The Lola keeps the same unique, wildly adjustable frame and identical 50mm drivers as their powered siblings. However, by doing away with the built-in amplifier and rechargeable battery, the Lola’s are lighter and allow an owner to pair them with whatever headphone amp they choose.
I found the Lola’s to be comfortable and enjoyable to listen to with a very neutral sound character. The fact that, even without an amp, they were easy to drive and rang in at about $100 cheaper than the “Mo-Fi” was just icing on the audio layer cake!
Blue Lola Over-the-Ear Headphones
- Neutral and balanced sound quality but not ruthless.
- Unique yet functional design.
- Comfortable to wear for long stretches.
- Easily driven by my smartphone, but a good headphone amp pays sonic dividends.
- These are, visually, one of the coolest looking headphones I’ve seen.
- Comes with both smartphone cable and longer home cable.
When Blue Microphones released their “Mo-Fi” active headphones a couple of years ago, they garnered much praise for both their sound quality and unique design. Seeing that there was also a desire out there for a simpler version that owners could mate to amplifiers of their choice, Blue responded by bringing us the Lola. The Lola’s keep the same great design and drivers as the “Mo-Fi’”, they simply do without the built in amplifier and rechargeable battery, which has a side benefit of lower overall weight.
Dynamic Over-the-Ear-Headphones, Closed Back
2″ (50mm) Diameter
15 Hz – 20 kHz (Driver Frequency Response in Free-field)
14 Ounces (397 gm)
Charcoal or White
¼” (6.35 mm) Headphone Adapter, 1.2-meter Apple-compatible Headphone Cable with in-line Controls, Mic and 3.5mm Plug, 3m Headphone Cable with ¼” (6.35 mm) Plug, Soft Carry Case
Blue, Lola, Dynamic, Headphones, Over-the-Ear, Closed Back
I had a chance to sample the Lola’s back at CES earlier this year and found a lot to like about them right off the bat. The fine folks at Blue Microphones were nice enough to send me a review sample to see if my initial positive reactions stood up over extended listening. Please read on to find out!
The Lola arrived, securely packaged in a purple box with high quality graphics. Unlike most other boxes where you have to pry and lift flaps to access the contents, the entire outer housing of the Lola’s box lifted straight up to reveal the goods inside. It’s somewhat reminiscent of lifting the cover off a bird cage or of a special unveiling. When I picked up and began examining the Lola, I immediately became intrigued by the overall design and construction of the frame and hinging.
While many headphones sport a particular or distinctive style in order to get themselves noticed, it is rare that the styling itself benefits the basic functionality in any way. The Lola has what I’d call an almost “futuristic skeletal” design. Its look reminds me of the double wishbone suspension systems you’d find in modern performance cars. The hinging allows a wide latitude of adjustment for various head sizes and, honestly, it just plain looks cool!
The drivers themselves are 50mm in diameter and are apparently the same as the ones found in the “Mo-Fi” and with an impedance of 42 ohms, they won’t be too difficult for a phone or DAP to power respectably. The drivers are surrounded by generously thick ear-pads that feel like memory foam covered in synthetic leather. The ear-pads cover and seal around the ears quite well and are soft enough that they diffuse the headphone’s clamping force effectively. There is also a matching section of padding under the top headband to help cushion one’s noggin.
Build-wise, the Lola appears well constructed with metal predominantly used in the frame and quality plastics used for the ear-cups and trim. Overall, nothing felt loose or seemed shoddily assembled. They felt good to hold, like fine precision instruments. The Lola comes with two detachable cables. One is a shorter iOS compatible cord with an inline microphone and control pod for phone use. The other is a longer length cord terminated with a ¼” phono jack for home use. Both cables are of the recently trendy flat, “tangle-free” variety. Last, but not least, the Lola comes with a ¼” phono adapter plug and a soft carry pouch for travel.
For the majority of my testing, I used the Blue Microphone Lola along with my iPhone 6S+ when on the go. At home it was connected through an OPPO HA-1 headphone amp/DAC or my tablet via the Emotiva Big EGO USB DAC.
The Lola headphones aren’t just a compelling looking set of cans, I mean, if that was their only calling card then we would be just wasting our time here. Overall, they have a very neutral and accurate sound quality while managing not to sound flat or sterile. Imaging and sound staging are what you would expect from closed backed cans. Imaging was fairly immediate and tightly focused, very rarely did anything seem to extend beyond the boundaries of the ear cups. Vocals, on the whole, were reproduced with detail and clarity, having an appealing sound that didn’t come across as overly warm. Bass was ample, with solid weight and impact. There was never an instance where it became bloated sounding or overbearing but, given the right tune, you did feel it and it was good! The Lola’s high frequency reproduction was also very good. “Polite” is the best descriptor I can come up with for the treble, in that all the information is there, but the Lola’s won’t singe your eardrums when playing back a hot sax or a blues harmonica for example. These headphones made listening to brass and strings eminently enjoyable for the duration. Some headphones don’t possess such “manners” shall we say.
