The Z300 aim to succeed the classic BLON BL-03, but that’s easier said than done.
Lately, it seems BLON is going through a stasis.
Since its breakout hit, the BL-03, the only release of note has been the BL-05S. However, they did not make much of a ripple in the market, as the somewhat polarizing color scheme and fit make them less-than-ideal in an oversaturated market.
The rest have fallen by the wayside, soon forgotten or rendered irrelevant by the competition. So, for the Z300, BLON goes in a different direction. These IEMs result from a collaboration with the well-known audio reviewer Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews, also known as HBB.
Reviewer collabs have certain perks – said reviewers tend to advertise and hype their product as potentially great. As a result, their sizable audience preorder a considerable number of units. And, of course – the graphs usually look pretty (though the definition of a “pretty graph” does not really exist).
So, the BLON X HBB Z300 are set up to succeed. Grab yours, etcetera, etcetera. Review over, right?
Not really. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get going.
- Form: IEM
- Drivers: 1 x 10mm Silicone diaphragm dynamic driver
- Impedance (Ohm): 28 ohms
- Sensitivity (dB): 115 dB/mW
- Removable Cable: Y
- Source Jack: 3.5mm/4.4mm
- Cup/Shell Jack: 0.78mm
The Z300 packaging is barebones. Apart from the dragon artwork and a parody of the cult-favorite “Oppoty and Driams” slogan, it’s just another budget IEM packaging. Not that there is much wrong with it.
In the box
- BLON Z300 IEMs
- 6 pairs of silicone tips
- Carrying pouch
- 4-core SPC cable with 2-pin connectors and 3.5mm or 4.4mm plug
The stock cable is excellent and probably one of the best for under USD$50.
I wish BLON sold the cable separately (with a balanced termination and different connectors), as I would surely buy a few to use with other IEMs.
BLON IEMs usually have terrible stock tips. The Z300 break that trend, which is one of the direct influences of HBB. Kudos to the collab team for finally getting the stock accessories right!
The black BLON X HBB Z300 have an understated design.
Only if you purchase the matte black version. The gold-plated version is bling overload. If you love shiny things, get the gold one. If you’d rather not have strangers give you the side-eye, matte black is your friend.
The general build is similar between both variants. Solid Zinc-alloy shells with dragon artwork printed on top of the faceplate. I believe this artwork (and likely the paint on the black version) will wear out over time, so try to handle them carefully.
A vent is near the nozzle, and another one perpendicular to the 2-pin connectors. This specific type of vent arrangement is increasingly common in budget single-DD IEMs nowadays.
The raised 2-pin ports are not my favorite design and require specific connectors. Additionally, there are more robust designs out there.
Overall, the build quality is good, and I cannot ask for more at this price.
Comfort and isolation
Isolation is good and gets better with foam tips. Comfort is excellent as well, and hours of listening should cause no issues.
The BLON X HBB Z300 utilize a 10mm silicone diaphragm driver. BLON does not go into the details of the driver magnet assembly or the driver cavity.
BLON X HBB Z300 Sound
The BLON X HBB Z300 have a bassy “U-shaped” tuning.
One thing to note is the good treble extension, at least on the graph. The reality is more complicated.
As an aside, I like the channel-matching here. Job well done, BLON!
The bass sounds sluggish and somewhat fuzzy. Fast basslines tend to bleed with the lower-mids, resulting in a tad mushy low-end. The sense of speed and slam is also hurt as a result. Sub-bass has decent rumble, but some peers beat the BLON Z300 in this regard.
The texture is good, on the other hand, at least in “simpler” tracks with not too many instruments. In busy tracks, the bleed, as mentioned earlier, makes it hard to distinguish things.
The mids are safely tuned with no shoutiness or shrillness. Lower-mids have added weight, leading to dense snare hits and baritone vocals sounding even “fuller.” The upper-mids lack an abrupt rise, so no risk of shoutiness here.
If you want the absolute safest midrange tuning, the Z300 have got you covered.
Such safety comes at the expense of excitement. Guitar riffs lack their usual intensity. I am somewhat perplexed by HBB’s tuning choice here since a large portion of his playlist consists of Rock tracks with copious amounts of sharp guitar riffs.
For example, Soundgarden’s Spoonman has an intense guitar riff from 2:14 until 2:33. This section lacks its usual energy on the Z300.
The treble response seems great from the graph, apart from an exaggeration in the mid-treble, which will shift depending on the insertion depth of the IEMs. As the Z300 are not meant to be deep-fitting, this peak will hover between 7.5kHz – 8.5kHz.
The Soundgarden track also showcases the treble peakiness on the Z300. While you can hear the decaying resonance of the hi-hats and cymbals, those do not sound very natural in terms of timbre.
However, I am nitpicking since most budget IEMs tend to go for an even darker treble. Overall, I think this treble tuning complements the otherwise bassy signature well.
Soundstage and imaging
Staging has average width and height, but the depth is lacking, something that’s very evident in Godsmack’s Straight Out of Line. The snare hits from 3:21 to 3:25 sound flat and very much “in your head.”
Imaging is merely average as well, with good left-right separation but lacking the sense of ordinal orientation.
Dynamics and speed
Macrodynamic punch is decent, but microdynamics (subtle shifts in the volume) could be more evident. Speed is on the slower side, primarily due to the tuning choices, I assume.
Vs Tripowin Piccolo
The Tripowin Piccolo is priced similarly to the Z300, and I received both of them together, so a short comparison is in order.
In terms of general design, build, and accessories – I think both of the IEMs do well. You don’t need to look around for replacements with either. Comfort is good on both, while the Z300 isolate slightly better.
The Piccolo has a more neutral presentation, with less bass bleed and slightly less mid-treble presence.
The graphs do not tell the whole story, however, as the Piccolo have noticeably better treble timbre to my ears. The sense of stage depth and overall dynamics are also better on the Piccolo. Imaging is also slightly superior on the Tripowin IEMs.
Overall, the Tripowin Piccolo are better tuned to my ears and sound more resolving.
Where to Buy
I am not very impressed by the BLON X HBB Z300. While the shell design and accessories have seen a major upgrade over the OG BL-03, the tuning is not as big of a paradigm shift as it was back then.
If you are a fan of BGGAR/HBB’s tuning or “target,” then the Z300 should be right up your alley. However, I am not beholden to a specific target, and the Z300 sound muddy and lacking in dynamics to my ears.
To make matters worse for the Z300, numerous options exist in their price bracket, and some perform better in terms of technicalities and tonality. BLON’s own BL-05S sound better overall and have superior resolution and imaging.
So the Z300 are an also-ran, and the search for the mythical BLON BL-03 successor continues.