Penon BS1 Official Version

General Information

Penon BS1 Official Version
  • Metal shell, metal mesh
  • Black carbon fiber alloy splitter, alloy slider
  • Sound signature: Impactful Bass ,Sweet Vocals ,Extended Treble, Wide Soundstage
  • Driver: 15mm dynamic driver
  • Impedance: 32ohm
  • Frequency response: 14Hz – 28 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 120dB
  • Cable: 8 shares 19-core copper & silver-plated mixed cable
  • Plug: 3.5mm copper gold-plated plug
  • Cable length: 1.2m
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Pros: excellent build quality
nice cable
well detailed
natural tonality
Cons: can be shouty at some points
This is a personal unit I bought from a fellow hobbyist. It has been with him for a few months now, totaling to nearly a year being used. The product has been burned in, and has shown signs of oxidation due to frequent usage. Nevertheless, the oxidation of the cables is the user’s fault, not Penon’s. In storing earbuds with cables that are prone to oxidation, use silica gels or other desiccants to get rid of moisture as to avoid oxidation.

Currently, Penon sells the BS1 Official in 3.5mm standard termination and 2.5mm balanced termination. You can purchase them at the Penon official website for 109$ at the least (https://penon-official.com/product/bs1-official-version/) or via Shopee if you’re from Philippines (https://shopee.ph/Techshop28-Penon-BS1-Final-Edition-Earbuds-detacheable-i.16685303.1167000149)

Disclaimer:

I am not affiliated with PENON Audio in any manner. I do not receive any cash incentives, rewards, or anything from them. This review is my non-biased comprehension and appreciation of the said earbud.

Personal Preferences:

  • Packaging is important. First impressions can last a long time.
  • I do not have a specific genre that I listen to. The songs I listen to differ greatly from billboard tops to old classics, pop, rock, edm, acoustics, alternatives, metal, and all of its sub-genres. I incline listening to metal music, specifically to power metal, death metal, and the likes.
  • I enjoy variety of sound signatures, ranging from bright analytical, balanced with only a slight dip in mids, neutral warm, and neutral bright. I generally lean to neutral-bright sound signature, with a certain degree of analytical sound. I dislike over powering bass, as it diminishes my experience of enjoying listening to music.
  • I prefer iems over earbuds, earbuds over headphones.
  • I review the products in both quiet, such as in my house or when I’m lying in bed, and loud environments, such as my daily commute.
  • When listening to earbuds, I cycle around full, donuts, and just plain naked. I generally incline to using donut foams.
  • When listening to iems, I prefer using my Symbio Wide bores as they are the most comfortable of my collection, and they bring a good amount of detail and extension in both lows and highs.
Source:

  • Shanling M3s (both low and high gain)
  • Zishan Z1 + OPA1692 as dac (PC and my phone) and dap
  • Zishan Z1 + Muses02 as dac (PC and my phone) and dap
  • Sony NW-A45
  • IBasso DX120
Specifications:

  • Sensitivity: 120dB
  • Impedance: 32Ω
  • Driver: 15mm Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 14Hz – 28,000Hz
  • Cable: 8 Core 19 Strands Copper & Silver-Plated Mixed Cable
  • Plug: 2.5mm Straight Copper Gold-Plated Plug
  • Cable Length: 1.2m
Packaging:

As I have said before, packaging should always be taken seriously, as first impressions always matter. In this price range, one cannot expect a product to have ridiculously bad packaging. Thankfully, Penon delivered their earbuds in a small, discrete way that still gives a premium unboxing experience.

The Penon BS1 Official comes in a small, red and blue themed, high-quality cardboard box. The etched text up front reads the company name in gold, “PENON”, with their logo beside it. The right side of the box displays the model of the earbud purchased, which indicates whether the BS1 the buyer purchased is terminated into 3.5mm TRS of balanced 2.5mm TRRS. Behind the box is the product description in English, together with Penon’s home and email address at the bottom.

