Audio, IEM, Review

BLON Z200 Review: “Mid”

Yes, we are reviewing yet another single dynamic driver IEM, and it’s from BLON, no less. It’s been a while since the brand had a hit like the esteemed BLON BL-03, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Z200 can reignite that spark, so to speak. Well, even if our expectations are not particularly high, given the rather disappointing showing of the BLON Fat Girl.

But there are a couple of factors that make BLON’s new Z200 IEM quite…compelling. For one, it’s priced at only $20 (about RM90) from Linsoul, putting it in direct competition to the similarly-priced Moondrop Chu and 7Hz Salnotes Zero – highly regarded IEMs at this price point.

Aside from that, the Z200 also uses an improved version of the carbon diaphragm driver found in the BL-03, so it’s not far-fetched to assume that this could finally be a spiritual successor to the beloved IEM everyone has been asking for. But…is this really the case? Let’s find out.

What It Is

As mentioned, the BLON Z200 uses a single 10mm carbon diaphragm dynamic driver. BLON claims that this improved, third generation driver brings about “faster transient response and more accurate total frequencies,” which sounds…promising.

The packaging of the Z200 is similar to that of other IEMs from BLON. Inside the vertically extended box are the earphones themselves already connected to the cable (you’ll see why later), a small carrying pouch, and a set of small, medium, and large ear tips. We received the black model for this review – there’s also a purple colourway – and you can add a microphone for a cool $1.

The crescent moon design on the faceplate of the Z200 is also quite nice, if not a bit random. BLON, however, said it has something to do with how “the moon is always considered as the reflection of our heart, and at BLON we are true to our original aspiration and our loyal supporters from the beginning to the end.”

Yes, that whole statement is quite peculiar (to say the least), though I expected no less from a company with “belief, letmusicburn, opportunity, and nevergiveup” printed on the IEM’s box. Oh, the first letter of those random words spell out BLON, in case you were wondering what that’s all about.

Remember when I said the Z200’s cable is already connected to the IEM out of the box? While this is normal for some ChiFi earphones, this is only the case for the Z200 because the cable is actually non-detachable.

This is despite the fact that the cable looks removable, so you definitely do not want to make the mistake of tugging on it and expecting to find a 2-pin connector at the other end. The cable is also basic and thin, but at the very least, it is (surprisingly) resistant to microphonics.

It’s worth noting that the shells of the Z200 are smaller than usual. This means they can fit deeper into your ear canal and provide better isolation, but it also results in more contact with your ears, which can get uncomfortable. As always, your mileage may vary when it comes to the fit of this IEM.

How Does It Sound?

Not surprisingly, the BLON Z200 has the typical dynamic driver V-shaped sound signature, and it’s quite a significant V-shape. Right off the bat, you’ll hear the emphasised low-end, recessed mid-range, and wince at the treble. Tonality leans towards a warm sound signature, but it’s not exactly smooth or laid back. In fact, the Z200 provides quite a fun listening experience, reminiscent of the BL-03…but not quite.

Bass

This is one area the Z200 particularly shines. The sub-bass is tight, and it slams with authority, even if it lacks a bit in extension. The mid-bass isn’t as confident, though it still has enough impact for pop and rock tracks. However, the Z200’s emphasised low-end can also be a tad overwhelming, and it can make for a fatiguing listening experience in the long run.

Mids

Having a V-shape sound signature naturally means that the mids of the Z200 are recessed, which is unfortunate for a “mids-enthusiast” such as myself. The note weight of both male and female vocals are thin and lacking in proper structure, though male vocals don’t suffer from this as much thanks to the thick low-end creeping in.

That being said, the Z200 would still benefit from a bit more body. There is, at least, a decent amount of air and breathiness from the vocals, courtesy of the peak in the treble region.

Highs

The highs of the Z200 are sparkly and provide ample amount of air to the mids. But depending on the song, this sparkle can quickly sound sharp and borderline sibilant. An emphasised treble usually make for a more energetic listening experience, but that is not the case here as the Z200’s bright treble is slow in speed; it almost sounds “lazy.”

At least, this is in comparison to the punchy bass of the Z200. This IEM can definitely benefit from ear tips that tame the highs, and maybe even the bass too, but I didn’t try this for myself as I wanted to judge the Z200 in its stock form.

Soundstage

As you might expect from a dynamic driver, the soundstage of the Z200 isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a mostly in-your-head listening experience with somewhat above average width in the left and right of the stage. This intimacy, accompanied by the already fatiguing bass, makes me feel inclined to take breaks in between listening sessions.

Is It Worth It?

If you’re expecting an in depth-comparison of the BLON Z200 to the popular BL-03, I apologise. While I did own a pair of the latter during its glory days, I’ve since sold it off in favour of newer (and arguably better) offerings in the ChiFi space.

To the best of my memory, the BL-03’s V-shaped tuning is more tasteful than the Z200’s, and it is not quite as aggressive either. Even though the BL-03 is still a bassy IEM, it is more coherent than the Z200 in how music flows from its bass, to the mids, and to the highs.

Simply put, the Z200 is a more V-shaped, not as well-tuned version of the BL-03, which kind of makes it…well, trivial. On top of that, the Z200 doesn’t have a detachable cable either, while the older BL-03 does. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this odd decision on BLON’s part.

But at the very least, the Z200 is a much better offering than BLON’s questionably-named Fat Girl IEM, even if it’s far from the BL-03 sequel that fans were hoping for.

Li Jin Soh contributed to this review.

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