Review: BLON BL-05s
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Today we shall look at the BLON BL-05s, the third generation in the BL-05 series of earphones!
Disclaimer: All products mentioned here was sent to me by KeepHifi. However, this does not affect my review of the product in any way whatsoever. I was told to give my honest opinions on the products.
Having a successful budget earphone from them, the BLON BL-03, BLON isn't new to the earphone game. The BL-03 has been widely praised for being one of the best earphone under 50 USD (you can read my review of the unit here). Riding on the success of the BL-03, BLON has released the BL-05 series of earphones, with a much different sound than the BL-03. Now with the release of the third generation of the BL-05, let's see how the BL-05s fares!
Sound: Mid-focused with deep bass
This graph depicts how the earphone sounds to me
Driver : 3rd generation 10mm Carbon Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
Socket: 2-pin 0.78mm
Price: 45 USD (+1 USD for microphone cable)
Where to buy it: KeepHifi
Mids have a nice bite to it
Bass goes low
Midbass lacks impact
Isolation not the best
Highs could have more presence
Suitable Genres : Guitar/Mid focused tracks, Acoustic, Jazz, Mandopop
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
1 Set of different sized standard eartips (S, M, L)
1 Set of narrow eartips (S and M)
1 x Canvas carrying pouch
1 x earphone cable (3.5mm; L-shaped jack)
The BL-05s comes in a decent package with all essentials included. I like that they included a small carrying case for the earphones as it makes it easier for users to use right out the box.
I noticed that BLON also included two different sets of eartips, one normal ones and one that is narrower. I liked that they did that but for myself, I found that I had to use the standard eartips in its largest size since the rest didn't give me a proper seal (more on that later). I still think that that's nice for people with smaller ear canals and would require something smaller.
The stock cable provided feels supple and is lightweight which really helps with the comfort aspect. I also like the fact that these cables have an L-shaped jack. I personally feel that this reduces the likelihood of bending the joints of the cable as it doesn't protrude much, potentially increasing the lifespan of the cables.
Overall, the packaging is simple yet complete, and the addition of the narrow eartips is a nice touch though I am unsure how many people might actually need the narrow eartips since the standard ones are already smaller than usual.
The BL-05s comes in a zinc alloy die-cast body and it feels really premium and dense. It may not look like it, but this earphone has a decent amount of weight to it. It's mint green paint also seems to be very well coated and does not look like it will chip off easily. I also like how they have included the gold accents on the faceplate, but I noticed that it is susceptible to scratches as compared to the body of the earphone.
The 2 pin sockets are also protruding out but is covered by the sleeves on the cable itself, giving it some protection which I thought was nice.
The nozzles on the BL-05s are also thinner than most earphones, but it is connected to the earphone as one entire inner piece of the shell.
I think the only thing that I dislike about the earphone's build is that it has this very distinct line that shows where the inner and outer parts of the shell are combined at. It loses some point in its looks when looked at from the side.
Overall, the BL-05s is very well-built with its zinc alloy body and feels premium due to its heavy weight to it. It shows no signs of weakness except for down the line in the middle that shows where it is connected at.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
I must say, despite the earphones having such a heavy weight to it, the earphones never feel like they are falling off of my ears at any time even when I shake my head around. The rounded edges of the earphones also help with the comfort as there are no points on the earphone at which it feels like it is poking at your ears.
Isolation is not the best and could be better. While listening to music I could sometimes still hear my phone's notification tone slightly. Had to use the largest sized eartips to get a better seal but there were still slight gaps in the seal. I also have to angle it properly to get a proper seal but I find that getting a pair of third party eartips do help such as SpinFit or AZLA sednaearfit eartips. I generally use medium sized eartips but even with large, it is still smaller than the mediums I am used to.
In summary, the earphones are really comfortable and the rounded edges on the earphones do help. However, the isolation is not the best and the included eartips can definitely be larger.
