FLC Technology FLC 8S

Average User Rating:
4.52632/5,
  1. n05ey
    5.0/5,
    "The little known package with a big sound"
    Pros - balance, unflappable balance and pretty much everything else
    Cons - cable a little springy and microphonic
    FLC tour – The little known package with a big sound
     
    Where to start on these little guys… Firstly, thanks to Forrest at FLC Technology and @DJScope for putting together this tour. It is always a privilege to be a part of a head-fi tour and this one was no exception.
     
    Me and My Bias
     
    I do acknowledge that I have a couple of inherent biases. Many talk about the obligation to the review and their inherent sound bias, I will own the second but the first I find myself not conforming to very well. I have noticed that I appear to have the opposite. I love my own gear due to the need not to spend more money and the research and investment that I have made. This means that I have found it easier in the past to not see quite the same value in the brief flings with review units. I work to counter that bias and will note it later in the review.
     
    On the sound sig bias, I grew up as a bass head who swiftly turned into a treble head coming to head-fi and working through oldest to newest:
     
    Hippo-VB->shure 425->UE900->ety er4s->dunu titan 1
     
    Also along the way journeying in the world of over ear and on-ear:
     
    AKG Q701, UE6000 (a real outlier) and now the Grado 325e’s
     
    But to temper that treble tilt sound bias I thought I had better inform you of my latest passion, the Aurisonics Rockets. These have a receding treble but they are non-fatiguing and have such a beauty, delicacy and shimmer to the treble that I can forgive it (and turn it right up).
     
    So all that to say, think as you will of me and my bias and take a moment to understand it before you read my thoughts on a product that you may invest your hard earned on J
     
    Package
     
    To me this package is sublime. Initially you are greeted with a relatively plain cardboard box which has a nice heft to it and not too much give. From there you lift, turn and twist to open out this origami masterpiece into segments revealing parts of the impressive kit in their glory. You get the tuning kit, lots of tips (the large dark silicone fit me better than any of my alternative tips), the iems themselves (nicely presented and packed), tweezers (which are practically useless) and a screw top case.
     
    I think the case while a little bulkier and heavier than most is absolutely stunning. I love the finish and I love the sound it makes as you unscrew it. It has that slick metal on metal sound that has no grate or gravel to it, just the perfect glide…
     
    The iems themselves have a beautiful soft blue translucent colour, a colour that is used seamlessly across all aspects from the cable to the plug. I think it is beautiful and almost has a glow from the inside (which it doesn’t, just my gushy language) and I personally really like the aesthetic of the plug. It is all vaguely reminiscent to me of my old UE900 package reinterpreted, even the cable reminds me of it, although not so positively.
     
    The cable I found to be a little springy and scratchy. It didn’t hold a nice shape and wasn’t soft and supple which to me a great cable should be. It also managed to transmit more microphonics than I thought was possible for an over ear configuration… However I personally found the earguide area fine and the whole thing in the end disappeared when I turned on the music.
     
    Listening - tuning
    This thing is HARD to characterise with its multiple tuning options and so I thought I would just give an overall character based on my fav configuration, the red sub bass, the grey midbass and gold screw in nozzles with notes about a few of the other arrangements I had time to try.
     
    I personally found that the overall soundstage and imaging were pretty consistent regardless of the tuning with key areas of the spectrum moving forward and back rather than the whole character changing. I thought that was a really nice touch!
     
    Bass – The bass on these can be powerful! In the red/grey config they have a great punchiness to them without getting into the fuzzy zone. The fact that they retain a razor image makes me feel that they have a great balance even though they are capable of hitting hard. Adding in the high midbass filters changed the character a little toward the wooly side of things though never too much that it became a mess.
     
    Mids – With the gold nozzle the mids came a fraction forward in the mix which is my preference. They seem to be solid, a nice middleground. I never found the mids to be super seductive but I also never found them to be too dry either. They were just there, crystal clear, detailed to the full and well imaged so that you could place each instrument in its space with a clarity between them.  
     
    Treble – Lovely, just lovely. Nice, crisp and quite extended with nary a pain. I could listen to these all day without getting sick of it!
     
    Sound stage – I found the sound stage to be quite well defined. It is a large room with good height and width. I found that the impactful bass gives a slightly smaller room feel than the rockets, although rockets seem more up front. To be honest, it lays the whole sound out with space and I could listen and mentally travel around the space because it is combined with that razor imaging
     
    Imaging – razor, everything has a space and doesn’t reverb/clash. Need I say more?
     
    Conclusion
     
    Please don’t make me send these on…
     
    They are great. They are a beautiful set of in ears that I would gladly purchase should I not fear the quality of my home life if I were to do so :)
     
    For the price you get so much and have the opportunity to really listen to the detail of the music that you miss in other in ears.
     
    My only minor complaint and minor indeed it is, would be that some more coloured sets can really feature a sound, like for example vocals whispered to your very soul tingling the spine or other such pronounced detail. These don’t do that, despite the tunability I found that everything was still there, in its balance just pronounced a bit more. Unflappable these are!
     
