Blue Lola Over-ear Headphones Review
Like a boxer cutting weight, Blue's slimmer Lola still packs a punch
The market for high-end over-ear headphones is saturated these days, with companies like Beats, Audio-Technica, Sony, Sennheiser, Bose, AKG, Bowers & Wilkins, and plenty more all vying for the same customers. But despite there being so many options on the market these days, it's safe to say that none have a design as eye-catching as those from Blue.
The latest is the Blue Lola (MSRP $269.99 at Amazon). The successors to the Blue Mo-Fi over-ears we reviewed back in 2015, the Lolas feature the same funky design language but trim the Mo-Fi's built-in amplifier. This drives the cost below $300 and keeps the weight down, resulting in a more appealing fit and price point.
These are still too bulky to use on your daily commute, but they provide a compelling option for anyone who likes the fit and finish of Blue's higher-end headphones but wants something smaller and lighter. They sound fantastic, with extra-clean bass and excellent, warm mid tones that complement all kinds of genres. The only issue? You can find other closed-back headphones that sound just as good for less money.
About the Blue Lola Over-Ear Headphones
The Blue Lola headphones fall into the over-ear category, meaning they've got earcups that completely encase your ears with thick padding. This leaves plenty of room for the drivers to do their job of moving air around without things getting too crowded, while sealing tightly enough to your head that outside sounds are muffled. These are generally the most comfortable headphones, but they're also the bulkiest. Here are the specs provided by Blue:
Driver: 50mm, fiber-reinforced dynamic driver
Impedance: 42 ohms
Frequency response: 15Hz-20kHz
Weight: 397 g (14 oz)
Dimensions (closed): 21cm x 14cm x 12cm; 8.27” x 5.51” x 4.72
Dimensions (open): 18cm x 29cm x 12cm; 7.09” x 11.42” x 4.72”
Includes: Soft case, 1.2-meter audio cable with in-line iOS controls, 3 meter audio cable, 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter
What We Like
The unique design turns heads, and fits perfectly with minimal effort
The most eye-catching thing about the Blue Lola over-ears is their steampunk-style headband design. Instead of having the earcups sit on a sliding band that you adjust by pulling down, the cups essentially sit on independent, movable arms. One lets you pull the earcups wider and away from your head, while each earcup also sits on its own arm that you can adjust vertically.
A great deal of that range of motion is absurdly unnecessary, and extending the cups all the way to the end goes far beyond what any reasonably-sized human head would need. But that, combined with the cushy padding on the earcups and the headband, means that Lolas seem to just sit atop your head, rather than weight it down.
In a nutshell: you can just put them on and they will likely fit great every time with minimal adjustment needed.
The earcups are plush and don't leak much sound
Earcups come in all shapes and sizes, but to effectively block out sound over-ears need to create a somewhat tight seal on your head. Some do this with inward pressure by design, but this can be uncomfortable after a while. The Lolas work by having massive earcups with plushy, firm material inside. Though the seal doesn't do much to keep ambient noises down, it does a great job of keeping your music in, so you can crank the volume up a few more notches.
Your ears may get a bit warm after awhile, but that extra space means that there's more room for your music to bounce around, giving it a sense of openness you don't get with in-ears or on-ears. It's not quite on par with a pair of open-back headphones like the AKG K701s (which are similarly comfortable), but open-back headphones also let all your sound out, which isn't ideal either.
Superb sound quality across all major genres
Though the Blue Lolas don't excel at every genre, they perform admirably well at just about everything. From rap, to hip-hop, to pop, to classical, blues, jazz, and more the Lolas never gave me any major issues. Our lab tests bore this out, with the Lolas showing no real weak spots. There's just enough bass, and just enough emphasis in the highs, and that complements nearly everything and lets the mids truly shine.
And personally, that's what I prefer. Many of my favorite musical elements fall into the mid-range, and it's tricky territory. The Lolas didn't give me any problems in that regard, and they really came alive on productions that provide a mix of elements. The only thing that felt a bit off to me were songs that feature high notes, which came through as muted sometimes, though Marian Hill's I Want You sounded beautiful.