Some of the more standout experiences that I had with the Lola’s were;
Kamakiriad, Donald Fagan, Reprise Records. Produced by Walter Becker funnily enough, this CD has wonderful basslines throughout every track, and the Lola headphones replayed them all with a thoroughly punchy splendor. “Snowbound”, in particular, had a deep, groovy bassline that Lola reproduced with an abundance of weight and texture. Donald Fagan’s voice sounded properly smooth and subdued but completely clear in the mix.
Listening to the track “Countermoon” the horn section and rhythm guitar had a nice crispness and ring to them through the Lola while the chimes and cymbals had just the right level of shimmer to their sound. In some of the songs, I maybe would have wanted to get a little larger sense of the ambient space but I probably would have needed a set of open-backed cans for that.
Front Parlor Ballads, Richard Thompson, Cooking Vinyl. A well recorded CD from a well-respected but often overlooked guitarist/songwriter. The first track “Let It Blow” showcases Thompson’s plaintive, well-worn voice and sublime guitar phrasing. The Lola put his voice front and center and do a great job revealing all the little characterful details in his singing.
I could also pick up the trademark clean Fender ringing sound in the guitar notes and the deep thrumming bassline throughout the song which the Lola made you feel as well as hear. On the more intimate song “Cressida” the Lola made it appear as if you were almost in the same room with Thompson. The track begins with an array of plucked strings and cello and all the little textural nuances that come through with these headphones made this song extra enjoyable to listen to.
Mi Tierra, Gloria Estefan, Sony. An older CD but well produced and recorded, Gloria Estefan’s voice comes through clean and clear, along with an appealing smoothness that just makes you want to listen continuously. The Lola do a fantastic job rendering these Cuban and Latin standards. The acoustic guitars have a nice edge to their strings, horns sizzle just enough without causing wincing, slaps on the congas sound accurate and have weight, and the bass is just delicious and punchy.
Complex arrangements, like the title track, come across really clearly and fully layered through these headphones. The swelling strings and introductory flute on the track “Mi Buen Amor” sounded just about perfect. The top end sounding loud and sweet without getting irritating. Ms. Estefan’s voice on this track, as well as on some of the other more intimate songs, sounded lush but clear through the Lola’s drivers. They made her voice a joy to listen to, and the extra juice provided by the OPPO HA-1 came in decidedly handy in helping to flesh out the dynamics from this CD.
While the Lola worked just fine being powered from my iPhone, they definitely came a bit more alive after I hooked them up to the OPPO HA-1 amplifier. As a matter of fact, they really came into their own when played back using the Hi-Gain setting on the amplifier. Both amp and headphones appeared to be a good match for each other as the Lola’s just sucked up that extra power and rewarded me with harder hitting bass and a more open, dynamic sound. Everything just sounded a bit more cohesive and under better control overall. Point taken then. Pairing the Lola’s with a good amplifier will net you some sonic benefits.
In terms of wear ability and comfort, the Lola seemed to fit me rather well and I did wear them for multi-hour stints without issue although my ears did tend to get warm after a while. These headphones aren’t featherweights by any stretch so you will feel them weighing on you a touch after a couple of hours but it’s not unreasonable or uncomfortable either. I did get some curious looks when I was walking around my neighborhood wearing the Lola’s. Their design draws attention for sure and it’s one of those things where you either like the looks or you don’t. I happen to like the styling a lot because it’s different. Aesthetically speaking, I always applaud it when a product’s design doesn’t just sit on the proverbial fence, but actually tries to take a few risks. I could see some buyers mistakenly writing the Lola off as just a flashy design exercise and nothing more. That would be a really short-sighted move because, in the Lola’s case, the looks aren’t just for show. The form follows the function here; it just does it in a very novel way.
Is there anything that I would wish to see improved on the Lola? Well, I am not a fan of the flat style cable in general and I think the chrome trim on the ear cups stands out a little too much. My personal preference would be to have a standard round cable and a more restrained gunmetal or satin nickel trim on these phones but that’s really me just being a curmudgeon about details. On a practical note, it would be great if Blue designed these cans to run with an optional balanced cable. They sound good enough and the drivers are power hungry enough that such an option could be beneficial. Otherwise I think the Blue Microphone Lola’s are an audiophile quality set of headphones that look different and are truly deserving of a listen if they are in your price range.
The Blue Microphone Lola’s are another outstanding set of headphones that are available at, what is becoming, the rapidly crowded entry level of the serious headphone market. They reward the listener with a refreshingly neutral and fatigue free sound. They mesh well with many different kinds of music and can be easily driven off your phone. As a bonus, if you have a decent headphone amplifier, you will reap additional sonic benefits of better dynamics and bass control. The styling of the Lola is unique, exciting and functional. The design allows a wide range of adjustment for different head sizes and, frankly, just looks plain cool. If you dismissed these headphones as just the latest BEATS or current trendy clone, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice. These headphones have chops, serious chops, and if you have $250 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you’d be silly not to give these cans a good, honest listen. Just be prepared for some additional attention if you’re out in public!
If Buck Rogers and Pavarotti had a love child, it would be named Lola.
THE BLUE MICROPHONE LOLA’S Are Another Outstanding Set Of Headphones That Are Available.
- Neutral, balanced sound.
- Cool, functional styling.
- They’ll really boogie with a good headphone amp.
- Replace the chrome trim with something subtler.
- A balanced version would be cool.