Review - Drop Cavalli Tube Hybrid (CTH)

Review - Blon BL-01 (sub 50€)

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


Intro…

The Blon BL-01 is the latest IEM release from the company that made their name with the BL-03 and have released a few models since then.

Just as a quick bit of background in case anyone hasn’t read or watched any of my other Blon reviews, I started off by reviewing the BL-03 as the first IEM on the Acho Reviews channel. The BL-03 got a lot of praise by a lot of people, except for the fit which was an issue for many. For me personally, it had a few issues that I couldn’t really ignore, although I didn’t have any personal issues with fit.

Then came the BL-05 which supposedly fixed the comfort issue of the BL-03 but was tuned in a different way. I skipped the BL-05, however, I did review the BL-05s which followed and supposedly fixed some of the issues with the BL-05 tuning.

Now comes the BL-01, which is marketed as a successor to the BL-03, so I am not quite sure how these numbering schemes work, but anyways, let’s talk BL-01. 



Presentation…

The first thing that struck me was the packaging, which has changed in comparison to the previous Blon models, removing their marketing phrase that has become even more famous than their IEMs. In the case of the BL-01 we no longer get “Oppoty”, nor do we “nevergiveup”, they even managed to change “Driams” to “Dreams”...

However, do not despair, all is not lost! Upon opening the box (which is now a smaller all white box without the transparent plastic lid) we find the IEMs along with the same crappy cable and tips that Blon are also known for!

One final change seems to be that they now show the brand as WGZBLON rather than just Blon, although the WGZ has always been there, just that it was written in small letter above Blon on the logo.



Build and aesthetics…

As I just said, the included cable and tips are the usual Blon affair, so I won’t bother going over them again in this review, let’s just say that replacements are recommended.

As far as the IEMs themselves, I am not quite sure what thought went into the process of these IEMs. As noted, the original BL-03 were a difficult fit for many people, although I personally didn’t have an issue. Then the BL-05 and 05s were a completely different shape, something that seemed to fit more people better. Although I wasn’t a fan of the colour of the BL-05s, I did find them comfortable and the looks weren’t too bad, I would have just opted for something other than turquoise and gold.

The BL-01 are neither of the above. The shape is more of a curved tear shape, which is actually a very comfortable shape, if it wasn’t for the fact that they seem to have opted for an even shorter insertion than the BL-03. 

I have had to go through all kinds of tips before finding something that would both fit, offering a decent seal, and not affect the sound in a negative way. My usual foam tips made the fit comfortable but the sound was lifeless. Multiple silicone tips proved to be impossible to get a decent seal on, due to the IEMs not sitting far enough into my ear canal. In the end, the largest set of silicone tips that I found on hand, which I believe came with a set of Tin Hifi IEMs were the only ones that managed to fit me correctly and give a decent sound.

Even now, the IEMs do fit and seal properly but the weight and extra smooth shape make me constantly feel like they are going to move and fall out (although they don’t).

Fit and comfort is obviously a very personal thing and seeing that the majority of people had issues with the BL-03 and I didn’t, it could be something that is limited to myself only.

As far as the aesthetics, they are not bad. I am not overly impressed with the looks of them but the general shape looks ok (I think it is the small text on them that makes them look cheap, which they are). They are completely made of metal, as is usual with Blon, so as far as build quality I don’t have any complaints, except maybe for the weight but that could be because I was using very light IEMs recently.



Sound…

Let me start out by saying that I don’t think Blon has done a bad job with the BL-01 but they still haven’t nailed it. I still feel that other models of theirs do certain things better but more on that later.

In the sub-bass regions there is plenty of extension and it gives plenty of rumble to the tracks that need those low frequencies, such as “No Mercy” or just about any other song that decides it wants to venture into the lowest regions. The problem I find with the sub-bass is that it is not very tight and can be overpowering on tracks such as “Bury a Friend” by Billie Eilish or “Way Down Deep” by Jennifer Warnes. 

