Friday, 8 July 2016

Bluedio U (UFO) Review by mark2410

Bluedio U (UFO) Review by mark2410

Thanks to Bluedio for the sample.

First Impressions:  The box, it’s bigger than I’ve seen before from the brand, and nicer too.  Hmm still not the nicest box that ever there was, not that it really matters.  Ahh the case, that’s nice but what I want is what’s in them.  There they are, hmm they look rather nice, of course as is always the case I’m looking and thinking I should have picked a different colour.   These are clearly a much more plush headphone than what I’ve seen from the brand, mind you knew that from the price tag too.  Bluedio it seems are moving up in the world and as part of that drive we have the U’s.  Okay can I just say, what a stupid name.  Strangely I also see places where I think the same thing is being called the UFO, so that’s not going to get confusing anywhere is it.

On the ears, well after pairing with my phone, and music.  Hmm these have a seriously strange presentation going on.  Woah this is just plain weird.  There is something really most strange going on here.  Hmm have just looked up some info about them an apparently they have 4 drivers in each side, yes that wasn’t a typo, 4 drivers.  The back of the box also tells me that “2 woofers and 6 tweeters, perfectly realise 7.1 channels, finding yourself in a symphony hall.”  Oh right then. Still there is definitely something unusual at work here.

Source: Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.  For Bluetooth mostly Nexus 5, Moto G 4G and Lumia 735.

Lows:  They are clearly what is their primary focus.  These are bassy, really quite bassy they are also big air movers, you aren’t just hearing it your feeling, they do exert a fair amount of pressure too.  Gosh these move a little too much air for me, its wearing me out.  It is also not the deepest bass ever, its somewhat mid to upper bass ranges where it really starts to crank it up and spit it forth at you.  Oh god, “Your Father And I” is seriously oppressively dominant, oh god there is so much bass.  Acoustically these are their most happy when thundering out some Lady Gaga.  Take your pick of her tunes and the style of bass she seems to love making use of, is just the sort the U’s are designed to pump forth.  They also want to pump out epically vast quantities of it too, seriously vast amounts.  These are all about the bass production.  Its big, its heavy, its gargantuan, it’s not the most nimble nor the most accurate.  Its svelte like an East German lady shot putter, its about as subtle too.   Massive, massive, massive.

Quality wise, well it’s not about the quality, it’s about the quantity.  You can read from that the quality isn’t audiophile grade, it’s not particularly near it either.  These are all about being spectacularly vast, producing a ridiculously prolific quantity.   Literally, all of da’ bass.

Mids:  Highly in the shadow of the bass but they aren’t all that bad.  They do a pretty valiant little job of battling their way through to the front.  Male vocals down low starts to interfere with the bass but girly vocals, they sit in a little peak so they are actually pretty noticeably rendered.  Still there is gobs and gobs of bass so if you think for one second you’re going for some Nora esq rendition think again.  Lady Gaga or Melanie Martinez works very considerably better.  They both can cut through enough to be audible and decently rendered.

This is for sure no mid head headphone.

Highs:  Meh.  Firing up some Owl City, “Cave In” the treble does kinda, sort of battle its way to the front but it’s taken very heavy losses on the way.  The bass dominates, the mids then come up and the treble, well it’s sort of there in the lower treble ranges there but if you hoping for airy and delicate, beautifully shimmering uppers, think again.  These are capable of spitting out some treble but it’s not high up, it’s not delicate and I wouldn’t say it’s all that refined either.  In fairness if it was at this quantity you’d never find it behind that bass. 

Soundstage:  Well given its balance and that overwhelming bass you’d expect a suffocating environment but it isn’t especially.  The 4 drivers per ear creates a bit of a weird spatial presentation.  There is something not perfectly in phase and it gives you impression of some grander spacing at work.  It gives you the feeling that there are speakers located in different places and not that they are all half and inch from your ear.  It’s not vast, nor ever “airy” but there is a larger spatial peculiarity to them.  The sound bigger than their sound signature would suggest they should.

Comfort:  Great for the most part.  Being an on rather than over ear they sit on your ears and personally I find that after an hour or two they gets a little oppressive on the ear.  It’s not like it hurts, it’s more like when you’ve been sat still for a few hours then you stretch your legs, it’s that same sort of relief.

Fit:  Great, the pads swivel up, down, back and forth.  On the ears they went and we were good.

Cable:  Well you can use their cable which is removable obviously and it seems to a perfectly fine cable.  The bigger thing though is that you can remove the cable and still use them.  Yes they are Bluetooth and Bluetooth works great.  Notably they aren’t APT-X supported but I can’t say that degraded them in anyway.  Actually if anything I came to prefer them running off Bluetooth as the internal amp seemed to balance them a bit in favour of the treble.  The bass wasn’t so extremely powered and powerful.  If was still dominant, just not quite so much.