    To me the major accomplishment of these is that you never feel like you have to analyse the music. The detail is there, the ability is there, but it still feels like music and in the end you can zoom in on detail or just sit there and enjoy the tunes.
    soundstige, JoeDoe, DJScope and 2 others like this.
  2. kamcok
    5.0/5,
    "This belongs in summit-fi if it was made by a bigger brand"
    Pros - The sound. THE SOUND !!!!!!!! Hi-Res without the sticker
    Cons - cable can be improved, easy to lose tuning parts, isolation is good not great
    First of all I only had like one week to try the IEM and finish this review so take it with a grain of salt.
    I also didn’t have time to take photos so I’m really sorry that this is just a pure text review :frowning2:
     
    INTRO
    Have you heard of the FLC8S ? No ?
    What about the company that made it, FLC Technology ? No ?
     
    Well neither had I before DJScope asked me to join the Australian tour of it.
    Just to clear things up, I’m not associated with FLC technologies in any way. The review unit was sent to me by Djscope and I am not sponsored or endorsed by anyone in any way.
     
    I’ve always seen the IEM on the Singapore based Lend Me Ur Ears online shop, but I have always dismissed it. I didn’t even look at it for more than 1 minute as I thought it was much overpriced for an ugly earphone made by an unfamiliar company. Even more, the tuning system of interchangeable nozzle and two of its plugs made it seem complicated and gimmicky. 
     
    Boy have I never been more wrong.
    Let’s start with the fit and finish.
     
    The 8S is pretty much all dark blue in colour, all the way from the jack, to the ear tips, the body may seem black but under proper lighting it is actually a very dark blue finish. The cable is braided and is held together by a very plain and simple plastic sleeve for the Y-split. The same plastic is used for the chin slider and this is where I would take a point off the build quality. To me, this plastic sleeve is simply inadequate and may not last for very long.
     
    The cable on the earphone is quite soft but is a bit springy but nowhere as springy as that of the FiiO EX1. I quite like the cable’s look and feel to be honest but I do notice that the cable does cause quite a bit of microphonics. So far, I’ve mostly used the IEM when I’m sitting with my laptop so I’m not so sure how it will handle when used while walking.
    The cable is connected to the body by a 2-pin connector that holds on securely but will not be a struggle to remove. The connection is flush with the body making it appear as a part of the body itself. Just from the looks I didn’t even know that the cables were removable.
     
    The actual IEM housing is very well built, the plastic quality and the finish is on par with the big brands such as shure / westone. It's solid, smooth and doesn't get easily scratched.
    It is definitely superior than low grade chinese IEMs such as RE-400 / VSD series by Vsonic and etc. 
     
     
    The quality of the accessories is… fairly good. The interchangeable nozzle seems very durable but the low frequency plugs are very small in size. Not that I’m afraid of breaking the plugs but I can see people losing them. It’s a nice gesture that they include spares but it is still a bit of an issue. Plus, due to the small size it makes changing the plugs almost impossible without a clean, still surface.
     
     
     
    The sound quality of this IEM is simply superb, but due to time constraints as I only have one week to listen and write a review for it, I cannot describe each any every tuning characteristic in too much detail.
    In general I’m utterly impressed with this IEM. I strongly encourage those who have yet to try to give the FLC 8S a chance.
     
    For the highs, the fitting of the interchangeable filters should be carefully chosen to match the type of music prior to listening for the best experience. The difference in presentation of the filters is quite significant and when an incorrect filter is used, certain music genres can sound undesirable. The use of green filter for example would be far too bright for pop / rock songs, making them sound splashy and sibilant, but when used for classical songs can make them sound extremely detailed spacious and airy. The opposite is true when using the reduced high frequency blue filter, it makes energetic songs with lots of hi-hats and cymbal hits sound easier to listen to but makes classical and vocal-centric music sound a tad dark and lacking in air.
    Included in the package are 2 more filters, the gold (mid centric, normal highs) and the black (normal mids, normal highs). I find that the black (default/neutral) filter is the most versatile in that it can be used for most music genres.
     
    Extra notes: the highs presented by the IEM is also variable depending on the ear-tip of choice. I find that using the JVC spiral dot tips made the highs more prominent making it a bit too bright/ harsh for me. So far I find that using the TX-400 Comply tips gave me the most ideal presentation.
     
     
    The mid-range is absolutely fantastic on all of the settings. Just be wary that the tuned down HF filter can affect the upper vocal region slightly making female vocals sound a tad darker/ nasal. The mids in general is crystal clear with superb resolution and is well layered. Each component of the music is very well separated. I even noticed that for the first time I was able to follow the notes and not just hear the fourth guitar on Ecosystem’s Dilemma. Even songs that I considered to be “low-resolution” sound much more pleasing than normal.
     
     
    The bass presentation can vary from just north of neutral on the lowest setting, reaching still very deep. This allows listeners to focus more on the mid-range and high frequencies suitable for vocal centric songs. However, even on the highest setting it still sounds natural and controlled, still no bleed to other regions. I left my setting on the highest no matter what music I listen to because the IEM is capable of such high degree of control. It doesn’t make an unnecessary boom / veil when uncalled for. The bass comes in only when it’s needed and is so high in resolution that it makes the CKR9LTD which I considered to be one my best to seemingly sound muddy in comparison. In the manual it is recommended that for vocal songs that the bass filter is changed to the clear (lowest) one, but to me, this only reduces the richness of the song. Again as I’ve said earlier, even on the black (highest) bass filter, the mid-range is still crystal clear.
     
