Hi there PAR fam. In this review, I’m checking out the BLON BL-03, an earphone with a carbon nanotube dynamic driver. This thing sounds seriously good for a budget earphone but you might need another cable to get the most performance out of it. Let’s do this.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Simple and robust build
Comfortable with the right cable
Balanced sound signature
Pleasing overall tonality
Stock cable may cause fit issues for some people
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Package and Accessories
The BL-03 comes in a tall, white box that has a transparent top, giving you a view of the IEMs inside which are seated in a plastic tray. There’s not much else in the box, except for 3 pairs of silicone eartips, the detachable cable and a fabric carrying pouch.
Build Quality and Design
There’s not a lot to say about the shells of the BLON BL-03, as the exterior design is very simplistic. The metal shells have a teardrop shape and a polished chrome-coloured surface. On the inner side of the shell, there’s a small vent near the base of the nozzle.
The nozzles are a standard length, have a solid lip for securely holding eartips and there’s a mesh cover preventing ear wax and detritus from getting inside the housings. On the top part of the shells is a sheathed connector which makes the stock cable more durable but at the same time limits the viability of using 3rd party cables.
I’m going to talk about the cable before I move on to comfort and that is because the stock cable can cause some serious fit issues, at least for my ears. The problem lies with the angled 2-pin connectors, which, depending on your ear shape can force the earphones into an unnatural angle and thus compromise the fit. I found that even when using my most reliable and secure eartips I simply could not get a reliable fit or sea. For that reason, I would strongly recommend you use a cable with straight 2-pin connectors or at the very least, be aware of this before you make a purchase.
As mentioned, the stock cable has hooded, angled 2-pin connectors followed by a pre-formed ear guide. It’s a black, twisted 4 strand that handles reasonably well and has little microphonics. There’s a hardened rubber Y-split, no chin slider and it terminates in a rubberized, L-shaped 3.5mm plug.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
When worn with the included cable, the BL-03 is awkward and frustrating. However, using another cable with straight 2-pin connectors it becomes very comfortable and the shells practically disappear in my ears. The smooth rounded surface of the shells can be worn for hours without creating hot spots or any discomfort.
Noise isolation (again with replacement cable) is quite good and is suitable for most everyday environments as the earpieces block out a good amount of external noise. There is no noticeable noise leak either, so you won’t disturb other nearby people with your music.
Gear used for testing includes the FiiO M5 and iBasso DX120 as portable sources. On the desktop, I fed FLAC files from Foobar2000 on my Windows PC to the FiiO K3 desktop DAC/AMP. The BL-03 is fairly easy to drive and can be used with a smartphone or low-powered DAP. However, it scales surprisingly well and really likes a bit of extra power to bring out its best.
Now we get to the fun part – the sound. The BLON BL-03 has a balanced presentation with a bass that’s slightly enhanced, clear mids with a bump in the upper midrange for extra presence and a treble that is detailed and lively but not harsh. All this is wrapped up in a fairly large stage with good overall tonality.
I really enjoy the BL-03 bass. It is a bit enhanced but is reasonably conservative. The sub-bass is emphasized slightly more than the mid-bass, just the way I like it. Still, it’s not really a skull-shaking bass but it always seems to find the right amount for whatever genre or single track you’re listening to. Listening to Suduaya’s “Catalan Wind“, the BL-03 rocks out the synth bass with authority but it stays nicely in line with the mids and treble without overpowering or stepping on them in the least.
The bass lays down a firm foundation for the rest of the audio spectrum, adding warmth to the overall tonality without any muddiness or bloat. It has a medium speed attack and fairly fast decay which gives it impact and weight with no signs of sluggishness.
Midrange notes are clean with a nice amount of body and sound natural. While there is some inherent warmth from the bass, the BL-03 never sounds congested or muddy. Male vocals have good density and richness without being too forward. Female vocals get some extra zing but aren’t shouty or grating.
Bill Withers’ vocals in “Use Me” are just a little forward, with a fairly neutral density. This makes them feel real and close enough without being too intimate or too distant. It puts the vocals in front of the listener and not as if they’re shouting in your ears when they want to belt something out.
The treble has good energy and provides detail and airiness. There’s a peak in the lower treble that adds clarity to the overall presentation but avoids any sibilance. After the lower treble peak, the high frequencies taper off steadily.
Treble notes are clear and well-defined and while the extension won’t win any awards nor does it pick up all the micro details, it has a nice timbre and doesn’t become agitating when you turn your music up loud. In short, it’s a nice way to round up a pleasing overall tonality.
The BLON BL-03 stage dimensions are about average for a budget earphone. Wider than it is deep, sounds are spread out with good space in between. The stage position is slightly forward. Because of its width, instrument separation is above average and there is sufficient depth to enable some solid imaging as well.
The Yinyoo V2 (review here) is a dual-diaphragm dynamic driver with a shallow V-shaped signature and a clean, detailed presentation. It has a more rolled off sub-bass with slightly faster bass in general. Its midrange is more recessed and vocals are pushed further back in comparison to the BL-03. BL-03’s midrange has more body and fullness.
The treble on both of these earphones is quite similar but the V2’s treble sounds more forward and brighter because of it’s less forward midrange. Tonality-wise, the BLON sounds more natural with a lifelike timbre, although the V2 does add great texture to electric guitars. BL-03’s soundstage feels more organised, as well as being wider and has better layering.
Both earphones have metal shells and are comfortable to wear. The V2 comes with a good carrying case and a better cable. In terms of sound, my personal preference goes to the BL-03 but the V2 is still a great IEM and is less problematic when it comes to fit.
If the included cable didn’t cause me such severe fit issues, I would definitely be adding the BLON BL-03 to my Best IEMs list. However, since I personally really need to use this earphone with a 3rd-party cable it makes me wary of recommending it outright.
Having said that, the BL-03 punches above its price point when it comes to audio quality (IMO). I think it’s one of the most enjoyable budget IEMs I’ve heard to date in terms of tonality. I’d say if you have a spare straight 2-pin cable laying around or are willing to shell out a few extra dollars for a cheap replacement, this is one heck of a good sounding earphone.
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