These large, plush, closed-back headphones are super comfortable but fail to deliver.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Book publishers go to great lengths to make their books stand out on the shelves, with flashy covers and clickbait language, but what about the contents? Not to carry the analogy too far, but who hasn’t made a purchase based on looks over substance?
With that said, tastes vary, and there are plenty of happy customers for all kinds of products. And fortunately, there are review sites like Headphonesty to help you make an informed decision.
I first encountered BLON when I reviewed my first set of IEMs, the BL-03, back in 2021, and I remember being very impressed with what I heard. Value was unquestionably the name of the game. Today I’m reviewing their B50, a very handsome set of closed-back headphones that certainly look premium, especially at their budget-friendly asking price.
BLON have created a great name for itself with its IEMs, but what about full-sized headphones?
- Form: Over-ear, closed-back headphones
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity: 117dB
- Driver: 50mm (composite diaphragm)
- Built-in mic: No
- Weight: 431g (measured)
Packaging and Contents
My review sample arrived in a simple black carry case with a handle. Its size immediately sets the tone for the headphones inside. It’s a bulky case you probably wouldn’t want to travel with, measuring 26cm x 21cm x 10cm.
The included carry case provides plenty of space for these bulky headphones.
Inside the case are the headphones, a detachable braided 1.5m cable with a 90-degree, 3.5mm plug, and a simple manual/warranty booklet. The size of the case provides plenty of room without having to perform any origami magic tricks to get the headphones inside.
Design and Comfort
BLON has created a premium-looking and supremely comfortable set of headphones in the BL50. From the moment they come out of the case, they convey quality and style. These are not small headphones in any dimension. Built around 50mm dynamic drivers, they are necessarily chunky, though thankfully not too heavy.
Weight is well supported with a suspended leather-like strap that spreads the weight across the top of my head. This has always been the best design to me, eliminating all pressure points, and it surprises me more manufacturers don’t default to this way of supporting headphones on the head.
One advantage of the size is overall comfort, which is excellent. The earcups are roomy and provide plenty of space for my ears. They’re lined with a plush, soft leather-like material that contours easily around my glasses. They get a little warm but never uncomfortable.
Clamping force is also about perfect on my head. Sometimes you slip on a pair of headphones, and they just feel right, like a broken-in pair of shoes, and that is my experience with these headphones. I probably wouldn’t wear these while on the move, but I doubt they were designed with active use in mind, anyway.
The clamping force and weight are perfect for me.
The earcups and braided cable are a little microphonic, so you notice them rubbing against clothes. Fortunately, this is again less of an issue for home listening.
From every angle, the B50 headphones convey quality, with thoughtful touches like clear L and R lettering on the inside of the cups, brushed aluminum framework, and a tasteful mix of gold, silver, and black color. There’s even a measure marked on the headband to help ensure even spacing, left to right. It’s a small thing but a nice touch.
Top marks on design and comfort.
BLON B50 Sound
So far, so good, but what about the listening test? First things first, this is a sensitive set of headphones, easy for all kinds of devices to drive, including phones.
I tried them with my smartphone, via a wired adapter, my Macbook, and driven by a Sony Walkman DAP. All three had no problem driving the B50 up to high volume levels.
Sound isolation is good, as you might expect from a closed-back design, so these will work well in a shared space. Passive noise canceling will never match up to the latest active noise canceling tech, but this is seldom an issue at home.
For me, this is where the good news ends, and unfortunately, these headphones simply fail to deliver where it matters most – the sound.
It’s been a long time since I’ve found myself unable to listen to a piece of Hi-Fi for more than a few minutes at a time.
After the high expectations set by the great design, the B50 leave me very disappointed. The problem, I believe, is a lack of tuning to take account of the acoustics of this closed-back design.
Whilst this design works well for isolating the music to the listener, there are some inherent challenges that aren’t so easy to overcome. Sound will tend to bounce around if it has nowhere to escape, and the B50 suffer pretty badly with this.
The overall sound signature is flat, lifeless, and hollow.
Not a great start, it has to be said. Let’s break it down a little.
In the world of internal combustion engine cars, some say ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’. The same could be said for driver size. There’s usually something special to be gained from simply moving greater volumes of air. With 50mm drivers under the hood, the B50 should have an advantage at the low end.
Alas, not so with the B50. The bass extension is decent at best, and I miss any sense of excitement, warmth, or dynamics. The presentation is simply flat; unfortunately, that’s a theme that only continues as the frequencies rise.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this, but the presentation of the mids on the B50 is so poor, lifeless, and uncomfortably resonant that I frequently skip tracks just to try to find something, anything, that will work with these headphones.
Skipping tracks to find something that sounds good isn’t a good sign.
No matter what genre of music I throw at them, the mids bounce around inside the headphones, producing uncomfortable resonances that completely mask any detail. Voices, in particular, sound thin and hollow, and the same can be said for many instruments, from piano to electric guitar to synths.
The disappointment continues in the higher registers, which come across as flat and lifeless. I’ve not found a frequency response graph for the B50, but I suspect it falls off quite significantly at the top end. They are missing so much detail that I’m used to hearing on, well, almost any other set of headphones or IEMs.
The sound quality fails to match the premium design.
Where to Buy
When I first set eyes on the B50 headphones, and even more so when I slipped them onto my head, the bar was set high. Supremely comfortable and great looking, with some nice design touches, the B50 deserve to sound great.
Unfortunately, it seems there was not a lot left in the budget for the sound engineers to work with once the design team had done such great work. I’ve never experienced such incongruity in a Hi-Fi product before.
It gives me no pleasure to say this, but if I have to search for any music that sounds good rather than excitedly rediscovering my musical favorites, something is horribly wrong. The product has failed the most fundamental test. Comfort aside, even at the affordable price, I simply cannot recommend the BL50.