It’s time to bring in the new year with a fresh set of headphones from a not so well known manufacturer. BLON has produced more than a few sets of affordable IEMs and a couple of modestly priced headphones. The BL-30 is their, in-between model for their over-ear products. It’s priced at $109, sitting between the $450 B20, and the $69.99 B8. It is an open-back headphone with a large 70mm driver. I have not listened to these models myself, so I’m excited to yet again dabble into a brand I’m unfamiliar with.
What You Get
With the unit I received, I did not receive many materials in the box. In fact, the packaging itself seemed to be scarce with accessories, only including a portable carrying case containing the BL-30 itself with the detachable 3.5mm cable. Sometimes headphones like these don’t need to include a whole lot of extra goodies, but the most confusing aspect here is the lack of a user manual or 6.3mm adapter.
Look and Feel
On the outside, the BL-30 appears to be an amalgamation of different designs from brands more familiar to me. For instance, the jutting poles attached to the earcups that adjust the headband reminded me of Grado’s designs, except here the actual apparatus is much bigger, and clicks into place. Then there’s the headband itself, which harkened to the main scheme of the Beyerdynamic DT 770, with its removable buttoned headband padding. However, a major gripe I have with this arrangement on the BL-30 is that the padding doesn’t make up the whole headband leaving some exposed metal. It makes the architecture appear out of place like the headphone is being Frankensteined together using parts that don’t really fit the headphone. I do like the ear cup design though. The black, metal mesh shell and steel grill take up the entire surface area, making for a solid aesthetic that makes the headphones develop a more sophisticated construction.
Now comes my biggest criticism of the BL-30. The fit is poor and reveals the weak overall build that these headphones present. When I first put them on, the ear cups barely stayed on my ears, and they just floated above the space underneath my earlobe. They never came close to being secure even after I tightened the yoke. The BL-30 felt very flimsy in this regard, as the cups always seemed to swivel around, never committing to a proper position. This bothered me throughout my entire listening session.
The housing of the BL-30 holds a beefy 70mm driver, which is quite a big system for a headphone of this price. The aim of this dynamic driver arrangement is to present a big image with a balanced timbre across the frequency spectrum. You don’t see many 70mm drivers in this price range, especially not one with an open-back principle, so It’s nice that the BL-30 sticks out from the pack.
This is a high impedance model, 150 Ohms to be exact. You’ll definitely need a good amplifier that’ll deliver the proper signal. I ended up using the trusty iFi ZEN DAC to power the BL-30 and achieved good results. It made sure gain was distributed evenly, which I felt would do a better service to the balance of the driver. What I got was a comfortable volume that left me plenty of headroom.
The benefits of an open-back principle are properly taken advantage of with the BL-30. The space presented here feels limitless, as some sounds emanate from complex positions in the sound field. From left to right, the soundstage expands past the linear spectrum and almost exaggerates the space through well-structured layering, It’s sometimes hard to place the exact source of one sound, which I believe adds to the immersion of some tracks, and also films and some games. The best effects you’ll hear from this stage is the feeling of air between each section or layer. With some headphones, this comes off more naturally, but with the BL-30 it’s more of a just noticeable detail that gets mixed into a much greater image. It might not have the most accurate response, but it’s definitely still immersive and easy to get lost in.
This is a big rumbling bass response that is always persistent in its detail and resonance. At its best, the bass dives deep and plays with the sub-bass for that extra accentuation, all while providing clear, buttery smooth textures that will add that extra depth the sound signature needs. The tracks “Top Boy” and “Late Evening in Jersey” by Brian Eno feature this great synth bass that provides the right amount of rumble and clarity that makes the timbre extra crisp.
Despite a few notches in the upper-mids, the midrange showcases some fine details. Most of the fidelity is clear but becomes swallowed a bit by the heavy bass resonance. However, even though the mids don’t showcase a ton of color, they still persist throughout the sound signature, even if they operate in a more limited space.
There are some upper treble details that I found pleasant, but the best parts about the highs are the airy textures that permeate the top end. Some details can be crisp, such as twinkly strums on electric and acoustic guitars. However, these details aren’t exaggerated and require more attention. For extremely dynamic music, the highs play very well, but they don’t deliver when you need the proper energy.
The verdict here is complicated because as much as there are great qualities in the sound signature, the poor build just doesn’t exactly make it worthwhile for me. Everything else is there, and the price matches it, but if I can’t wear them comfortably, then how much value do they really have? Even as I am typing this, I am still feeling the fatigue on my ears. With some major improvements to the build, this can even be a great headphone, however, it’s squandered by an insufficient build.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Deep bass, airy highs, immersive stage, price
Cons: Poor build quality, no quarter-inch adapter
The BLON BL-30 is available from Linsoul.
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