Sunday, 23 October 2016

Bluedio T3 and T3+ Bluetooth Headphone Review by mark2410

Bluedio T3 and T3+ Bluetooth Headphone Review by mark2410

Thanks to Bluedio for the sample.

First Impressions:  Now I have this, the T3 and the T3+ and I’m looking at the boxes and thinking err, what’s the difference?  Ahh okay aside from US$10 the T3+ would appear to have its own Micro SD card slot.  Wtf, noooooo, surely not????  I don’t normally open two things at the same time but I think this warrants an exception.     Oh okay this is just weird, these are almost identical, the T3+ does have one tiny visual difference, it’s got a micro SD card slot but it’s almost hidden.  Seriously if I wasn’t looking for it I could have easily not noticed.  I mean it’s not like Micro SD cards slots are exactly big things.  There is zero other difference I can see.  Jesus how tiny must the electronic bits be?  Hmm now that I think of it, a Bluetooth headphone must have almost all the bits needed for playback anyway, it’s got to have battery, DAC and amp right?  It occurs to me that with the only extra bit needed must be the card reader so how come everyone doesn’t do this? 

So hooking up the T3 to the FiiO E7/E9 because, it’s quicker to track skip using the computer than a phone and the sound signature is very obviously a bass one.  Oooh lordy, it’s a pretty prolific bass output.  Reasonably firm but there is a fair old hump of it, grandiose and weighty.  Good lord there is a lot of bass.  Mids are pretty good though, treble seems rather err lacking in abundance.

Source:  Well you name it, these have their own Bluetooth connections so there’s that plus you can use their Auxiliary in for using with normal stuff and of course the T3+ has its own Micro SD card playback. 

Lows:  No way around the issue that these are kinda bass monsters.  They aren’t bad bass monsters but they are waaaaaaay over bassy.  If you want some Etymotic like neutral balance then stop reading now, these aren’t for you.  Thing is I don’t think they are aimed at anyone who even knows what Etymotic is.  These are very seriously bass centric.  Its rather good quality for its abundance tough and while I don’t like to EQ things these responded very well to it.  Really, really well and frankly for the money they go for Bluedio is getting a hell of a lot of things right.  I also notice that with these giving a very unusually snug seal for a headphone, to the point of getting a bit of driver flex, that the bass is very hard.  In certain tracks this huge abundance combined with a disturbing level of solidity for this price, was epic.  Hugely grand and vicious a presentation.  Regina Spektor’s “Ballad of a Politcian” was giddy and dark and vast and rumbling.  It was excellent really it was but gosh can they wear me out.  The more time I spent with them the more I found myself skip bass heavy tracks.  All that abundance and the unrelenting impact of it, that giant mountain of bass.  Tracks with hard, abundant and fast bass, punching repeatedly over and over again.  Bass junkies might love it but oh my, my little ears and sinus’s felt like my skull was being caved in.

Quality wise while there is a rather noticeable rise in the upper and middling bass over the deeper end I really can’t fault it.  The quality of the bass is very, very good something of this abundance and this price.  It all too much for me but god damn, I really can’t bash it for the quality of its bass output.

Mids:  Very good.  The mid-range here is very, very easy on the ear and I very much like its tonality.  That dark background with the vocals smoothly coming forth.  There isn’t a lot of air, being a bass monster and being so very tightly sealed the mids haven’t vast spaciousness.  That means the Likes of Nora or Tori sound rather intimate.  Not too close in but there is that small jazz club kind of intimacy to the performance, enclosed, darkened and smooth.  Ahhh just all that bass, lets maybe EQ that down a touch shall we.  With the EQ enabled in Itunes the vocals get a little more space in which to shine.  They are pretty smoothly styled but very nice.  The detail levels they spit out are not bad, that smooth presentation tends to obscure things a little, like a slightly soft focus filter.  You get a more beautiful image but at the expense of resolving power.  Naturally we must keep in mind these are not an expensive product and as such I can’t really find any fault with its detail level.  The driver they have here may not be tuned how I would do it but its certainly of a good quality.

