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Blue Microphones Lola

Blue Microphones Lola Black

4.15 4.15 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

A review of the Blue Lola headphones for tracking and mixing in the studio.


7th March 2016

Blue Microphones Lola Black by sotgw

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Blue Microphones Lola

Blue Lola Headphones: A Good Fit in the Studio?

By Eric Butterfield

The Blue Lola headphones ($250 MSRP) are a follow-up to the more expensive Mo-Fi cans, which had a built-in amplifier. The Lola pair lacks the built-in amplifier, which isn't a drawback in my opinion. I preferred the passive mode on the Mo-Fi headphones. Without an amplifier, the Lola headphones cost less than the Mo-Fi cans, yet have the same 50mm drivers, which is a win-win if you ask me.

For this review, I am focusing on using the Lola headphones for tracking and mixing in a studio (you can find plenty of general reviews elsewhere). The company already has a strong reputation for making high-quality microphones. And, the company's product page boasts that the Lola headphones are a good fit for musicians while recording or mixing. Blue's literature also boasts a fealty to sound quality, not headphone convention. The very striking design certainly makes a fashion statement. But how fashionable-looking your headphones are doesn't fly far in a recording studio. Studios can be rough environments, and for this the Lola's removable cable is a welcome feature.

Comfort

There are many glowing reviews online that attest to how comfortable the Lola headphones are, which baffles me. I compared them to two other pairs I use for reference in my studio: Audio Technica ATH-M50x and Sony MDR-V6 headphones. To be fair, I don't find headphones comfortable for very long, but I found the Lola headphones less comfortable in a matter of a few minutes.

The weight is a little cumbersome, at 14 ounces. By comparison, the ATH-M50x cans weigh 10 ounces; Sony's MDR-V6 headphones weigh 8 ounces. Also, the pressure of the headband springs put on my head was a little severe. For the record, I do not have an abnormally large head (my baseball cap size is small-medium). Unlike its older sibling, the Mo-Fi, these headphones do not have a tension adjustment built into the headband (not that I found a loosening of this tension to be any help with the Mo-Fi cans either). I don't buy the notion that the double-hinged design makes these headphones more comfortable than other models.

Even if the pressure on my head wasn't a deal-killer, the weight probably would be. These are heavier than anything I would want to have on my head for any extended period of time, unless perhaps I was lying down. They feel restrictive, that I can't move my head quickly for fear of them flying off. The big ear cups may be a big reason why other reviewers have found these headphones to be quite comfortable--they go completely around your ears, keeping the fabric in front of the drivers off your ears, which is a plus. And, it is possible that the padding over time would soften and be more comfortable than I've found them to be out of the box. Being dense memory foam, it lacks the give of the fluffier foam used on other headphone models.

Sound Isolation

The potential good news here is certainly the isolation that should come with the ample padding of deep ear cups--the padding is twice as thick as on my ATH-M50x pair. But in practice, I did not find that this delivered better sound isolation. I compared the Lola headphones to my ATH-M50x pair while banging away on the drums, playing to a mix in the headphones. I found no benefit to wearing the Lola headphones, and did not think they blocked out the drum sound any more than the Audio Technica headphones did. Drumming is a very physical activity; without demonstrably better sound isolation, there's no reason to have extra weight on your head distracting you from the groove. I wore the Lola headphones while laying a guitar track as well, and came to same conclusion: A lighter pair of headphones putting less pressure on my head was less distracting and therefore preferable.

The Lola Sound: Can You Trust the Mix?

Many reviewers have glowing praises about the sound of these headphones. But my interest here is strictly for mixing applications. My music styles range from rock to Americana and singer/songwriter. For this, I cannot say I was floored. The most obvious sound quality here is full bass (the frequency response is 15Hz-20kHz). But I do not mean punchy and defined. I found the low end to be flabby and boomy in the 50Hz-100Hz range. It added an unnatural thump to kick drums and snares, robbing them of presence. On my pair of ATH-M50x cans, mixes sounded up-front and clear, while on the Lola cans they lost presence and became boomy. Of course, all this could mean the other cans are lying, I'm a terrible at mixing, and Lola is the guardian angel I refuse to acknowledge.

So I compared other sources, taking the same material to my home stereo and car stereo (and, of course, my near-field monitors), in an attempt to see if the Lola headphones were showing me something closer to the truth. One plus was that Lola's wide frequency response is helpful in identifying excesses below roughly 40 Hz, which just happens to be the cutoff of my near-field monitors. But when I adjusted a mix using only the Lola headphones, their exaggerated low end caused me to overcorrect my mistake.

Also, there is a boxiness to the midrange--a honky characteristic--that I found hard to enjoy. When playing with the EQ, boosting a little at 10 kHz for definition seemed to counteract it a little. Other reviewers have said that the definition in the sound allowed them to hear things they had not heard before. This may refer more to the ample soundstage some reviewers claim, but to my ears, the lack of clarity in the high end is more important for mixing applications. I appreciate that the high end is not overhyped, but it made them a less than ideal candidate for mixing in this frequency range. For definition to help you hear things you've never noticed (like hiss or guitar amp noise so you can fix it in a mix), I think a pair of cans with a high end boost is a better fit. For example, the Sony MDR-V6 headphones, which have a boost around 10 kHz. The hyped-up high end may fatigue your ears, but it definitely will bring out hissing or buzzing you'd hate to miss while mixing on your flat-reference monitors.

