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REVIEW: Blue Ever Blue 328R "The Black" and 866B "The Red"

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
INTRODUCTION

Hello Head-Fi! The following is a review of Blue Ever Blue's 328R (or "The Black") earbuds and 866B ("The Red") canalphones.

Firstly, I'd like to thank fellow Head-Fier jant71 and BioLinks Audio for the review samples.

I should also remind readers that the perceived sound quality of canalphones, in ear monitors, and earbuds is highly dependent on fit, the anatomy of one's ear, and other factors, such as the use of foams, etc. As always, your mileage may vary.

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

The packaging of the Blue Ever Blue 328R and 866B is relatively simple, though I’m glad they decided against the typical frustration-inducing clamshells. The 328R “The Black” packaging includes only the earbuds, foam pads, and instruction manual/warranty card. The 866B “The Red” comes with three sets of silicone tips, a felt pouch adorned with the BEB logo, and of course the warranty card and canalphones themselves. It would have been nice to see the pouch included with the 328R as well, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker.

b2616f22_328R.JPG
The 328R's uniquely-shaped yet comfortably ergonomic housing

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The 866B's accessories include 3 pairs of tips and a felt pouch.

BUILD QUALITY AND FIT

Like the packaging, the build of the 328R is also quite simple. The cable is mostly tangle-free, though it wouldn’t hurt if it was a bit more supple. I’m not really a fan of the thin 3.5mm straight plug, which is a bit too similar to the defect-prone iPod earbud plug. The housings are probably the best part of the build. They have an OEM-like appearance, but thanks to their ergonomic design, they are quite comfortable in the ear. Of course, I’m sure the smaller drivers are also a contributor.

The build and design of the 866B is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I quite like the use of aluminum in both the housing and elsewhere. On the other hand, strain reliefs seem to be an afterthought compared to the great housing design. Not only does the plastic used lack any “give”, but the relief on the straight plug is 1cm long, making the total length of the plug assembly over 2.5cm. I’d much prefer the use of a shorter plug or, better yet, a 90-degree plug. The fit of the 866B, because of the smaller housings and well-designed silicone tips, is quite comfortable even during longer listening sessions. Isolation is about average for a vented canalphone.

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Blue Ever Blue 866B "The Red"

SOUND

The 328R is very easy to listen to. I would describe the sound as very close to neutral with perhaps a slight emphasis on midrange to upper midrange. The bass has good extension and is well-textured, but its quantity may be a bit lacking in outdoor use. The treble of “The Black” is smoothly extended but not at all harsh. The midrange is probably my favorite part of the earphone. It is both detailed and airy, a combination that earphones like the MX580 attempt to achieve with limited success. The soundstage presentation is quite unique in that its width is virtually non-existent, but its depth is probably one of the best I’ve heard on an earbud. Perhaps this is a product of the HDSS technology utilized in all of Blue Ever Blue products. (See this thread for more info on HDSS.)

The 866B is decidedly less neutral, having a slightly more common sound tuning compared to the hi-fi-on-a-budget sound of the 328R. As such, the bass of the “The Red” is plentiful (maybe overly so) and a bit loose to boot. The midrange is slightly recessed but is warm and does a good job presenting vocals. The higher frequencies are well-presented but would be better if they weren’t quite as rolled off. Still, I much prefer a bit of roll-off over the usual harshness or uncontrolled treble. Soundstage is about average, but the presentation overall gives a good sense of air and separation despite its boomy bass.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The two or three readers of my previous reviews and posts probably know by now that I’m quite the earbud enthusiast, so it should come as no surprise that I vastly prefer the 328R. That is not to say that the 866B is bad by any means, and I feel it is a good choice for those who are looking for a bassy-yet-relatively-uncolored canalphone that is comfortable and easy to use. But it is also met with fierce completion in its price range. The 328R has it much easier, pretty much competing with Sennheiser and few others in the sub-$25 range. While “The Black” lags behind the MX series in build quality and accessories (I’d love to see MX style ear sleeves bundled in future models), the sound more than makes up for that difference, providing a unique soundstage presentation and ease of listening that is unsurpassed by anything I have tried among its few similarly-priced (and some more expensive) peers. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to future applications of HDSS technology from Starsonic, Blue Ever Blue, and BioLinks, and the future seems to be looking ever brighter for earbud lovers everywhere.
post #2 of 4

nice and concise review! beerchug.gif

 

post #3 of 4

Yep, nice review and pretty much same exact conclusions as me.

post #4 of 4

does it plug into a samsung galaxy 2 smartphone?

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