Quantity wise the mids are on the second tier, ahead of the treble but very behind that tower of bass.  It’s very well suited to the sort of vocals you’ll find in mainstream, chart topping stuff.  These are clearly made with the top 40 in mind.

Highs:  If you go mental with the EQ and boost it right up the treble is actually rather good.  It’s slightly warmed but a nice initial impact, a hint metallic then gently rounded.  It’s super easy on the ear and it personally is how I often like my treble.  The thing is there isn’t all that much of it.  These are bass cannons for sure and the treble is very tame, too tame if you ask me.  Yeah, me saying the treble is a bit light.  Still these aren’t aimed at crazy audiophile peeps, these are mainstream beasts aimed at mainstream users.  They want bass party beasts, mids for pop vocalists and treble that won’t show up shoddy mastering and potentially dubious bit rates.  So so bit rate mp3’s start their break up with brittle treble and these do a very good job at glossing over such imperfections.

Still the drivers do seem rather capable so I would like to see a version with them brightened up considerably, let’s see what they can do fully.

Soundstage:  They aren’t big.  These are very highly sealed for an on ear headphone.  You don’t get that big open spacious feel but the trade-off is waaaay more isolation.  It’s mostly a semi intimate feel, enclosed in a moderate sized room.  It’s quite well integrated though the instrument separation is a little so so.

Fit:  Well that was easy enough, on they went and boom, done.  They seemed to get a great seal every time, they do clamp a bit though to make that happen.

Comfort:  Well, err yeah, you know I just said they clamp a bit?  Well they clamp a bit.  They clam enough that right now they are hurting.  Weirdly on my left ear and not my right.  The trade-off in clamping hard is you get a great seal so that bass is super solid hitting and you get enhanced sound isolation.  Plus they are so snug you could probably use them on a bouncy castle and have no problems.  Still two hours in and I want these off, now.  The first hours use was fine so if you aren’t using for a lengthy period and you need a very secure fit then these work great.

Cable:  Yeah, the cable.  Well there do have a cable, if you want them to that is.  I’ve mostly used these with their 3.5 to 3.5mm male to male cable so I can track skip about nice and easy.  They of course also have Bluetooth so you can use them with your phone, or really anything with Bluetooth.  One other big, BIG thing to mention is that the T3+ version also has its very own Micro SD card slot.  So you can slap in a card and you can use them without connecting them to anything at all.  Don’t want to take your £700 phone to the gym with you or out jogging?  No problem, you can use them just themselves.  It’s not a feature I really thought, oh I want that but now I have it here I can’t help thinking why don’t all Bluetooth headphones have this???  Frankly with the T3 and the T3+ so similarly priced even if you aren’t sure you’ll ever use the card reading feature the cost difference is only US$10.  Seriously why wouldn’t you get that version just in case???

Isolation:  Since these clamp really snugly and they are so sealed that means you get very good isolation.  For an on ear headphone I think this is the most isolating I’ve yet encountered.  Seriously, there are practically BA IEM good.  They are easily good enough for out and about, on a bus and even for use on a Tube commute or flight.  Comfort wise I’d not be so keen to use these for hours but their acoustic isolation is great.  So even without any music playing these are likely to make you a road stain if you forget that you need to use your eyes when near traffic.

Aesthetics:  I like them.  The thing is though as I look at their website and on Amazon I can find the T3+ only is “black” and the metal bits look like a dark, gunmetal colour.  The pair I have certainly isn’t, its bright shiny chrome.  What’s more on Amazon the T3 seems to come in four colours.  The “Black” which seems what I have here, a “Gold” which is black leather bits with gold metal.  Then a “White with chrome metal and white leather bits.  Then lastly a “Red” with chrome metal bits and red leather bits.  While I’d like the black ones metal to be darker like in the photos but it is still a fairly attractive pair of headphones.  Well except that gold pair, they look weird in pics but I don’t like gold even at the best of times.

Phone use:  Giving a little ring to someone I was told that I was a little bit quiet but they had no trouble understanding me.  The conversation was absolutely fine and I of course could hear them perfectly.  Their voice did sound a little bit bottom end bloated but then these are bass monsters.