Which isn't to say they can't throw some bass your way when necessary. Kanye's Ultralight Beams soars on the Blue Lolas. I've called this out before, but the stretch starting right at 4:07 features a spine-tingling bassline that drops and reverberates under the word faith. It's awesome, and the Lolas definitely do the moment justice.
Removable cables are always a welcome feature
There's no need to oversell this: removable cables increase durability. They're always the first thing to go, and if you're spending more than $100 on a pair of over-ear headphones the cable should be replaceable, full-stop.
What We Don't Like
They may be the least portable headphones of all time
Many people buy headphones because they want something flexible that they can take with them multiple places, such as the train or an airplane. The Blue Lolas are not for those people. They're big, they're bulky, and they don't collapse down. If you wore them at a coffee shop you would absolutely deserve every ounce of shade thrown your way.
Obviously, that's not what these were designed for, but if you're laying down this kind of money you may want to look into a pair that don't have to stay home if you're traveling. Of course, maybe you just don't care. In which case, do you, and maybe pick up a sweet headphone stand to show them off at home.
The earcups can clamp a little too tightly for some people
While I had no trouble wearing the Blue Lolas for long stretches at a time, the tension in the arms does create a bit of (necessary) tightness on your head.. While that may loosen up over time, after several weeks of use they still feel like they're clamping down on my head a bit. Again, it wasn't something I found bothersome, but it drives some people nuts.
The earpads aren't easily removable
The large, plush earpads are one of the Lolas' best features. They're thicker than most pads we've used and have a very plush foam inside. That said, like pretty much any pair of headphones, I can see these things starting to fray over time, even if you're mostly using them in one place. The pads don't appear to be particularly easy to replace if they start to get beat up or the foam compresses.
The pads don't isolate particularly well
Over-ear headphones are rarely great at blocking out noises from around you, whether that's office chatter or the humming of a plane engine during a cross-country flight. The Lolas don't feature any kind of noise cancellation, so they're predictably about average at isolation, despite the large, plushy earpads.
The saving grace here, though, is that they do keep sound in very well. This means you can play your music just a bit louder, which will help drown out the world around you. It doesn't mean you can enjoy the sweet sounds of silence if you work next to a Chatty Kathy, but you should be able to hear your music still.
Should You Buy Them?
Yes—if you love the design, listen to bass-heavy music, and don't mind that they're not portable.
If you were going to design a pair of headphones that would please everyone, it's safe to say they wouldn't look much like the Blue Lola. You'd want something portable, something that could cancel outside noise, and you'd want it wrapped up with a bland, inoffensive design. The Lolas are decidedly not those headphones.
But if those "ideal" headphones are The Beatles, the Lolas are something closer to The Kinks; they're here to do their thing and you're either going to love it, or you're going to hate it, and Blue doesn't seem particularly concerned which camp you fall into. And while I don't love everything about the Lolas and I wouldn't recommend them to everyone, I can absolutely see the right buyer falling in love with them.
Here's the deal though: they're not for commuters. They're not for people who need headphones for frequent cross-country trips. Hell, they're barely suitable for people who want headphones that can travel from the office to the living room. They can do all that, of course, but they're much better for people who tend to do nearly all their music listening in one place, who just want awesome-sounding headphones for under $300.
If that's you, then these are a great option. They fit my ears nearly perfectly every single time I put them on without having to make major adjustments. They also complemented all my favorite playlists beautifully, and they're cheaper and lighter than the Blue Mo-Fi over-ears we tested last year. And though these don't get quite as loud as those, I frankly didn't miss the Mo-Fi's built-in amplifier; I was plenty satisfied powering these with just my HP Spectre x360, and I wouldn't have wanted the extra weight.
Are they perfect headphones? Not at all. And for budget-conscious shoppers I'd still recommend something like the Audio-Technica M50x for half the price. But for someone who wants a comfy pair of over-ears that can do just about everything, do it well, and otherwise hang out on your desk and look pretty, the Blue Lolas are Something Else.
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