    The bass is to me, characteristic of a very well tuned dynamic driver, having just the right amount of punch and rumble while staying in control. Often, however, such single dynamic drivers is compromised in the upper frequencies at the cost of having amazing bass. The FLC8S doesn’t suffer from this as it is a amazingly tuned hybrid 1BA 1dynamic earphone.
     
    The soundstage ! The soundstage makes songs very immersive, it produces an out of the head experience with each musical component placed not just in a 2 dimensional (wide) presentation but is capable of making music sound truly 3 dimensional (deep and wide). I have listened thoroughly through songs that I would normally skip, as songs that are not even in my preferred genre sound mind blowing. It makes me appreciate every song in my library, which is really something that no audio product was capable of.
     
     
    All of these in addition to the great fit of the IEM makes it all the better. It simply fits. I can’t elaborate too much on this; the curvature of the IEM matches so well with the ear. Once you put it in it just stays there and you’ll forget you will hardly notice its presence.
    Note that the IEM doesn’t stick out, but you still can’t sleep on your side with this IEM.
     
    In conclusion the FLC8S is an astounding IEM capable of producing sound in high degree of resolution. The tuning system is a huge bonus that allows users to tune the FLC8 to suit their music genre of preference. The soundstage and technical capabilities of this IEM even without the tuning system is enough to distinct this IEM from the others. Despite this, the FLC8 can be improved with a softer, less microphonic cable and the tuning system isn’t perfect as small parts can be lost easily.
     
     
    TLDR
     
    Pro: rich yet natural sound, considerable as truly hi-res without the sticker, comfortable, tuning available to suit preference
    Cons : easy to lose bass tuning plugs,  cable is microphonic, expensive-ish
     
    If you have the money, buy it, give it a shot, seriously
    This made me top picks (Aurisonics rockets and CKR9LTD) sound "meh"
    soundstige, d marc0, JoeDoe and 3 others like this.
  3. SerenaxD
    5.0/5,
    "Under-appreciated end game IEMs at a reasonable price"
    Pros - Sound, Versatility
    Cons - Memory wire makes fitting harder
    Product link: http://www.lendmeurears.com/flc-8s/ (apparently currently out of stock)
     
    So... This is my first time writing a review after lurking in the depths of Head-fi for three years, so bear with me [​IMG]
     
    A bit about myself - I'm a female student from HK studying in the US. I mainly listen to classical, instrumental and pop, and in general I tend to enjoy headphones that are balanced with a touch of warmth. I also value a wide soundstage, accurate positioning, and to a slightly lesser degree clarity and micro-detail retrieval. I should also mention that I'm not very tolerant towards sibilance and shrill treble in general. As a student I can't really get expensive gear all the time, so the FLC8S are my second pair of top-tier IEMs. I got these during the "Double 11" Chinese holiday discount, when these were priced at USD $250. These have over 50 hours of burn-in, most likely 100 hours, on them. 
     
     
    Introduction
     
    The FLC8S, from FLC Technology, is a dual BA/single dynamic hybrid released this year. Its biggest selling point was the 36 different sound signatures that you could switch between by way of nozzles and filters. It's been reviewed by ljokerl in his huge IEM thread, but they haven't received much attention around here, even though I feel like they're one of the best universal IEMs I've ever listened to. As such, I've decided to write a review on these, so that more head-fiers can get to know and appreciate this pair of amazing IEMs. 
     
    Setup used: 
    Portable: LG G4 --> Dragonfly 1.0
    Desktop: MacBook Air --> Objective2 Combo
     
     
    Appearance, Build Quality and Fit 
     
    I don't have the packaging with me right now, so sadly I don't have pictures of the box. It did come very nicely packaged with a three-layer intricate box. There was a little plastic bag of tips in 4 sizes (XS, S, M, L) with the clear M tips on the headphones. Other accessories include a pair of tweezers (which are actually not very useful), a screw-on metal hard case that seemed very sturdy, an airplane adapter, cleaning tool, and - most importantly - the keychain with all the filers and nozzles.
     
    The FLC8S are not black as suggested by a lot of pictures online; instead, they are slightly blue in color.The IEMs themselves are surprisingly small. Even though they look plasticky, they seem well-made. Another bonus is the removable cables (I have not tried pulling them out yet - a brave soul who gets these headphones can try!). The cable's braided and seems pretty sturdy, even though the upper part seems a bit thin. It's slightly bouncy and microphonic, but I don't find it a major problem for me. One thing I'd like to mention is the memory wire portion, which created some troubles for me initially - I've been spoiled by the nice cables on the Westone 4 and thus found the memory wire pesky, as it prevented me from getting a secure over-the-ear fit and the headphones would move easily when I was walking. Eventually, though, I got used to it. Another problem is the non-angled nozzles, which may be a problem for some people. I personally found it fine but my friend did complain that it was slightly uncomfortable when he put them on, so that's also something to consider. Besides these two minor points, though, the fit is very nice, due to the small form factor. They're also very light, which helps a lot in securing the headphones. 
     
