The king of budget earphones, launched a new budget-friendly model, the A8. Do these exotic earphones sound as good as they look?
The A8 are the top-of-the-line earphones for BLON. Yes, you heard it right, a pair of TOTL earphones priced under $100. And no. They do not feature a flamboyant driver setup like many other TOTL earphones. They have only a single dynamic driver.
These may seem kind of weird if you’re new to the head-fi game. However, once you’ve been here a while, you will encounter BLON at some point and things will start to make sense.
BLON, or WGZBLON, is one of the biggest players in the budget portable audio market. Their BL-03 have been extremely popular because of their insane performance at a very low price. In fact, although the BL03 were launched a bit more than 2 years ago, they are still regarded as one of the best options you can find for such a budget-oriented price.
- Drivers: 1 x 10mm new lightweight diaphragm dynamic driver
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Sensitivity: 115 dB/mW
- Frequency response: 20 – 20000 Hz
- Cables: High-purity silver-plated OFC Cable, 3.5mm
- Connectors: 0.78mm 2-pin
Packaging and Accessories
The BL-A8 come in a rather plain white paper box. On the box, you will find the full name of the company (WGZBLON), the model name, and a photo of the BL-A8.
On the back, you will find the technical specifications of the BL-A8 and whether it contains the mic version or no-mic version cable.
Once you open the box, you find the BL-A8 displayed in a piece of foam, with a smaller box located below.
You need to remove the foam to take the earphones out.
Inside the smaller box, there are a decent amount of accessories. 4 pairs of eartips are provided, as well as a soft carry bag. However, I do wish that a hard carry case was provided instead. Additionally, a pair of foam tips would be nice.
The cable provided with the A8 is the highlight of the accessories. It gives a premium feeling due to its shiny appearance and the chrome-colour scheme of the plugs. The cable has a coaxial design so it is very soft and supple.
Overall, the packaging and accessories provided by the A8 are acceptable at this price point. The number of eartips and the carry case could be better but given the great cable and the low price, there is not much to complain about.
Design and Comfort
The BL-A8 have a very unique design compared to most (if not all) earphones. The metal shells of the BL-A8 are full of holes, and I love their unusual construction! Most modern IEMs look similar to each other, but not the BL-A8.
It is virtually impossible to not recognise the A8 due to their unique looks.
Why do the BL-A8 look like this? Is it because of sonic performance? Of course, none of us outside of the BLON company are able to compare how the sound changes with a different shell design. Honestly, I don’t know of any obvious advantage of using such a design. But hey, at least it looks very cool!
When I first saw the earphones, I was a bit worried about noise isolation and the fit. To my surprise, the BL-A8 fit decently in my ears. They aren’t playing on the same level of semi-custom fit designed earphones such as the See Audio Yume, but they cause no hotspots or discomfort after hours of wearing.
As for noise isolation, I was concerned that the design of the BL-A8 meant that they would be open-back. They aren’t, and unexpectedly, they do provide a fair level of noise isolation. They can’t isolate on the same level as some balanced armature IEMs because of the vent required for the dynamic drivers to function properly. However, they don’t disappoint.
I paired the BLON BL-A8 with my iFi ZEN DAC, the Gustard H16, and my Luxury & Precision W1 to analyze the sound. This way we get to see how the BL-A8 perform with a portable rig and also a desktop setup.
The BL-A8 have a bassy, warm, and lush sound signature. This sort of sound is popular with quite a number of budget earphones, as people usually love it. Unfortunately, many of the budget options with such a tuning fail for two main reasons. They either have an overly bloated bass response, which makes for an unbalanced sound, or they are overly warm and lack resolution. The TinHiFi T5 that I reviewed previously suffer from both these problems.
Are the BL-A8 able to pull it off? Or will they end up like the rest of the failed pack? Let’s find out.
The BL-A8 have meaty, punchy bass. If you’re a bass head, you are in for a treat. Like I was saying, some budget earphones which have a bassy response often cover up the other frequencies and the result is a lack of resolution. The BL-A8 avoid this and they strike a good balance between being nasty enough to satisfy bassheads and not being overly bloated.
The sub-bass extension is great for the price. In fact, they are almost class-leading in performance. The sub-bass has a good presence and definitely plays an important role in building a solid foundation for the overall sonic performance of the BL-A8. The mid-bass also has good body, giving a sense of warmth to the lower end.
As expected from a pair of single dynamic driver earphones, the transition from upper bass to lower midrange is as coherent as it could possibly be. The upper bass is slightly recessed so that it won’t cover up the lower midrange. Instead, it provides support for the midrange, making it sound powerful and rich. There are a substantial number of details in the lower midrange, especially in male vocals.
When moving up the frequency spectrum, the BL A8 show a consistent output. The mid and upper midrange provide full, rich performance. As a result, the “s” regions in the upper midrange are very smooth and are not sibilant at all. It all remains relaxing and non-fatiguing.
