have been perhaps the most famous headphones of the last months. It was necessary to take the opportunity and bring out a new version, which would improve the deficiencies of the BL-03. The truth is that the BL-05 has only been on the market for a few months and today, we are already talking about a BL-05 MKII version.
In this review, we will try to clarify how this new version is and why the MKII are being prepared.
- Type of Drivers: Dynamic 10mm, Carbon nanotube 2nd generation.
- Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Jack connector: 3.5mm gold-plated, L-shaped.
- Capsule Connection Type: 2-pin 0.78mm
The BL-05 comes in a white, elongated box, measuring 208x77x41mm. The front cover is made of transparent plastic, and the capsules can be seen embedded in a rigid mould, at the top. Underneath there is a box with the brand logo, in gold letters, where the accessories are located. Returning to the plastic lid, on it, there are some words written in English (with dubious spelling), with holographic ink.
On the back, these words are repeated, as a philosophy or slogan of the brand. You can also read the company’s address, as well as the minimum specifications.
After emptying the box, the complete contents are:
- 2 capsules BL-05
- A 4-stranded twisted cable.
- 3 pairs of grey silicone tips, classic shape, sizes SxMxL.
- 2 pairs of grey silicone tips, narrower and sharper shape, sizes MxL.
- 1 cloth bag, to protect the IEMS.
Both the packaging and the contents are practically the same as for the BL-03. The bag protects little and the cable is of very fair quality. This time, more tips are coming and at least one set has the normal shape. The BLON BL-05 comes with the minimum necessary.
In addition to the packaging, you can buy, in the same link of purchase, fully compatible cables of better quality than the originals. These are 4-core Yinyoo cables, made of 32 strands of copper, silver-plated, with transparent or dark gold coating. Both cables fit perfectly to both BLON models, improving comfort and handling.
Construction and Design
Probably the most successful change from the BL-03 is the design. Its predecessor, perhaps, didn’t have the right shape for everyone and that penalized its adaptation and later sound. BLON has improved in this respect and has done well. They have chosen to build capsules with a classic design, oval spiral, with a completely metallic and rounded body. The pieces are a bit stubby and their weight is noticeable. The external side has a part, in the shape of a magnifying glass, in gold, where you can read «BLON», inside, where the lens of the magnifying glass is located, you can read the letter that identifies the channel, as well as part of the brand logo. This internal part has the same color as the rest of the capsule. This whole face in the shape of a magnifying glass, are two separate pieces, which protrude from the body of the capsule.
At the end of the spiral, there are two 0.78 pin cable connectors. The shape is customized and equal to the BL-03, but, due to its popularity, it is not difficult to find cables that are compatible. Both connectors are embedded in a rectangular piece of translucent plastic.
The capsules are made up of two pieces, external face and internal face. The division can be clearly seen, without any failure in their union. The nozzles are located at the inner and narrowest edge of the oval, forming a fairly open angle to the base of the capsules. Its length, in the shortest part, is approximately 5mm. These nozzles have a narrower slot, 4.6mm, while the wider part, base and outer ring, measures 5.6mm. The filter that protects the orifice is also metallic, with a fairly dense grid. Near the base of the nozzles, on the inner side of the capsules, there is a hole.
The cable is made up of 4 black strands, lined with rubbery plastic. The plug is 3.5mm, gold-plated. The connector is L-shaped and the sheath is oval, completely in plastic. On its external face, it can be read BLON. The cable forms a knotted braid. The dividing piece is Y-shaped, completely in plastic. The two-pin connectors are completely inside a slightly angled black plastic sleeve. The letter of the channel is indicated on the outside near the edge. The cable that arrives at this sleeve is protected by a semi-rigid, transparent plastic cover that gives it the shape over the ear. The problem is that this shape is very closed and can be very annoying.
As a conclusion, the shape and design of the capsules is very accurate, of good quality. I can only criticize the weight, which, on the other hand, does not affect the fit, since it is hardly noticeable once they are fitted.
The cable is much more questionable, being easily surpassed, above all, in comfort, handling and final quality, spending a few euros/$ more.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
As a result of the new design, the ergonomics have been improved. Today, the BL-05 is very comfortable, even when its weight is perceptible in the hands. However, in the ears, this feature is not so appreciated, because its adjustment is simple and fast. The oval and spiral outer shape ensures an excellent fit for the cable. The inner part, also oval and very rounded, ensures a very pleasant contact with the ear. Its size is not small, but personally I have found no difficulty in fitting it. It does not protrude too much, nor does it rub against the outer parts of the ear. The angle of the nozzle is well thought out and the silicone tips fit properly into the ear canal. The only problem is that they are somewhat short, providing a superficial fit. Despite this, the socket is quite good and durable. No readjustment is necessary and the sound is not position-dependent. Due to their good fit, they move little, can be used for everyday use and also for gentle exercise. As a result, the insulation is remarkable.
The profile is a smooth V, focusing on the central region and clarity, rather than the bass or treble.
The lower zone is moderate and their approach is to lean towards sub-bass, but this is not really the case. The lower range is relatively linear, but tends to fall as frequencies increase. Bass lovers would be disappointed, and not even turning up the volume would satisfy them, because the rest of the frequencies will prevent them from enjoying this area. The depth is simply good and the sub-bass sound is not remarkably natural, nor does it have a totally realistic texture or completely natural timbre. On the other hand, the speed is good, the decay is more than adequate and the bass is agile. Their approach is correct and they have remarkable control, but they sound a little dry and unexciting, not very wide, nor are they able to fill the scene. Overall, the low end wants to have a neutral tendency, although the result is somewhat higher, but without being able to recreate it with real power, complexity, richness or amount of planes.
