Blox ANV3 Earbud Review
I love all things headphones but if I were going to say the area I specialize in it would be portable audio and more so earphones. I have tried and owned over 70 and some of them are the very best you can get. Well searching the Internet I saw that there was a few people were speaking great things about earbuds. Yes earbuds, them things that come included with iPods and are generally associated with poor low-fi audio. Looking into it I saw that companies do concentrate solely on make earbuds to sound great and one of these was Blox which seemed to have rave reviews all round. I contacted them and I managed to get hold of their latest outing, the ANV3 that is a limited edition model for their third anniversary. It contains the diaphragm of their flagship the TM7 and housing of the lower m2c model. To get one of these you will only be set back about 50 pound shipped but make sure you grab one before the 133 units are all sold out, now that would be a shame.
Now I was out a lot for the main testing of my ANV3 even though it is made ideally for home use. Because I was out or away I used a lot of my portable rig of iPod Classic with a line out too the GoVibe Vest Amp+ or MyST PortAMP as well as the HiFi ET MA9.
I did however get too use it at home a fair bit and this consisted of using my iMac with USB to either the Audioengine D1 or the much superior MyST PortaDAC 1866 and using either there headphone outs or a line out to either Tube Amp BL-2 or the Objective 2.
With the MyST PortaDAC 1866 - Great Piece Of Kit
Hehe…. Well…. £50 Earbuds… That look cheaper than the old earbuds and the same as some cheap 1 pound Chinese earbuds off of eBay. Do not expect much more. So be warned and do not expect anything luxury.
These have an all plastic housing, no strain relief and generally feel cheap and of bad quality. The cable is like what you get on any cheap earphones with the bottom half being the cables stuck next to each other. The cable does not boast strength but it does the job. The jack is just a cheapy plastic one with a little strain relief.
Funny enough though you soon get used to it and becomes a real minor problem.
I think the fitting of these is hardly something to be explained. You just pop it in you ear, I mean, who has never worn an earbud. As for comfort these do slightly irritate my right ear where they sit in it. At the end of the day I am sure you know what earbuds feel like so there is not much to really go into detail about them. They are very light so there is no problem in that respect though.
Little to none. These are open and let all the noise around you in. They are like open full-sized headphones in this respect and need a relatively quiet environment to enjoy the maximum.
Blox actually recommend an amount of burn in but fortunately they burned mine in for what I believe to be 70 hours and said I should do about 10 hours on top that I quickly done (well it took 10 hours) with them in my ears so that they are fully burned in terms of what Blox recommend.
In the case of these headphones all of the previous stuff is absolutely irrelevant. That’s right it all counts t nothing because these sound amazing. I am not exaggerating here but these could take on most top tier IEMs and even win if they suit your sound signature. When first listening to these one thing will hit you before anything else. And that is the soundstage, huge and airy. Other than that these have a bright sound that is rather smooth regardless and has good energy and presence in all departments and ticks a lot of boxes. The only place it does sometimes show that it is not a true top tier is speed. I get the sound I describer here out of most rigs but I actually get a lush warm sound with toned down treble and brightness from the iPod Classic > MyST PortAMP, that is the best synergy!
Soundstage and instrument separation:
This is just amazing. These are open but you still do not expect something so small to deliver so well in this area. It is huge, really in height, width and depth, well and truly three-dimensional. It is complete with great imaging and only let done the slightest when comparing to better full sized headphones with its center image.
Instrument separation is good but does have some faults because I think the speed of this does not always truly keep up. Now at slower and medium speeds everything is easily distinguishable in the huge sound stage but things do get a bit murky and close together when it gets faster with some dragon force or slipknot.
Bass is fast and in the mid-bass with a quick decay and a nice punch. It is only ever so slightly boosted above neutral and I guess you would say what most people would say is just a bit more than what is typical for an armature.
What is not typical for an armature however is the sub-bass extension with these. They dig down deep with a very natural and honest rumble that has really impressed me. It really completes the entire sound and gives you a full complete bass.
Bass drums just have a great solid impact and bass guitars really have a great well-textured groan to them. This is a very strong and confident performance.
The midrange leans towards the high mids and can sound a bit to uneven at times with male vocals but female vocals strive. Clarity because of this is insane and top notch and this oozes throughout the whole sound. Transparency seems to take a slight knock from the colouration of the brightness coming from the treble but it still impresses me nonetheless and these may well be the most transparent things you can get under 50 GBP. Detail retrieval in turn is impressive and you really do get the finer details with songs.
The overall presence of the midrange I slsightly behind in the lower mids but not a dip that causes a nasaly sound or anything like that and the high mids are slightly boosted above the rest. So this gives you great vocal position that can always clearly be heard.
With some amplifiers, mainly the MyST PortAMP the balance in the mids is better and so is the transparency.
Treble is boosted in the lower region that gives these and overall bright colouration but it is not too harsh or over bearing. It is also not in the area that causes sibilance or fatigue on my ears so this is good. The overall treble is greatly extended right into the area that gives you the airy sound and it is mostly smooth through out. Detail is also very good and sparkle is in ample quality and snares drums and other high pitched snaps can be easily heard over the rest but not too piercing are over done.
The boost really depends on the synergy with the amp or source, the more it likes the source the less the boost is and the better the overall sound, not that the boost is a bad thing.
I did not really care much for anything else but the amazing sound that is just so spacious after not too long and I found my self becoming addicted to the sound, using these over many other items in my possession. I am going to be honest here and tell you to BUY A PAIR NOW. There is no messing about because you HAVE TO OWN THESE. You may have the best headphones and IEMs but you need to add an earbud to that collection. It is just something that you must do… unless you have already started a earbud collection which I know many of you have not!