In this review, we take a look at the $85 BLON BL-A8 (Prometheus). The BL-A8 is an IEM with unique styling and a single 10mm dynamic driver.
BLON is a Chinese IEM manufacturer that shook the budget audiophile world with its BL-03 earphones. Since then, they’ve released several other popular models, including the BL05s and BL-Mini.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Linsoul for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Unique, original design
Ergonomics and fit
Dominant, thick bass
Average resolution and clarity
Driver: 10mm lightweight diaphragm
Frequency range: 20-20KHz
Cable length: about 1.2 meters
Plug: 3.5mm straight plug
Packaging & Accessories
The BL-A8 comes in a white rectangular box. On the front of the box is a glossy colour image of an earpiece and on the back is the usual list of specifications. At a glance, this box looks and feels more premium than previous BLON models, reflecting its higher price. Here’s what’s inside the box:
BLON BL-A8 earphones
Detachable 0.78mm 2-pin cable with 3.5mm termination
4 pairs of silicone eartips
Canvas carrying pouch
If you’re reading this, you already know that the BLON BL-A8 has an unusual and unique design. BLON calls this 3D-printed housing an “irregular openwork shell” which seems like a pretty good description to me. The shells are aluminium and very lightweight but the construction feels extremely robust and durable.
Internally, the BL-A8 contains a single 10mm dynamic driver but apart from that, I don’t know any other information about the transducer. Going back to the shells, they have standard 2-pin sockets, meaning they’re compatible with any standard 0.78mm cables.
There’s a tube that runs from the connectors through the middle of the shells and ends in a spherical enclosure that contains the dynamic driver. The gold-coloured nozzles have a protective mesh cover and a good lip so your eartips are held on securely.
Comfort-wise, the BL-A8 fits my ears like a glove. If you look carefully at the shells, you’ll see they’re like a regular pseudo-custom shaped IEM but with holes on the outer surface. So it basically fits in your ears just like a regular earphone.
The passive noise isolation of the BL-A8 is about average which might surprise you when looking at it. I find it has a similar level of isolation as the BLON BL-Mini. So, this earphone is suitable for regular everyday use in normal environments, such as cafes, malls, the workplace and public transport etc.
The cable included with the BL-A8 is the best one we’ve seen from BLON thus far. It’s a two-wire silver-plated copper (SPC) cable with a smooth, transparent sheath. The colour-coded connector housings, chin slider, Y-split and straight 3.5mm plug are all matching polished aluminium.
It handles really well, has no microphonics and feels nice to the touch. Overall, this is a nice cable that’s comparable to other quality IEMs at this price point.
Earlier BLON models such as the BL-03 and BL-Mini found strength first and foremost in their tonality. The BLON BL-A8 has a warm, dynamic sound with moderate resolution and clarity. Where the A8 outperforms BLON’s budget models is in its soundstage size and detail retrieval. This is largely due to a more energetic and forward treble response coupled with a lean midrange.
Typically, the BLON house sound incorporates a healthy boost in the low frequencies and the BL-A8 continues that trend and takes it up a notch. It starts with elevated sub-bass, followed by a slightly leaner mid-bass. The result is a powerful well-extended bass that exudes power but at the same time is quite thick and can be dominant in relation to the mids and treble.
If you crave those deep, visceral sub-bass rumbles that almost make you lose control of your sphincter then the BL-A8 will oblige. Yet, the bass is a little underwhelming when it comes to definition. That’s not to say the BL-A8 doesn’t have impact though. Because if you listen to something like Katatonia’s “In The White” which has a low-frequency kick drum, you get palpable slam.
The midrange is slightly recessed, similar to the BL-Mini which gives the BL-A8 its V-shaped sound signature. Male vocals are a touch thin and sit a little further back in the mix. Female vocals are brighter, further forward in comparison and rise more clearly above the bass.
Electric guitars pop and come to the forefront. Those and other instruments (including vocals) sometimes have a somewhat bright edge to them which some listeners may find fatiguing. Resolution in the midrange is average and while it’s not terrible, it’s not particularly good either.
BL-A8’s treble is more forward and brighter than the BL-03 and BL-Mini. It’s defined by 3 peaks: one in the lower treble, one in the core treble and another in the upper treble. The result is an energetic treble that provides better detail retrieval than BLON’s previous models.
However, the A8 treble can be a touch edgy on occasion, mostly due to the 6kHz peak. At the same time, although the treble extension is fairly good, the upper-treble harmonics are stifled by the dominance of the bass.
The soundstage is bigger than with the 03 and Mini due to the extra treble resulting in more width and larger dimensions in general. However, the centre image is a little vague and the overall imaging is a bit ordinary. Instrument separation is decent but often dominated by the bass which can leave the sound compressed.
Whizzer HE01 (US$79)
The Whizzer HE01 is a single dynamic driver IEM with acrylic shells. Starting with the bass, the HE01 is slightly more weighted in the mid-bass area but still has a good sub-bass presence. It has better definition and is faster/cleaner than the A8 bass.
In the lower midrange, the HE01 has more body. The mids in general are more forward and have better vocal presence. HE01’s clarity and instrument separation are superior, despite it having a similarly warm tonality. The HE01’s treble has more air and room to breathe compared to the A8 which loses treble overtones under the oppressive bass.
Hidizs MS2 (US$79)
The Hidizs MS2 is a hybrid dual-driver IEM with one dynamic driver and one balanced armature. It has a more balanced sound compared to the A8’s bass dominant one. MS2 has significantly less bass presence but better definition and speed.
Although the MS2 has a neutral midrange, it’s quite forward relative to the bass. MS2 has better midrange resolution and instrument separation. The overall clarity is much better on the MS2, making the A8 sound quite veiled in comparison.
MS2’s treble is smoother but airier at the same time while delivering comparable detail retrieval. MS2 has a larger soundstage and superior imaging.
Moondrop Aria (US$79)
The Moondrop Aria is a single dynamic driver IEM. Compared to the A8, Aria has a lighter, more balanced tonality. It has less bass quantity with cleaner leading edges and superior speed. Aria has a similarly lean lower midrange but has more body in the core and upper midrange.
Vocals have increased presence on the Aria and it has better overall clarity. Although Aria has a laid back treble, the neutral midrange and light bass give it ample room to reach through. The treble is smoother on Aria but despite that, the soundstage is bigger and the imaging is more precise.
The BLON BL-A8 Prometheus is an IEM with a bold aesthetic and equally bold sound. I have to complement BLON on their innovative designs shown here and with the BL-Mini. But although the design is a resounding success, the sound falls short of the competition. It’s dominated by an average quality bass and the midrange is rather underwhelming. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these unique shell designs in the future matched with equally inspiring audio quality.