Saturday, 23 July 2016

Bluedio Vinyl Plus Bluetooth Headphone Review by mark2410

Bluedio Vinyl Plus Bluetooth Headphone Review by mark2410

Thanks to Bluedio for the sample.

First Impressions:  Box looks nice, just like the UFO one from the other week.  Lol it’s like déjà vu, feels identical opening this, oh and there is the case.  Opening it is where things get different for starters, wow, how shiny is that chrome!!!!  Wow if you take these out in the sun they aren’t just going to be eye catching but potentially blinding, super pretty but maybe a matte brushed metal would have been more practical?  So you get a fair array of cables is there too.  A micro USB for charging, why yes these are Bluetooth capable as well as wired.  So what are the other three cables?  Well one is a mic’d cable for phone calls and stuff.  One is a normal, no mic cable which is about the same length as the phone one.  So that last one then, well instead of giving you one normal length cable and one giant one, they give you a 3.5mm connector extension cable.    So it’s a little thing but how come this is the first time I’ve seen a company do this?  Its waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more sensible that giving one humongous cable that is 5 miles long or be forced to use a phone terminated connector cable.  Big thumps up.

So I would usually just slap it onto charge for a while but I want to listen so stuff that and lets just run them wired for a bit.  After the UFO or U, whatever, from Bluedio I had in and well, let’s just say I didn’t love them.  These though, soooooooooooooooooooooo much better.  Thank the stars these are leaps and bound bounds better.  These are bassy yeah but still really good.  If these sound close to this good running off Bluetooth then Bluedio may have just kicked Sennheiser in the nads.

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:  Unsurprisingly these have a bass centric sound but it’s not overwhelming nor oppressive.  It’s strong, it’s dominant, it’s weighty and it’s aggressive but it’s not at the expense of the rest of spectrum.  Still the bass over time is what is dominant.   It’s so scaled, rotund like a great weighty rock with a pillow like outer.  The initial impact has a softness, squishy and warm to prepare you for the follow up onslaught.  My ears are telling me it’s too much, too big, too soft an impact, too much weighty a follow through.  It’s not super agile but the power, gosh the power is significant, like the Titanic trying to turn before that iceberg, its power just ploughs right on into like some unstoppable force of nature.  Then you slap on some super-fast bass, like Owl City’s “Umbrella Beach”  that bass can’t dance on the head of a pin but god damn it gives it it’s all.  Such vim!!!  Whether it can really do that agile you bet your life they are going to give it their all.  You shall be grabbed by the collar and hurled back and forth, left to right in what I can only describe as an explosion of power. It’s crazy, its mental, its super fun.

Okay, okay, so it’s a little bit wearing and after a while I do feel exhausted and in need of a break.  Still there is no denying these are bassy fun cannons.  Weeeeeeeeeee!!!!!  Oh, depth, that, it’s good.  They actually hold on more than I think they should as lots of deep, deep bass to me sounds a little unnatural and its always flabs up a bit. 

Mids:  Pretty good actually.  They have a decent breadth and while it’s an overall warm, thickish sound the mids try to lighten up a touch.  They take that breadth they have and try ever so slightly to dry, cool to enhance their clarity.  So they still aren’t the most clear things ever.  They are plenty clear enough and when you play stuff that isn’t widly bass dominant the mids do a really rather nice rendition.  I find myself really rather enjoying Mariah’s “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” her vocals are erring towards being as dry and breathy, as ethereal as she can manage.  While these are warming and thickening them a bit she still sounds quite magnificent.  Des’ree’s “Proud To Be A Dread” likewise sounds really quite impressive.  Her vocals sound rather distinctly separate from the bass notes and she sings forth her curious little ditty.  The bass remains separate and while it veers towards the mids it stops itself before they start to mingle. 

Tonally there is a veneer of warmth added to everything and a dash of warm cream.  So it does not produce an unfettered mid-range but…… these are gonna be pop fun cannons and as just that it can’t extract the most delicate and subtle intonation of Nora’s most breathy tracks, big whoop.  Poppy stuff and the likes of show tune diva, Idina Menzel all works superbly.  Enough detail but you know, it’s not placing anything under a magnifying glass.

