The Blon BL-01: how to know if you’re really an audiophile…
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Hey everyone. It’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer with InToit Reviews. So today we’re taking a look at the Blon BL-01, thanks to KEEPHIFI. The Blon BL-01 is the 3rd most recent IEM installment from Blon since their introduction of the Blon BL-03. And to date, at least, so far, Blon hasn’t really been able to replicate the magic nor the hype of the ’03. So, will their newest iteration, the Blon BL-01, change the tide, and buck that downward trend? Its certainly getting a lot of attention right now in the community… So, let’s… get InToit!
Starting with the build, this has BLON written all over it. Both literally, and metaphorically. It’s a metal shell with some heft to it, and it comes with the same crappy set of accessories that most other Blon’s have come with since the ’03. With regard to the tips more specifically, it includes small and medium bullet silicone tips, and small, medium, and large standard, round silicone tips. The ’01 I was provided came with a cable with a mic, and this is available as an option. I also received the bag that looks like a small, coffee bean sack.
The shell itself initiates connection in a raised 2-pin, and the cable terminates in an angled 3.5 TRS connector. With specific regard to this shell, people have complained about the fit due to its odd shape, but honestly, these fit me fine in the ear, even if they are a bit “chonk;” but your mileage may vary.
Linsoul lists the driver as a 10mm Biology Driver Diaphragm- perhaps referring to the driver being bio-cellulose? I don’t know? But, in any case, I gave these over 200 hours of burn-in before writing this review, as people on the “good-ol’inter-webs” have suggested that you need to do this to get the most out of this set. And let me tell you, break-in was necessary. Out of the box, this was one of the worst sounding IEMs that I have ever heard. I had flashbacks to the Noble X Universal, and longed for the sounds of that set, in comparison. So, after a short listen, and period of tip experimentation, I put them down, and let them burn-in, in the corner of the office for a number of days. These were so bad initially, that I contemplated even doing a review, but it did begin to sound better after a number of days of constant play.
Regarding tips more specifically, I settled on medium Tripowin Spiral Groove Memory Foam Eartips; which offered the greatest clarity and resolution with this set. These tips also helped the build with its potential fit issues that many have complained about, and allowed for this IEM to rest most comfortably in my ears.
*Tripowin Spiral Groove Memory Foam Eartips located at: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tripowin-spiral-groove-memory-foam-eartips
But, my issues here with the BL-01 weren’t really with its fit nor its build, but rather its sound. So, let’s talk about it, because I think, after some thought, I can understand why this set has appealed to a lot of people, even despite its numerous limitations. You see, it’s not really an audiophile set, but it does offer some alluring and satisfying sounds, even if its sound profile is rather consumer tuned in nature. Is it better than a lot of consumer stuff?Sure… but its tuning isn’t detailed enough to be considered audiophile in my book (which we'll talk about more later on in the review), and it has significant flaws and lacks technical capabilities- even if it also has its own special gifts that do give it character. So, let’s get into its sound structure, and investigate this proposition further.
Starting with the bass… After just having reviewed the Tripowin TC-01, here again, in the case of the Blon BL-01 as well, we have another “IEM for Petulant Children from the Aloha State.” Simply put, this IEM’s timbre is rather warm, and there’s too much elevated bass. And, not to pile on, but its low-end is rather diffuse and unresolving to boot. In the Blon ’01, its bottom-end bleeds everywhere! Having said that, the bass did have decent impact, push, and punch; however, but this too was ultimately overdone, as the bass here is larger than other components of the sonics.
Conversely, the midrange was mostly recessed, especially in the lower midrange. Things pick-up a bit in the upper mid-range and early treble, but most of the midrange, especially the lower portion of it, is pretty limited in its presence, and further, murky with regard to both its clarity and limited detailing. Uniquely, vocals were significantly more detailed and clearer in their presentation than the rest of the midrange, but lower voiced male vocals were less present than higher pitched female ones. Nevertheless, vocals, in general, were much more present in comparison to mid-ranged instrumentation; which was pretty opaque in its character and delivery. If this set has one saving grace, it would be its vocal delivery in my opinion.
The treble was also not without issues. In trying to describe the treble, my brain just keeps thinking: “What treble? Is there actual treble to describe?” And, there is some, but its significantly recessed and rolled off, and badly so. Treble was enhanced, by running this IEM balanced, and turning up the volume to heightened listening levels, but on some tracks normal portions of the treble were still either severely recessed or missing entirely from an auditory perspective. It seemed as if things were simply cut, or fell off, around the upper midrange or lower treble regions specifically. For example, on the song, “Gooey” by the Glass Animals there is a treble melody using a synthesized piano that drives the song forward. On the Blon BL-01 this melody is so recessed that it can barely be heard. Furthermore, on the song, “Bark at the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoad’s guitar solo was pretty much inaudible.
Soundstage in the BL-01 was also not very strong. Most of the sonics occur inside your head and originate at the tip of its nozzle. Outside of the vocals, which did image well, other imaging was mediocre, and sonics tracked in space with a haze in regard to both placement and movement of sounds. Moreover, depth and width of the sound profile was limited, but there was some decent height to its delivery, especially with regard to its vocal presentation.
Nevertheless, this IEM does have a certain "X-factor" to its character, even despite its technical difficulties. And because of it, I really wanted to like this IEM, technicalities aside, as its vocals were presented really favorably, and there is just something about this IEM’s overall delivery that I find alluring. In some ways, it is just as smooth and satisfying, as it is grainy and diffuse. But, in the end, I just couldn’t seem to turn off the audiophile part of my brain long enough to truly enjoy it. And this brings us back to the crux of the matter, aside from its vocal presentation, this really isn’t an audiophile set, and if you think it is, you probably aren’t an audiophile (at least not at this point in time) even if you aspire to be one.
My point here is that Merriam-Webster defines an audiophile as: “a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.” And, unfortunately for the BL-01, outside of its vocals, there is just not a lot of high-fidelity sound reproduction going on here. It simply lacks much semblance of technical ability beyond its vocal delivery, and there are too many recessions and too much haze for it to be thought of as a technically competent set for high-fidelity sound reproduction. With that said, I do understand why some people would enjoy the playback of these earphones, and I wish that I could enjoy them more as well.
In summary, the Blon BL-01 is a cloudy, consumer tuned set with limited treble extension, but a nice vocal presentation. So, if you’re a vocal first listener, and willing to sacrifice most other audiophile characteristics in favorance of vocal delivery, then these could be a knock around set for you, as they are reasonably priced at only $20 dollars. But you’ll have to be more willing than I am to excuse their faults for their price, and, or have the capacity to turn off your audiophile brain in order to sit back and enjoy their listen. And with that, I'm out, for now...
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