Before I give a general overview of the sound, the setup I use to test are as follows :
DAP - Cayin N6ii (T01)
Cable - Stock (3.5mm)
Eartips - Stock
The overall characteristic of the sound is mid focused with airy highs and a very pronounced subbass. I think the first thing that caught my attention was how deep the bass could go because I definitely wasn't expecting this of an earphone at this price point. I'd talk more about this in the later section. Each section sounds very distinct from each other and you can always discern between the highs mids and lows.
Highs are crisp and airy, it has decent extension but doesn't outshine the other segments. In most songs that I listen to, the highs are always clear and due to the extended extension it has, it adds to the clarity of the earphones which is what I really like about it.
Everyone song that I threw at it sounds clear and has that crisp treble. However, I did notice that cymbal crashes always lack that energy. This is because cymbal crashes tend to sound distant and hence lack energy. An example of this is in POLKADOT STINGRAY's FREE where the high hats are ever present and never overwhelming but when cymbals crashes, it tends to sound rather laidback and lack excitement to it.
In Frederic's "Sukiraism" the high hats are quite satisfying but when the cymbals crashes it does not spark much excitement.
As with such laidback highs, I would tend to try some slow jazz to see if it fits the mood and it does! Listening to the Shanghai Jazz album, "情人的眼泪" sounds very soothing on these and the highs just shine subtly in the background.
Overall I still like that the highs are crisp and sounds clear regardless of the genre however it does not handle cymbal crashes that well as it tends to be laidback.
I think this is the most outstanding aspect of the earphone as the mids are clear, has energy in the impact of the drums and the guitars have a ton of bite to them! The vocals are also clear though they sound slightly thin. Not that the thinness bothers me but it's something that I noticed in certain songs.
Been re-listening to my rock songs on this earphone as the mids are just so good on it and the quality of the mids are great! When listening to Polyphia's "The Worst", the guitars have that certain bite to it which I particularly enjoy. On top of that, when the drums enter, it always makes its presence felt with its snare slamming against your ear. It's not sibilant nor sharp, just that you'd be able to feel that impact of the snare!
I also found that listening to John Mayer on the BL-05 to be very immersive. John's vocals and guitar are particularly captivating on this earphone; vocals are sweet and slightly warm while the guitars sound like they sing to you at times. Particular tracks by John Mayer that I enjoy the most on these are "Edge of Desire", "I'm gonna find another you" and "Bold As Love".
Testing this track on this band "deca joins" that I found recently and it was an absolute treat. Their songs mostly focus on the guitars and vocals and with the BL-05s being a more mid-centric earphone, it replays it really well. Each strum of the chord on the guitar can be clearly heard with that "dreamy" tone to it. On this track "夜間獨白", the subtle basslines and high hats adds just the right hint to it to give it a really airy and light feel, while the guitars give it a very "spacy" and "dreamy" feel to it.
Guitars tend to stand out more than the drums here, you can still hear the snares but it's usually a bit more laidback than the guitars.
Vocals in general have a medium presence, it's there but doesn't stand out to you. I have to say, I like the natural tonality of the vocals but at times they do sound a bit thinner. Somehow it feels like it lacks a bit of depth especially when listening to Diana Krall. However if you are listening to higher pitched vocals, it would be alright such as with Yoga Lin's "浪费" track, as his voice isn't very deep and doesn't require much depth.
Overall mids are the highlight of these earphones and they really highlight guitars and snare drums. Vocals sound natural and are sweet but may lack a bit of depth when listening closely but to be honest it doesn't bother me much.
The subbass of these pair caught my attention immediately and I was really surprised by how deep they could go. Bass tends toward the subbass regions more as it goes deeper but the upper bass regions are slightly lacking. Its usually there in songs but makes itself very distinct from the rest of the frequencies.
Listening to more bass-focused songs like Frederic's "Tarinaieye" showcases what I previously mentioned: Bass guitars perform well here and you can hear each distinct note, however, kick drums tend to be lacking here as it doesn't have much of an impact. Kick drums sound rather thin even on songs where it's meant to shine. The kick drum doesn't sound very "round", feels very one dimensional.
