Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Pros: Improved Build Quality and Aesthetics, Good Instrument Separation, Pretty good Imaging and Soundstage, Bass response fun without being overpowering
Cons: Can sound a little unnatural in the upper mids, thin vocals (especially female), Fit can be iffy and tip dependant
Driver Setup: 1 Driver Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Dynamic Driver
Price: $42 (USD)
Disclaimer: I purchased the BLON BL-05 from Aliexpress and this review is written of my own accord.
This is a review of the BLON BL-05, the successor of the much famed BLON BL-03s. The BL-03s now have their own cult following due to their stellar performance at a very low price point. Here we shall find out if the BL-05s hold their own ground as a successor and if BLON can move beyond simply being a one-hit-wonder.
Packaging and Accessories (Score: 4/10)
Tempted to give these extra points just for the OPPOTY of things to #LETMUSICBURN. At this point I’m sure BLON very well knows how iconic this packaging is and kept it. Then again, it has the same old ratchet accessories that really nobody wanted to see again. The same tacky cable, the same ratchet drawstring pouch, and the same unusable silicone tips.
Build Quality and Fit (Score: 7.5/10)
It has the same 2-pin connector and replacing of the stock cable is not a must but doing so would improve comfort and aesthetics. BLON does sell replacement cables and I happen to have a sample of the upgrade cable you can order as a bundle.
Build quality and aesthetics of the earbuds themselves have really improved on the BL-05s. They now sport a 2-tone colour scheme. Mine is the gun-metal variant and the gold accents give off a more luxurious vibe befitting the increased price tag.
Fit is more universal than the BL-03s and should fit more ears this time which is a huge plus. For me, I still found myself struggling a little with the fit as I felt the nozzle was a little too short for my liking. Finding the right tips would help a lot in achieving a good seal. BLON should really stop shipping these tips with their releases.
Sound (Score: 7.0/10)
- Fiio μBTR
- Shanling M3s
Albums and Tracks tested
- This Girl by Kungs vs. Cookin’ on 3 Burners
- Hold the Line (Avicii feat, A R I Z O N A)
- Slow Dance by AJ Mitchell and Ava Max
- Footsteps in the Night – Deluxe Mix by Lost Frequencies
- Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (2011 Remaster)
- Grease Soundtrack
- The Essentials by The Spinners (2003 Remaster)
- The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack 2007 Remaster
- Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra – Suisogaku Sansen Sinfonia Nobilissima
Bass (Score: 8/10)
Right off the bat, the bass is the standout area of the BLON BL-05. The bass has good extension and punch. The timbre of the bass is also relatively good and enjoyable. I found it quite enjoyable. I really enjoyed listening to pop songs and EDM when paired with the Fiio μBTR. It makes for a convenient budget pairing that I take with me on my train commutes. The bass is also not overpowering or overwhelming. It’s been toned down a little from the BL-03 and that was nice as the bleed into the lower mids is now reduced. It’s not as punchy and emphasized as the BL-03s, but still emphasized. Listening to “Cupid/I’ve Loved You for a Long Time” by The Spinners, I really enjoyed the punchy bass line and the quantity wasn’t too overwhelming. I was also pleasantly surprised at the pretty decent definition in the bass region, something worthy of praise at this price point.
Mids (Score: 6.5/10)
The performance of the mids are very average and in these increasingly competitive times, average isn’t going to cut it. The overall sound signature of the BL-05 is a very common V shape and the mids are recessed. Male vocals do not have enough body as I would’ve liked, and this worsens going up to the female vocals. Vocals, especially female, sometimes sound a little congested and thin. However, they are not too forward or in your face thankfully, but tonality is not as enjoyable. The hit in tonality is likely due to the excessive boost in the 2-4k region.
Treble (Score: 7.5/10)
Treble extends well for something so budget. I like the airiness and the sense of space in the treble, surely contributing to a more “premium” feeling when listening to the BL-05. Things like crash cymbals and bells do sound pretty lively on the BL-05, but never too harsh. Micro details are slightly above average for a sub-$100 earphone and while there is a slightly greater emphasis in the treble, I didn’t find any sibilance through various genres.
Overall Sound Impressions and Comparison to BL-03 (Review Here)
This comparison is inevitable and as a successor, it is of course expected of the BL-05 to be better than the BL-03. Although I found the BL-05 a decent enough performer, it didn’t exactly impress either, nothing it has really warrants the increase in price.
I’ll begin with what the BL-05 has over the BL-03. The BL-05 has a slightly more universal shape and hence fit. I didn’t find the fit on the BL-05 very significantly better than the BL-03, but your mileage may vary. The BL-05 has a better soundstage and sounds more expansive than the BL-03. There is less bass bleed into the mids on the BL-05. The separation seems to be better on the BL-05 and overall, the BL-05 is tuned to be brighter than the BL-03.
The BL-03 does have a fair share of things it does better than the BL-05. To me the biggest thing which makes me prefer the BL-03 is that I find the overall tonality on the BL-03 is much more pleasing. The vocals have much more body on the BL-03.
Imaging is great for the price you are paying on both sets. Do not expect great detail from these earphones (and quite honestly, you probably wouldn’t be expecting it either in the $50 range)
The pitfall of the BL-05 is how it’s sunk into normalcy. It struggles to differentiate itself from its sea of competitors. It has lost its unique “X-Factor” by going for a typical V-shape tuning. This is not to say the BL-05 is bad objectively, but simply put, not good enough. BLON has set the bar too high for themselves with the BL-03. I respect how they attempted a change in tuning to appeal to the people who weren’t a fan of the very bassy and dark tuning of the BL03s. However, the timbre which was the best trait of the BL-03 was lost in the process.
I kind of expected something along these lines for the BL-05s although I would be lying if I said I had no expectations for another miracle.
The BL-05 sells for significantly more and I think that contributes to its pitfall. I don’t think that for its performance, it should cost any more than the BL-03. I do understand that the BL-05 looks much more premium and well-made than the BL-03, but one would only expect significant improvement (in sound also) when paying significantly more for an earpiece.
In short, the BL-05 is quite a great earphone for its price, presenting decent value, and I enjoyed my time with it. It is well built and can take some abuse as daily beaters. It is a very fun listen, but so was the BL-03, which potentially promises more for less, and that’s the main stumbling block for the BL-05.
Overall Grade: B-
Click HERE for our grading list for earphones