Blue Ever Blue Model 1001: Calming Blue Fire

Greetings,

Today we are going to be checking out another HDSS equipped earphone from the team at Blue Ever Blue; the Model 1001.

Based out of Washington, D.C., Blue Ever Blue (BeB) exploded onto the earphone market in 2011 with a variety of products featuring HDSS (High Definition Sound Standard) technology. A number of respected Head-fi’ers like @jant71 and @clieOS gave them a go. After some outstanding initial coverage, it was apparent BeB was bringing to market some heavy-hitting earphones in the under 100 USD category.

Fast forward five years and BeB has continued to expand their lineup, releasing higher quality and seemingly more technically proficient models along the way. Their new flagship, the Model 1200EX, which you can read about here, is an outstanding earphone and worthy of the flagship title. The 1001 sits a couple notches down in the lineup and offers up a completely different but still very enjoyable experience.

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Bentley with Blue Ever Blue for providing a sample of the 1001 in exchange for a fair and impartial review. I am not receiving financial or any other form of compensation for this review. All comments and opinions within are my own and do not represent Blue Ever Blue or any other entity.

The 1001 retailed for 99.00 USD at the time of this review. You can purchase it here on Blue Ever Blue’s website: http://www.blueeverblue.com/product_model_1001.html

Packaging and Accessories:

The 1001’s packaging borrows it’s design language from the 1200EX, for better or worse. Compared to the blister packs of old, it’s two steps forward. That said, inside things take a step back. The exterior packaging clearly outlines what you should be expecting. There is a glossy image of the earpieces on the front and specifications down the side. Open the front flap and there are two viewing windows. One shows the earpieces and the BeB logo embossed on the carrying case. Just as I found with the 1200EX, an area of improvement would be the layout and presentation. It’s overly busy with numerous font types used on the front alone, and the red on grey is challenging for a color-blind individual like myself to read.

HDSS and some of the benefits of this unique technology are noted, such as 3D full stereo sound, high definition audio, and a 14.32% reduction in psychological stress. I don’t fully understand how that’s supposed to work, but I highly recommend heading over to HDSS.com (http://hdss.com/technology.html) to read up on it as it’s an interesting subject. There are some big names backing the tech as well, such as Asus, Marantz, Sharp, Head-fi favorite Dunu, and of course, Blue Ever Blue.

Open the package and slide out the inner plastic tray *snap* Okay, I’ll take a part of the plastic tray out. Let’s try that again. Sliding out the plastic tray you find the Model 1001 displayed in molded inserts with the cable tightly wrapped and placed in another insert below. The case is quite compact and durable, but too small for an earphone with such a meaty cable. The 1001 fits, but you need to wind up the cable uncomfortably tight. You’re also provided an advisory sheet which doubles as the warranty card for the 1 year warranty.

Inside the case you find a nice selection of white silicone ear tips that are of pretty decent quality. You get three sets of single flange tips in the usual small, medium, and large sizes. In addition BeB includes you one set each of dual- and tri-flange tips. While not something I’ll use, they are a welcome inclusion.

Overall the presentation is a little hit and miss. More miss than the 1200EX’s due to that hilariously brittle inner plastic tray. I can safely say is not the type of packaging you’ll be keeping around for display or storage purposes. At least the tip selection is above average and the carrying case, while very small, is well constructed.

Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

The Model 1200EX felt pretty durable, but the 1001 takes things a step further. The ear pieces are light and unlike most I’ve come across that use aluminum, have been pleasantly resilient to dents and scratches. Since the earpieces are so long, it would be nice to see the nozzles lengthened to provide a deeper, more stable fit without the need to move up to multi-flange tips.

The cable is fairly heavy, chunky, and flat. It’s quite resistant to tangling and memory. This is especially welcome given how tightly it needs to be wound to fit into the included case. I found the cable less than ideal for cable down wear. Since the housings are long and nozzles short, the cable tends to tug and break seal which I found a little annoying. Luckily it’s flexible enough to wear up and around the ear without hassle, thereby nullifying the weight and tugging issue. This in combination with the chin cinch reduces microphonics (cable-noise) quite a bit, something that is nearly always an issue with flat cables. Strain relief is really only present at the 90 degree angled jack where it is quite good. Elsewhere, improvements could be made.

