(Last Updated On: May 18, 2020)

After releasing BL03, BLON spent a year in research and development to design the second generation carbon nanotubes (CNT) dynamic driver for the all-new BL05.

Thank you, Linsoul, for sending me the BLON BL05 in-ear monitors (IEMs). It was provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

Introduction

’Belief’, ‘Let Music Burn’, ‘Oppoty’, and ‘Never Give Up’ – the four terms printed on the packaging. Combining the first letter of each term you will get the name BLON.

I read through a lot of positive reviews regarding BLON BL03, the predecessor of BL05 on forums like Head-Fi. This manufacturer was previously a myth to me because there is no website or Facebook page that provides accurate information on the company background.

After receiving the BL05, I had limited understanding of this company. I knew the manufacturer for BLON is Dongguan DB Digital Technology, located in Guangdong Province of China. That’s it. The website gave me the old Error 404 – Not Found.

There is a brief introduction of the company in the user manual. The name of BLON is actually from the chinese name “BaoLong” which means “treasure dragon” in direct translation. The company is founded by a group of youngsters in China, hoping to shape a unique characteristic for Chi-Fi IEMs because they observed Chi-Fi IEMs currently following the path of western manufacturers closely.

According to Linsoul, BL05 is powered by the BLON second generation’s CNT dynamic driver which provides a faster diaphragm response with lower distortion. This is a promising upgrade for those who are in love with the BL03, based on the provided features and specifications. Was it a success? Let’s find out more in this article!

BLON BL05

BLON BL05

"The BLON BL05 has a premium shell quality and above-average fitting which makes it attractive in this price range. However, the sonic quality could be further optimized to compete with other models within its price range of USD$100. The competition is strong and I hope BLON can use BL05 as a lesson for them to progress further."

Pros:

  • »Premium build quality for shell
  • »Above average isolation

Cons:

  • »Narrow soundstage
  • »Overly shouty presentation
  • »Sub-par stock cable
  • »Boosted bass causing mids to shy
  • »Non-universal protruded 2-pin
 

Unboxing

The BL05 comes in a white box with a transparent cover. The pair of IEMs already present itself to the users without the need to open the box. As mentioned in the introduction, there are four terms printed on the transparent cover that make no sense to me.

The packaging of BL05
The packaging of BL05
The back of the packaging
The back of the packaging
“Belief, LetMusicBurn, Oppoty, NeverGiveUp. Annotation Music and Driams” – make no sense at all.
Two colours available for BL05
Two colours available for BL05
The IEMs can be seen even without removing the cover.
The IEMs can be seen even without removing the cover.

Besides the four terms, there is a tagline below – “Annotation Music and Driams”. I believe there is a typo – it should be “dreams”. Regardless, this tagline makes no sense to me either.

Removing the transparent front cover, the BL05 is positioned on the top of the box and there is an accessory box at the bottom. In the accessory box, you can find:

The accessory box
The accessory box
User manual for BL05
User manual for BL05
BL05 in the provided storage pouch
BL05 in the provided storage pouch

Technical Specification

Build

The BL05’s shell is made of metal. This gives it a premium physical appearance. I received it in gunmetal colour. The darker shell matched well with the gold faceplate. The shell is heavier as compared to those IEMs with resin or plastic shells.

A close look on the BL05
A close look on the BL05

BLON utilises 0.78mm 2-pin connector for BL05. The 2-pin connector is protected with a layer of plastic – which is similar to the protruded 2-pin connector that we found in Simgot or QDC. However, I tried to install my Simgot and QDC cable into the BL05; it doesn’t fit. This increases the difficulties in finding a suitable replacement cable or upgrade cable.

The connector of BL05 is similar to QDC or Simgot but slightly wider, making it difficult for cable rolling.
The connector of BL05 is similar to QDC or Simgot but slightly wider, making it difficult for cable rolling.

The nozzle is one piece with the shell – it’s made of metal, too. This increases the durability of the nozzle. There’s a lip on the nozzle to provide a better catch on the ear tips. The sound bore has a grill design which minimizes the chance of foregin material, such as ear wax, from collecting in the IEMs.

Nozzle with lip to catch the ear tips
Nozzle with lip to catch the ear tips
Grill design on the sound bore to minimize the chance of foreign material dropping into the IEMs
Grill design on the sound bore to minimize the chance of foreign material dropping into the IEMs

The stock cable is a four-wire twisted cable with 3.5mm unbalanced jack terminated. There is no additional information given on the material of the cable. I believe it to be the commonly found silver-plated-copper cable. I would call BL05’s stock cable sub-par. It looks like a typical stock cable of other Chi-Fi models, such as Knowledge Zenith (KZ).