In my personal opinion, the BL-05 has been tuned to get a very clear sound in the middle zone. The clarity of this area is reflected in the voices, as they sound very liberated, clean and enhanced. The problem is that the thinning of the lower mid-range limits their body and their sound is colder than vital. There is no trace of warmth, the texture is too smooth and they sound more analytical than organic. The result is an area that, without sounding unnatural, is too clean to be exciting. On the other hand, there is its energy level, in its mid-high part, whose value is elevated, at the point that, sometimes, it can be a bit harsh, due to too much presence, if the sources/tips/genders are not properly chosen. Although, not everything is bad in this combination, since, on the other side of the coin, the amount of detail is quite good, but without sounding very precise, nor possessing a great resolution. As I say, the best asset of the middle zone is its clarity, which can air out the most confusing passages, without being technically very good. The instruments sound quite explicit, with more or less thinness, depending on their tone, but they enjoy very good lateral separation, a quite defined execution and a somewhat brilliant timbre.
In the end, the overall quality of the area is limited by the lesser homogeneity between the lower and the middle and upper parts of the midrange.
The upper zone is expressed in that classic way, which begins resolutely, but continues smoothly. The beginnings, on this occasion, are more perceptible, as they draw energy from the upper mid-range, but do not become insistently penetrating, as they are controlled at that appropriate, almost critical, point. In this way, the BL-05 stand out in presence, this time, more for quality, than for quantity. The result gives the sound that characteristic clarity and that vivid, bright tone that defines it. The details are conveniently expressed, without insisting too much on the micro detail, but more on space and separation. Nevertheless, the highs contribute to the sound being perceived as thin and more analytical than warm; something that must be taken into account for those ears sensitive to this region. It is also true that the whole ensemble can contribute to the insistent sound, from the final zone of the mids, to the first half of the highs, producing a greater sensation of fatigue, as time goes by. That said, the timbre, although fine, is not unnatural or really forced, just cold and energetic. The high notes have good definition and resolution, but without revealing the slightest details. In general, the expression of the high notes is quite descriptive, but persistent.
Finally, the BL-05 has the necessary air to give its sound that characteristic sharpness, but not to provide a great scene.
The BL-05’s scene lacks depth and feels pretty flat. Height is not a feature of this model either. Thus, the image does not have much three-dimensionality, although the separation and clarity, gives it an interesting width. The stage is recreated frontally, with a good level of space, not too congested, but with few representative planes, which contributes to the sound being somewhat boring in this sense, since its drawing is quite smooth.
It’s pretty curious, but my two BL-03 and BL-05 units, they look quite similar. However, I prefer the BL-03. Its lower zone is somewhat more noticeable, has more depth and has more weight within the sound. The sub-bass is perceived a little bit more naturally, and therefore its timbre. The whole set makes the low zone have more planes, more extension and realism. On the contrary, the BL-05 has a more present central zone, especially from the middle onwards, which makes it have a higher energy that, at the end, is more tiring. In this zone, the BL-03 are more natural, more homogeneous and not so excited. As a result, its tone is not so cold, but remains in an imaginary line between warmth and neutrality, which gives it that sweet spot that has been so successful. The greater homogeneity and warmth, of the BL-03 in the middle zone, achieves a greater body and width in the lower zone of the central range, contributing to recreate the voices in a more complete, less thin and, above all, sweeter and more pleasant way. The same characteristic generates that the instrumentation has a greater weight and a more remarkable representation within the ensemble. To all this, the BL-05, feel more cold and incomplete, unfinished, almost omitted, in some aspects of this range, generating a feeling of lack of coherence, emotion and / or enjoyment.
The tone of the upper zone, in the BL-05, maintains that brighter and colder look, which characterizes the rest of the ranges. The clarity is greater and its sound is finer and more penetrating. The BL-03 is not defined by being completely smooth, but it sounds more pleasant, less persistent and explicit, with a little less energy in the high range. In the end, the BL-05 achieves a more analytical point, which gives it a greater amount of detail, at the cost of being more exhausting.
I find that the BL-05 has a little bit more separation, but the scene is deeper in the BL-03, generating a more realistic image, with more planes and some more height, which gives it more tridimensionality.
In the constructive section, both IEMS have a manufacture of equal quality, where the design is quite different. I’m lucky, that the BL-03 fit me quite well, but, I must admit that the BL-05 have been designed to be more ergonomic. They even seem to weigh a little less. In this sense, the new model, fits more easily and its adjustment is faster and more durable.
There is a very common saying, «If something works, don’t touch it,» but this is not possible in the capitalist world, where change and novelty always reign as the promise of an ever-better product. In this case, BLON has taken advantage of the hype BL-03, to try to overcome it. I suppose that the brand has received a lot of opinions about it. One of the most unanimous was the design. And there, they got it right. The new design is very ergonomic and comfortable. In the sound tuning… the question is quite relative, so much so that there is currently a BL-05 MKII model running among the reviewers… I suppose the brand’s initial idea has been to achieve a more neutral tuning than its predecessor, softening the low area and enhancing the high mid-range. However, in my opinion, it has not been the most appropriate move, because, precisely, have achieved an effect, almost opposite. They have gained in sharpness and clarity, but have worsened the timbre and coherence.
It is true that, lately, profiles are appearing, where the lower zone is softening a lot and the upper middle zone is being emphasized, but, if we continue in this way, it will be very possible that many western audiophiles will look for alternatives within this current. BLON has crossed this border and has lost, in my opinion, the sound that attracted so many people. But, this is just my humble opinion, possibly, many, will think otherwise.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- HiBy R3 Pro
- xDuoo X3II
- Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus
- JWD JWM-115