    A major selling point is the tunability of these headphones - the nozzles are interchangeable, and there are two bass/sub-bass ports on the housing. It's surprisingly simple to switch, although I do recommend working on a clean surface - I've already nearly lost a few parts during the switching. Switching does require a (fairly) steady hand, but it's not a big issue - I believe most people won't have problems. The filter/port/nozzle container (whatever you want to call it) is tiny and the organization isn't exactly very elegant, but it gets the job done in a compact way. The container's also pretty portable and fits into the metal case. Overall, I'm surprised at the build quality of this - its tiny form factor and sturdy housing is pretty nice. *inserts gif of an excited child opening a package* 
     
    Some pictures of the FLC8S ft. Macbook Air - sorry if they're not of very good quality: 
     
    20151208_222820.jpg
    There is a slightly metallic, bluish tint to the headphones. 
     
     
    20151208_222847.jpg
    The sub-bass port is on the inner surface of the housing (the red dot - high sub-bass port). From the top you can see the golden nozzles I'm currently using.
     
     
    20151208_223044.jpg
    The memory wire (top part) isn't exactly the most user-friendly, but the braided cables are rather thin and light (and sometimes bouncy). 
     
     
    20151208_223401_HDR.jpg
    The tuning container/keychain with all the nozzles and filters I'm not using. The container isn't very elegant but it fits everything in a small space.
     
    20151208_224932.jpg
     
    The dark grey dot on the housing is the bass tuning port (set to mid). The nozzles aren't angled, which may be a problem for some people.
     
     
    Sound Quality
     
    Since there are 36 possible sound tunings I'm not going to talk about all of them. After some experimenting, though, I've found a few pairings that I liked a lot. I'll briefly talk about those, as well as the overall sonic character of these gems. 
     
    It's hard to discuss these without first talking about the tuning. So apparently there are 4 nozzles which influence the mids and the highs, 3 bass tuning filters, and 3 sub-bass tuning filers. I think everyone's going to stop reading this (and pass up on these things... [​IMG]) if I discuss all these nozzles in detail, so I'll just stop obsessing over them now. I did give all of the combinations a try and eventually settled on a few that I found was wonderful for the genres of music I listen to. 
     
    Pairing 1: Red (High sub-bass) - Grey (med bass) - Gold (high mids/med treble) 
    Pairing 2: Red (High sub-bass) - Grey/Black (med bass/high bass) - Black (med mids(?!)/mid treble)
    Pairing 3: Black (Med sub-bass) - Grey (med bass) - Green (med mids/high treble)
     
    First Impressions: 
     
    Geez, these things are good. Straight out of the box they sounded so smooth and clear at the same time already. The soundstage was spacious, vocals were airy, bass was there but not too much... Compared to the Westone 4s these sound very, very clear. The detail is really nice - I could hear the smallest breath noise from EXID - and vocals seem very natural. Treble seemed slightly brighter than what I'd gotten used to on the Westone 4, but in a good way. It was clearer, a bit more shimmery but not to the point of being sibilant or intolerable. Seems like we've got something glorious in the making here....
     
    Treble: 
     
    As I've said, I'm pretty sensitive to sibilance. By all accounts this isn't a pair of super bright headphones, even though with the green or blue nozzle you could make it border on burning your ears out. With the less treble-happy tunings, however, the treble is very clear and effortless - it's just there. Even when I used the green nozzles, with the right tuning I could tolerate the slight sibilance of the pop tracks. In orchestral music, especially, the treble is bright, but not overly so - just enough that you can maintain an excellent balance between detail and smoothness. Cymbal clashes sound very lively and energetic, with just the right amount of sparkle. It's a pretty good balance. With the more treble-happy nozzles, there's more detail (and sibilance), but with the right tuning and right tracks it can make the orchestral pieces sound incredibly detailed. The airiness also makes the treble extremely natural - and this isn't just limited to the green nozzles, it's the same for the gold and black nozzles.
     
    Warning: with the wrong tuning using the green nozzles these can be extremely sibilant. You have been warned. 
     
    Mids:
     
    I enjoy the mids immensely on the FLC8S, especially with the gold nozzle. Vocals seem very airy and detailed; the mezzo-soprano's voice was captured perfectly - it feels like I'm listening to a live opera performance. There's probably no way to screw the mids up on this thing - they are that good. Nuff said on them.
     
    Bass: 
     
    Ah, the magical red filter. 
     
    Orchestral music just comes to life here - the bass isn't exactly linear like reference flat headphones (Brainwavz B2, looking at you) - slightly more exciting than that. It adds another dimension to the music, there's the constant presence of the cellos and double basses; yet they don't overwhelm the piece - they're just there, like everything else. The sub-bass extends pretty low, with a nice rumble and I don't really notice any mid-bass hump - probably because I'm using the mid bass ports - and so the bass is very strictly controlled the whole way. It's also pretty quick - EDM lovers will probably be satisfied with how the bass handle your music. I'm really happy with how these handle the bass region - they're so in control, so authoritative when I give it my attention, yet unassuming when I need it to be. Probably my favorite part of the whole spectrum.
     