In the end, I find the Lola headphones to be a better bargain than their Mo-Fi predecessor, having ditched the expense of the built-in amplifier. But for tracking in the studio, the extra weight is distracting and did not provide additional sound isolation, to my ears. Also, I found the pressure and memory foam density to be uncomfortable, particularly for long mixing sessions. Although, the accentuated low end will help you find excessive bass in your mixes, I would not trust a Lola pair as the sole headphone source paired with near-field monitors.

17th May 2016

Blue Microphones Lola Black by thismercifulfate

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Blue Microphones Lola

Intro/Background: I'm not going to lie, I bought these headphones without having read any reviews or having tried them out first. When I heard Blue came out with a more compact, no/frills version of the MoFi with a price of $100 lower, that was enough to get me to pull the trigger. I found a B-Stock pair from Sweetwater for a very nice price. I already own a pair of AKG K240 Studios which I've had forever and really know and trust. More recently I picked up a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 Ohm headphones for my studio. They have not turned out to be useful for mixing at all (too strident, lean on the bottom end), but are perfect for tracking musicians, especially vocalists because they can hear themselves very clearly without having to crank up their levels, so they have their permanent place in my studio.

I had no idea what to expect with the Lola's, other than them looking really cool. Having used most of Blue's studio mics, I trusted that they weren't going to be garbage, but I was wondering how they would be voiced.

Unboxing: Upon arrival I was pleased to find that the B-Stock model I got were flawless. The only evidence that they were not factory new were the broken seals on the box. Speaking of the box, it's very impressive - big and sturdy. In it, the headphones, two cables, a cool black 'platform' that you can use to set the headphones on when not in use, and a nice heavy-duty travelling bag. One cable is approx. 4ft and is a 3.5mm TRRS cable with integrated remote and mic module for integration with a laptop or smartphone. The other cable is about 20ft long and is 3.5mm TRS. Obviously the cables can be detached from the headset. The cables are flat - Blue claim this keeps them tangle-free. I find this true for the short cable, but the long one is a bit unweildy to wrap and store and does tangle easily. I would have preferred something thicker and more heavy duty for studio use. Perhaps someone will make a nice aftermarket cable for it. The short cable is great for my commute on bike and bus.

Build and wearing experience: I had seen pictures of the headphones, but they were a lot bigger than I had expected. Considering these have been slimmed down from the MoFis, I can't imagine how big those are. They look really slick! The black finish with the silver trim looks superb. The earcups are really thick, deep and luxurious. They fot around the ears so nothing is touching or pressing against your ears. They create a nice seal and the sound blockage is very impressive. They block a good bit more than the DT770's. The innovative self-adjusting headband is really great, you just pull the headphones over your head and it's mindless to get them into a good position. The cups don't clamp down very hard, and the thick cushion under the top of the headband remains comfortable for hours. These headphones are not light, but I'm not experiencing the kind of fatigue I get with Sennheiser HD280's or on-the-ear cans like the Audio Technica ATH-M50's. However, if you need to take off the headphones and wear them around your neck, they are really uncomfortable, no matter how you adjust them. Because the headphones are spring-loaded and naturally want to go into their collapsed position, they tend to really hug your neck hard. Also, there are several pinch points on the high-tech headband that longer hair will get snagged on, so beware!

Sonics: More surprises awaited me from these headphones. I have had them for over a month now and I have concluded that they have a pretty unique voicing compared to any headphones I've heard. The big surprise for me is the top-end presentation. It's really flat! No trace of hype at all, almost verging on dark, but only because I had come from those Beyers. This put a big smile on my face, because it reminds me of my Neumann KH120A studio monitors and exactly what I want from a headphone for mixing and tracking purposes. The midrange is also very natural-sounding. The bottom clearly has a bump and is very 'fun' to listen to. Thankfully it's not boomy, but it's tight, visceral and deep. The soundstage is pretty nice for a closed-back headphone, but nothing like a nice open-back headphone like the AKG K601.

In conclusion: I am beyond stoked about these cans. I have a treated single-room studio, so while the Beyers are great for the talent, these Lola's are amazing for me during tracking. I can trust the top-end and midrange enough to be able to shootout mics, preamps and dial in eq on the way down because I know nothing is being exaggerated there. The sound blockage helps when my talent is just feet away from me, so I don't have to crank my level. And after work they knock down the ambience in the noisy bus. The build quality is superb. I highly recommend these for audio engineers and for music aficionados who need a natural-sounding closed-back headphone. If you like to wear cans around your neck these are not for you. These are not the best for vocalists in the studio because of their even mids and high-end presentation, but with the great isolation and fun bottom end are awesome for drummers.

 
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