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SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
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The BLON B20's arrived a few minutes ago. They came precisely on the day Drop said they'd be delivered. I thought a week or so ago when they landed in Kentucky that I'd get them sooner, but nope.

Anyway, I connected the balanced cable to them foregoing the single-ended one it comes with. I switched the Jotunheim from high gain to low gain and turned the knob down before starting the music. These are easy to drive 32-ohm headphones and previously I was using the harder to drive Sennheiser's and Beyerdynamics which benefited from high gain. If I wanted to, I can push the Jotunheim to ram a full 5 watts per channel into my ears and make them bleed, but I don't want to go that far!

I'm going to being listening to them for several days before I post my review and thoughts about them.

Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what I chose to play on these first?

View attachment 878264
Alrighty then, here are my thoughts and experience with the BLON B20 open-back planar magnetic headphones. I’ll start with the conclusion and get that out of the way now: they’re great, love them.

Looking at the physical quality of the build, they’re done very well. They even shipped with the larger and better pads than what MassDrop showed. The larger or rather thicker pads allow for slightly better soundstage and stereo imaging than the less thick pads. Plus they’re also more comfortable to wear.

They’re heavier, significantly heavier than my Sennheiser HD650’s and Beyerdynamic DT880’s. But they’re using more metal and have wood caps where the others are all plastic. But the added weight isn’t noticeable after a minute of wearing them because the over-the-ear pads are comfortable as is the headband. Though, even with these I need to adjust the position of the headband as I do with all headphones I wear. That’s because I don’t have very much hair left on top of my head to provide that much more cushion.

I like how the cables are detachable so I can use my own cables if I want. I’ve been switching between the included single-ended cables and my custom balanced XLR cables to test out different amps and balanced versus single-ended performance.

You can also twist the cans horizontally to lay them flat down on the pads if you want. A nice feature some people enjoy. It’s not one I regularly use since I have stands that hold them for me when not in use.

As for performance, they sound amazing in almost every area. The only fault I find that is very noticeable is that on certain tracks the treble is far too bright and even ear-piercing at times and I have to reduce the volume. I now have a solution for that in that I just picked up the Schiit Loki tone control component. With that it place I played the tracks that hurt again and adjusted the highs down to where it was comfortable to listen to and helped it sound better.

Soundstage is rather good and there are a few tracks that really help put that on display for me. Instruments can appear to come from behind, out in front and off and up to either side and they’re all distinct enough that I can easily pick them out. If you like a lot of detail emerging from your music, you’ll get all the detail you want with these headphones.

Stereo imaging is also very good, and having the thicker pads helps with this as well. You get a broad and tight image from some tracks that are engineered well.

These BLON B20’s are also a little warm in the mid ranges but not too bad. It’s more of a personal preference in how warm or cool one likes their music. The warmth was especially noticeable on R&B tracks I listened to. Again, it’s personal preference there and I didn’t mind the extra warmth.

Bass response is very good and even at the lowest end too. I think they strike a nice balance in this area by giving the listener a decent amount of bass where needed, but not coloring it too much to make them bass heavy like some headphones can be, or are designed to be. It’s also punchy and responsive and less boomy as well which is nice.

I tested these with Schiit audio equipment. I used these with the balanced XLR cables on the Jotunheim and at 32 ohms, the Jotunheim can push a full 5 watts of power to each driver on high gain. If you want to make your ears bleed with power and great sound at the same time, you can do it. I generally used them on the low gain setting.

The other amp I used was the Magni 3 with the single-ended cable which pushed, IIRC, 0.9 watts per side. There was still a huge amount of headroom on the dial, like 75% more to go. At just 25% of the dial they were still fairly loud and if you were in the room with me, you could sing along with the tracks.

The DAC was the same for both amps and that was the Schiit Modi Multibit. I have it as an expansion card in the Jotunheim, and a separate component paired with the Magni 3. All of my tracks are encoded with FLAC ensuring the best possible source I can achieve.

Overall these are amazing cans and I can certainly recommend them to anyone looking for a high-end set of headphones that won’t break the bank.
 
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JayMysterio

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
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Rock Ridge, California
Awhile ago I stepped a toe into the open back headphone world with some inexpensive Grados. This year I've decided to give Massdrop a try with some Planar headphones.

