The $59 BLON BL05 IEM is a follow-up/upgrade to the $39 BLON BL03, a budget earphone we thoroughly enjoyed in our recent review. The 03 was a smash hit amongst value-conscious audiophiles, with its rich chrome finish and crisp, warm, sound.
Now we have the BL05, which aims to add more refinement by using a new housing design and tweaks to the CNT (carbon nanotube) driver. Does it work? Well…yes and no. Read on to find out why!
Disclaimer: Hifigo.com provided the BLON BL05 in exchange for an honest review, and that is what follows. The sample is not required to be returned. Thanks to Hifigo for the opportunity.
Like the BL03, build quality is excellent, with a design based around gunmetal stainless steel housings. The black braided headphone cable looks to be precisely the same as the one that comes with the 03, as does the cone-shaped silicone ear tips.
The cable is pretty much standard issue for an earphone in this price range. It’s not too thin, but it’s not that thick either. The main problem is that it’s tangle-prone. I spent a lot of time untangling cable before actually listening to the earphones.
The BL05’s housing is shaped more like a traditional IEM than the BL03, which had a distinctive teardrop shape. The 05 has more of a standard elongated body, with gold accents that give it more of a premium look and feel than the original model.
The new design has received mixed reviews, which some thinking it’s ugly, but I feel it’s pretty slick. My only issue with it is the fit. To be honest, I have similar problems with a lot of earphones. Many don’t fit deep enough into my ear canal, so they’re either thin sounding, or they pop out at random times.
I initially had both issues with the BL05. The nozzle on the 05 just wasn’t deep enough to keep them in my ear. I tried several of the stock tips and no dice. I had to press them into my ear to get any semblance of bass.
So, as usual, I went to my old standby when I have fit problems, a pair of Comply foams. With the Comply foam tips, it was a whole other ballgame. The fit was improved, and the sound was fleshed out. That was my personal experience, YMMV.
Another selling point for BLON’s next-generation earphone is their new 2nd generation 10mm Carbon Nanotube diaphragm. Carbon Nanotube is hard, lightweight, and electrically conductive.
This allows the use of thermodynamics to produce soundwaves at a faster rate with lower distortion than even a Balanced Armature driver can muster.
Listening To The BLON BL05
So what does a Carbon Nanotube driver sound like? Well, pretty darn good. According to BLON, the BL05’s earphone housing is shaped to provide a spacious sound similar to a concert hall, and if you listen to a well-recorded piece of music like the song “If It’s Magic” from the new Jazz supergroup ARTEMIS, you can hear it.
Listening on my LG V60 phone, I was able to hear the rich and delicate tone of Cecile McLorin Salvan’s voice, along with the natural timbre of the horn and piano on either side. If I had to sum up the BL05’s sound with one word, it would be “natural.”
No part of the sound spectrum seemed artificially boosted, the music just seemed to flow, especially when listening to vocals. The mids in these earbuds are just miraculous, super sweet, and detailed. Highs are also handled well, rendered without a hint of sibilance, something way too common in earphones under $50.
Many manufacturers boost the highs way up to give you detail, but then the sound fatigues your ears after a while. Even the BL03 was guilty of this to some extent. I had no such issue with the BL05. The highs on these earphones are quite refined for the price.
If there is a weakness in the BL05’s sound, it’s the low end. It’s a little tubby, with articulation that’s somewhat lacking, but not overly so. It’s still fast enough and full enough to provide excitement on more bass-heavy tracks. However, like the highs, they are not overly boosted to give a “fun” sound.
At the end of the day, the 05 provides more of a flat audiophile tuning than the 03, which has a warmer, brighter sound. The 03’s sound will probably make those who listen to electronic music happier than the more balanced sound of the 05. But I like BL05’s more refined and open sound, especially in the midrange.
My only issue was with the fit. If you have had problems with earphones not going deep enough in your ear, then keep in mind you may need some aftermarket tips to make these work.
That being said, the BLON BL05 provides a remarkable level of sound quality at their price point, so you may find the small additional expense is worth it, especially if you listen to a lot of Jazz and Acoustic music like I do. If you have the BL03, I think the BL05 is a worthy upgrade.