disclaimer: I was sent the BLON BL-05 by Linsoul Audio for review. I have no financial interest in BLON or Linsoul. For more information or to purchase the BL-05, see Linsoul’s website.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The package has the earpieces in a plastic tray at top and a box beneath with the accessories hidden from view. They attempted to create a slogan using words that’s first letters spelled BLON but it comes out as largely nonsensical and somewhat bemusing. The box contains the cable, six sets of silicone tips (SML) that are fairly wide and shallow when compared to something like the KZ star tips or Shure Olives. A burlap style carrying bag is provided as well. The kit is very similar to its predecessor and will be familiar to those with the BL03. More tips are provided and the cable tie is omitted comparatively, but roughly equal value to what is provided and both kits reflect the budget nature of the series.
The earpieces are a 2 part metal shell available in either gun metal gray or bright silver. My sample is the later and is well polished if a bit of a fingerprint magnet. A few of my pictures have portraits of the camera lens as a result. The shells are similar in shape to the AKG N30 and n40 with a squat capsule form. Seams are very visible and can be felt as well but are even without any glue evident. Nozzles exit the lead edge of the shell with a pronounced forward rake and a wide lip for tip retention. There are two vents, one at center of the inner shell and the second on the nozzle (the nozzle vent is hidden in shadow and reflection in the pictures). .78mm bi-pin connectors are of the squared hooded type and are angled in more conventional fashion than their predecessor. I found comfort quite good for extended wear and no physical fatigue from them while wearing them for an entire workday. I think while medium sized, the rounded shape will lend itself to all but the smallest ears.
Well the good news is that fit was much less an issue than with the previous BL-03 and tip selection seems to be a bit easier as a result so I didn’t have to spend time digging and just used the large tips provided for testing.
The first thing I noted is the updated driver is indeed a bit faster than its predecessor and the bass has a bit better clarity as a result. Decay is still a touch slower than attack and leaves a little lingering warmth, but isn’t so much as to be sloppy. Sub-bass goes fairly deep and is elevated creating the lower side of the V. Mid-bass starts on the same plane with sub-bass and then gently falls as you move toward the lower mids with the peak emphasis centered at about 100Hz. Mid-bass textures are improved compared to the 03 as well with more detail presented. A small amount of mid-bass bleed is still present that helps retain a bit of warmth but isn’t obstructive. I won’t qualify the BL-05 as a basshead model, but it certainly has enough rumble and slam for those genres that need it.
Lower mids and true mids are the trough of the V and while they do come across as mildly recessed, detail is still quite good. I think the mids were a high point in the 03 as the tonality was the thing most loved about the 03 and here, the 05 won’t quite match it. The BL-05 has similar mids, but loses a bit of the tonality that made the BL-03 a favorite for many. To me the problem here is that the BL-05 pushes the upper mids forward and gives vocals a rather shouty, over-aggressive presentation as a result. This is especially true of higher vocals as lower voices don’t have the same emphasis. Because of the changes to the mids, upper strings are not as well voiced here as they were on the BL-03 with a bit too much energy and a sometimes harsh tone. String bass and cello are both still fairly good but viola starts to have a bit more edge to the sound and violin is full-on aggressive and sounds a bit unnatural. Details in the mids are good and maybe slightly improved over the previous, but the tuning does little to highlight that.
Lower treble stays more or less on the same plateau with the upper mids and gives the BL-05 a very energetic treble. Detail is good and clarity is better than previously. As you move higher, the treble drops back but maintains good air and has a more open feeling with better extension as well. While I felt the BL03 lacked some top end extension, the BL05 does a good job and certainly show improvement with the roll-off above my audible range (roughly 14kHz). Snare rattle is good with the improved attack of the driver, but cymbals do take on a metallic sound due to the voicing. So to my ear, better clarity and extension, but some stridency and a bit of extra energy that may not be needed.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage isn’t great and I think this again can be attributed to the tuning. With several elements being pushed forward, there is little depth behind it and the BL05 feels wide and flat as a result. While the BL-03 had a small stage, at least it was more or less shaped normally, here the 05 has a wide shallow stage that causes seating the orchestra to sound like most instruments are side by side rather than front to back. Instrument separation helps a bit as provided by the improved speed of the driver. Imaging is average as well with movement around the stage being easily tracked but depth is tough to discern. Layering is reasonably good, but some compression becomes apparent as tracks get more complex.
I’ve pretty much compared to the BL-03 all the way through this so will refrain from rehashing that but here is the comparison FR.
I included the diamond here as another recently released single dynamic using a carbon (DLC in this case) driver. Price points on the two are not equal with the Diamond commanding more of a premium, but technology wise the two are similar. Shells on both are solid and both are roughly equal in that department with the diamond a bit more subdued and the BL-05 a bit more blinged out. Comfort is good on both but for me the fit is a bit better on the BL-05 and a bit more comfortable for long listening sessions. Having said that, the sound signature of the diamond is enough better that if I am going to do a long listening session, I’d much prefer the diamond regardless of the lesser fit. The diamond has a much more accurate stage and a much less shouty presentation with a more polite treble.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
Many felt I largely harpooned the BL-03 as it is the only time I can honestly say I’ve gotten hate mail over a review and I felt it lacked extension at the top end and details in the lows and mids. So you’d think I’d be thrilled with the BL-05 that corrects both of those issues. Well, maybe not so much. Blon did indeed improve both of those elements, but in the process they lost something, Tonality. The big thing the Bl-03 did well was it sounded natural and few will say the BL-03 “just doesn’t sound right” I can’t say that of the BL-05 and I suspect many will share my point of view. The lack of stage and overly aggressive upper mids counter the improvements made in extension and details. I can’t say the BL-05 is an improvement from the BL-03 because it is voiced differently. Where the BL-03 was a walk-off home run for many and a solid double in my mind, the Bl-05 is somewhere between a strike out and a single. My advice to Blon, give us the tonality and tuning of the 03 with the detail retrieval and extension of the 05 and you’ve got a grand slam.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 6/106/10
- Treble - 6/106/10
- Soundstage - 4/104/10
- Imaging - 5/105/10
Pros: Improved fit, better detail, improved extension on top end
Cons: shouty, sometimes strident, very little stage depth, doesn’t share the tonality of the BL-03.