Today we’re checking out Linsoul’s in-house creation, the BLD.
The ear bud renaissance is over, leaving the form factor in a great position. They are a reliable and viable purchase for those who want something less intrusive than an in-ear earphone, more portable than a headphone, or that simply prefer the design and fit. It’s not hard to find an earbud that offers up excellent performance for the price, and the BLD is no exception.
Let’s take a closer look!
The BLD unexpectedly arrived on my doorstep about a month a go. It was sent over for the purposes of review by Lillian at DD Audio/Linsoul Tech. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not reflect those of DD Audio, Linsoul, or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided to write this review.
The BLD can be equipped with a 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced jack and retails for 39.99 USD or 44.99 USD respectively; https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Linsoul-BLD-150ohm-High-Impedance-Balanced-Earbud-High-Fidelity-HiFi-Earphone-4-4mm-2-5mm-Balanced/2894006_32869327378.html?spm=2114.12010612/itm2home-1.8148356.48.740d67a7Qomea1
The BLD spent nearly all it’s time powered by the Radsone ES100 which provided more than enough clean power to run it, regardless of whether it was running in Bluetooth or USB DAC modes. My other balanced source is the Walnut F1 and to be frank, it sounded horrible with the BLD (harsh and grainy), so I stopped using it after a couple songs. The BLD is a 150 ohm bud, but it is also quite sensitive at 110dB so you shouldn’t need anything too powerful to run it adequately. Sourcing music to the ES100 was either my LG G6 (via Bluetooth) or Asus FX53V laptop (USB or Bluetooth).
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, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when reading my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.
- Drivers: Dynamic
- Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz
- Sensitivity: 110dB
- Impedance: 150ohms
Packaging and Accessories:
The BLD didn’t arrive with any formal packaging, but it did come with a pleasant accessory kit. In all you get:
- Linsoul BLD earbuds
- Semi-hard clamshell carrying case
- 4 pairs of full-foams (2x black, 2x orange)
- Shirt clip
I would like to see one set of each color foam replaced with a donut option for some more variety, but you really can’t complain about what you get. Four sets of foams, should you opt to use them, will last a while before needing replacement and the case is plenty large enough to hold everything. Plus, if you have a compact device to use it with, such as the ES100, you can squeeze it in there too.
Build and Comfort:
The BLD’s shells are all plastic molded in the curvaceous style of Yuin’s excellent shells. The visible mold lines and matte surface don’t look particularly premium, but it all feels very solid to the touch. The L/R markers could also be printed on with a more permanent paint as they’re already showing signs of rubbing off. Regardless of the visual averageness, I’m confident these shells could take some abuse if levied their way. The cable could too, as it is absolutely stellar.
The sheath is a little on the stiff side but feels quite dense and tough. This isn’t something you’re going to cut or tear by accident. Inside, the vibrant copper is offset by a black highlight that snakes it’s way throughout. It’s a very visually impressive cable. The y-split on the other hand is two chintzy pieces of plastic glued together that, unlike the rest of the build, is not very confidence inspiring. At least there’s a useful chin cinch above it that helps ensure a secure fit if you’re having issues keeping the BLD in your ears. The 2.5mm straight jack is mostly metal sans the attractive carbon insert. You can screw it apart should you need to do repairs or wish to replace it with something else. Taking it apart also shows off the neat construction with a piece of heat shrink protecting the soldering job. HiFiman could learn and thing or two here. Head over to my RE800 review if you want to see how they did it.
Comfort is outstanding, as is always the case with this style of shell. They’re impossibly light and low profile when in the ear which making for a fantastic wearing experience. These are a bud I can toss in and wear for hours with zero discomfort, something that’s hard to achieve with this form factor. I’m also taking into account you’ve got ears large enough to carry them appropriately as the driver cover is 16mm across, about standard for an earbud in my experience.