Just got them today, so I haven't had a real chance to listen to them yet. Had a little difficulty as when I first ordered them, the shipping address did NOT include my street address. It got all the way to my city, when someone caught it ON the truck, and decided they weren't deliverable. No street address, like I live in Mayberry!! Fortunately since all of that was listed in tracking, Drop was able to see that I didn't try to scam them, and sent another set out rather quickly.

So going to listen to them this weekend. Wondering if I will need a small DAC/Headphone Amplifier for these, with my Mac Mini.
 
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SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
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Detroit
So going to listen to them this weekend. Wondering if I will need a small DAC for these, with my Mac Mini.
If you have one already, a DAC that is, I'd recommend using it and an amp.

In my experience, when I added just an amp to my Mac mini, it improved the sound nicely with just some power behind it. But then I later added the DAC to the mix and holy ****, that was a drastic improvement in sound quality all around. It was way better than the DAC that Apple and other PC manufacturers put on their mainboards.

Also, in case you don't already know this and if you do, forgive me for saying so, but don't judge your new cans sound right away. They need some burn-in or break-in period before they really sound good like they should. Something like 20 to 50 hours of use are what times I see thrown around for that.

I know when I recently got my BLON B20 planars from Drop, that it took about that long for me to get through the burn-in and really get the best sound from them. At first, I was like these don't sound that great, but I let them burn in and now I really love them.
 
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JayMysterio

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
891
15,420
Rock Ridge, California
If you have one already, a DAC that is, I'd recommend using it and an amp.

In my experience, when I added just an amp to my Mac mini, it improved the sound nicely with just some power behind it. But then I later added the DAC to the mix and holy ****, that was a drastic improvement in sound quality all around. It was way better than the DAC that Apple and other PC manufacturers put on their mainboards.

Also, in case you don't already know this and if you do, forgive me for saying so, but don't judge your new cans sound right away. They need some burn-in or break-in period before they really sound good like they should. Something like 20 to 50 hours of use are what times I see thrown around for that.

I know when I recently got my BLON B20 planars from Drop, that it took about that long for me to get through the burn-in and really get the best sound from them. At first, I was like these don't sound that great, but I let them burn in and now I really love them.
HOLY CRAP!! :oops:

I ordered a very inexpensive amp from Amazon, just to try it out...

WOW!

Originally just using the headphones from the Mini, the headphones seemed 'soft', like the artificial cap on some Bose headphones.

NOW, I'm getting the sound I expected. I'm curious what a DAC will do now.
 
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SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,799
8,777
Detroit
HOLY CRAP!! :oops:

I ordered a very inexpensive amp from Amazon, just to try it out...

WOW!

Originally just using the headphones from the Mini, the headphones seemed 'soft', like the artificial cap on some Bose headphones.

NOW, I'm getting the sound I expected. I'm curious what a DAC will do now.
Ahhh... looks like another person about to fall down the hi-fi rabbit hole!

With a proper DAC, you'll start to hear more detail, more imaging, and better soundstage. That is as long as the headphones you're using are of good quality and can deliver all of those things.

But, you'll listen to a favorite song of yours you've heard hundreds of times before and it will sound even better. You'll hear things that you never heard before and wonder where that sound came from.

A good amp, good DAC, good cans and high-quality source, like proper FLAC or if in iTunes, ALAC and you'll never listen to music quite the same again.
 
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D.T.

macrumors G3
Sep 15, 2011
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Vilano Beach, FL
HOLY CRAP!! :oops:

I ordered a very inexpensive amp from Amazon, just to try it out...

WOW!

Originally just using the headphones from the Mini, the headphones seemed 'soft', like the artificial cap on some Bose headphones.

NOW, I'm getting the sound I expected. I'm curious what a DAC will do now.
A DAC can be a bit more nuanced. [As you may know] it's what reconstructs the digital representation of a song file into analog for listening (after passing through some amplification, and winding up at a speaker/transducer).

Exactly __how__ that reconstruction takes places affects what you hear. Kind of like visual artifacts in displaying a JPG, there can be audio aberrations in a badly converted file, and there's some - for lack of a better terms - "guessing" as to the best analog version of a chunk of digital data, and how well that's done make a difference (and by well, I don't necessarily mean "accurate").

When you listen to music from a Mac, iOS devices, etc., you're already using a DAC, the one built into the device to provide that "listenable" analog output, but the implementation can be inferior to a device that only does that one task :)
 
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