BLON BL-03 REVIEW:
- Gigantic and immersive soundstage
- Natural timbre
- Weighty Low bass
- Beautifull vocal
- Nice and sturdy construction
- Warmish clarity
- Ackward fit (can be problematic with stock tips)
- Tamed attack
NO BS (JUSTIFY HYPE) RECOMMENDED
Hi budget audiophile pals,
today this review is for you because it’s about a great affordable fancy looking earphones call the BLON BL-03. Perhaps some of you already have heard about them, or are one of lucky owner that buy it for supreme absurd price (20$) when it was sell as a Lucky Bag on Ali express, if so, I applause your braveness cause you hit the jack pot!
Because let’s say it straight up No BS way, the BL-03 are nice sounding single dynamic drivers earphones!
Is it because it use a mysterious 10mm carbon nanotube drivers that these iem sound that lush, spacious and musical? Can’t say because I do not have heard the 200$ Dunu Falcon or other TOTL iem using this audio technology wich exist since more than 15 years now.
Here a small description of how nanotubes drivers work :
‘’The tiny speaker doesn’t rely on moving parts and instead produces sound through the thermoacoustic effect. When an alternating current passes through the nanotubes, the material heats and cools the air around it; as the air warms, it expands, and as it cools, it contracts. This expansion and contraction creates sound waves. The new nanotube speaker could be manufactured at low cost in the same facilities used to make computer chips, the researchers say.”
Reading this, it make me wonder if this heating process explain why these will benifit from good amping, not extreme, but if I plug it directly into low output DAP or DAC-AMP the sound will be dry and restrain in soundstage. More the amping is powerfull, more the sound became rich, dynamic, spacious and thicker in timbre.
BLON audio company aren’t new into audio market, I thinkthey’ve been active since 2014 but they still are rather mysterious like lot of other chinese audio company mostly active in well…China. Anyway, they create multiple iem and headphones in the past and none of them got suspectfull bad reviews. In fact, they get lot of praise on headfi for their BLON BOSSFI B3 hybrid iem as well as BLON B8 closed wooden headphones. This is sure a No BS good sign.
Priced around 30$, the BL-03 are utterlly impressive value, now let’s see if they should stand appart in this over crownded sub-50$ iem market.
You can buy the BLON BL-03 for about 32$ from great AK AUDIO store HERE.
Disclaimer: I wanna thanks AK AUDIO for sending me this review sample in exchange of my honnest review. I wanna thanks them for giving me full No BS freedom of toughs as well.
ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN :
UNBOXING is well presented and proove that BLON give some thinking about presentation of their product. Anyway, when you open it, you get the minimal, wich is still more than most Chifi products like KZ. Your Spoiled with a portative eco-friendly iem BAG, hourray! And a quite nice standard 2-pin 4cores braided cable and 6 pairs of silicones eartips (2 type of model). For thsi price I do not complaint, but some will find the iem ‘’protective’’ bag quite underwhelming.
CONSTRUCTION is quite impressive and extremely similar to the cheaper BLON BL-01 (or NiceHCK EP10). This is similar all metal heavy housing with the exception having mmcx connection and over the ear design, wich is a game changer in term of secure fit and comfort, as well, the nozzle being a little longer it solve the fitting issue of EP10. Cable that come with it is of basic quality, and as always, will thrown in my pile of unused cable that take dust and include 60% of cheap KZ cables.
DESIGN isn’t the more organicaly shaped and is on the heavy side. Still, due to the weight that push the housing into the ears, the fit is natural and steady. Sure the housing is rather big and bulbous, but if you use other eartips than the one included, it will fit nicely. You need longer-bigger eartips, I use L size KZ starline and the fit is wonderfull. For people that do not have lot of extra eartips collection like me, the BL-03 can be frustrating in term of fit as well, it can negatively affect the sound.
DRIVEABILITY is quite hungry type. My very first impressions was mitiged because I use included tips and not enough powerfull DAP, wich make them sound foward, brightish and congested. Amping do make night and day difference!
ISOLATION is above average and have good passive noise canceling, as well, their near 0db sound leakage.
GEAR USED : Xduoo X3, Ibasso DX90, Xduoo X20, Xduoo XD-05 (as DAC-AMP and AMP for other DAP)
Overall sound presentation is a U shape with fowarded upper mids that give a slow bassy and mid centric kinda sound. Timbre is thick but not too opaque, its well polish but lack in attack, should it be in mid bass, mid range or highs. First impression wasn’t that positive due to bad fit and bad pairing, strangely they sound brightish and too foward, wich isn’t normal as they are warm iem in fact, with some upper mids brightness and treble spike.
SOUNDSTAGE is quite gigantic, airy and out of your head, this is to me the big PLUS of BL-03. It’s way above average for its price range.
IMAGING is a little ackward, as if it some part of audio spectrum was veiled, you have a ‘’summarize’’ imaging that tend to separate specific range like lower bass, mid mids and upper treble, this give lot of space between instruments when their not lot of them but do the opposite when its complex music because lot of them will mix togheter or stay shadowed by overemphasis of particular tonalities.