Moving on to other tracks that are not so heavy on the lowest of frequencies, the remaining bass frequencies are at a more acceptable level, although they are still not as defined and tight as one would hope. While “Long After You’re Gone” by Chris Jones is not overpowered by the bass, it does make the lower end seem dirty.

Another additional problem is that there is some bleed from these lower frequencies into the lower mids. The bleed is not terrible but, due to the lack of cleanliness in the lower regions, it does seem more exaggerated than it actually is, depending on the choice of music.

The mid range has the typical center mids drop that a great number of IEMs in this price bracket do. To be honest, based on the quantity of bass (and treble that we will talk about in a moment), I expected much more absence in the center of the mids but the majority of vocal root notes are there without issue, only when there is a lot of sub-bass in the song do they seem to get buried behind the lower rumble. For example “Royals” by Lorde, which has plenty of sub-bass, can seem congested but “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade, which has more in the general bass realm, comes across clear and without feeling that her voice is fighting darkness.

Moving up to the higher mids, there is the typical climb which helps with the presence of vocals but without the drop off directly after the peak, something that is found on many IEMs. In the case of the BL-01, the elevation is maintained from the higher mids into the lower highs, spanning from somewhere around 2.5kHz up to somewhere around 4kHz. This does stop things from sounding too shouty but does get a little too close to the sibilance region for comfort.

In fact, talking of sibilance, the usual “Code Cool” test does come back with more sibilance than I would like. It is not every “S” of the song (there are plenty) but the more exaggerated “S” can be piercing and would be something I would tame down with EQ.

Going higher into the treble, the roll off is not quite as steep as I have come to expect from many IEMs. Yes, there is room for a little more air up top but it isn’t something that I would point out as a fault. 

As far as speed and definition, personally I don’t think that the BL-01 does a bad job, except for those lower regions where things can sound bloated and dirty due to the sub-bass. On fast guitar passages, they hold their own and things do refrain from getting too blurry but don’t expect planar magnetic speed. 

As far as timbre, this is one of the things that I liked about the BL-03, at least with acoustic instruments, as it gave them plenty of body and warmth and while it wasn’t the most natural sounding IEM ever made, it did do it in a way that I thought was pretty darn good for a 30€ IEM. In the case of the BL-01, I don’t think it is quite there. It is not bad but it is not excellent either. On some songs I feel like the acoustic guitars are missing a little body and warmth (such as “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton) and then on other tracks I feel that the low end of the acoustic guitar is overly exaggerated (such as “Far Too Good” by John Smith).

Finally, on the stage width and image placement, I would say that the width is pretty much the average for IEMs in its class with placement that isn’t terrible but is far from “pin-point”.



Conclusion…

I feel like this review has come across a little more negative than I intend it to. Being totally honest, I don’t dislike the Blon BL-01 and think that it does quite a decent job for a set of IEMs that can be purchased for less than 20€, even without any sales.

The fit is not good for me personally but that is obviously something that is very personal, everybody has a slightly different anatomy and will experience issues with different products. The aesthetics are a similar story.

As far as sound, there are issues that are noticeable but I don’t think they are deal breakers in this price bracket. I think there are plenty of people who will enjoy the sound signature and the overall presentation of the BL-01 sound. 

In comparison to the BL-03, I am not sure which I would choose. The timbre I feel was better on the 03 and timbre is something that is important to me with a lot of the music I listen to, however, I do listen to other kinds of music where it is not quite as important and the BL-01 is not terrible in this regard. For those who like a lot of sub-bass, I don’t think they will find the BL-01 lacking but I do feel that the BL-03 has better control over the lower notes.

As far as the comparison with the BL-05s (sorry but I haven't heard the 05 so I can’t comment there), I personally prefer the 05s. While the low end is again not as controlled as on the 03, I find the 05s higher ranges to be more pleasing to my ear. They are also more comfortable for me personally.

Under 20€ there seem to be quite a few new arrivals lately, from various companies, and while none of them are perfect, many of them are more than adequate for the price bracket they sit in. I would class the BL-01 being another of these acceptable options in the ultra economic price bracket.

SenyorC