The stock cable of BL05
The stock cable of BL05

Fit and Isolation

The fit for BL05 is above average. The small shell sits in my ear well, without creating any irritation or discomfort. For those who have a slightly higher budget, consider upgrading the ear tips. I’m using AZLA Sedna Earfit silicone ear tips. It definitely provides a better isolation as compared to the original ear tips.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Circuit Breaker implemented in Singapore, I didn’t have a chance to test the isolation in a noisier environment. However, I did test it with my room’s window opened. My room is right beside a busy main road and the traffic is moderate. With the upgraded ear tips, the passive noise cancellation is above average and I think it makes a good candidate for commuting.

Sound Analysis

To analyze the sound quality of BL05, I paired it with my reference digital audio player (DAP), Lotoo Paw 6000. Rated at 32 Ohms for impedance and 108db for sensitivity, BL05 is definitely not a power-hungry beast. It can be easily driven by my Paw 6000, at around half of the max volume on low gain.

Powered by a 10mm CNT dynamic driver, a good amount of output power can definitely toggle the performance of BL05.

BL05 with my Lotoo Paw 6000
BL05 with my Lotoo Paw 6000

Sound Signature

BL05 has a V-shaped sound signature. The mids are recessed compared to the lows and highs. This tuning can be considered as one of the most popular within this price range of USD$50. The overall presentation could be considered bright – the sparkles in the highs are more prominent. I shall elaborate more in the upcoming section.

A bright V-shaped sound signature makes the BL05 very engaging.

BL05 with the storage pouch
BL05 with the storage pouch

Soundstage

The soundstage of BL05 is below average. To me, the presentation is too forward. It makes all the notes to be close to the listeners. This actually caused me to have some difficulties in telling the positioning of vocals and instruments when listening to BL05. I would appreciate it more if the presentation can be slightly distanced from the listener – making the headroom wider.

Engaging sound signature and overly forward presentation can be fun to listen to – for a short moment. Lengthy listening with BL05 might cause fatigue.

BL05 with the storage pouch
BL05 with the storage pouch

Lows

Powered by BLON’s second generation’s 10mm CNT dynamic driver, the low frequency response of BL05 could be considered speedy compared with other dynamic driven IEMs. The attacks and decays are fast, but not to the extent of being too analytical – it’s not muddy.

The bass has a rich texture and full body. As mentioned in the sound signature section, BL05 has emphasis on the bass and treble. So expect the bass to be slightly forward in terms of positioning. The sub-bass extends well and deeply, creating good depth. It has very satisfying rumbles. Moving to the mid-bass, it has almost the same quantity as the sub-bass. The positioning of mid-bass is even more forward.

Listening to Die Another Day by Madonna, the sub-bass kicks strongly and firmly. This reminds me of my precious XBA-A1AP from Sony. However, the positioning of XBA-A1AP has been done much better. For bass heads with strict budgets, consider BLON BL05. The bass quantity can definitely fulfill your needs.

BL05 on my Van Nuys pouch
BL05 on my Van Nuys pouch

Mids

From the V-shaped of sound signature, we can expect recessed mids. The bass and treble are positioned more forward as compared to the mids. Let’s get the formula right here – recessed mids does equal bad quality mids. The mids of BL05 have a natural timbre. The slightly recessed positioning of mids actually helps to mitigate the shouty presentation a little; yes, only a little.

A helpful suggestion for BLON in subsequent releases – soundstage is important. The sound signature should be engaging, but not overly forward.

The Cello and Piano in Begin Again by The Piano Guys sounds natural and realistic. Without heavy bass instruments like drums and bass guitar, the mids shine better. For example, in Berlin by The Piano Guys, the kick drum has snatched the spotlight of cellos.

For vocals, female vocals are breathy and silky. Listening to Desperado by Eliza Lacerda and My Heart Will Go On by Liz Menezes in Best of Late Night Moods (S2S), both of them sound natural, realistic and sweet. I think BL05 can be a good candidate for soft Jazz. When the track is not as complicated, BL05 manages it decently.

BL05 on my Asus ROG laptop
BL05 on my Asus ROG laptop

Highs

Exhibiting the V-shaped sound signature, the highs of BL05 have more quantity compared to the mids. The quantity is as much as the lows. The highs are well-extended and sparkling. The timbre of the treble is natural and accurate. Treble is flowing smoothly to your ear and it’s well-handled – no distortion at higher frequency. This is definitely a selling point because a lot of Chi-Fi IEMs are facing distortion at highs.