Foams: Foams didn’t make as much of a difference here as I’ve experienced with other ear buds. Full foam make the mid-range a bit thicker than donuts, and no foams sound a little thinner than everything else. I recommend just going with whatever feels most comfortable to you. For me, that was the pre-installed orange full foams.
Earbuds tend to do neutral quite well and quite often, and the BLD is no exception. It’s a great example of a near-neutral signature, though not one you’re going to be using for critical listening. Roll of on both ends is present giving them a smooth. mellow, slightly mid-forward signature.
Treble is evenly emphasized without any sharp peaks that I could detect. Roll off is present and as such there isn’t a ton of sparkle to your tunes. Emphasis is placed on the lower treble regions which helps with upper frequency definition and with keeping the mid-range clear and articulate. Micro detail is somewhat smoothed over which helps play into their easy going presentation.
The mid-range is slightly forward and has a good thickness and weight to it. Vocals sound especially good and have a strong presence making them awesome for vocal-focused media. Everything sounds realistic too, without anything coming across overly light or unnatural. Once again, micro-detail is a little lacking so subtle track nuances are smoothed over, such as the tiny snaps of saliva shifting in the mouth of Paul Williams while he sings on “Touch” from Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories.
Bass is quite polite. Sub-bass roll off is very much present, though it’s not entirely absent. While definitely not an ideal pairing for Kavinski’s “Solli” you do still get some physical feedback during the opening basslines. Mid and upper bass is kept in check without any bleed into the lower mid-range. Speed is decent with good control. Texture and impact are limited making the overall presentation is touch too smooth for my tastes. It does make for a nice pairing with tracks like Dillon Francis’ “We The Funk (ft. Fuego)” which sounds stellar with refined products like the BLD.
Sound stage is quite good with lots of space present between instruments and effects. Depth could see some improvement though. Instrument separation is pretty decent, but I did find King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black” a touch congested during the final semi-improv jazz session. Layering is also solid. Overall the sound stage is spacious, but not quite as dynamic as it could be.
Kinera Earbuds: The 32ohm Kinera is more extended at either end with a less prominent, leaner sounding mid-range. It’s more v-shaped and as such offers up a more vibrant sound that works better than the BLD with less vocal-focused, bass-heavy tracks, such as Pegboard Nerds x Quiet Disorder’s “Move That Body (Soltan Remix)”. Sound stage is larger too, though that is partly due to the dials back mids and thinner sound. They both use a Yuin style shell but Kinera’s is painted with a gorgeous metallic black that looks phenomenal. It’s definitely the looker of the two. The BLD’s cable is much nicer though. The Kinera’s braided cable retains tons of little micro-bends and doesn’t feel particularly durable. Comfort is identically outstanding.
HE 150Pro: The HE 150Pro is also a 150ohm bud, but it’s lower sensitivity (103dB) makes a big difference in terms of raw volume. You need a lot more power to get the 150Pro to the same loudness. Once there, I found the 150Pro to have a much more textured bassline with significantly greater extension. It also felt faster and better able to deal with greater track and genre variety. The mid-range isn’t as forward as the BLD’s, nor as thick, but outputs more detail. Treble sees greater extension through the 150Pro too, though I can see it verging on being a touch bright for some. For me it is near perfect, bring sparking and shimmer to cymbals and chimes without being harsh. Sound stage is similar to the BLD but with greater depth and improved separation. For my personal preferences, the HE 150Pro is still the bud to beat, though it’s signature is notably less balanced than the BLD’s, and it’s more lively, vibrant sound more fatiguing.
I have really enjoyed my time with the BLD and found it to be an excellent earphone for everyday listening. It’s extremely comfortable and durable with a beautiful cable and a signature that is great for long sessions, be they at home, work, or where ever. It would be nice if it had better low end extension and a bit more micro-detail, but that would take away from the generally inoffensive, neutral nature of it’s sound. It would also distract from that gorgeously lush mid-range.
If you’re looking for a near-neutral, sub-50 USD earbud, the BLD would be a wonderful choice.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
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)