    Across the spectrum and other notes:
     
    These are incredibly coherent - @Flcforrestwei has done a really good job doing the crossover of drivers. It's hard to characterize them by a single sonic signature, but in general I'd say they are rather balanced, and slightly skewed towards either the cold side (with the green nozzles) or warm side (higher bass). There's no noticeable hump in any region as far as I'm concerned, and they are rather spacious no matter what you do to them. The soundstage is very wide, with pretty accurate positioning, and there is no veil even if you crank the bass up. They also don't have that artificial timbre that I sometimes get from other headphones (especially some IEMs with metal housing) - everything sounds very natural, and I noticed that especially with the mids, they just seem so effortlessly smooth yet detailed. It's a wonderful feeling.
     
    I feel like the difference between the nozzles/ports are very noticeable and they really do a lot to change the sound, but ultimately the whole sound signature is still built on airiness, detail retrieval and great control - and no tuning can change that. Which is a good thing. [​IMG]
     
    My favorite pairings... 
     
    Combo 1: Red - Grey - Gold 
     
    This is what I use for a lot of vocal-focused songs. I feel like it gives me enough bass rumble and excitement to pump up the piece, yet it doesn't overpower the vocals. With the gold nozzles, vocals are prominent, smooth and airy - very very realistic, as if I'm watching a live performance. I feel like the "magical red filter" just helps improve everything - bass presence, warmth, balance, etc. Using the black filter kind of takes away from the whole excitement. 
     
    Combo 2: Red - Grey/Black - Black
     
    Grey's a more neutral choice, and black's a bass cannon (well, not really, but on the scale of FLC8S...) 
     
    I usually listen to pop songs with this combo, mainly because it's the most versatile and balanced across all spectrums. It doesn't provide any emphasis on any region and everything is smooth across the spectrum - no humps, no peaks - and even pieces that aren't mastered that well sound fairly musical. Again, the red filter does its magical job again by up-ing the oomph - the thumping when listening to dance pop music is incredible. When I use the black ports instead of the grey ones, the FLC8S instantly becomes a more bass-heavy headphone, akin to the Westones in quantity, but exhibiting more control in my opinion. 
     
    And you know what the best part is? It still doesn't overpower the other parts of the spectrum. 
     
    Combo 3: Black - Grey - Green
     
    Pretty bright combo - I thought it wasn't my thing. I was wrong. 
     
    Listen to a vocal piece with this and the green nozzle absolutely nails the high notes. Listen to an orchestral piece (and maybe using the "magical red filter") and hear the violins come to life, performing right in front of you. Although I'm usually not a fan of bright treble I absolutely love this combo for classical music - somehow the treble manages to be airy, detailed, with slight sibilance but tolerable by my standards. It gives me so much more detail to look for during orchestral pieces - the attack, the cymbals crashing, the balance... I'm amazed at what these little IEMs can pull off. It's bound to be something a treblehead will enjoy, listening to all the detail in there. 
     
    Sources
     
    Even though they are really, really easy to drive - already sounds pretty well straight out of G4 and a bit of improvement with the Dragonfly - they scale up pretty well. On my desktop setup, using the O2 enables me to hear even more detail on the same piece, and everything is just tightened up a tad bit more. Not a huge improvement, but definitely noticeable. 
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    I think airy and detailed seems to be the common theme between all the different sound signatures here - I feel like the FLC8S are an incredibly versatile pair of IEMs with its foundation built on the two qualities that I cherish most. For me, these are end-game IEMs - it does everything so well that I don't find myself reaching for other pairs of IEMs in my collection when I'm using these. Everything combined, the FLC8S are an amazing package despite the tiny, tiny problems in terms of design - I couldn't have asked for more in any pair of IEMs, albeit this pair priced at a mere $250 (or $310). Considering their asking price, I feel like these should receive more attention - even if they only had one sound signature - and everyone should have the opportunity to experience what they pack in such a tiny form factor. 
  4. soundstige
    5.0/5,
    "A complete game changer."
    Pros - Everything -- no exaggeration. Visceral sub-bass. Ruler-flat "stock" FR. Metric tonnes of microdetail. Huge stage. AFFORDABLE. Truly customizable.
    Cons - Uh... hmm... well..... The cable is not the single greatest pinnacle of cable technology ever? I guess...
    This IEM is a complete game changer. Prepare to be upset by your recent $500+ purchase, or thrilled that you held out for something truly worthwhile. You don't know who FLC Technology is -- good. The surprise is worth it. Just buy it. Don't wait for me to write a more complete review. I might, but I'll probably be too busy listening to these IEMs. Check out the wise words written by other reviewers on this page. Do it. Buy them. You are being peer pressured. Submit.
  5. angelo898
    3.5/5,
    "hard to argue with the value"
    Pros - amazing packaging, good sound
    Cons - not as versatile as advertised
    FLC 8: going for the long haul
    I received these in December as part of the Australian tour and only have had a little over a week with these, so there might be some reason to take these impressions with somewhat of a grain of salt.
     