Lifting the lid of the packaging, the buyer is greeted with a small, stubby, cylindrical wooden container. The company’s logo and name is also etched in the container’s cover. The wooden case houses the beautiful BS1 in all its glory.

Besides having the wooden container, there is a small, velvety, carrying pouch which houses the various donut and full foams, color coded in black, red, and blue. There is also a vintage-style metal shirt clip included.

In total, the buyer receives:

  • BS1 Official earbud
  • Wood case
  • 1 pair of Hiegi foam donut eartips
  • 1 pair of Hiegi foam solid eatrips
  • 4 pairs of donut foam eatips
  • 4 pairs of solid foam eartips
  • 1 pair of transparent earhook
  • Pouch
  • Clip
All in all, Penon delivered a simple, yet outstanding unboxing experience. The accessories that come with the package are adequate enough for the price range.

Build:

The BS1 Official does not fall short in build quality. The buds scream premium just by feeling and looking at it. The metal housing of the shell and stem, the thick, braided hybrid cable, the carbon stripped y-split with the branding “BS1”, hell, even the circular chin slider is premium. These buds do not just please our hearing, they please our sight and touch, too.

The shell of the drivers looks like an alien spaceship you see in conspiracy videos. At first glance, I thought the buds would seem uncomfortable as they do look intimidatingly large. However, they do fit very comfortably. At the back of the shell is where the company name is etched, “PENON”, in a manner that it wouldn’t be erased through handling as to boast confidence to the owner. There are three noticeable bass vents below the metal grilles in each driver. The stem is relatively cylindrical and color-coded, with blue being the left and red on the right.

The copper and silver-plated mixed cable is a sight to behold, though my unit has its fair share of oxidation. The braid is elegant, with no mismatch in constructing the cable. The braid is homogenous, reliable, in a sense that there is no single strand that is in conflict with the braiding. The copper and silver-plated cable is wrapped in soft TPU that doesn’t degrade over time. While other TPU coverings become sticky and icky, as if melting away, the ones in BS1 remains fresh, though the cable can be springy sometimes, retaining the bends from how it is kept away.

Penon did not hold any bars in constructing the BS1, even in the y-split and the chin-slider, and the termination. The circular chin slider is a great add on, though I do not really use it. The y-split has the branding “Bs1” on top, a carbon strip at the middle, and is hex screwed to increase longevity. It does not have a strain relief, though. The plug also has a carbon strip down the middle. The company name, together with its logo, is also printed in the gold plated copper 2.5mm plug. The plug feels durable with a lengthy strain relief to reduce the chances of wear and tear.

Great build quality means longer longevity. After all, for a 100$ earbud to last, it has to have premium build to withstand everyday usage. Again, Penon did an outstanding job in sourcing the materials used to creating the BS1 Official.

Fit and Comfort:

For me, the yuin shell offers the most comfort out of all the shell types in earbuds. Though the BS1 does not sport their buds in a yuin shell, they manage to be comfortable still, though not as comfortable as yuin. They have a shallow fit in the cavity between the tragus and anti-tragus, but they still manage to stay in my ear despite violent head shaking. The stem barely sticks to the ear notch due to the large housing. The cable is not on the heavy side, though it does have a little bit of weight to it, probably due to the chin slider and y-split, but it does not hinder the listening experience.

The BS1 demands to be felt. The fit and comfort of these earbuds are great, not in a sense that they are the most comfortable out there, but for an earbud to shine, it has to stay in the user’s ear for his or her long listening sessions without delivering fatigue. The BS1 has no compromises in comfort when using premium materials. The design of the shell is unconventional, yet still comfortable.

Sound:

In sound observation, I found that donut foams delivered the most detail while still managing to have a punchy bass and non-fatiguing signature.

The BS1’s sound signature is phenomenal. It is balanced across the spectrum, with a slight elevation in lower vocals. The vocals sound closer than the instruments. The sound stage is wide. Bass performance is exceptional. There is no sacrifice in details. Overall, the BS1 Official has a mix of both analytical and relaxed tuning, resulting in an engaging sound with smooth presentation.