The treble has sufficient air and space. This yields a high fidelity presentation. Listening to Hotel California by the Eagles, the percussion opening sounds engaging. In this part, the engaging characteristic of BL05 actually brings positive effects. The extended range acoustic guitar played in the opening is just like a live performance in front of you.

With this experience, I would call BL05 a pair of track or even genre dependent IEMs. It sounds excellent with certain tracks. I will definitely listen to Hotel California again with this pair.

BL05 on my MacBook Air
BL05 on my MacBook Air

Comparison

KB Ear Diamond (USD$90)

KB Ear Diamond is powered by a single 8.5mm diamond-like carbon (DLC) dynamic driver. It can be easily driven too, just like BL05. The sound signature of Diamond is a warm V-shape. Compared to BL05, BL05 has a better detail presentation. In terms of soundstage, Diamond is handling it better, by a huge margin.

It’s more comfortable to listen to Diamond. The presentation is distanced farther away and positioning is more accurate. Diamond has a similar amount of bass compared to BL05. However, the decays and attacks are slower for Diamond, making the presentation to be warmer. The highs of Diamond are more polite while BL05’s are soaring.

In terms of fitting – with correct ear tips, the isolation for both models are above average. Good passive noise cancellation is offered by both models. Diamond has a larger and heavier shell. This could be a deal breaker for those who have smaller ears. BL05 will be the winner here.

BL05 (left) vs KB Ear Diamond (right)
BL05 (left) vs KB Ear Diamond (right)
KB Ear Diamond vs BL05
KB Ear Diamond vs BL05

Avara Custom Neo (USD$40)

Avara Custom Neo has a more analytical sound signature compared to BL05. The detail presentation on Avara Custom Neo definitely tops BL05’s. Neo is handling the soundstage better than BL05 too. Both of them have good emphasis on the highs – sparkling and well-extended.

Neo will be a more suitable choice for those who need high accuracy in presentation. The bass is more speedy and precise. It’s lean and the texture is thinner. BL05 on the other hand, will be a good choice for bass heads who need something to satisfy their crave for heavy bass.

BL05 has a better fit in my ear compared to Neo. The insertion is deeper and hence provides better isolation. In terms of build, both of them have their unique selling point. The metal shell of the BL05 definitely makes it look durable and classy. Going back to Neo, the shell is customizable. So for those who are looking for customization, Neo will be the best choice.

Avara Custom Neo (Left) vs BL05 (right)
Avara Custom Neo (Left) vs BL05 (right)
Avara Custom Neo and BL05
Avara Custom Neo and BL05

NiceHCK NX7 Pro (USD$99)

NiceHCK NX7 Pro is an interesting IEM – using a triple hybrid driver configuration. It has a neutral yet engaging sound signature. The bass is leaner and more precise. NX7 Pro actually has the shadow of Avara Custom Neo – both of them having good detail presentation. The highs of NX7 Pro is comparable to BL05, but with better distancing.

NX7 Pro has an interchangeable filter design. This provides freedom for users to toggle the sound signature to suit their needs. This is definitely a selling point for NX7 Pro. BL05’s metal shell, on the other hand, once again competes with the plastic resin shell of NX7 Pro, just like previous comparison against Neo.

BL05 has a better fit as compared to NX7 Pro. NX7 Pro’s insertion is shallow and I prefer a deeper insertion which provides better isolation. The NX7 Pro is larger in terms of shell. This could be a deal breaker, as mentioned in comparison with KB Ear, for those who have smaller ears.

NX7 Pro (left) vs BL05 (right)
NX7 Pro (left) vs BL05 (right)
BL05 and NX7 Pro
BL05 and NX7 Pro

Verdict

The BLON BL05 has a premium shell quality and above-average fitting which makes it attractive in this price range. However, the sonic quality could be further optimized to compete with other models within its price range of USD$100. The competition is strong and I hope BLON can use BL05 as a lesson for them to progress further.

The narrow soundstage and overly forward presentation have made BL05 sounds too engaging, causing congestion in outputs and fatigue for listeners.

BLON’s BL05 is retailing at USD$42 for non-microphone version and USD$43 for microphone verison. You can purchase it from Linsoul. A one year warranty and free shipping will be provided.

After talking with audiophiles who have experience with the BL03, the BL05 is neither a replacement nor an upgrade. It’s a totally different IEM and BL03 is still the more well-received model.