    A little about me
     
    Personally, I am a person who tends to gravitate to high end equipment, but have recently started looking at the low-mid end segments of the IEM world, since I have come to the conclusion that I have had my head stuck up in the clouds for too long. While I love trying new equipment, the equipment I end up buying tends to be little. This might be due to my lack of a decent income, or because I have very high standards, honestly I am not sure. However, one thing I am very sure of, since I have a rather limited budget, whatever I tend to buy or recommend are things I love, instead of hyping the regular item. While I believe sound quality to be extremely important, I also highly value ergonomics, and love things that look beautiful as well.
     
    Ergonomics
     
    I tend to use my earphones when I’m out and about, so I am mobile with my portable setups. This must be stated because this means that I am often walking around while I use my IEMs and as such, ergonomics is quite an important consideration for me.
     
    I have previously stated that I have had problems with IEMs that stick out of the ears due to size, or any number of other factors that are often presented by the IEM makers. An example of this is the Fitear series, which I have a serious love hate relationship with, due to the way the IEMs always stick out of my ears, and consequently fall out after a short walk. This causes me to stop and push them back in every few minutes, which eventually made me sell them (I rarely sell my gear, so this was definitely a huge issue).
     
    FLC did not give me such huge problems with the 8. Let’s go over what I thought in detail here.
     
    Overall, the shape of the earphone is designed to be fairly ergonomic. One feature I particularly liked was the shape of the IEM, which was designed in the vein of the popular westone/shure shape, but definitely quite different. This might be due to FLC wanting to be iconic, tuning, or even legal liability, I honestly have no idea. This shape, in theory at least, is particularly good for people who are often out and about, since the user is forced to use the IEM over the ear, while also not overly shortening the cable when using it in this manner (honestly, I’ve only had an issue with this with the customart demo tour, but once bitten, twice shy and no I don’t have a very big head).  Sadly this is hampered by the way the wire is connected to the IEM. Being a removable cable IEM with an L shape connector, the area where the cable is plugged into the IEM is slightly at the wrong angle for me. This causes great irritation to me because the IEM does not sit flush to the ear and kind of just bounces around when I walk. This obviously might be a problem that only I have, since many people were wondering what I meant when I first posted about this issue in the FLC 8 impressions thread (as such, this part might be taken with a pinch of salt I guess). Personally, I have never had this issue, despite having several custom IEMs which all use L shape connectors (I prefer this connector in general honestly).
     
    It has to be said though, that the IEM is really built with love. The custom blue cable, instead of a generic black one, is a welcome sign, featuring a beautiful chin slider and an overmolded L 3.5mm plug. The fact that this is not a generic cable honestly needs mentioning, because a significant portion of the cables that the portable audio industry provides with their IEMs when the cables are removable are utter generic trash that seem to come from the same company, and tend to break very easily. The memory wire on this IEM is also there, but that is more of a personal preference thing, with me not liking memory wire in general.
     
    Another issue that needs to be mentioned is that the little modifiers on the IEM are actually very small indeed, and since I am a total klutz, dropping and losing them is a legit issue. However, if the modifiers were larger, I think it would defeat the purpose and appeal of the IEM, so I would urge caution when changing the modifiers on this IEM.
     
    In conclusion, let’s call it a good attempt.
     
    Sound
     
    I honestly am not too sure about how I am supposed to do this portion since I actually was able to hear different kinds of sound signatures when I switched out parts. Technology that enables modification on the IEM for variability in tuning has come a long way from the ****ty Hippo VB that I had many years ago, which really didn’t change very much with the “bass modifiers” (Pfft….Rip-off).
     
    Anyways let’s get on with some overall impressions I guess.
     
    Treble
     
     The treble on this is not something that stands out for this IEM. Even with the appropriate modifications, the IEM did not become sibilant to me, a big plus in my book.
     
    Mids
     
    The mids on this IEM were pretty good indeed, with the gold nozzle attached, vocals became more detailed and had some air to them. While the gold nozzle was amazing for midrange, I didn’t get the sense that the mids were lacking on this IEM with any of the combinations, yet another plus in my book.
     
    Bass
     
    The bass in my opinion is where the biggest change occurs. While it isn’t like what I heard in the Layla, there definitely is quite an ability to change. However, the way that the bass did not bleed into too much of the remainder of the music spectrum was definitely something that was quite Layla-like indeed. This is quite an amazing feat, since the Layla is a stratospheric level IEM in terms of cost, and costs as much as several FLC 8s.
     
    Imaging
     
    The soundstage on this is decent, but not overly exaggerated. The imaging on this is also pretty accurate, and nothing really stands out to me.
     
    Scaling
     
    I tried this IEM with several sources, namely the iPhone 6+, the Calyx M, the Resonessence Labs Concero HP and the Cozoy Aegis (with computer and iPhone). While the others presented differently in terms of detail levels and amplification levels, I personally felt that the Cozoy Aegis produced some magical sound with it. I was dumbfounded when I first heard the combo, and it was not surpassed by any of my other sources. Synergy matters guys!
     
