Today we’re reviewing the BOT1, a dynamic driver earphone from a new brand, bboooll. Questionable brand name aside, the BOT1 has shown itself over the last few weeks to be an interesting product worth the cost of entry.
Awash in a sea of budget hybrids, the BOT1 attacks the market with a multi-dynamic setup that features three 6mm dynamic drivers, per side. The only other triple dynamic I’m aware of that plays at the same price point is the Geek Wold GK3. The design will certainly draw comparisons to the DZAT DT-05, and I suspect that they share their OEM based on the build, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a unique look that is certain to draw some eyes. Of course, none of that matters if the BOT1 doesn’t sound good enough to warrant it’s existence. Well, it absolutely does.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Thanks to Sunny with bboooll for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the BOT1. It was provided free of charge in exchange for a review. The thoughts here are my own subjective impressions based on my experiences with the BOT1 over the last few weeks. They do not represent bboooll or any other entity. There was no financial incentive provided to write this review.
At the time of writing, the BOT1 retailed for 19.99 USD: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FQ5WCZF
The BOT1 was paired with my LG G6 or straight out of a Shanling M0. I didn’t find amping necessary or that it provided much of any benefit. The BOT1 is easy to drive with a signature that remains mostly unchanged regardless of the source. Just avoid pairing it with anything excessively bright or excessively dark, as it seems to exaggerate those qualities when they are at the extremes.
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 varied 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.
Specifications (from the box):
- Driver: Three 6mm dynamic per side
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Sensitivity: 105 dB
- Frequency: 20-20 KHz
Packaging and Accessories:
The BOT1 comes in pleasant little package. The matte black exterior sheath has BOT1 in big, bold silver lettering on the top with bboooll and T1 branding around the sides. On the back you find the specifications and what I’m guessing is contact or location information for the brand. I’m not entirely sure since the vast majority is written in Chinese characters.
Sliding off the sheath, underneath a transparent plastic viewing window you are greeted to the BOT1 nestled in a large foam insert taking up a third of the box, with a smaller cardboard box taking up the remaining space. That smaller box holds the accessory kit. In all you get:
- BOT1 earphones
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Fabric carrying pouch
- Shirt clip
Overall it’s a simple but pleasing unboxing experience. The accessory kit is fairly basic, but I appreciate the inclusion of a quality carrying pouch. A lot of manufacturers are omitting those as of late, so props to bboooll for increasing the value quotient and giving you something that’ll hold and protect your earphones when not in use. The tips are the same generic set you get with a million other budget earphones. They’re fine, though I replaced them immediately with a similar set from RHA that maintain the stock sound signature, were slightly softer and more comfortable, and provided a more reliable seal.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The BOT1’s housings are primarily plastic with an obscure heart-shape to them. Highlighting their special feature, that being triple dynamics, are three textured metal vents (maybe) on the rear of each housing. The nozzle is a separate metal piece with a neatly installed, fine metal grill protecting the drivers within. Printed on the base of each ear piece is “bboooll MCX3”, further leading credence to my idea that the DZAT shares the same OEM. Not only is the build extremely similar, from the heart shape, to the metal vents and nozzle, but those are also printed with something similar; “MC2X PNR”. In all honesty, it’s not the most coherent looking design but it’s at least interesting and the fit and finish is quite good for the price.
The quad-strand cable is twisted and rests inside a dense, clear sheath. Strain relief isn’t really present, but this is one of those rare instances where I don’t think it’s needed. The cable is pretty similar to that found on a few other earphones I have, like the DZAT DT-05, and has proven itself quite durable. Leading into each ear piece is a preformed, plastic ear guide. It is reasonably flexible, feels fine against the ear, and effectively holds the cable in place behind the ear. The jack is metal and quite compact, so you won’t have to worry about it interfering with a cellphone case. The y-split is metal too and houses a microphone and single-button for controlling media, as well as answering and ending phone calls. I never had the opportunity to use it for calls, but I did make a few recordings to check the quality. The microphone produces a smooth, warm sound with little micro detail and is a touch on the quiet side. It’s not amazing, but it’s certainly not bad and should work fine for the occasional call.
Despite the BOT1’s odd shape, I found it to fit quite well. The housings are light and free of sharp edges. While the housings are not very long or wide which lets them to fit in small ears, they are quite deep. This means that even fully inserted, they stick out a bit. Thankfully the smooth, swoopy shape doesn’t pick up a ton of wind noise so all is good.
