Blue's LOLA Headphone Reviewed
If you didn't catch our Blue Mo-Fi headphones review that came out earlier this year, you could check it out here to get a comparison.
To recap, the Mo-Fi headphones blew us away with its design and incredible sound, but this was not a headphone for everybody due to some of it's quirks and large size.
Blue recently added another headphone to its lineup that opens up the target audience a little wider with its slimmer and lighter design and lower price point. The Mo-Fi came in at a steep $349.00 which took the weekend warriors out of the demo leaving the Mo-Fi for the hardcore sound enthusiasts for the most part. The new LOLA comes in with a lot of the same features and design sans the internal amp and a more manageable price tag at $250.
So let's get into the LOLA.
At first glance, you could easily mistake the Mo-Fi with the LOLA as they are almost identical in design (on the outside anyway). Mo-Fi fans will notice there is no longer a tension knob on the headband of the LOLA and, of course, there is no amp control, otherwise they are the same. The LOLA even uses the same 50 mm drivers as the Mo-Fi, which immediately gave us some hope for similar performance.
Just like the Mo-Fi, these are still cans for more serious audio nerds aka audiophiles aka sound enthusiasts. The LOLA's come with the same comfort details as their big brother with ample padding on both the headband and earcups which helps with longer sessions and sound isolation. Despite the comfort factor, they just might be a big cumbersome for some more "on the go" types and a bit heavy as well.
To keep up with my string of booze analogies, this is a headphone for guys that love great whisky not the Dewars or Cutty Sark types.
What's in the box?
Colors: Black or White
The LOLA comes with two flat cables, one that is longer and meant for use in the house/studio the other is short with a remote/mic for more mobile types. If you are going to be using it with your old school analog gear or in the studio, there is also a 0.25-inch adapter. There is soft carrying case that is similar to the Mo-Fi's with a magnetic snap flap, but could stand to be upgraded considering the price and size of the unit.
How Do They Sound?
I'm a big fan of testing with various genres to really get the full sound spectrum and of course see how that bass lands.
EDM / Electronic - I went the distance in this genre for obvious reasons from house to techno to ambient. The LOLA's handled the sub-bass really well without distorting which happens with a lot of headphones on the low end. The kick drums were tight and punchy, mids sparkled and were clear and consistent and highs were crisp. From the full on assault of Autechre and Aphex Twin to the more mellow vibes of Brian Eno's Ambient Works series, it was all handled beautifully by the LOLA. Even on tracks where the bass can often overpower the balance, i.e., Dubstep, these cans kept the details audible.
Acoustic / Indie / Jazz - I love testing with acoustic folk, jazz and indie rock because you can find out if the headphones can handle the details. Often rock can sound muddled or soupy, but the LOLA's find the particulars in the well-mastered tracks. From the slide of a finger on a guitar string to a subtle rim shot, the sounds never crowd each other out. From Nick Drake to John Coltrane to MGMT, the sound was always natural and even. The quality especially stands out on tracks with big guitars that can often drown out the other instruments; you still hear the other instruments clearly.
Hip Hop - Hip Hop is always great for pushing the bass limits just like EDM and today's Hip Hop producers are taking the bass to new depths. For me, this genre is the make or break on a headphone as so many of today's "high-end" brands just overkill it on the low end. If the bass overpowers the whole song and just smears it all together with a flabby syrupy rap vocal, I'm usually tapping out. Often this can be the result of bad production, not the headphones, so I made sure to listen to some of the best producers in the game like DJ Premier, Metro Boomin, etc. With just about all the tracks I listened to the bass was fully present as the producer had intended but not boosted or artificial. If you dig Hip Hop and want to hear it how it was supposed to sound, you will love these. Especially with today's complex productions and deep sub-bass, you can hear the details in the vocals and mids.
Classical / Orchestral - Just as you would expect the LOLA handles orchestral music exceedingly well. The biggest thing you will notice is the sense of space that they create. You can close your eyes and easily imagine where the orchestra is sitting as the sounds wash over you.
The LOLA is a fantastic addition to the small but stellar Blue Headphone family. If you are looking for a less expensive over-ear headphone, that will deliver stunning sound on your mobile device, computer or analog gear these are worth considering. Essentially these are just the Mo-Fi's sans a little weight, tension control (headband) and the onboard amp. I love the Mo-Fi's but having this option in the lineup makes a lot of sense especially if you already own a DAC (see V-Moda DAC & DAC Magic).
Size does matter here and it's intentional; the cups create a large sealed area around your ears allowing the drivers to perform at optimal levels. That extra padding and space helps creates true isolation with minimal vibration and that makes your music sound better. So the bulk is the sacrifice here, and well worth if you are super particular about your sound.
If you are going to be using these at the office, home or on the occasional road trip, then you should be okay. These are not great commuter/traveling headphones for obvious reasons. The LOLA's are also great for gaming; we tested on both the Xbox One and Playstation 4. You hear every detail, so NO ONE is creeping up on you.