    Versatility
     
    I am a person who likes variation in my music; I personally feel that changing the modifiers out in the field is an unrealistic feat for many. As such, the FLC 8 quickly lost its appeal in that manner. I personally ended up just leaving the IEM in just 1 general setting and not changing it depending on my music needs.
     
    Balance and pairing
     
    From the above paragraphs, it can be seen that I am not able to write many impressions. This is actually because I am not really able to criticise this IEM very much, since nothing really stands out but nothing really sucks either.
     
    I personally ended up using the black/black/black (not too sure about this) the most, since I ended up liking it the most.
     
    Packaging
     
    The packaging on this is actually something amazing and is definitely built into the money that you pay for the IEM. The amount of stuff that you get when you purchase this IEM and the packaging certainly puts many competitors to shame. I shall now list the items.
    8 pairs of silicone tips (soft tips, does not need aftermarket tips for additional comfort)
    1 metal case (wow, gives it a high end feel)
    1 pair of tweezers (large and not portable, which leads me to the question of why did they make the modifications so easy to carry around?)
    Modifications in a catheter (good case to keep the modifications, I am assuming that it was made this way to be brought out into the field easily)
    Accessories box
     
    It must also be said that the box that it came in was impressive, unlike the usual cheapness that we usually get as audiophiles.
     
    Looks
     
    This IEM looked amazing in my opinion. Sadly I was not able to fully utilise the time I had the IEM to produce any nice images, since I totally miscalculated the number of days I had it for and had no choice but to try to take photographs at 4am, on the day I had to send it off. It seems I vastly overestimated my ability to do things while severely sleepy, which resulted in me coming up with some pretty horrendous pictures. It must be said though, that the IEM has a high end look that is a breath of fresh air in the portable audiophile world. Adding the accessories into the mix makes this a very potent package indeed. I mean, how nice is it to have a nice metal case instead of the usual soft foamy things that come with most IEMs?
     
    Conclusion
     
    Let’s face it; the FLC 8 is a ridiculous item. 36 different types of sound signatures in 1 IEM… ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The honest truth is that I think that the FLC technology flc8 is a feat of technology. While it probably isn't my type of thing, I believe that FLC technology really put in their heart and soul into making this IEM and it shows, with the technology and the amount of effort that they put into it aesthetically.
     
    I also think that I am of the minority in Head FI who doesn't like to have too much gear (BLASPHEMY!). This IEM has the potential to appeal to many with its versatility, and it is hard to argue with the versatility, and as such the value, in theory, but I found it hard to implement in my daily life, your mileage may vary. While I would have no qualms recommending this IEM to anyone out there, I would definitely recommend trying it before buying, due to the fit issues I had. 
    DJScope likes this.
  6. svyr
    4.0/5,
    "excellent hybrid with a few buts"
    Pros - balanced and rich sound filters are great. Choice of at least 2-3 major sound sigs with variations
    Cons - Relatively expensive, cable ergo/noise, no mic or remote. cust-ty ultimately redundant. M-by comfort and fit due to the design, bit bright highs
    First of I'd like to thank DJScope and FLC for organizing (part of the Australian FLC 8s tour). I got to enjoy FLC 8S over the holiday break and try them with a variety of gear

    Pics:


    Album
    20160103_172739.jpg
    20160103_172750.jpg 20160103_172732.jpg 20160103_172810.jpg
    20160103_172846.jpg 20160103_172849.jpg

    Accessories/Build/Comfort/Isolation


    Accessories - good. no foam tips or shirt clip though. bit of a pity there. Really like the Metal case. Rather great packaging and useful user guide as well. Didn't really like the plastic tweezers that were much too long for using them on the go and not really grippy (used for swapping the silicon bass port )
    Build - good. overall I get a solid feel from the RA plug, IEMs and nozzles/ etc.
    Comfort/Isolation (hmeh): keeps falling out of my ears with foam tips of different sizes, mostly because of the shape of the body and L shaped plug. There's also a wind noise issue for relatively significant wind (mostly noticeable when cycling or if there's strong wind). FLC mention there's a pressure EQ vent set meaning you the 'vacuum against the inner ear' type pressure, but that's not really uncommon for hybrids afaik, at least the ones with vents. We'd probably get a better fit/comfort and isolation from a different body design , although I'm not sure how much the design is dictated by allowing the customization port spaces.
    The biggest highlight is probably the 3x ULF (plastic 'pins' for sub-bass ports), 3 LF (3 silicon cylinders for bass ports), 4 nozzle filters ( for HF+Mids tuning) . While IMO the number of usable configs is about 8-10 it's still a lot more flexible than AKG k3003 or AX60 where you swap the mids/highs filter (well, one filter but I think it did affect bass venting there too)
    Cable (blah-hmeh) : memory wire not as good as on UM westone cables. Cable noise. Slightly dodgy plastic y-split and chin slider. There's also no Android or iPhone remote. These days, for above $300 I'd really hope to see a 1 if not a 3 button one. (T-PEOS can do it, Fidue can do it, so can the rest of the hybrid manufacturers)

    DAPs:


    X2 v7.0e firmware (greatest dynamics, firmest bass and not much sibilance) - on neutral EQ [I'm hugely impressed with X2 + FLC8s) > Note3/Clip+ latest rockbox (bit of sibilance, bit softer bass and dynamics) > X3 v1.1 (fuzzy all around a bit)

    Sound options/Overall.


