Blon are a company with a steadily building a reputation for value for money IEMs. They have been going since 2014, and are, you guessed it, a Chinese company. It seems most things come from that corner of the globe and head into the hands of the subjectivist.
With many thanks from our suppliers, Better Audio US, an Amazon based company who have been with me for 2 years now, I have the 2nd BLON product to come into our offices; the BL-01. Why 01 is after the BT-03 model is a mystery to me, in much the same way as most Chinese companies seem to name their respective models.
The BL-01 is part of a huge market. The 01 model retails at an incredibly low $24.99 on Amazon. When I think of the rubbish that was out there at that price level some 2-3 years ago compared to now… Anyway, a few technical things about the 01. It has a low impedance – 16 Ohms, a reasonably low sensitivity of 102 dB and a reasonable frequency range of 20-20 Khz. I say reasonable; there is nothing ground breaking in the latter 2 figures, but with 102 dB and a decent isiolation, an earphone should be loud enough to work ok in a smartphone or a small dap. The frequency response will go below and above the audible threshold for any human being. Google agrees : “While 20 to 20,000Hz forms the absolute borders of the human hearing range, our hearing is most sensitive in the 2000 – 5000 Hz frequency range“. So far so good.
The audio set up of these is that they are a single driver design. There is a tiny port for bass purposes. Single driver designs just won’t go away. They work very well if only a decent driver is used, in a decent housing, with decent cabling and a sensible tuning. Although I am told that crossover distortion is less of an issue in IEMs, nevertheless, any chance of interference between drivers is eliminated if you only have one…
The design of the 01 is an around the ear design. Exercise fanatics take note ; this means that it might be possible to take these for a run or in the gym, without 1. pulling out of the ears, or 2. being unlistenable due to cable noise, wind noise or outside noises. The earphones take a qdc cable. Again, a step forward for the portable user, because the qdc is a stronger, tighter and more reliable connection than could be obtained using the old mmcx or 2 pin variety. I explain more in the YouTube vid…..
Memory wire, clearly but discretely marked L and R plug satisfylingly easily into the usual jewel like appearance of the shells. The cable is a twisted braid type, and is stronger than the cheaper looking fixed cables on the BT-03 that I have. What else? Well, there’s a right angled 3.5 jack, I have a single button hands free cable, or, for the same price, you can have a non mic version. The shells are an ergonomic design, and you can get an idea of the fit in the video. The tips supplied are grey silicon and there are 4 types. I needed the ML size. I changed the M ones that were fitted as standard. The cables are replaceable, so not only will the diehard cable swappers be satisfied, but the 01’s can be used with one of the QDC bluetooth cables that are now available for pretty darn cheap. I bought myself a rather lovely looking balanced (2.5mm) cable from Better Audio, so I can have the benefit of using the (arguably) superior balanced outs on my Fiio M11 and AKG AK380 DAPs. Ooh, and 1 more thing ; you get a cord bag with these….. Let’s send you another pic to capture all this
We’ve whipped through all the theory, so how does it add up in practice? BLON have made some good headway. THe 01 slipped comfortably into my ears ; the shells are heavy, as is typical of BLON, but the memory wire, shells and tips all serve to lock the earphones into place, and will hold their own when on the move. The wind noise doesn’t easily find it’s way into the ear canal because the shells have been streamlined in anticipation. The shells fit into most of my ear, so a reasonable isolation results. Microphonics, the noise that comes from the cable hitting your body when you’re out and about, is pleasantly minimal. The 1 touch button does it’s job. It plays and pauses the music with 100% efficiency and yet…I just wish we had the 3 button cable that the BT-03 has. With the BT-03 you get volume up and down, play/pause and back/next. The 01 is audibly better than it’s older cousin but does not have the practical benefits. I should add that I can’t even plug either directly into my Xiaomi 3 5G smartphone. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when either cable worked through my USBC-3.5 adapter. Now that was £7 well spent….
The sound is a revelation for $25. The bass response is decent. It’s fast, it’s accurate. Linear bass. The bass decays quickly enough that it doesn’t bleed into the mids. The mids have a good vocal presentation, which means that the vocal, or main instrument, is easy enough to follow. The highs are pushed forward. They sit below the pain threshold that initially sounds exciting and dynamic but in time becomes fatiguing and makes one reach for the volume control, or , even worse, switching the music off. For some of you that are sat on the fence and musing still over the 01, let me tell you ; these make take some time to adjust to their personality if you are used to bassier IEMs. Perseverence will pay off. These have a pedigree that put them well above their asking price. I expect even more from BLON during the course of this and next year.