Speaking of noise, the BOT1’s isolation is average for a dynamic based earphone. They work fine outside, but you’ll have to raise the volume to counter people chatting, cars driving by, and other common annoyances.
When it comes to very affordable products, you often find there is a lack of experimentation or risk put into their development. The BOT1 bucks this trend in two ways. The first is with its driver layout. The BOT1 rolls with three dynamic drivers per side in a time when hybrids are all the rage, and single dynamics offer up excellent performance, more than enough for a $20 earphone. The second is the signature.
The BOT1 has a pleasant u-shaped sound that comes across refined and well balanced. Driver coherence is excellent with each handling it’s role with ease. While the BOT1 doesn’t excel in terms of micro-detail, it does reveal impressive laying and separation for something in this price range. Channel to channel imaging is handled cleanly with a fair bit of space for music to play around in. Depth and width is fairly even and spacious, giving the BOT1 an above average stage to my ears.
Treble is extended well enough without any strong peaks in the usual areas (4k to 7k). It has a fairly high energy sound but without being even remotely bright. The drivers show some snappy decay and as a result handles rapid transients quite effectively, avoiding the splashy mess lots of budget earphones display when tracks get busy in the treble regions. It somehow remained enjoyable even when listening to The Crystal Method’s “Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes)” which contains some effects that really draw out peaks in the worst way possible.
The mid-range shines through and has a warm leaning, near-neutral feel to it. Both male and female vocals sound lush and full with solid clarity and detail. No veils here. Timbre is really quite accurate, giving instruments a refreshingly natural tone. On Daft Punk’s “Touch (feat. Paul Williams)” Paul’s vocals are sweet and melodic, capturing well the emotions on offer.
The low end is mildly elevated with a solid balance between upper-/mid- and sub-bass. It is reasonably quick and punchy with fair texturing. Roll off occurs before things dig too deep as heard on Kavinski’s “Solli”, so you’re not going to get a ton of visceral feedback. It is satisfying none-the-less.
Geek Wold GK3: Like the BOT1, the GK3 is a triple dynamic earphone coming in at under 20 USD. The GK3 isn’t as natural sounding with a hollow mid-range and dark yet tinny treble. Bass is thicker and more robust with a heavy mid-bass focus, lacking the texture and speed of the BOT1. The BOT1’s sound stage is considerably larger with better separation between effects. The GK3’s intimate mid-range gives them a congested feel not found in BOT1.
When it comes to build and design I prefer the carbon-fibre clad GK3. That combined with a braided cable gives it a more mature, refined look. That said, the GK3’s cable is extremely tangle prone, something the BOT1 doesn’t have to worry about. Both are equally comfortable though the BOT1 is slightly more stable in my ear.
Overall, the BOT1 is a much better sounding product with a more natural, balanced signature. It’s a budget, triple dynamic done right. Beyond looks, I cannot think of any reason to recommend the GK3 over the BOT1.
KZ ES4: The ES4 is a dual-driver hybrid coming in around 20 USD. It’s signature is slightly more v-shaped than the GK3, with most its extra energy residing in the treble. The BOT1’s treble has a tighter presentation, though it doesn’t extend as well. The BOT1’s mids are thicker and more natural sounding with more detail and texture. I always found the ES4 slightly veiled in the mids. Bass on the ES4 digs deeper, has more texture, and hits harder. The BOT1 has a slightly larger sound stage with depth being the standout.
In terms of build, the ES4’s plastic feel of similar quality. I prefer the ES4’s design since you can see the drivers and the crossover under the backplate. The ES4 also has removeable 2-pin cables, something the BOT1 is lacking. KZ’s cable looks nice, but as with the GK3 above is prone to tangling. Despite the ES4’s size, I found it to fit my ear slightly better.
Overall, I found the BOT1 to provide a more pleasing auditory experience. However, the ES4’s comfort, design, and features, like a removable cable, definitely make choosing between the two more of a challenge.
I find it difficult to get excited about budget releases nowadays. A few years back we had reason for it because hybrids were just starting to drop down into the hyper-budget realms. Carbon nano-tube, titanium, and bio-cellulose diaphragms were seeing more traction. Lots of neat buzz words and cool tech. Nowadays that’s not really the case. Nothing stands out.
The BOT1 bucks trends somewhat. It’s triple dynamic setup is not at all common, especially not for under 20 USD. 6mm dynamics also seem to be falling out of favor, and this has six of them. Such a balanced sound signature isn’t overly common either. All these little things come together to make the BOT1 an interesting and worthy product to me.
If you want to try something different, consider an audition with the BOT1. Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Other Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (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 Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)