Bluetooth/Cabled:  So what if any difference was there?  Well these surprisingly did respond to getting powered by a potent amp over their own internal stuff.  To me that just means I’ve even more evidence to support my idea that the driver in here is rather good and with some adjustments has great potential.  Running off Bluetooth they took on a slightly more gentle fullness.  The bass was a little softened and even more filled out.  Naturally I liked these best when hooked up to a more powerful source and a bright one too.

Line Out:  Yeah I saw that it had a Line Out and though eh, is that some translation mistake?  Well no it isn’t.  Bizarrely these playing back via Bluetooth or their internal Micro SD card you can plug in something to their 3.5mm socket and get audio out.  I think the idea is you can share you music with a friend but you could hook it up to anything you wanted.  How bizarre is that?!?!

Battery life:  They both quote 20 hours of music and 20 hours of talk time.  That’s pretty huge I think as I don’t know what battery capacity they have but it can’t be huge.  Then you hit the standby time, it’s quoted at a simply nuts 1100 hours.  One thousand, one hundred hours.  That is almost 46 days, seriously, that’s like a month and a half.  There is no way I’m going to even try to test that claim but I’ve found other Bluedio things to be pretty conservative in their battery life estimations so I’d wager you’ll get more than what’s quoted.

Accessories:  You get in the box a baggy thing, which actually is a rather nice to the touch velvety thing.  Then you get a Micro USB charging cable and a 3.5 to 3.5mm male to male cable.  Everything you need really.

Value:  Well the T3 is good value, the build, that it’s Bluetooth and wired capable and its audio quality all make it a good buy.  However there is one gigantic problem.  That is the T3+.  Whether you think you want or might ever use the T3+’s Micro SD card slot it’s just such a tiny amount extra money, I mean US$10 is so little that I can’t imagine I’d ever suggest anyone buys the T3.  Even if it’s perfectly exactly want and you think you’ll never use that card slot I’d still always recommend you get the T3+ version.  Unless your budget is absolutely fixed and you absolutely cannot spare the extra cash then maybe but……. seriously.  The T3+ then, its value is super good, sure its waaay bassy but if you want that its good sounding, good quality, isolates super great and for £43 you get the entire chain set up.  Okay so you have to add your own Micro SD card but then it’s everything, all in one.  No wires, no phone battery draining happening either.  For £43 you won’t get a player and headphone that will compare to this, not that I’m aware of anyway.

Conclusion:  The T3 and T3+ well they are basically the same thing which is weird.  Almost every aspect of them is, well, identical.  The only difference is a tiny cost difference and that Micro SD card slot.  I guess it’s more weird to me that they make the T3, I just cannot for the life of me see anyone knowing about the T3+ not taking that one instead, given the cost differential is sooooo tiny.  Seriously on Amazon UK the difference is a crazy £6.  So yeah, anyone want to tell me what DAP you could get for £6?  No I didn’t think so.  Sure you probably already have something that has a headphone out jack and likely a phone that has Bluetooth too.  So do you “need” the card slot, well obviously no but come on, its £6!

Okay aside from the crazy value proposition these represent the other stand out issue is their acoustic signature.  It’s a very flavoured sound and while it responds well to an EQ the fact is only buy these if you want a very bassy, hard punching, powerful headphone.  For me they got too much for my ears as the bass is relentless.  That relentlessness was simply too much for me but if you want a proper bass cannon experience then this a fantastic value offering.  A pretty good looking one too and with a rather good audio quality to boot.  Sure its treble is a little shy so there aren’t detail orientated.  That is neither a good nor a bad thing, it’s all about what you are looking for and what you listening too.  They really put a nice smoothing over shoddy mastering (cough, Lady Gaga, cough) so you just don’t notice those musical flaws.  It is, a mainstream, bass cannon party machine.

So would I / should you buy one?  Me, na these are too bassy and too relentless.  You, well do you want some epic value skull punching bass monster?  If you do and you want Bluetooth, aux in, it’s own card slot and be able to share your music with a friend plus you want stupidly long battery life, it is quite the package.  Not a package for me I fear but one that’s going to have just tons of mainstream appeal.

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