Blue is a big name in microphones, with its mics having helped launch a whole new generation of podcasters, streamers and YouTubers from their bedrooms.
The company’s products are distinctive in many ways. They’re rugged enough to survive being used on the road, they’re very simple to use, and they feature throwback '60s-era styling.
The company’s new headphone range are distinctive in exactly the same ways. They’re well built, they’re easy to use and they look unlike most other headphones on the market.
Lola is the cheapest of the range at £199.99. It's a wired pair of headphones that comes with a carry case, a couple of audio cables for use at home and on-the-go, plus a headphone adaptor for amps and stereo systems.
So, do Blue's headphones match up to the quality of its mics?
HER NAME WAS LOLA
Blue has presented its Lola headphones very neatly to make a great first impression as you open the box. You first find the headphones standing upright, all ready to be taken out and plonked straight on your head.
They're available in black and white - we were sent the black model to review by Blue - and the first thing you notice about them is how distinct they look. Most headphones feature some sort of sliding mechanism between the ear cup and the headband to adjust where they sit on your head. On the Blue headphones, the headband remains static, while the arms pivot on hinges to adjust for fit.
This means the Lolas don't conform to the familiar U-shape of most headphones. Whether you like the style will be a matter of taste, but if you’re using them on-the-move, bear in mind that they’ll take up more room in your bag than most headphones. Thankfully, they still fit comfortably around the neck when you’re not listening to them.
As well as the headphones, Blue has included a 3m detachable audio cable for home use, a 1.2m audio cable with in-line remote control for use on-the-go, a soft carry case and a 3.5mm to ¼-inch adaptor for stereo systems/amps.
We particularly like that there are two different cables with different appropriate lengths for home and portable use. However, the longer 3m cable doesn't feel quite long enough to offer some freedom for you to move around as you listen to music, or if you wanted to plug them into a TV and listen from your sofa.
The mobile cable is shorter than the standard cable, which is smart as you don’t want to be tripping over it on the way to work. The remote control is sturdy and the buttons are easy to operate. There are three of them: two for volume, and one for play/pause and skipping tracks. The problem is, the volume buttons only work on iOS devices - they do nothing on computers or Android phones and tablets.
The soft carry case isn’t going to protect the Lolas from any serious knocks and bangs, but the headphones are thankfully rugged enough to be thrown into a backpack on their own.
We reviewed these headphones at the start of summer and they’re not the most comfortable things to wear in the heat. Even in an air-conditioned office, the tightness of the fit became a little uncomfortable after a couple of hours.
The Blue Lola headphones are well made, but the mid-range price means that a few concessions have obviously been made. The silver trimming looks good, but it’s plastic rather than chrome, and the leatherette finish just doesn’t feel as soft and comfortable as other headphones we’ve used, such as the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0s.
THE BIG BLUE
With its high-quality microphones, Blue built up a loyal fanbase of bedroom streamers and podcasters. We’re pleased to report that the Lola headphones continue this tradition of quality.
I spend much of my day listening to wireless headphones - whether it’s the Jabra Elite Sport Wireless on my cycle to the office, or the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 once I get there. While wireless is great for convenience (not to mention kind of a necessity for owners of the iPhone 7 and HTC U11), it was a shock going to the wired Blue Lola headphones. They just sounded so good.
They produce a really enjoyable listening experience across music, movies and podcasts. At the low end, the bass packs a powerful punch, but vocals still remain sprightly. The headphones feature a closed design, but that didn’t result in a boxed-in sound - they always felt open and wide and didn’t strain my ears at higher volumes.
It's obviously frustrating for Android users the in-line remote isn’t able to control volume, meaning that they'll either need to pull their device out to operate it, or try and master the through-the-trouser-pocket technique, and another area where I was disappointed was the microphone. Using it to talk to people on my mobile, they often couldn't hear what I was saying, especially when outside or surrounded by noise.
One thing that you might want to consider at the £200 mark is that if you jump up to the next level of headphones, you'll get a lot more features. Take the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones for example - they offer Bluetooth connectivity, active noise cancellation and a more comfortable fit for £290. £90 is a lot, but if you travel a lot, we’d highly recommend spending the extra.
Blue Lola headphones verdict
The Blue Lola headphones are easy to recommend for anyone looking for a great quality pair of wired headphones at a mid-range price. They sound great, they look distinctive, and they come with all the accessories you need to use on-the-go.
They're not perfect though. They look distinctive, but they can be quite tight on the head, which can result in a lack of comfort during long listening or hot weather. The in-line remote also only fully works on iOS devices, and the microphone quality left a lot to be desired. We'd also have liked a longer cable for use at home, but thankfully these are cheap to buy separately.
If you travel a lot, we'd recommend spending a bit more on a pair of wireless headphones with active noise cancellation, but if all you want is a great-sounding pair of wired headphones at a reasonable price, the Blue Lola headphones won't let you down.