As probably many amongst my readers know or remember I never took part in the BL03 “circus” when its hype was flaming, something more than a year ago. Dunno really why. I was busy making love with final E-series drivers back then (indeed that affair still goes on), yet I might have found some spare time to at least test the BL03’s. Well it just didn’t happen for no specific reason, I guess.
However, such background situation made my curiosity even more vivid when an opportunity developed for me to audition a BL05s, a few weeks ago (my article here), and a BL01 now.
Also “pushed” by a couple of friends literally in love with the item, I spent quite some time with my BL01 sample in the past month or so, and I can easily say I’m impressed – both by the pros and the cons.
I’ll start with the two main negative aspects I found, as they might be serious deal breakers (indeed the first one sadly is for me) : fit and source requirements.
About fit: I couldn’t possibly find a way to fit BL01’s housings into my outer ear without resulting either in an unfirm grasp or in an uncomfortable one, or both. The housings are not shaped properly for me, and they are too “fat”. Add that their nozzles are infuriatingly short (sadly in good company there… Oxygen anyone?).
Long story short: if I “push the housings in” I do get a better seal a stability, but in less than 30 minutes I feel my outside cartilages aching; if I adopt longer eartips to compensate / avoid that, housings stay too much outside, don’t get properly “grasped” by my antitragus and antihelix, and normal head movements make them wobble, repeatedly loosing the seal.
I tried with all different tips I have (and I have quite a few), the sole ones that “reduce” the issue for me are Radius DeepMounts. The usual “YMMV” here is not enough: you really need better luck then me at compatibility with their shape.
About source requirements: from the electrical standpoint BL01 fall in the “supereasy drive” class – 16 Ohm, 102 dB a piece of cake for any phone or whatever. However, major differences apply based on the source’s amp quality.
A lower end amp (stage) will make BL01’s a) highmids glare out very soon, b) mid-bass transients longer & bloaty and c) lose most of its layering / separation capability. The ideal amp needs to have great treble and bass control, and a clean power delivery. Examples of counter-recommended amping sources: Fiio X3, BTR5; Hiby R3, R3Pro, R5; Meizu Hifi DAC Pro dongle; iFi ZEN CAN, Nano iDSD BL, and more. The 3 issues mentioned above go away when the amping source is a higher tier device e.g. Sony NW-A55, Apogee Groove, Questyle QP1R, iFi Micro iDSD BL, Monolith Liquid Spark, Lotoo Paw GT.
On the up side now, when ideally paired – and if you are lucky enough for your ears to physically accept them for you – BL01 are monumentally good all rounders. Presentation and technicalities are on Ikko OH10‘s direction, surely less perfected but hey, at 1/5th of the price! (and this by already factoring in the absolute need to swap BL01’s bundled cable and tips with third party ones, otherwise it’s more like 1/10th!).
I feel another very significant comparison is with their siblings BL05s. Very simply put, it’s kinda like BL05s is a BL01 “shifted towards the trebles”. Both drivers show great technicalities, and a well calibrated presentation, with a very pleasant overall timbre and tonality. BL05s fundamentally lack sub-bass, and deliver more attention on the high end; BL01 the other way around. BL05s do benefit like BL01 from higher quality amp pairing, but technicality delivery degradation when downscaling the amp is less dramatic on BL05s, these are more indulgent so to say. Finally, aesthetics apart (some do hate their color!), BL05s is indeed “almost easily” wearable for me, unlike their siblings, but… at twice the price.https://www.audioreviews.org/earphones/embed/
Disclaimer: I got this pair of WGZBLON BL01 as a review unit from my friends at KEEPHIFI (www.keephifi.com).
|Very nice timbre and tonality.||Fit is a hit or 100% miss|
|Well extended and controlled bass.||Presentation balance and technicalities severely deplete on low quality amp pairing.|
|Good untafiguing trebles.||Lean mids.|
|Spectacular imaging and separation.||Amendable treble details.|
|Superb all rounder “if” all boxes tick||Junk cable.|
Full Device Card
Sources: Apogee Groove / Questyle QP1R / Sony NW-A55 mrWalkman – Radius DeepMount eartips – Nicehck 16core High Purity Copper cable – lossless 16-24/44.1-192 FLAC tracks.
