I’m a big fan of my now-classic Blue Yeti USB microphone for the odd time I want to record something, so when I heard about their headphone range I got pretty interested and arranged to give them a whirl.
I was loaned a pair of Blue’s Ellas and a pair of their Lolas. They come beautifully packaged with all the little bits and pieces. One cable with a mic/volume rocker and one without, a 1/4" adapter, and a travel bag for each.
I quite like the unique design on the first impression. It’s interesting and although I don’t hate it, I don’t love it either - I get the feeling it could be quite polarising.
I’m not an audiophile, but I listen to a reasonable amount of music so I look for decent sound from my headphones. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, so comfort is important to me as well. And I’ll admit that I like headphones that don’t make me look silly when I wear them - we all have our pride.
The Lolas are retailing in NZ for an achievable NZ$399 if you are willing to lay down some money for good headphones, and the Ellas are in the ‘these don’t leave the house’ range at NZ$1,299.
First, let’s talk about sound.
It’s a solid yes for the Lolas and a YES PLEASE for the Ellas.
The Lolas sound exactly how you would want your $400 headphones to sound. Although, I imagine you could find a similar sound at a less brand-name price.
They deliver a richer sound than the $100 job I use as my day-to-day headphones and the sound was consistently satisfying as I travelled on the bus, keeping the sounds of the commute at bay.
But oh my, the Ellas.
I won’t pretend I’ve listened to a lot of thousand dollars plus pairs of headphones but these have thoroughly ruined me.
The Ella has a planar amp built into the headphone itself which means incredible depth and clarity, and listening to fully-lossless versions of songs was just eye-watering - songs I know very well suddenly pick up a new dimension.
It's the audio version of when I first got glasses, looked at a distant tree and realised I could see the leaves.
But let’s talk about comfort.
I really wanted to love the design - it’s so space-age and cool looking - but the longer I used them, the less I enjoyed it.
Technically both pairs are comfortable to wear. They are hyper-adaptable and the real beauty of them is that they will fit comfortably over any head-type. I happen to have a weirdly small head and a colleague claimed to have a weirdly large head. Neither of us could fault the fit at all.
However, it did take a little while each time I put them on to adjust and get the fit right - the kind of fiddliness I don’t like in my daily life.
Getting the amp into the Ella headphones is no small feat of engineering, but it does make them Heavy. After a few hours, my neck ached a bit, plus the full-on sound became tiring as background music for work.
The Lolas are not nearly as heavy and I probably would have liked them a lot more if it wasn’t for two reasons.
I'll describe those reasons now in the summary.
The Blue Lola headphones sound great and are comfortable but they are wired, which is fine, but the wire plugs into the headphone itself with a standard 3.5mm jack.
This is the first of the two things that meant the Lolas are not for me - I accidentally yanked the cable out of the headphones an embarrassing number of times. It was super annoying but I’m also pretty clumsy.
It could be that your preference is easily replaceable cables and I can definitely see the beneficial side, but it’s not for me.
The second thing was that I felt like I looked ridiculous in them. That space-age coolness just didn’t translate to my now-age dress sense and I felt like a cyberman. Or more specifically, I felt like an idiot. Shallow? Yes. Am I ok with that? Also yes.
Now, the Blue Ella headphones are a different story.
The Ellas fit the same niche that the Blue Yeti microphone does - the hobbyist or person starting out who wants to hear the audio they are making on a laptop with the best possible fidelity - without spending thousands on a massive set up.
I want a pair of the Ellas, and if I ever have a need for some easily storable, very high-quality headphones that will fit me nicely, and I will only wear indoors - I will remember the Ellas.
Let’s give a final score
Lola - fine, but not for me thank you.
Ella - Yes, please! But not right now.