Similar to the transition between bass and midrange, the coherence between the upper midrange and the lower treble is natural and organic sounding. The lower treble sounds good and non-aggressive. Unfortunately, the mid to upper treble does not sound as pleasant as the lower treble.
The mid treble is a bit pronounced, and while it does not sound shouty or brittle to me, it does not sound very natural and lacks resolution. Unfortunately, in the upper treble, things do not get better. The upper treble extension is only just about average for the BL-A8’s price range. Because of this, the upper treble is not agile and sparkle is sometimes missing.
Technicalities and sensitivities
With an impedance of 32Ω and the rather large dynamic driver of the BL-A8, some might expect them to be hard to drive or at least require a good bit of power to sound proper. Fortunately, with a sensitivity of 115 dB/mW, you do not need a powerful amp to drive them to an ear-blasting volume. On the other hand, if you do have a good source, the BL-A8 will scale beautifully.
The soundstage and imaging are again only average for this price range. The BL-A8 never sound congested or limited, which is good. However, there are many great performers at this price range (for example the Moondrop Aria and the Hidizs MS2) and the A8 struggle to stand out.
The market below $100 is extremely crowded. There are a lot of stellar performers, but there are also some misses here and there. In this part, I will compare the BL-A8 to two earphones, the Moondrop Aria and the TinHiFi T5.
The Moondrop Aria remain my benchmark for the price range below $100. They aren’t perfect, but they prove that you do not need to pay a fortune to get good sound. Also, they follow Moondrop’s house tuning which is very pleasant. The budget-priced Aria give a fine taste of what the higher-end Moondrop IEMs can do.
The T5, on the other hand, are rather disappointing. Coming from TinHiFi, one of the giants in the budget IEM market, people were expecting a lot from the T5. TinHiFi attempted to create basshead-oriented earphones, but unfortunately, the T5 are a perfect example of what can go wrong with such tuning.
BLON BL-A8 vs Moondrop Aria
The Moondrop Aria are fantastic, even if they aren’t perfect in terms of technicalities. However, their amazing tuning always brings me back to them. The Aria and the BL-A8 have several similarities. Both the Aria and the BL-A8 have a single dynamic driver, with a warmer than neutral sound signature.
Both have a healthy bass response with a good sense of warmth and punch. The BL-A8 show a slightly better sub-bass extension and a lot more sub-bass presence compared to the Aria. The Aria, on the other hand, have better mid-bass control and sound more refined. Overall, the two are quite similar in their bass performance, and it all comes down to your preference.
For midrange, the BL-A8 again go for a warmer sound signature than the Aria. The vocals are thicker and fuller sounding on the BL-A8. The Aria, however, have better clarity, with a better sense of airiness and space.
Both have a non-aggressive treble, with a similar amount of detail up top, yet they use different approaches to achieve this. The BL-A8 have a slightly more forward mid-treble, while the upper treble is more apparent on the Aria. As a result, the Aria again sound more open, with better sound staging ability.
The soundstage is what differentiates the two the most. The Aria have a larger soundstage in all three dimensions, and this makes them more versatile for a larger variety of genres. Some orchestral music can sound congested on the BLON.
BLON BL-A8 vs TinHiFi T5
There are quite a lot of similarities between these two monitors. From the specs, we know that both of them utilize a 10 mm dynamic driver. For sonic performance, both target a more basshead-suited tuning. However, there are also a considerable amount of differences. The most obvious one is their prices; the T5 cost almost 50% more than the BLON.
The T5 also have a different approach towards a bassy sound. While they both have similar sub-bass extension, the T5 have a more V-shaped sound, with a more pronounced mid-bass punch. The BL-A8, on the other hand, have a greater sub-bass presence, and also a more controlled mid-bass. As a result, the BL-A8 sound cleaner and more refined than the T5.
The BL-A8 exhibit better midrange technicalities. The T5 place the vocals a few steps behind and sound more distant and smaller than the BL-A8. The midrange (of the T5) lacks transparency, detail, clarity, and resolution. Compared to the T5, the BLON sound cleaner and more detailed, despite them being a bit more forward and thick.
The treble response is probably the aspect where the two are the most similar. Both have a non-aggressive treble response, with equal amounts of resolution and extension. The BL-A8 have a little bit more sparkle up top, which allow them to sound a bit more engaging than the T5.
Considering the extra 50% price you’re paying for the T5, the BL-A8 are certainly a much better deal. They offer far better technicalities with similar tuning.
Where to Buy
You can buy the BLON BL-A8 from:
The BLON brand name means a lot in the market of budget earphones. BLON represents respectable performance at an affordable price. Are the BL-A8 able to continue this legacy? In short, yes. The BL-A8 prove that a budget, bassy IEM does not have to sound bloomy or uncontrolled.
Are they perfect? No. The technicalities and the sound staging abilities of the BL-A8 are rather unspectacular, and only average for this price point. Nonetheless, if you are looking for basshead earphones with a fair bit of resolution and a good sense of warmth, the BL-A8 are a solid option.