BASS is very emphased in lower region, wich give slow rumble and sometime artificial resonance, but not in a particurly bad way, the problem with this type of bass its that it drown mid bass so you will struggle to hear correctly the kick. Its not a punchy bass at all, but it got slam to share. This do good for cello or acoustic bass that we find in jazz or classic, even if tonaly not super accurate it give extra body and excitment. For electronic, its hit or miss, fast IDM will struggle with slow bass but Rap and Drum&bass and sub centric music will sound very fun.
MID RANGE is slightly warmer in lower range, wich give extra body but stole imaging details. It have thick timbre that give sens of fullness and naturalness to vocal but can have some breathiness to it due to upper mids push, in fact, the problem with mid range is that it tend to be mixed up and lack transparency for other instrument to shine, when its not too crowded music it can sound marvellous, as well, string quartet, solo cello or violin, folk and some singersongwriter can really offer grand musical moment, never in a particularly textured or detailed way tough. Mid range is softened in attack and this is perhaps why instrument tend to mix with eachother, I do not suggest the BL-03 for symphony or jazz big band.
TREBLE is quite spiky and coloured, wich have the benifit to give some air at the top and extra sparkle with highs. But it stole timbre accuracy and texture, as well as other details in lower treble region from 8khz to 12khz. This dip darken the sound a little and do not help for proper resolution. I prefer more linear and balanced treble response. In other hand, it give extra sparkle and decay to high range instrument like harp or classical guitar, wich sound very lively to my ears.
SUB BASS : 8/10
MID BASS : 7/10
MID RANGE : 8/10
TREBLE : 7.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 9/10
IMAGING : 7.5/10
TIMBRE : 7.5/10
ATTACK-DECAY : 7/10
With its single balanced armature the T180 cannot offer a sound as spacious and airy than the BLON but its detailed imaging, even if a little congested, compensate its intimate soundstage.
BASS dig notably deeper with the BL-03, offering some rumble the T180 crualy lack, but its slower too, and show how capable is the T180 in term of fast mid bass, as well, we got some well textured sub bass line that is as well tigher but way drier and thin than muscular BL-03. In term of mid bass, its the BL-03 that crualy lack some punch and resolution.
MID RANGE is where the T180 show its bravado, its very balanced, with rich transparent slightly bright timbre, it can deal with impressively complex track and do not have unwanted peak like the more coloured BL-03 that give at it got for vocal forgetting to cover the rest with attack and grip that T180 hae in plentiness. Level of clarity, resolution and details is superior with T180. Here, the BL-03 is more about body and weight, wich give naturalness instead of hyper realism a la T180.
TREBLE is more balanced and linear with T180, but a little rougher too, wich can make percussion a little splashy. BL-03 have less micro details but more sparkling highs.
All in all, we have 2 very different iem here, T180 being a neutralish Mid centric and analytical iem while the warm, bassy BL-03 is more airy and natural with notably bigger soundstage.
VS KZ ZS10PRO (35$):
With its single dynamic driver, the BL-03 can’t compte in term of detailed imaging against the ZS10 but strangely offer a wider, taller and airier soundstage making ZS10PRO sound foward and intimate with richer layering.
BL-03 have a more U shape approach to lower end and ZS10PRO is the V kind with a fast foward punchy bass, more textured but less weighty and bodied sub bass. BL-03 warm gently lower mid range in a positive way that give extra body, warthm and naturalness to vocal wich make the mid range sound fuller but less detailed and accurate than brighter ZS10PRO.
The PRO sure dig more details and offer a more revealing mid range, its vivid and energic compared to more relaxed and transparent BL-03 that have an organic way of presenting multiple insturment. I tend to prefer the warm, thick and polished BLON vocal until lot of instrumentation go on and make it sound messy. Yes, multi BA’s of ZS10PRO sure help to offer a more agile sound.
TREBLE is more emphased in lower and mid treble with the PRO, while the BL-03 have extra presence in upper highs that permit a longer decay and more sparkle but this stole some details in lower highs wich affect overall instrument textures and make some like violin or piano sound to softened. Yep, the BL-03 are warm until they end, but offer impressive clarity nonetheless.
All in all, ZS10PRO is a more balanced sounding iem, with brighter more detailed timbre, less sub bass and a great amount of extra details compared to more U shape warm, airy and natural sounding BL-03.
In an overcrowded Chi-Fi market where the use of balanced armature became extremely popular, creating a single dynamic drivers can question budget audiophile in term of sound limitation in term of dynamic and details. To some extend, the BL-03 show dynamic drivers can outclass badly tuned multi balanced armature, especially in term of bass, soundstage and naturalness. Still, I feel the BL-03 need more tuning work to be considered as a great single dynamic drivers earphones, because it lack proper balanced sound to reach audio nirvana that sometime he brush.
The BL-03 is very good for its price, the immense soundstage by himself worth the buy, but it got some of the same flaws we find with Hybrid or multi balanced chinese iem it try to outclass, like unbalanced mids and highs. Anyway, I applause BLON company to go back to single dynamic drivers and hope their next model will push even farther the tuning possibilites it have.