Overall comfort is acceptable for an earphone with this design and style of cable. It falls just behind the NarMoo R1M which is similar in size, shape, weight (a bit heavier), and uses a cable that is extremely similar. I found NarMoo’s cable to soften up considerably with time and use, and would expect the same from the 1001’s cable.

Given the sealed housings, I would expect the 1001 to isolate quite well and for the most part it does. It’s certainly above average for a dynamic driver. It’s not going to completely drown out your surroundings like a good sealed BA-based unit, however. The downfall to this sealed design is noticeable driver flex upon insertion.

Overall the 1001 feels like a very durable earphone. Comfort is good and isolation is above average as a result of the sealed housings. The cable could use some improvements to strain relief at the earpieces and y-split, and the nozzles could benefit from being lengthened a touch.

Sound:

Tips:The stock tips sounded fine with the 1001 but I preferred something with a wider bore such as those from Ultimate Ears, JVC, or those that came with the 1200EX. Wide bore tips seem to bring the treble more forward and mid-bass presence down.

Amping: The 1001 tended to present some background hissing through any of my amps which was not present with running them unfiltered through the HTC One M8 or XDuoo X3. As a result, I do not recommend the use of an amp.

Driver units: 8 mm
Maximum Input Power: 10 mW
Frequency Response: 16-20 khz
Earphone Impedance: 16 ohm
Earphone Sensitivity: 105 +/- 3 dB/mW

As a reviewer it can be tough to remove personal bias and preference from the process and listen objectively. My last few reviews have been mostly dominated by products that lined up fairly well with my personal preferences; fairly bright and sparkly with lots of treble, good sub-bass extension, and little mid-bass presence. The 1001 is pretty much the exact opposite; somewhat dry, warm, dark, mellow treble, and lots of mid-bass. It was surprising at how much this sound started to grow on me after a short period of adjustment, even though my initial impressions were that it was a generic, bass-heavy earphone. Not quite, B9.

Treble presentation on the 1001 is some of the most relaxing and inoffensive I’ve come across to date. Someone who is treble-averse should find these to be right in their wheelhouse. At first listen, they came across as lacking in raw detail and clarity, but once I adjusted to the presentation and compared to brighter earphones that shove that detail to the forefront, I found the 1001 perfectly acceptable. The 1001 handles EQ well, so if you do find them to be lacking up top, it can be added in with fairly minimal adjustment.

The 1001’s midrange sits slightly forward and is just as chill as the treble, lacking any aggression or harshness. Vocals do some across a touch veiled and lacking detail, most apparent during vocal only sections without anything else playing such as during the opening skit to Dillon Francis’ ‘Need You’. I never ran into any issues with speech intelligibility, but smaller details were smoothed over and lost. Guitars still manage to have some grunt and crunch which I was not expecting. The 1001 has a pretty unique and somewhat inconsistent midrange that I’ve admittedly had a hard time putting my finger on.

When things dip into the lower ranges the 1001 really comes alive. Bass is thick and meaty with a fair bit of weight behind it. At lower volumes the 1001 lacks depth and impact, but feed it some volume and the 1001 shines. Unlike in other places, texture and detail stand out which is evident in the grimy bass The Prodigy uses throughout, well, pretty much their entire discography. I do find the 1001 to be a primarily bass-focused product, with the mid-range following close behind, but not to the extent that it would please someone who lives for a thunderous low end.

Soundstage is an area where the 1001 at times shocked me in it’s capaciousness, beating out even the Havi B3 Pro 1 at times. For an in-ear, it has come the closest to providing a headphone experience tossing sounds out far beyond what I thought an in-ear could. Admittedly, it wasn’t always apparent when listening to music, and area where the B3 still reins supreme, instead standing out best with other forms of media like such as movies and gaming.

