Review - Drop Cavalli Tube Hybrid (CTH)

Review - Blon BL05s (sub 50€)

 (si prefieres ver esta review en español, haz click aquí)


As always, to be completely transparent, the Blon BL05s were sent to me free of charge by EE Audio, a seller on Amazon.es and other Amazon stores. The only request was that I included a link to the product on their Amazon store in my YouTube review, I will also include it in the written version on the Blog.

I will obviously be as honest as I always am but it is worth noting that these IEMs have been given to me free.

The link to the product from EE Audio is: https://www.amazon.es/BLON-BL05S-Auriculares-auriculares-desmontable/dp/B08G7ZYWLW/ref=sr_1_26?dchild=1&m=A1H3DGEGJQWYI&marketplaceID=A1RKKUPIHCS9HS&qid=1605804462&s=merchant-items&sr=1-26



Intro…

Blon made a name for themselves with the BL03, a set of IEMs that received a lot of praise all over the web, from forums to YouTube, coming in at under 30€. The BL03 was one of the first IEMs I actually reviewed on the Acho Reviews YouTube channel (you can see it here in Spanish: Acho Reviews - Ep 1 - Blon BL03, Meze Empyrean y mas (en español) ) and was also one of the earlier reviews of the Blog (you can read it in English here: Review - Blon BL03). I wasn’t overly convinced by it and found it had issues that made it not as enjoyable for me personally as it seemed to be for others.

After the success of the BL03, Blon presented the BL05, a newly shaped IEM that supposedly improved some of the weaknesses of the BL03. I did check out many reviews of the BL05 but it didn’t convince me enough to actually try it out, so I ended up skipping it.

The Blon BL05s is the successor to the BL05, maintaining the shape of the 05 but supposedly improving on the items that didn’t work as well as on the previous BL05. I honestly can’t say I would have purchased the BL05s if it wasn’t sent to me, but I have been putting it through its paces over the last week or so.

I will obviously not be making comparisons to the BL05, as I haven’t tried it, but I will be making comparisons to the BL03 which I still have in my collection of IEMs.



Presentation…

The only difference in packaging between the BL03 and the BL05s is that the text on the front of the package is shiny. They maintain the same white cardboard box with a clear plastic front. They also maintain the same spelling mistakes.

The contents of the package haven’t changed either, except for the IEMs. The included cable is still the same, as are the included tips. At least, I think they are, I haven’t really done a side by side comparison, just looked at them and ignored them.

Build and aesthetics…

If we forget about the tips I just mentioned, that leaves the cable and IEMs. The cable is pretty crappy, as it was on the BL03, but it does do its job. Personally I would replace it but I have actually used it for these listening tests, so it does work, it's just not a nice cable.

The IEMs keep the same shape as the BL05, which were very different to the BL03. The original BL03 caused issues for many people with fit, which the BL05 shape supposedly improved. In my case, I didn’t find the BL03 uncomfortable but I must say that I find the BL05s to be more comfortable, the size and shape fits in my ear quite well and does not cause me any discomfort, at least for the 2 or 3 hours listening periods I have been spending. Of course this is a very personal thing so comfort will be dependent upon each individual.

The actual build is still metal, at least it seems to be, but this time it has been covered with a coat of paint rather than left shiny. Aesthetics is another very personal thing and in the case of the BL05s I received, I am not a fan. I believe there is only one colour option, the one I received, which is turquoise and gold. It is actually nice that they are a break from the usual black/white/silver options of the majority of IEMs, but turquoise is not a colour I would pick. Again, this is personal taste, so people may love the look and who am I to judge.


Sound…

Sound is alway the important bit but when we are talking about a set of turquoise and gold IEMs, I think sound becomes even more important! I can say straight away that I prefer the BL05s to the BL03. They are still not perfect, they have a few issues but I find these issues to be in areas that don’t bother me quite as much as the issues with the BL03, depending on my choice of music. 

I have opted for using the New Bee foam tips that I nearly always opt for on IEMs (except when they cause too much of an issue to the sound) and I have found that the difference between silicone (not the stock ones) and foam is only slight, with me favouring the foams. I also used foams on the BL03, both in the original review and when I have compared recently.