|Tonality||Well executed V-shape without excesses at either end. Bass more extended than treble. Timbre (on a competent source) is neutral/natural.|
|Sub-Bass||Nicely extended, not particularly pushed, but nicely dry. Generates a modest but very pleasant rumble|
|Mid Bass||When properly amped midbass is just very good: a good compromise on both body and speed, it’s fast enough to be acceptable on hardbop tracks, and buttery enough not to be too shy on rock and melodic pop. No veiling on mids, in spite of their recessed position.|
|Mids||Mids are in general recessed and on the lean side, but they ramp up quickly towards the trebles so highmids are actually quite prominent. Thats therefore one the two main critical spots where BL01 changes behaviour based on source quality: lowend sources make highmids glare out quite quickly, which screws the entire timbre and presentation; higher level DAPs / AMPs keep highmids controlled and turn midbass on much sooner delivering a correct presentation balance.|
|Male Vocals||Definitely recessed and lean, BL01 is not certainly a rec for male songwriters. That said, the section is clean nonetheless so there’s at least that.|
|Female Vocals||Better than male, but still not at the level of a specialistic driver at all. Especially depending on eartip selection some S and T may come close to sibilance on the other hand fit issues (see below) may give zero room for tip optimisation so I guess that’s a hit or miss here.|
|Highs||Trebles are not as extended as sub bass but are vivid, bodied and very controlled. No screeching nor zinging, oppositely a very nice compromise between presence and refinement, trebles offer a very enjoyable show while staying unfatiguing at all times.|
|Soundstage||Technicalities are the other area where a proper source make a huge difference with BL01. Soundstage shows way above average horizontal extension, and very surprising depth and height. Use a lower quality amp, though, and you find yourself in a small, flat room.|
|Imaging||Again, on higher end sources imaging is very good: precise, clean, and quite well projected in space, although a sharp tendence to flatten down to on the horizontal axis is in place.|
|Details||Bass details are very interesting, and totally above average on this price bracket. Treble detail delivery stays instead no more than modest even when paired with the best source, I reckon as a consequence of the choice they made in favour of “brushing the trebles polished” to make them unoffensive.|
|Instrument separation||On proper amping, instrument separation is without any doubt the most outstanding aspect of BL01 – it’s simply spectacular. And as mentioned above about other aspects, it depletes incredibly rapidly if driven by a lower end amp, down to “mess level” in the worst cases.|
|Driveability||Electrically very easy, technically very capricious. Overall sound quality is “cheap” when paired with low end sources, goes up significantly when paired with better sources.|
|Build||Housings are seemingly built like a tank|
|Fit||Extremely problematic for me. Housings are both non-hergonomically shaped and too big. And should this be not enough, nozzles are also short. Result: to get proper seal with just about “any” silicon eartip I’m required to force the housing into my concha, which obviously gets very uncomfortable very soon. Only by adopting Radius DeepMount eartips I could minimise this need, but another issue comes up in that case: keeping the housings that fraction of a mm too much outside they will not be sustained by my antitragus/antihelix, and gravity in conjunction with normal head movements will make them wobble enough to (again) lose the seal. To enjoy BL01 you either need “wide open” external ear structures, or dedicate them to auditioning only in a relaxed, still head position, or both.|
|Comfort||It’s ok by adopting Radius DeepMount (or similar) tips, and refraining from moving my head while auditioning. Horrible in just about any other configuration.|
|Isolation||Below average in my case, as the specific housing shape and size doesn’t properly fill my concha once fitted.|
|Cable||Terrible both from the haptics and from the electrical standpoint. Sadly, bundling junk cables seems like a consolidated negative tradition at BLON. Why??|
|Housing||Zync-alloy die-cast one-piece-body housings|
|Driver(s)||10mm bio-fibre-diaphragm dynamic driver|
|Cable||1.2mm 4cores 6N Oxygen Free Copper cable, with 3.5mm male angle single ended termination, with mic and remote|
|Package & accessories||Soft carry pouch, 1 set (S/M/L) silicon tips|
|MSRP at this post time||$ 43,98 ($19,99 “permanent” promo price)|