Highs:  While they are overall a tiny bit V shaped, well in part as there treble for the most part is pretty tame.  There is in the a little spike, a little peek that cuts through in the uppers and dishes out a swift little metallic dazzle,  that initial impact shines a little and its get a fairly short but pleasing shimmer.  However most of the upper range is quite subdued.  This works fine for me, what’s there is component, is delicately pleasing and it never gets unruly and ear stabby.  Nor does it just rise up in abundance to just get uncomfortably bright if you feed it broken scratchy rubbish.  Something that the Momentum can do if you push it.  These are much more bass centric and in terms of treble abundance, polite.

The tonally of the treble is rather pleasing, like the rest of the spectrum it’s again a faintly warmed and thickened presentation.  Thus the treble is always eager to be a little polite, a little reticent.  It’s so very easy, on the ear.  It also works wonders on acoustic heavy songs.  Its uppers take on a very relaxed and pleasing style.  It’s also really rather refined, if you listen out for them its detail levels are really quite good.  Now I don’t suspect those that buy these will be looking out for micro upper end detail but if you wanted to, it’s got plenty.

Soundstage:  They are big, weighty, full bodied, thick beasts.  They have a tiny dash of air but these are closed, they are powerful and while the abundance does lead to give the impression of a really big room or that of a small hall, they are most definitely closed.  That bass is what tells they are closed, it’s too powerful, too boundary reinforced to be open.  The bass and the mids though are quite nicely separate, the mids being centred and not that far out of reach whereas the bass is much bigger and further away.  The treble is just flanking and to the rear of the mids.  They are more tightly in than they should be but without stealing some of the basses thunder, it’s how they have to be.  Its good, potent weighty presentation.  Its instrument placement and such are a bit more nebulous.  While vocals are clear in the middle the rest is a little ill defined.

Comfort:  Well in the short term, great.  However they are on ears and after a couple of hours, despite their soft squishy pads, my ears wanted them off.  All on ears do that to me, it’s not like pain, its more akin to stretching your legs after you’ve gotten off a flight.  It wasn’t really bothering you before but it feels good to stretch them.  However the pads are really nice and squishy on your ears.

Fit:  Easy, on they went and that was it.  Despite their being round and not ear shaped, which I know round looks cooler but if they were ear shaped like the Momentum Over-Ears they would be so comfy to wear all day long.  Oh well.

Cable:  Well you get a few.  They are all pretty good and I really like that instead of one being short and one super long, you get an extension cable.  Why doesn’t everyone do this?  Otherwise the 2 cables you get, one is a mic’d one the other not.  They are pretty pleasant cables with a nice rubbery soft touch finish.  Okay so it’s a little grippy on your clothes it wasn’t very bothersome.  The fourth cable though, it’s a micro USB cable.  Yes that’s right, these are Bluetooth capable.  Yey, so you can use no cable at all if you want to.  They are pretty bloody good too running off Bluetooth.  Their own little inner DAC and amp have been well chosen.  I notice that there is no Apt-X but there is clearly no special need for it beyond marketing.  A2DP should have more than sufficient bandwidth.

Battery:  They are quoted at 20 hours of music playback and a crazy 1100hours of standby.  So yeah there was no way I was gonna even think about testing that claim.  The 20 hour claim seemed perfectly reasonable and I had no issues with the battery, it lasted seemingly ages.

Isolation:  It is somewhat dependant on you getting a seal at your ears and it seemed I did as the isolation was pretty good for me.  I’d be fine to use these out and about maybe even on a bus though I don’t like doing that with big cans.  They make way more noise than IEM’s do and I feel stupid wearing them.   Not ones I’d especially want for a flight or Tube commute but in a pinch they wouldn’t be terrible.  Naturally they are easily enough to get yourself run over of you fail to remember to use your eyes for traffic because you won’t hear it coming.

Build Quality:  Very nice.  I know at their price you’d expect decent but these seem extra nice.   It’s probably in large part to the big metal curving band / cup attachment thingy.  It is real metal, which looks great and if feels super solid too.  The buttons though are silver painted plastic which I disapprove of but still, they are over all a good solid built object.