In the sub-bass range, there is a decent extension and presence, allowing rumbling of the lowest notes to be heard. I like to use “No Mercy” by Gustavo Santaolalla to judge this and the BL05s presented the track with no lack of the lowest frequencies.

The whole of the bass frequencies are elevated over the mid range, as these are a V shaped profile, but seem to be slightly less prominent than on the BL03. There is plenty of bass in my opinion but bass heads may prefer the BL03 if they want that extra bit of exaggeration. I did some back and forth comparisons with EDM on both the 03 and 05s, the outcome was that personally I prefer the quantity found on the BL05s.

I feel that the 03 may have had slightly tighter control of the bass frequencies in the sub and mid bass ranges, with the BL05s being a little bit looser, without as much control and definition on specific bass hits.

One of my main issues with the BL03 was the transition from the bass into the mids, which gave me a congested feeling in this area, especially on busy tracks. In the case of the BL05s, I feel that the transition is a lot cleaner and while the bass may not be as tight in the lower parts, the higher bass and lower mids are separated much better, avoiding that sensation of them colliding with each other.

One of the genres that caused this issue to be prominent on the BL03 was hip hop, making albums like “2001” by Dr.Dre and “All Eyez On Me” by Tupac to sound “dirty”, for lack of a better word. The BL05s do not cause me that sensation, and while it is not a perfect transition, it sounds more pleasing to my ear than before.

In the center of the mid range there is a recess which is noticeable but is not terrible. On some tracks that have a V shaped recording, it can cause the lower end of vocals to get a little lost behind the bass, but a pretty sharp rise around the 2kHz to 3kHz region works well to bring back the presence of those vocals.

In the case of male vocal only tracks, such as the intro to “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes” by Paul Simon or “These Bones” by The Fairfield Four, the BL05s presents them in a very enjoyable way, with nice and rich vocals. 

However, in the case of female vocals, such as “Down To the River to Pray” by Alison Krauss or even “Royals” by Lorde, I find the female voice to be a little hollow, due to the root notes of these voices being higher in the frequency spectrum. In the case of the latter, there seems to be a gap between the vocals and the lower bass notes, as though there is information missing. This is something that is most noticeable on tracks that have female voices and simple backing tracks that don’t really provide much in the 500Hz to 1kHz range.

In the higher registries, the IEMs do a decent job of avoiding sibilance without sounding dark. There is a slight roll off in the treble area but a few peaks in the right areas help keep it intact, at least up until around 12kHz where the roll off starts to get sharper, leaving me wanting just a little more shine and air up there.

One of the things that the BL03 did very well, and is something very important for me and the kind of music I usually listen to, was timbre. In the case of the BL05s, the timbre is still decent but not quite as good as the BL03. Acoustic instruments still sound good and still have plenty of body to them, it’s just not quite as good when compared directly between them.

Another issue I found with the 03 was their lack of speed and definition when things got busy. This time around, they do a better job of dealing with the complex passages, especially in the lower regions, avoiding congestion on tracks such as “The Room” by Ostura. The detail is still not excellent, but is acceptable.

The width of the soundstage is not huge, I would say around average, with great placement of images but when listening to “Letter”, the pencil moves smoothly from left to right, but seems to hit a point where it just won’t go any further. It is not a terrible soundstage, it’s as good as the majority of IEMs, but is not amazing either.


Conclusion…

I am glad I got to try out these IEMs, I feel that they are certainly a step in the right direction from Blon, at least in comparison to the BL03. Saying that, I am probably in a minority who didn’t think that the BL03 were amazing. Yes, they did some very good things for less than 30€, but these do other things better and just seem more coherent on a whole.

I wouldn’t choose the BL05s for critical listening but they do have a pleasant sound signature that makes music enjoyable, at least to my ear. I would like a little more detail and less of a dip in the mids, along with a bit more at the high end of the spectrum, although we musn’t forget the price bracket that these IEMs are in. If these had been released only a few years ago, we would be talking about IEMs that break boundaries.

Thanks to EE Audio for sending these out to me for review, I have enjoyed using them and I would certainly have no issue recommending them at their price point.

SenyorC