Blue is not a brand that I would normally associate with premium headphones, but they do have strong credentials with audio in the form of their universally praised microphones. Their entry into the headphone market is an interesting one, as they are jumping straight into the upper mid and high-end market. Their flagship product called Ella is a planar-magnetic over the ear headphones with built in amp and costs an eye watering £675.
The Blue Sadie is a little more reasonably priced, but still expensive at £385. Similar to the Ella, these headphones have a built-in audiophile amplifier which can be set to off, on or on+ which is used for enhanced bass.
The packaging of the headphones is premium as you would expect, they arrive in a nice sturdy box and the headphones themselves are presented to you stood up, making the base of the box a handy little way to store and show off your headphones.
They are slightly unusual looking headphones, they look like something a pilot or racing driver might wear. It’s not a gaudy gaming look but they are not boring looking either. Build quality feels impeccable, they are made around a metal frame giving them a nice weighty feel and the arms have a nice firm movement to them.
The headphone cables are removable from the headphones themselves which always helps with longevity, and you get 2 decent cables in the pack, a 1.3m one with remote controls one without that is 3m. They are plastic cables and braided cables would have been nicer but the cable itself feels like decent quality. There is also a 3.5mm to 6.3mm converter and a microUSB to charge the built in amp.
While the cables are removable, the part of the cable that fits into the headphone has an elongated casing that goes inside the headphones. I assume this will make it difficult if not impossible to replace/upgrade your cable with a non-Blue cable.
The headphones are also very comfortable for me. The metal frame examples and is easily adjusted to fit a head of any size. The clamping mechanism is quite tight so they never feel loose during wearing them, but it is built well enough that they are not applying excessive pressure and squashing your head. I found them quite comfortable to wear for extended periods during a day in the office. Over-ear headphones do tend to give me hot ears which I find uncomfortable after a while and these were no exception, but they lasted longer than other headphones I have used, and only required short break every once in a while.
As you would hope for a pair of headphones costing nearly £400, they sound fantastic. I used them with my LG V20 which has a built in quad DAC and is capable of driving some demanding headphones. With the amp in the On position, I had to turn the volume down to about a 1/3rd of the full volume, so it makes quite a bit of difference. The overall sound is well balanced and rich, in the normal mode the bass is mild but decently tuned, in the on the + mode you can hear a significant boost in the bass, but it is still not excessive at all, but it works well with EDM and hip-hop tracks. It is a nice option to have and allows you to get a great sound depending on what you are listening to.
The midrange is superb too, nothing sounds particularly muddy and vocals sound great. The highs are nice and clear. I experienced no distortion in any of the tracks I listened to, and I wouldn’t dare turn the volume up loud enough to see if/where any distortion may occur.
Due to the tight over headphone fit, and excellent sound quality, these headphones have excellent sound isolation. Obviously, they are not as good as active noise cancellation but I wasn’t disturbed by office chatter while wearing them, nor did my music disturb the people around me.
I did actually approach this review with a bit of scepticism, I wasn’t sure if premium headphones warrant an amplifier when most people buying these will use a decent DAC/Amp in the first place. However, it turns out Blue have a 3rd model, that is cheaper and does away with the amp called, Lola, which is priced at a quite reasonable £219 (at Argos). I have not tested these so can’t comment on how good they are, but reviews online appear to be excellent. That being said, I did find the amp excellent and I found I used it all the time during my use, so the extra cost does appear to be worth it.
Overall these are superb headphones, they are the best headphones I have personally used but I think they are the most expensive I have tested too. In this price bracket, there are some pretty big hitters from brands like B&W, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica and many more, all of which have a more established headphone business. There are none that I am aware of they offer a built-in amplifier.