Bass –

The BS1 handles the lower frequencies very well. Bass extends deep with adequate rumble and fast decay. The response of both the mid bass and upper bass is fast and controlled, not meddling with the affairs in mids or highs. There is a decent amount of sub bass. The earbud adjusts accordingly to whatever song genre the user is playing. If the song requires a good amount of bass, it does not fail to deliver. If the song requires minimal and controlled bass, the BS1 does not come as too powerful. The sound delivery of the lower frequencies adds smoothness while still maintaining clear and crisp details

Mids –

The amount of vocal detail is intense. The vocals are not too meaty, nor dry. They are presented in a smooth manner, while demanding itself to be felt by the listener, whether it be sweet serenades or loud screamos. They can be quiet shouty at some busy songs, but nevertheless, the vocals are still presented in a forgiving manner.

Instruments in the mids section are distinguished. Layering is very prominent against each other, and against the vocals. The mids can sound sexy, melancholic, and relaxing, whatever genre the user is playing. Overall, the BS1 delivers a natural and smooth approach in the mids section.

Highs –

Analytical earbuds can be an earsore for long listening sessions. While BS1 does deliver great sparkle and crisp details in the highs, it does not come off as fatiguing. The natural presentation of the highs has great extension and a degree of space to it. The instruments in this section do not congest themselves; rather, the separation is excellent. What more can one say? For a 100$ price tag, these earbuds do not fail in details and separation.

Soundstage –

The BS1 has an airy feel yet still manages to be full-sounding. There is naturally wide soundstage to it, which, when coupled to how the instruments are well separated, results in a wonderful, wide and smooth presentation. Imaging is excellent, as instruments can placed very accurately around the listener

Conclusion:

ThePenon BS1 Official are by no means an excellent earbud. They perform very wellin all genres I throw at them. Though they can be quiet shouty at some time,the BS1 still manages to sound smooth and forgiving. It is the perfect mix fromboth analytical and relaxed listening. Everything is premium, from buildquality to sound. They do truly bring a remarkable listening experience.

Gallery:

Pros: Good packaged accessories, great build quality, amazing cable, choice of 2.5mm and 3.5mm, relatively easy to drive
Cons: Cable a little bit springy


Introduction: Penon Audio is a Hong Kong company that has not only sold products on their own site at competitive prices for quite some time but they have also started to produce the their own line of products. They started with the BS1 Experience Earbud and followed up with several custom cables, and now they've recently updated their BS1 Experience earbud to the BS1 Official which is a step up in build, performance and price to the Experience.

There are currently two versions for the Penon BS1 Official, a standard with 3.5mm jack ($99 USD) and the one I have now which is the 2.5mm jack ($109 USD) or balanced plug, which I'll be reviewing. Please note I'll sometimes call the BS1 Official as just BS1 throughout the review. You can purchase the BS1 Official at the Penon website HERE or locally if your retailer has them in stock. I would like to thank Penon Audio for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.



Specifications:
Sensitivity: 120dB
Impedance: 32Ω
Driver: 15mm Dynamic Driver
Frequency Response: 14Hz - 28kHz
Cable: 8 Core 19 Strands Copper & Silver-Plated Mixed Cable
Plug: 2.5mm Straight Copper Gold-Plated Plug
Cable Length: 1.2m

32Ω is becoming a popular impedance in ear gear these days, likely from a viewpoint of being able to provide a better audio experience that is still relatively easy to drive. At a sensitivity of 120db, the BS1 Official is able to provide a good (and relatively loud) listening experience even on mobile phones (like my low output XZ Premium) and portable gaming gear.



Unboxing: The BS1 Official came in a simple and compact box with the Penon branding in the front and the model type on the side. Behind the box is the specifications and description of the earbud, and inside you'll find the beautiful circular wooden case that holds the BS1 Official.



Under the case is the soft carrying case that holds 2 packs of various foam covers for the earbuds, a metal shirt clip and a Penon branded cable wrap (in green!) Inside the wooden case lies the Penon BS1 Official.



