Today we’re checking out the BS1 Official, Penon Audio’s new, flagship earbud.
Last year Penon gave me the opportunity to check out their first earbuds, the BS1 Experience. It is still one of my favorite earbuds to this day as a result of it’s rock solid build quality, amazing cable, and crisp, detailed sound. Add to that a reasonable price and the excellent after purchase support Penon Audio is known for, and it was kind of a no-brainer purchase in my eyes.
Now that the BS1 Official is on the market, my precious BS1 Experience is no more having been discontinued in favor of it’s final form. While this news saddened me so, listening to the BS1 Official made the loss more manageable. It costs more than twice as much as the Experience, but you are also getting a lot more ear bud. Let’s check it out in greater detail, shall we?
The BS1 Official was sent over by Penon free of charge for the purposes of review. As always, the thoughts within are my own and do not represent Penon or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided to give these positive feedback or otherwise.
The BS1 Official retailed for 99 USD at the time of this review: https://penon-official.com/product/bs1-official-version/
For at home use the BS1 was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFi E.T. MA8, F.Audio S1, or Shanling M1, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort. It’s easy to drive.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, MacaW GT600s, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
- Sensitivity: 120dB
- Impedance: 32 ohm
- Frequency response: 14-28kHz
Packaging and Accessories:
The BS1 Official arrives to you fingertips in a compact blue and red box with Penon and their logo printed in gorl writing on the lid. The right side is imbued with a stick showing the earphones and the termination choice; 3.5mm in my case. The rear contains a company statement;
“We are a Hi-Fi company and specialized in producing high quality audio products for audiophiles”
Here is what that should say;
“We are a Hi-Fi company specializing in producing high quality audio products for audiophiles.”
It’s amazing what some basic grammar and punctuation edits can do to improve overall statement coherency. You’re welcome Penon.
Removing the lid of this nice little box you are greeted by a gorgeous, round wooden carrying case inset within some dense foam insert. Lift it out and underneath you find a plastic bag containing the included accessories, of which there are many. In all you get;
- BS1 Official earbuds
- Wooden storage case
- Cloth carrying case
- 1 pair of Hiegi foam donut eartips
- 1 pair of Hiegi foam solid eatrips
- 4 pairs of donut foam eatips
- 4 pairs of solid foam eartips
- Shirt clip
A few things to note. My set actually came with more than the listed number of foams, so be aware that you might get more than you bargained for. In total I received 13 sets. The shirt clip is an absolute beast and is solid metal, probably steel or some alloy. That’s great because the cable is very heavy and would more than likely shatter a standard cable clip into a billion tiny chunklettes.
Overall I am very pleased with the accessory kit. The quality is quite good and you get a lot, meaning you’re unlikely to need to buy more foams or others bits and bobbles down the road. My only issue is that the fabric case is too small to hold the BS1 and it’s monster cable. It’s really only suitable for carrying accessories.
Build and Comfort:
I would go so far as to say the BS1 Official is overbuilt. Why? Well, it shares the same durable metal shells as the original BS1 Experience, replacing the plastic driver grill with a fine metal one. Instead of being plain and brand-less, they now feature Penon laser etched into the rear of ear earpiece. They could have just printed it, but no, it’s gotta be etched. The single rubber strain relief has been replaced with metal shafts colored red and blue to denote channel, thereby addressing the difficult many had determining channel on the original BS1.
Going down the cable you find it is a beast; 8 strands, 19 cores with a mix of copper and silver-plating. The splitter and straight jack are black metal alloy imbued carbon fiber. The chin cinch is a heavy hunk of alloy too. The strain relief on the jack is an inch long section of shrink wrap giving the cable tons of protection from bends and wear. All together this is a gorgeous looking and wonderfully constructed piece of kit, but damn is it ever HEAVY, bringing us to our next point; comfort.
The BS1 Experience was super comfortable as a result of it’s light weight and shapely housing. Throw on a cable that weighs more than a 1979 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale and you can kiss that comfort goodbye. For me at least. Even taking advantage of that beefy shirt clip to take up much of the weight, my ears would get tired after 30 to 45 minutes of use. It was never unbearable, but I know this housing when saddled with an appropriate cable can nearly disappear giving you hours of fatigue free wear. That’s not the case with the BS1 Official, sorry. If you can wear them with the cable over-ear, I envy you, because that would surely resolve this issue. Over ear earbuds, unless they’ve got memory wire to hold them in place like the OURART Ti7, just aren’t compatible with my ears.
The BS1 Official is an amazingly well-built earbud, but that cable is too much, belonging on something larger and more appropriate, like a headphone. Too bad because it is easily one of, if not the nicest cable I’ve come across on a portable audio product.