Isolation:  It was so so.  I suspect I wasn’t getting the most perfect seal due to my wearing glasses I know this because when I pushed the pads on more tightly the bass level would increase.  So the isolation was, okay.  You know fine for walking out and about, probably okay to use on a bus but I wouldn’t get for on a flight or Tube commute with them.  You could but they wouldn’t be my first choice.  Naturally as I ever warn it’s still easily enough isolation to get yourself run over if you fail to use your eves when out and near traffic.

Build Quality:  Time is ever the only real arbiter but I’m still quite pleased.  There is a fair chunk of them that is metal and what’s not still feels of a good quality.  It’s a big step up on the old T2S I last had from Bluedio, granted these are rather more expensive so you would expect so.  Still I find nothing about them that suggests these aren’t a nice object.

Aesthetics:  Well Bluedio are clearly conscious that looks matter and as such there come in a whole heap of colours.  The one I got here is the Black and Red version but there tons to choose from.  Including all black or all red ones.  Go have a look around as I’m not going to list all 10 options ranging from the crazy Purple to the lush looking Gun Silver.  What is more, even the pads on them all come in the colour appropriate to the rest of the thing except in the two mixed ones, like my Black and Red, the pads are black.  Yea even the Purple ones and Gold ones, in pics they look most funky and fun.  I hope you can buy replacement pads in all the colours if you ever need them?

Phone Use:  The mic may be at your ears but they were just great.  I had a 90 min conversation on them and they worked perfectly.  Interestingly they also have a variety of phone controls built into them.  So you want to skip the track, press the track skip button, want to go back just press the back button.  I have to say being Bluetooth you get these controls and they work unlike the play / pause / skip/ back / answer call / hang up call / initiate a call all in one button.  You see that button is based on the number of depresses or how long you hold it down for, this is massively more straightforward.  In addition to that there is a volume control that works every time on every phone.

Amped/Unamped:  Well the more power you threw their way the more potent the bass became.  Not that they become suddenly bass light or anything, no anything approaching it.  What I mean is you really don’t need to amp them and you really don’t gain anything by doing so either.

Accessories:  You get a nice little selection.  A pretty nice carry case thing with its insert for the headphone to sit comfortable in once they are inside it.  Then it has a little elasticated mesh pocket for the cable options you have to use with them.  That way if you drain their battery or forget to charge them you can always whip out a cable then use them like you would any normal headphone.  Oh and you get two cables to choose from.  One is a shorter one or you have a big long one.  Both are just a standard 3.5 to 3.5mm male to male terminated cable so if you kill it, loose it / them you can buy a replacement easily.

Value:  Well on Amazon UK they are £125 yet a little search and on Amazon US they are mostly US$150 however…… the Red and Black like I have here is just US$130 and the all Black version is right now just US$100.  That is a pretty significant discount of you are happy to get the all Black pair, I meant that is a third off.  At that price they feel like a bargain, actually they are still pretty well priced at US$150 if you compare them with the like of the things Beats produce and that really is what these are setting out to compete with.  Out beating Beats and giving you wireless to boot.

Conclusion:  These are Beats competition.  They are not the sort of thing I’m used to seeing round Head-Fi, they aren’t balanced, they aren’t going for any sense of sonic purity, timbrel qualities, natural treble, deep and accurate bass.  Oh no no no, these are Beats beaters, they want to spit out chart topping hits and hurl you from one side of the room to the other while doing it.  The bass is prolifically gargantuan.  Heavy, abundant and seriously powerful it lacks agility and subtlety, as such its initial impact is slightly soft but its follow through powers onward like some unstoppable wave.

Aside from the bass, they are not bad, they have an interesting special quality though I very strongly suggest not using the bizarre surround mode they have you can activate if using Bluetooth.  That mode may work for gaming however or action films but for music it sucks.  Otherwise the 3, err tweeters I guess are odd a bit too.  They sit so behind the big bass and give a curious presentation that does add to its slightly diffuse nature making them feel larger than its sound signature would otherwise give.  They are massively bassy but they don’t have the typical enclosed and oppressive nature that should bring.

So would I / should you buy one?  Me, oh no, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much bass I fear it’ll cave my skull in.  You, well if you want a pair of Beats and that sort of uber bass centric sound and fancy Bluetooth capabilities then absolutely.  Especially if you can get to grab a pair at the Amazon US Black price of just US$100 you are getting something a bit crazy.  It’s entirely up to your own tastes if you’ll consider it crazy good or, like me, crazy too bass heavy.  However I do very much like that they can be run from a cable too in addition to Bluetooth, increasing significantly their usability and utility.  So if you’re looking for a big old bass monster, go have a play with a pair and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

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