The BS1 Official cable is one of those rare nicely braided 8 core types that are flexible.

Cable: The first upgrade given to the Official vs the Experience is the 8 core hybrid cable, made of 19 strands of copper and silver plated (copper) wire. The braids on the cable are nice and uniform, no wire is out of sync with the whole. The wires are coated in transparent TPU and they dont feel sticky or overly smooth. There's enough looseness so that the overall feeling of the cable is relatively soft and flexible though there is a certain amount of sponge like spring when they're first taken out of the case. Overall the cable looks good and pricey, feels supple and strong too.





Metal alloy, carbon fiber sheath design, gold plated copper plug.

Build/Design: The plug is a Penon branded screw on metal alloy jacket with a black carbon fiber strip design. It terminates in a gold plated copper 2.5mm plug that's smooth, looks good and feels sturdy. There is a rigid transparent strain relief at the opposite end of the plug.



Black carbon fiber splitter, alloy slider

The splitter is made of an alloy metal with "Bs1" branded on the upper metal part and the middle of the splitter is wrapped in a strip of black carbon fiber. The slider is made of the same alloy material and has dampeners inside so it does not slide around loosely, it has enough grip to keep it's position and still slide along the wire without much effort.



Made of metal, but it rocks!



Air holes, wires, that UFO shell design

The other half of the upgrade from the BS1 Experience is the metal shell used on the Official, it has 3 small bass port holes near the cable stem side, a metal mesh driver cover and metal cable stems. Everything here feels solid, smooth and inspires confidence in it's build. The 15mm driver is a bit easier for me to fit in my ears with the donut foams and feels most comfortable (and stable) when the wire is looped over my ear like an IEM with the bud hanging in my ear. In this config I can move around while maintaining a good enough seal to enjoy listening and still let some loud ambient sounds enter my ear. The bud is low profile enough to be comfortable in a sleeping position and light enough to feel unobtrusive with normal use.



Sound Stuff: When I first tried the BS1, I felt like it was a good balanced earbud from the get go, it had good soundstage and clarity and made me feel good listening to music. Later on though, I tried using the donut foams more than the stock full cover foams which resulted in better performance and fit, but knowing that it's a dynamic driver, I let them play music for over 150 hours so they can stretch out a bit, then tried listening and comparing them to my other earbud, the HiFi Boy Dream after. Being a balanced plug, I was able to use it on my WM1a (with a 4.4mm adapter) and my R6 directly, and with another adapter for 3.5mm, I was also able to test it on my Zishan Z1, phone and Nintendo Switch for driveability tests.

Bass: The BS1 has a good amount of sub-bass, and songs with slam hits well enough to be felt. Bass extension is moderately deep and it keeps drum driven songs like Way Down Deep sound lovely with a bass decay that's a little fast and yet gives a good rumble. The BS1 is able to resolve and separate dissonant sounds with good control and speed, songs like The Day the World Went Away and Lithium sound natural and fun. Overall, the BS1's bass warmth adds smoothness and body with the music you play and presents the bass frequency with a good amount of accuracy and clarity that sounds good and engaging.



Mids: The BS1 commands a good amount of ability here with the clarity and detail it presents to the listener. On female vocals, there is a bit of forwardness with the upper mid area that gives them a slight advantage in presence and intimacy vs male vocals as if Norah Jones is serenading you by your ear. This does not mean male vocals or the lower mids are ignored, neutrally placed, there is a thickness to the body that prevents them from sounding dry or hollow. Separation is good here and lets you listen to instruments, voices and sounds without straining to hear one over the other. The overall warmth and thickness lends to a smooth experience but it's not too thick that it sounds unnatural.

Highs: There is a natural extension with the treble of the BS1 that has good clarity, some sparkle and a great amount of air. The guitars and bagpipes on It's a Long Way to the Top scream into the BS1 and it delivers them in a full bodied and energetic manner with no sibilance or harshness, while orchestral music and violins from Vanessa Mae in particular, practically sing with emotion on the BS1. Separation is good here too as music sounds uncompressed and smooth aided by the air and warmth that the BS1 offers.