The BS1 Official gave me a bit of a shock on first listen. I went in looking for a snazzier BS1 Experience. The last thing I expected to hear was something so capable and comparable to those TOTL buds I had been listening to prior, those being the venerable Rose Mojito and relative newcomer Lyra Collection 32 ohm from Astrotec. The BS1 is truthfully that darn impressive and should be on any ear bud lovers “to buy” list.
The BS1 is one heck of an all-rounder with a very even, full, and lush signature. It’s treble presentation is very lively and accurate with zero harshness or noticeable distortion. Detail retrieval is quite impressive which is supported by a well-controlled decay that keeps rapid cymbal notes and notes from other instruments or effects clear and well-separated. This is a very ear-friendly presentation that remains listenable for long periods.
I would have expected nothing less than near perfection from the BS1’s mid-range. It’s an ear bud which seem to specialize in quality mid-range presentations, and the BS1 Experience was already darn nice there. The BS1 Official does not disappoint, presenting it’s mid-range with a relentless confidence. Both male and female vocals sound natural and realistic with just the right amount of forwardness. I never found myself struggling to decipher lyrics, or line to fine and rapid notes changes. Overall timbre here seems spot on.
The BS1’s low end doesn’t embarrass either. Like the Rose Mojito and HE 150Pro, the BS1 has a proper low end with none of the early rolloff that often plagues the format. It’s bass is quick and punchy and able to hit those rumbly low notes just fine. It is very textured too, giving grungy bass notes a gritty abrasiveness you just don’t get from a lot of products. All it really lacks is some visceral feedback, obvious when listening to some other buds in my collection. In the end, I have no qualms using the BS1 with EDM and bass reliant tracks because I’m getting the important low end feedback needed to carry the track.
The BS1’s sound stage rolls in the same camp I put the Brainwavz B400 in; spacious but not necessarily huge (in this case by earbuds standards, not iem standard). It instead places it’s talent into a few other pools, imaging, layering, and separation, which are all above average and very engaging.
(Volumes matched as best as possible using a Dayton Audio iMM-6)
Rose Masya (109.00 USD): The BS1 dominates the Masya when it comes to build quality and overall premium feel. Metal shells vs. 3D printed plastic. Beefy copper and silver-plated cable vs. a standard black rubber cable (though it is a really nice cable). I personally find the Masya’s shape more comfortable. The Masya lighter cable doesn’t hurt either.
BS1 has a fuller, more balanced sound as a result of greater mid-bass presence, but falls short of the excellent end-to-end extension of the Masya. Masya’s mid-range is more crisp and prominent with a slightly cooler tonality. Treble detail is similar with the Masya pulling slightly ahead. Bass on the BS1 has a mid-bass focus while the Masya has a more sub-bass tilted response. Masya has a wider and deeper stage with a more visceral presentation. The BS1 sounds smoother and more refined.
Rose Mojito (259.00 USD): Everything I said about the Masya vs. the BS1 in terms of build and comfort hold true here since they’re also crafted from 3D printed plastics and identical in dimensions. The Mojito’s stock cable is even worse though. We’re not going to talk about it. Rose’s upgraded cable I’ve got on mine is much lighter and more flexible than the BS1’s, and therefore much more suitable to a portable product in this class.
The Mojito presents itself like a headphone while the BS1 comes across as a very good earbud. Mojito has deeper, more impactful and physical bass. Like the Masya, it has a larger, more open and spacious soundstage, though I found the BS1 slightly more accurate in terms of imaging. Treble is more prominent and detailed on the Mojito. Rose’s mid-range is more forward and dynamic.
Astrotec Lyra Classic (139.00 USD): The Lyra Classic shares the same gorgeous shell with the Lyra Collection, therefore it is wonderfully crafted aluminum with more style than you can shake a stick at. It’s about equal in comfort and ergonomics to the BS1, but pulls ahead once again due to use of a lighter cable. The Classic’s cable is pretty mediocre though, being that it is pretty much identical to what you find on a 10 USD Knowledge Zenith. Great for 10 bucks, not enough for 140.
Like the Masya, the Classic is more treble and mid-range focused than the BS1. Along with a thinner presentation, it is more detailed and has a more spacious stage. Bass again has a more visceral feel to it than what you get from the BS1, yet it remains quite lean. BS1 is the better all-rounder whereas the Classic excels with vocals.
If you’ve been on the fence about getting the BS1 Official, just go for it. This is a top of the line earbud in build and sound for a fraction of the price of similarly performing products. It’s a no-brainer really. Just be prepared to deal with that gorgeous, heavy cable. If you start exercising your ears via pull ups and crunches at the time of ordering, they should be plenty buff enough to handle the weight of any ol’ cable by the time the BS1 arrives on your doorstep.
Thanks for reading, and thanks to Penon for the chance to check out this earbud.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Album)
Elton John – Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)