I used them throughout my binge session of season 2 of AJIN: Demi-Human and was routinely surprised at how well and how accurately the 1001 conveyed distance. In one scene the protagonist’s sister is in a hospital bed overhearing nurses talking about her unfortunate situation. Their voices sounded as if they were coming from outside the room, around the corner. It was eerie. If trying them with something more mainstream, give them a go with Deadpool or Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I felt the same sense of openness playing COD Infinite Warfare on PS4. If it wasn’t for the vague imaging just off centre and lack of air to the treble, these would be awesome for gaming. As is, they knock it out of the park when watching movies and television shows.

Overall, while not necessarily my cup of tea, I can see the 1001 being a fan favorite for those who enjoy something that performs well without the overly boost treble presentation that seems to be so common at the moment.

DSC00303.JPG

Select Comparisons:

MusicMaker TW1 (~25.00 USD): Despite the vast physical differences, and that the TW1 uses a 6mm micro-driver versus the more standard 8mm in the 1001, they have a lot in common aurally. The TW1 is even more mid-bassy with a smoother, more organic sound. It gives up a bit of detail and texture to the 1001, and a fair bit of depth in the low end. The most striking difference is in the soundstage. The TW1 is no slouch, but it’s can’t toss effects half as effectively as the 1001.

Brainwavz M100 (89.50 USD): The 1001 is to me what the M100 should have been. Their general tuning is extremely similar, but the BeB does it without hiding the upper end detail or the abundant mid-bass bleeding into and ruining the mid-range. You can fix these issues on the M100 with some heavy EQ and transform it into a fantastic earphone (I thought), but the 1001 does it out of the box. I do prefer the M100’s less dry mid-range, but that’s not nearly enough to give it the edge.

Accutone Taurus (89.99 USD): The Taurus is an interest one to compare to the 1001 because it has an adjustable bass knob that can give the Taurus overbearing bass, or take it all away. My preferred setting with the bass knob open to around 40% was luckily a pretty balanced match for the 1001. The 1001’s treble is slightly more forward and detailed, while the Taurus takes the mid-range crown with a similar presentation but no veil. Bass on both digs deeps and impacts nicely. The Taurus is no slouch when it comes to soundstage and while not as large, has more accurate imaging just off-centre. Based off sound, it’s hard to choose as I enjoy both quite a lot.

The deciding factors for me would come down to build, features, and comfort. The 1001 is hands down the better built of the two with it’s metal housings and beefy cable. The Taurus’ cable is removable, but it feels extremely fragile in comparison and the connectors are proprietary. The housings are also plastic and lack the feeling of quality of the 1001. Accutone’s offering does include an inline mic, handy for mobile use. I also found the Taurus a much more comfortable due to the small, light, low-profile housing and swiveling cable that easily enables wearing the cable up or down. I’d be willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort for the extra durability the 1001 brings to the table, even though I prefer the Taurus’ sound ever so slightly and appreciate the ability to play with bass quantity/quality.

Final Thoughts:

What I like most about the 1001 is that it does a great job of catering to an oft over-looked crowd; those that want a capable earphone, free of overbearing treble.

The materials and fit and finish are excellent, the accessory kit is comprehensive, isolation is pretty solid for a dynamic based earphone, and they’re fairly comfortable despite the heavy cable and long housings. Add to that a signature that is fairly detailed, lacking any uncomfortable treble peaks or harshness, and a soundstage that bridges the gap between in-ears and headphones, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid product.

The Model 1001 is certainly not without it’s vices and this signature definitely won’t please everyone, but to those that enjoy a more mellow sound it’s worth consideration.

Thanks for reading!

– B9Scrambler

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Test Songs:

Aesop Rock – Saturn Missiles

BT – The Antikythera Mechanism

Daft Punk – Touch

Dillon Francis and NGHTMRE – Need You

Gramatik – Bluestep (Album Version)

Incubus – 2nd/3rd/4th Movements of the Odyssey

Infected Mushroom – Deeply Disturbed

Infected Mushroom – The Legend of the Black Shawarma

Jessie J – Bang Bang

Kiesza – Hideaway

King Crimson – Red (full album)

Pink Floyd – Money

Run The Jewels – Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)

Skindred – Death to all Spies

Supertramp – Rudy

The Prodigy – Get Your Fight On

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