Soundstage: Has very good width and depth that extends naturally around the listener, this lends to an airy atmosphere that makes listening to classical, orchestral, stringed instruments and acoustic performances sound realistic and accurately placed.



Comparisions:
Penon BS1 Official vs HiFi Boy Dream
(Both are using donut foams and volume matched to 90db)
Both the BS1 Official and Deam have relatively balanced tonalities, but the BS1 has more sub-bass quantity and extension than the Dream which has a faster sub-bass decay vs the smoother texture of the BS1. The mid bass of the BS1 is fuller and has a bigger slam then the Dream. Both do not bleed into the mids.

Lower and higher mids have more body on the BS1 and male vocals sound better because of it than on the Dream. Female vocals are more forward and intimate with the Dream but the thicker body of the BS1 lends a more sweeter taste, and though there is clarity and transparency in both, the Dream edges the BS1 in both by a little bit.

Though both are able to control sibilance and harshness greatly, treble highs are presented with more body and smoothness with the BS1 than on the Dream. On the other hand, the Dream is more crisp and sparkly in that regard than the BS1.

In stage, the BS1 and Dream has similar and natural expansion but the Dream has less vertical depth than the BS1. Detail retrieval, layering and separation is again similar on both though the BS1 has a bit more ability to retrieve detail.



Conclusion: From the classy wood case, packaged accessories, it's solid and smooth built shell, to the braided 8 ore balanced cable, the BS1 Official is a great balanced sounding earbud for all kinds of music (Though I confess to suddenly listening more to classical and orchestral music thanks to this). It has an overall smooth and full bodied sound that still carries good and palpable bass, vocal beauty, clarity, very good levels of detail retrieval and a resounding treble. The wide soundstage and air are icings on this delicious cake.

Note on cable: an 8 core cable on a bare earbud can be hard to keep in your ear and can be a bit too heavy for some. The solution I had for my ear structure, is to place the earbud stem 45 degrees up place the cable wire on my ear and hang them down from there like wearing In-Ear Monitors. Other options you may consider is ear hooks.

Pros: Good packaged accessories, great build quality, amazing cable, choice of 2.5mm and 3.5mm, relatively easy to drive

Cons: Cable a little bit springy

Nitpicks: I really wish there were ear hooks included in the package.



Sound testing was done using a Sony WM1a (Primarily), a Hiby R6 and Zishan Z1(for comparison) and a phone (for checking driveability) volume matched to 90.X db of max volume for safe hearing below 8 hours of use and calibrated using a 1kh tone on a dedicated DB Meter, all sources patched through a switcher. More information will be available on the About Me page (once I find the time to write it up.)

Pros: Excellent articulation and build quality, great accessory package, luxurious cable, multiple termination options
Cons: Cable mildly stiff
BS1 Official Version Review: Extra-Aural Luxury
Penon Audio is a distributor for ChiFi products. They operate, unlike many audiophile shops based in China, on their own platform, rather than inside a larger market such as Aliexpress. They’ve established themselves as a trustworthy business, and one that offers some pretty competitive prices at that. Until recently, they’d only worked on the distribution side of things. But now Penon Audio has gotten into developing their own products. The BS1 is their brainchild and, after several iterations, it has reached its final form. But what even is a luxury earbud?

You can find the BS1 Official Version for sale here, for $100-$110. It is available with a 3.5mm TRS cable termination or a 2.5mm balanced cable termination.

About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:

  • My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
  • I have a mild treble sensitivity.
Source: The BS1 was powered like so:

HTC U11 -> Zorloo ZuperDAC-S -> earphones

or

Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

or

HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

or

PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

Tech Specs
  • Driver: 15mm dynamic driver
  • Impedance: 32ohm
  • Frequency response: 14Hz — 28 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 120dB
  • Cable: 8 strand, 19-core, copper & silver-plated cable
  • Cable length: 1.2m
Sound Signature
Sonic Overview:

The BS1 Official Version has a very natural-sounding sound signature. It features a hearty mid-bass, a linear midrange with a mild warmth, and an energetic, well-extended, treble. The BS1 is incredibly cohesive despite not being able to seal on the ear like an IEM can.

Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy, Little One

The BS1 hits a lot of the right notes with its treble presentation. Articulate and natural-sounding, it provides the listener with a life-like presentation of whatever they’re listening to. Detail retrieval is pretty good, by earbud standards, and above average for this price point.

The BS1 managed to pick up the amp-buzz in the intro of In One Ear with relative ease. It continued to grab background details throughout the rest of the song. High-hat and cymbal tonality and presentation is really good too.

The BS1’s treble extends very far and remains even and tempered all the way up. Such extension and control gives the BS1 an airy presentation that aids its instrumental separation.

Midrange: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams, Too Close, Little Black Submarines

The BS1’s mids are surprisingly rich and well-weighted. Normally earbuds have a hard time maintaining their warmth without creating a messy presentation, but the BS1 has no such flaw. Its 15mm driver creates just enough emphasis in the lower-midrange to give electric guitars satisfying chugs and male vocals a natural timbre.

The upper-midrange is equally capable, nailing the articulation of drums and vocal intelligibility. The midrange's detail retrieval is also quite good, in spite of its recession in the sound signature.

The BS1 does not prefer male vocals over female vocals (or vice versa) to any noticeable degree. They are both well-weighted and intelligible. The BS1 captures a lot of detail in that frequency range. It often times reveals small attenuation or inflections in the vocals.

Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

The BS1 has a decent mid-bass presence. Given its form-factor, having any punch at all is quite the achievement. So while the BS1 doesn’t have a lot of quantity of bass, it more than makes up for that in quality. The mid-bass is precise and well-controlled. Bass drops are dynamic and engaging, and instrumentation that lives in the lower-register maintains a lot of texture, even if it doesn’t quite rumble.

Packaging / Unboxing


Build
Construction Quality


The BS1’s shell is made entirely from a light metal. It is machined very well and is free from manufacturing errors or defects. The shell doesn’t have any external stress relief for the cable as the BS1, as I’m told, takes care of that inside the shell to improve aesthetics. The inner face of the BS1 is also metal. The “speaker grill” is finely perforated at even intervals, each hole cut cleanly from the metal.

The BS1’s cable is well made. It is an 8-core silver/copper hybrid, braided in a double-chain geometry. At its thickest, the BS1’s cable is quite hefty. It can still be easily bent though, as it is pliable. Due to having eight fairly thick cores though, it is springy and will try to return to a straighter shape if left alone. That said, it is still very easy to coil and store, and I had no problems keeping it orderly during my photo shoot.



My BS1 came terminated with a 3.5mm jack. It, like the Y-splitter and chin slider, is housed in metal. Both the jack and the Y-splitter feature black carbon fiber accents though. A nice touch that makes the BS1 feel premium.

Comfort

The BS1 is an earbud and a larger one at that. As such, people with small ears will have a hard time handling the BS1. I, however, had no problem using the BS1 for extended periods of time. Your mileage will vary according to your unique aural anatomy though.

Accessories

The BS1 comes very well-stocked with accessories. Inside the box you will find:

  • 1x soft carrying pouch
  • 2x packs of foam earbud covers
  • 1x cable wrap
  • 1x shirt clip
  • 1x wooden carrying case
The BS1 has the most comprehensive accessory package of an earbud I’ve reviewed to date. Coming with both a hard carrying case and a soft carrying pouch, it definitely gets you what you pay for. Moreover, they both feel high-quality. I especially like the wooden case. It seals using only friction. The cut between the lip of the lid and case itself is so precise that it is almost airtight when closed.

Summary
The BS1 makes good on the concept of a luxury earbud. It compares favorably against its fellow earbuds, and even outperforms some full-blown IEMs in terms of treble detail retrieval. A comprehensive and high-quality set of accessories makes it a good choice for both the earbud enthusiast.

As always, happy listening!
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