BLON BL-05: It’s Alright

**It has been made known the Blon has one of the nastiest contributors in the industry tuning one of their upcoming models. As a result, I can’t recommend this or any product of theirs moving forward, regardless of how amazing they are.**

Greetings!

Today we’re checking out the Blon BL-05, a follow up to the well-loved BL-03.

Blon has been around for a while now with a number of different earphones and headphones under their belt, though they didn’t become a household name in the Chinese hifi community until the hype train that was the BL-03. The BL-03 was renowned for it’s natural timbre, a rarity at such a low price, along with terrible fit out of the box that pretty much necessitated buying a new cable and tips immediately, according to fans, as well as some pretty amusing text written on the packaging. It was an affordable, character-filled product. Why wouldn’t Blon take advantage of this and quickly follow it up with a new model?

So how is the BL-05? It’s fine. Let’s check it out in greater detail, shall we?

What I Hear I had the chance to listen to the cult classic BL-03 a while back and while I thought it was okay and could see why it was liked, it wasn’t my jam. I found it’s signature pretty much bog standard for a product in that price range; warm with bloaty mid-bass, recessed mids, not a lot of detail, etc. Sell it as a sub-50 USD Skullcandy or Beats branded earphone and it wouldn’t feel out of place. Sooooo, when I heard about their follow up coming out, the BL-05, you could forgive me for passing it over without so much as a second glance. So why am I reviewing it now? Well, the reviews and comments from buyers seemed like it would be in my wheelhouse; sub-bass focus, somewhat lean mids, good detail. After using it quite a bit over the last few months, I’m glad I ended up reviewing it.

Starting with the low end, the BL-05 is mostly positive. This sounds like a very light, quick driver. While extension is good and a reasonably polite boost over neutral refreshing after the bloated mess that was the BL-03, it doesn’t move a lot of air or provide much in the way of visceral feedback on notes that should really be slamming. It reminds of a lot of the Whizzer A15 Pro in that regard, since like the BL-05 it is speedy, decently well-textured, and overall quite articulate, but lacking warm which takes away from the emotional presence of the presentation.

Leaning into the midrange the BL-03 bring to the table plenty of detail and clarity. This comes at the expense of weight and tonality unfortunately. While I usually like a thin midrange, which the BL-05 has, many don’t so the presentation here will likely miss the mark. While timbre and tonality is generally alright, everything sounds slightly bright and occasionally harsh thanks to an upper mid push, particularly on mid-boosted tracks like the recent singles from Aesop Rock’s recent projects. They should look towards the Moondrop SSR for how to tune a upper mid push.

The BL-05’s upper ranges are fairly linear in the presence region with a sharp upper treble spike rearing it’s head. It gives the presentation plenty of air along with decent shimmer and sparkle, but it comes at the expense of listening comfort and fatigue. As a low volume listener, this sort of tuning is fine since I can still enjoy all the finer details of a track without feeling like I’m missing out of risking damaging to my hearing. Higher volume listeners should probably avoid the BL-05, as should treble sensitive users.

The BL-05 has a pretty average sound stage. Sounds get tossed off pretty far from the head, but there doesn’t seem to be a ton of depth leading to somewhat mediocre layering qualities. Instrument separation is decent, but given the somewhat broad, flat sound on offer, toss something complicated the BL-05’s way, like the closing moment of King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black”, and congestion sets in. Imaging is also fine, but lacks the precision I expect from a product at this price range. Kinda meh here…

Overall I actually like the BL-05 a lot more than you’d think from reading the above comments. That said, the general brightness, somewhat weightless low end, and slightly off timbre make these somewhat tailored to a niche crowd and not the masses that loved the BL-03.

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

KZ ZS10 Pro (45.00 USD): The ZS10 Pro is clearly the bassier of the two with a stronger sub- and mid-bass presence. This gives it a warmer, darker, and in my opinion more natural and well-rounded presentation than the BL-05. The BL-05 is quicker and better controlled though, with the ZS10 Pro sounding looser and less precise. What KZ’s offering loses in speed and control, it makes up for in texture and punch. The midrange of the ZS10 Pro provides a better experience to my ears. Vocals are nowhere near as lean and yet, detail and clarity are nearly on par. They’re also more linear without the upper mid spike. Treble is also a more linear experience, particularly in the upper treble which isn’t as aggressive out of KZ. The BL-05’s upper ranges are a bit tighter and smoother, but give up a hint of detail to it’s armature equipped counterpart. Sound stage clearly goes to the KZ. While not quite as wide, it is deeper with a more well-rounded feel. Instrument separation is similar with vastly improved layering. Imaging is more precise too.

Overall I feel the ZS10 Pro is the more accomplished, well-rounded product. That said, the differences in bass quantity should have these appealing to different crowds. If you want a bumping low end, the ZS10 Pro will satisfy infinitely more than the BL-05.