Despite that, I really have to praise the BL-05s for having such a low reaching bass. This is usually very uncommon for an earphone at this price range and even when it does, it sounds thin. Not on the BL-05s, it retains quality subbass and sometimes I just wish there was a bit more.
Overall, I really like that the bass on the BL-05s is of good quality that reaches low but I just hope that they can brush up on the midbass segments, by giving kick drums more impact to it.
As I am writing this review, I tested this earphone on tracks from this Taiwanese band called "deca joins" and I think the BL-05 plays their songs really well. The focus of their songs are mostly on vocals and the dreamy guitar sounds and the BL-05s excels in that! Do check out their songs such as "海浪" and "散去的時候"
I was also sent a KB EAR 4-Core Silver cable in 2.5mm termination (check it out here) but for testing purposes I would use it with a 3.5mm cable so as to make this a comparison between cables. Though it is a 4-core cable, the cable is still lightweight and supple, similar to the stock cable but slightly thicker. It does not add much weight to it so you don't have to worry that it will weigh it down.
I was really surprised at the difference in the quality of the sound. Instantly, the highs are crisper and more airy, the mids have a tad more bite to it and the bass has a bit more depth to it. Listening back to "Darwin Derby", the guitars at the intro sound more energetic and feels like they have more power. The highs are also crisper, high hats tend to sound a bit sharper but never sibilant. The bass guitar also tends to stand out a bit more.
I mentioned previously that the kick drums lack impact but now with the upgrade cable, there is an improvement in this area. The kick drums are not really lacking now and definitely have more impact! In "Tarinaieye", the kick drums definitely have more of an impact and is not as laidback as with the stock cable.
The separation in the sound is also more distinct, making the earphone sounding a bit more technical but not losing its main characteristics. The whole sounds more lively and more exciting that with the stock cable. I also noticed that through these KB EAR cables, the earphones are easier to drive.
Thus, if you really want to kick things up with the BL-05s, I highly recommend getting the KB EAR 4-core silver cable to go with it!
Soundstage of these are just normal, it doesn't feel very out of head except for the highs. Highs tend to sound a bit elevated in your head but mids and bass are generally within your head.
On first impressions, imaging did not sound particularly outstanding but upon closer listening, I noticed that the imaging is actually better than most earphones at its price range. Using Chon's "Can't Wait" as an example here, the guitars are well separated between the left and right channels and high hats are center with some distance behind vocals. Though exact distance is a bit hard to tell, it still does imaging decently for an earphone at its price.
Most people would be curious how it fares against the previous generation BLON BL-05 and thanks to Keephifi, I can do a comparison of the two! For convenience I will be referring to the newer generation as 05s and the previous generation as 05.
Right off the bat, the 05s definitely has better extension; bass reaches deeper and highs goes higher. The 05s sounds more exciting than the 05 due to this. When listening to "Sukiraism" by Frederic, the overall sound is more exciting on the 05s than 05. High hats are crisper, bass guitar has more depth to it than on the 05. On the 05, everything sounds rather equal so it tends to sound less exciting.
Mids on the 05s and 05 are somewhat similar but the 05s has a slight edge over it with mids being more prominent. This is rather minor though and I had to listen out very closely to hear this. To test this, I used Vulfpeck's "Darwin Derby" and listen out for the guitars. It's more aggressive on the 05s and has more bite to it than on the 05. However, this extra spice to the midrange could also be just due to the added extension on the 05s that adds to that bite. Vocals also sound very similar on the two so no comments here.
Overall, the general difference between the BL-05s and the BL-05 is just the extra extension on both the highs and the lows. If you own a BL-05, there's no need to get the BL-05s. However, if you are considering on which to get, definitely get the BL-05s as the music sounds more exciting on it.
I actually really like the BLON BL-05s as it is an earphone that is neutral but with slight extension on both the highs and the lows, adding just enough excitement to it. I also like how it's mid focused and I can hear out guitar lines well! It just only needs some improvement to the midbass segments and then it'd be very ideal. If you're in the market for an earphone that has a natural tone, with a focus on mids with deep bass, then I'd think the BLON BL-05s would be the earphone for you!