Aesthetics:  Well they look a little attention grabby for me but…… come on they look pretty good don’t they?  It’s that big twisted arm thing, the bit joining the cups to the headband.  It’s a lump of sold metal highly polished and gently sweeping.  Sure it’s a little blingy but it being silver I think you can kinda get away with it.  The black and silver theme I generally love anyway.  Aside from them visually saying “I’m expensive, steel me” I really like the design of them.

Phone Use:  It just so happened a call came in while I was playing them over Bluetooth.  The call came in great, the caller was clearly heard, they could hear me great too so really everything worked just as you would hope and expect it to.  I still don’t get the Bluetooth controls though.  Usually the play/pause/answer button you multi press to track skip but like the U you long press the volume.  That you get used to but it just seems odd to me.

Amped/Unamped:  Well if you amp them well, may I suggest a brighter, cooler, more dry amp if you do, you get the usually benefits.  Things are improved, the clarity, the firmness of the bass etc etc.  However they are really easy to drive and they just don’t “need” it.  Of course that’s probably due to their being aimed at Bluetooth use.  You want something that runs off its own battery to be sensitive and power sippy.  These therefore do that really well.  They have a battery in there somewhere but you wouldn’t really guess from the weight yet it can last up to 20 hours.  So they must be super easy to drive drivers.  Basically if you have an amp, a cool one, then great use it, if you don’t you’re not really missing out on anything.

Accessories:  Well you get a really nice little bundle.  There is obviously the case and inside it there is the baggy, wallet thing for the cables.  You get 4 cables, a micro USB, a mic’d cable, a non mic’d cable and an extension cable.  Yeas an extension cable rather than give you a non mic’d massive cable (looking at you Yamaha) so you can choose to use either cable short and use the extension only if you want to.  Aside from the wallet / padded thing you then get a mesh pocket in the case.  I’m not really sure what else you could want.

Value:  Good to potentially great.  Acoustically these are playing with some really good stuff, Yammy Pro-500 and Senn Momentum Over-Ears and while these don’t beat them acoustically, they get dangerously close for rather less money and these have Bluetooth.  If you want the Momentum with Bluetooth you have to take a pretty significant wallet bashing extra.  Having not heard it I can’t say for sure but given how close they got to the wired version and the price differential, this is something that gets some serious kudos and value points.  So I can’t conclude anything other these being superb value for money.

Conclusion:  I was at first a little hesitant with these, after the U (UFO) and its weird multi driver set up, I hoped that these with just one big driver should not suffer the issues the U had.  I knew it would be bassy but I was afraid, it turns out however those fears were utterly unfounded.  These are and extra 50 quid but they sound leaps and bounds better than their sibling.  These are properly good stuff.  Sure they are a little over liberal with the bass but the quality level is great.  The bass may suffer a touch of softness in its initial impact but they are so eager to please.  Like a weimaraner year old puppy.  It thinks it’s still tiny little thing and thusly it hurls itself about the place not realising its size and so it ploughs into anything around it.  You need to just accept it and go along for the ride.  If you do you’ll end up having a ball.

So what if you don’t want to go along for the ride?  Well the Vinyl Plus are rather over bassy and a bit treble muted.  Thus I’m not sure the Vinyl name really matches up to that sound signature however that’s just a naming thing.  I hear vinyl and I think treble heavy Grado’s for those who have err, matured somewhat and now need a treble boosting to compensate for their upper end hearing having diminished a little.  These aren’t that at all.  These are poppy, bass centric party canons.  Oodles of bass shaking its booty all over the place and having a rip roaring time doing so.

So would I buy one / should you?  Me I’m not sure but I’d think about it, these really are super fun and I think extremely keenly priced.  In my head their competition are things like the Momentum wireless and while I’d expect it to be better, or I’d hope so anyway, the big Over-Ears ones are £380 and these are £150.  Literally you could buy two pairs and buy a pair of Momentum In-Ears instead.  Really my only actual reservation about the Vinyl’s is that their great looking but not so practical, round ear pads.  Bluedio any chance you could make a new version with oval shaped pads that would fit around my ear rather than on it, please?  However when your biggest criticism of a something is that you’d like them more comfortable so you could use them for longer, it’s not exactly much of a criticism is it.  Frankly I think despite these being overly bass heavy Bluedio are onto a winner with these, seriously these are properly good headphones.

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