TinHiFi T2 Plus (59.99 USD): The T2 Plus goes for a similar sort of neutral-bright type of sound as the BL-05, but one ups the Blon in nearly every way. Treble doesn’t have quite as good of extension, but it is much more balanced and less aggressive while matching or exceeding the BL-05 in detail and clarity. The midrange is a little bit thicker and warmer on the T2 Plus giving it a more natural sound, even if timbre is still a hint brighter than is ideal. The T2 Plus’ low end adds in the warmth and density lacking from the BL-05 and provides a punchier, more visceral experience with additional texture. The tin’s sound stage is also more impressive than the BL-05. Wider, deeper, better imaging, improved layering and separation.

What I’m getting at is the BL-05 is fairly average and the TinHiFi T2 Plus exceptional. Comparing one of the best in this price range with something decidedly average really brings out the BL-05’s weaknesses.

In The Ear The BL-05’s shells take clear visual inspiration from AKG with their N-Series of earphones, like the N30 and N5005. The two-part metal shells are well put together and should be plenty durable in the long run. Seams between the component parts could be tighter, but it’s nothing concerning. A touch I quite like is the gold coloured face plate insert containing the Blon name and channel indicators. It adds some flair to what is otherwise a pretty unassuming design.

Comfort and fit is a bit of a mixed bag. The low profile design sits nicely in the ear and I didn’t experience any comfort issues due to hot spots or sharp edges. The stubby nozzle was a problem though. The length forced either extra long tips, or wide tips a size up to get and maintain a good seal. While the nozzle is a fairly average 5mm in width, the lip is very thin so I found my standard tips barely hanging on. Tips designed for a smaller nozzle seemed to fit best.

The cable feels like a mix of KZ and TRN products. The thin black, braided sheath is pure TRN in terms of thickness and feel. It’s plenty flexible but had a habit of stiffening in cool weather, and tangles above the y-split quite easily thanks to the aggressively shaped preformed ear guides. The hardware (y-split and 90 degree angled jack) is old school KZ, matching what appeared on many of their products prior to the release of the ZST. That’s a good thing because both the jack and y-split (all of it) is very well relieved which should provide plenty of protection from bends and tugs. Overall a good cable, though the tangling gets annoying, quickly, so make sure you store them carefully to avoid having to deal with this.

The BL-05 does a reasonably average job isolating you from the outside world. It’s not up to snuff with the low profile shells from KZ, but matches what you get from something like the TinHiFi T2 Plus. Sounds are dulled but still audible with the stock silicone tips, with 3rd party foam tips being mandatory if you’re planning to use these on a bus or something equally noisy.

In The Box The BL-05 arrives in the same sort of elongated box I first saw from TFZ, with the earpieces set within a plastic insert and accessory box tucked below, all protected by a clear plastic lid. Printed on the lid are the statements that really set the Blon brand apart from the competition;

Belief

Letmusicburn

Oppoty

Nevergiveup

Annotation

Music and Driams

Nonsensical and hilarious, and surprising that it carried over from the BL-03’s packaging. That said, if they had it corrected Blon fans would have been devastated. Outside of that chuckle, you get with this purchasing experience the following items;

  • BL-05 earphones
  • 0.78mm 2-pin cable
  • Canvas carrying bag
  • Small bore single flange tips (s/m/l)
  • Wide bore single flange tips (s/l)
  • Manual

Overall a simple but entertaining unboxing experience. I wish they included a set of the wide bore tips in medium, because that’s a pretty standard thing to do, although the large ones fit me just fine and provided a fantastic seal.

Final Thoughts The BL-05 is a perfectly fine earphone. Not best in class, but not worst either. I think it is decidedly mid-pack, a thinking which seems to be in line with the general consensus of the community. No one really talks about it anymore, and Blon quickly released the updated BL-05S which has brought the tuning more in line with the BL-03. Their tuners have done a good job bringing the new model to the forefront while burying memory of the standard BL-05.

Given all that, I’m not really sure what to say. The BL-05 could be thought of as a rushed attempt to capitalize on the success of the BL-03 but ended up a missed opportunity thanks to a tune that didn’t appeal to fans of the previous model. Pretending as if the BL-03 never was, the BL-05 is a fine earphone in its own right, just not a leader in its class. Check it out if you like a somewhat bright, lean sounding earphone with good detail and clarity. If you prefer something less unique, stick with the Skullcandy equivalent BL-03.

Thanks for reading!

– B9

Disclaimer

A big thanks to Nappoler with HiFiGo for sending over a smaple of the BL-05 for the purposes of review, and my apologies for the delay in releasing this review. 2020 has been a bit of a crapshoot. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on time spent using the BL-05. At the time of writing the BL-05 was on sale for 40.00 USD, down from 59.99 USD. At this price, I’m a little more lenient of any flaws and can recommend it at a solid daily driver, pending you like a brighter sounding earphone: https://hifigo.com/products/blon-bl-05-bl05

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 108dB
  • Driver: 10mm carbon nanotube dynamic

Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO M3 Pro, FiiO BTR3K, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century

Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black

Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma

The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam

Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

Fleetwood Mac – Rumors

Tobacco – F****d Up Friends

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