If you read through headphone forums and Facebook groups, you will find the $39 BLON BL-03 IEM is a hot commodity. It’s a budget earphone that sells for a little less than $40, and people love the way it sounds!
I finally got my hands on a pair, and I must admit, just judging from the mediocre packaging, I was skeptical. They come in a plain white box, with haphazardly chosen type on the front and back.
The company name, BLON, is an acronym for “Belief, Letmusicburn, Oppoty, Nevergiveup,” which is placed prominently on the front of the package. It makes no sense to me, but thankfully their half-baked attempt at marketing doesn’t equate to a half-baked product.
I found the BLON IEM to have a robust design and above-average sound for the price, so please read on for my complete impressions. The BL-03 was sent out to me free of charge by Linsoul in exchange for an impartial review. That is what follows.
Product Name: BL-03 In-ear Earphone
Driver unit: 10mm Carbon Diaphragm Dynamic Drive
Earphone sensitivity: 102dB/mW
Frequency response range: 20-20KHz
Plug Type: 3.5mm Gold Plated L Type
Cable length: 1.2m±3cm
Earphone Interface: 0.78mm 2pin
Build and Features
Once I got past the plain packaging, I found the actual earphones to be quite impressive. The bulb-shaped earphone housings are made of Kirsite, which is a Zinc alloy, polished to a mirror finish. They are light, yet they feel solid in hand, and they are attractive.
They come in two colors, one being silver, and the other which I have, is called brown, even though it comes across as a pewter color to me.
At the top of each housing is a 2-pin QDC-type connector, similar to the connectors on the new KZ IEMs. I dig these connectors because of the sleeve that protects and guides the pins as you plug them in.
Since I’m talking about connectors, it goes without saying that this IEM has a detachable cable. You can get it with or without a mic/remote for cell phones. The version with the mic cable is $1 more than the one without, so $39.99 as opposed to $38.99. (at the time of writing)
The included four-strand cable comes in black and seems durable with a flexible outer jacket. It’s a little bit tangle-prone, but it does come with a velcro strap to wrap it up when not in use. Near the earphone side, there are pre-formed tube hooks to guide the wire over your ear.
However, they are bent a bit too much, and you have to uncurl them every time you put the earphones on. It’s a nuisance, but not the end of the world, and this earphone is not the only one with this issue.
In the box, you get four sets of silicone ear tips (plus another set installed on the earphones), the earpieces, the cable, and a canvas bag to store the IEMs in. Kudos to BLON for including a bag even though it isn’t fancy. But it’s better than nothing, which is usually what you get in this price range.
The BL-03 is comfortable for me, and the fit is right. Like any IEM, you have to find the right tips for a good seal in your ear. I was good with the standard medium tip in the box.
That said, I’ve heard people complain the included tips were all too shallow or too narrow to keep the earphones in their ear. If that is an issue for you, it’s not a massive deal since Comply, and Spin Fit both have aftermarket tips that will work.
I tried some Comply tips I had in the house, and they worked well. They also add some excellent isolation, which is something the stock tips do not do.
The BL-03 uses a single 10mm carbon-coated dynamic driver which gets away from the hybrid (Balanced Armature + Dynamic) configurations that are so popular these days. I like 10mm drivers because they are small enough to be fast and detailed, but big enough to produce a decent low end.
Listening to the BL-03
I’ve heard so much hype about the BL-03. Some have said the sound beats earphones three and four times its price. Is that the case? No, not to me, but the tuning on this IEM is so lively and musical, I can see why people sing its praises. I also think it compares favorably to IEMs that are twice it’s price.
For testing purposes, I hooked the BL-03 to my LG V40 with Quad-DAC, and to my iFi Nano iDSD LE DAC/Headphone Amp, playing various TIDAL HIFI and MQA files.
I would say the overall sound signature is a mild V-shape pushing the treble and bass slightly forward. The mids are still very present, however.
On Norah Jones’ “A Song With No Name, the treble was smooth with a lot of air and life. The guitar strings were full with a nice texture, and they sounded natural.
The mids were a little distant, meaning Norah took a step back in the mix, but there were no unnatural colorations, and her vocal was engaging.
Next, I put on “DNA.” by Kendrick Lemar to test the bass, and I was pleased with what I heard. The bass was a little bit bloated but more articulate than other earphones I have listened to at this price.
The bass goes low on this track, and while the BL-03 washed out a little on the lowest notes, it was still able to provide most of the bass and fill in the song nicely.
Probably the most impressive part of the BL-03 is the soundstage; they play so wide open that it almost sounds like you have a pair of open-back headphones on! The soundstage adds a richness to the music that brings them to life in a way that makes them unique.
Compared to the Tin Hifi T3, which retails for about double what the BL-03 does, the BLON IEM matched up very well. Just like a pair of speakers, which one you would prefer over the other is probably based on what you put the priority on as a listener.
The T3 is a little brighter, more clinical, and analytical than the BL-03. It has a depth to the sound and space between the instruments that the BLON IEM doesn’t have. It’s just more resolving of minute details in the music.
While the T3 doesn’t have the same quantity of bass as the BLON, the T3 bass is more articulate, and it plays deeper notes. The mids are more forward and detailed.
That being said, the BLON has a warmer, more open sound than the T3, it plays the songs more musically with more emotion. It’s more fun and probably better at allowing you to enjoy the music.
If you prefer a musical, warmer, more rhythmic sound, then the BL-03 will probably appeal to you. If you want a more resolving, more mid-centric sound, then you will probably like the T3.
The simple fact that I would take so much time comparing the BL-03 an earphone that costs twice the price, and say that it may be better for some people, is a testament to how good it is.
Now that I’ve had a chance to listen to the BLON BL-03, I can see why so many people are in love with these things. While there are more detailed, more resolving IEMs out there, I believe the BLON sets a new standard for musicality at this price point.
The sound is so clear, and so involving that I think for many people, they would have to spend at least three times the money to hear a marked improvement. The cable is decent, and they look good. While I have heard about some people having issues with the fit, I didn’t have that problem.
At this price point, I have no problem recommending them to anybody looking for an IEM under $100. I don’t think you can go wrong.