    You could definitely get any of the following sound signatures: Balanced , bass light, vocal forward and treble happy. or combinations of thereof. Personally I would exclude the following filters from the combinations:
    Clear LF (not enough bass), Clear ULF (not enough sub-bass), Green Nozzle (most HF. Treble razors of death), Blue Nozzle (highs dimming filter and I'm fairly sure also cutting a bit of upper mids). I'd personally also exclude the Black LF silicon filter ( a bit of bass bleed into mids from it affecting clarity).
    That more or less excludes the bright and too bass light versions and leaves: (I think , if I make up some stats, 90% of the people using these will go for the two tunings below)
    a) Balanced with variations on sub-bass (I don't really feel much difference between the gray and red ULF filters) - filter being ULF:Red or gray, LF: grey LF, gunmetal blue HF filter. This is overall enhanced sub-bass, neutral but full bass, and somewhat linear mids and treble. Treble is still sparkly and a bit bright to my liking but will be ok for most people. Mids are a bit recessed for my preferences e.g. ok for the Queen, but not so much for classical (I prefer the mids to be more forward for classical) but YMMV. Clarity across the range is good. I get a bit of sibilance in about 15% of my library e.g. some metal, pop, etc. All in all I think about 50% of the people around will like this tuning a lot.
    b) Enhanced sub-bass, somewhat enhanced mids and mostly linear treble (same as balanced but enhanced mids) - Red ULF, Grey LF and Gold HF/Mids filters. That's my favorite tuning / matches my sound preference . There's still a bit of sibilance with a bit of metal, pop etc as with the balanced tuning , but I can listen to these unEQed. The sub-bass impact, and bass to mids balance is very very impressive, as are sub-bass/bass/mids clarity.
    For bass-head levels of bass and no sibilance I do +3db @50hz, q=1.6; -0.6db @ 160hz, q=1.5; +0.8db @ 800hz, q=1.6; db=1.2 @ 1250hz, q=0.8; -0.8db @ 7khz q=1.5; -2.2db @ 8.35khz, q=0.7; -1db @ 9500hz .

    Overall


    these are probably as impressive as T-PEOS H300/A-350 (more balanced than these), and Dunu DN2kj (Dunu has deeper bass and is more treble hot/happy and sibilant). And more so than AX60 (that I don't really like) and Fidue A83/73
    That said I can't help but question the value proposition given the price and suspect comfort. I think FLC might be better off making a balanced and enhanced everything IEM with better comfort and less options at a better price and perhaps better comfort. As it is, I'd gladly buy it at 250 but not 350 USD, and to me it feels a bit like a transformer toy - cool but will you really play with just your favorite config 99% of the time (given it's cumbersome to change filters on the go and I can't really think of a compelling reason to deviate from the two chosen filter configs above) . I'm still sure these will have more than a few fans in the relatively affordable hybrids to buy option list.

    Bye now, thanks for reading.

    ps the final head-fiish rating is:
    audio q: 4.5
    comfort: 3.5
    design: 4
    isolation: 3.5
    value: 3.75
    canali, H20Fidelity and DJScope like this.
  7. nmatheis
    4.5/5,
    "FLC8S: An Undiscovered Gem!"
    Pros - High-quality, highly-customizable sound. Small. Ergonomic. Built well. Detachable cables.
    Cons - Microphonics. Overly tight cinch. Limited tip choices. Very small tuning filters.

    FLC8S-17.jpg

    Image courtesy of FLC
     

     

    INTRODUCTION

    Hi guys. I discovered a real gem of an IEM in 2015, the excellent FLC8S. Out of all the IEM I tried in 2015, this is the one that most caught my attention and has gotten a disproportionate amor of ear time. How did this all come about? Well, I was chilling out, jamming to some music one day when I noticed an email in my inbox from Teo over at LMUE (Lend Me Ur Ears). In the email, Teo asked if I'd like to check out the FLC8S because he though they were a great IEM that deserved more attention. I didn't really know anything about them, so I started looking around to see what these were about. One of the first things that popped up was a stellar review of the original FLC8 by Joker over at The Headphone List (LINK). He gave them a solid recommendation, and I learned that they were the most customizeable IEM I've ever heard of. If you've followed my reviews, you might remember that I've reviewed a few customizable IEM recently. Those were the RHA T20 (LINK) and the Torque Audio t096z (LINK). I also own the Trinity Delta. While the RHA T20 and Trinity Delta offer a few different "flavors" of the same basic sound signature, the Torque Audio t096z offers six unique sound signatures. They are all very nice IEM, and I enjoy listening to them all. Anyways, back to FLC8S. They have 36, count 'em, 36 different tuning options. That sounded really cool, so I shot an email back to Teo and told him that I'd love to check them out. Well, long story short, I fell in love with them. I've shared them around a bit, and everyone I've let listen to them has also been very impressed with them. I gave them to a self-pronounced treble-head and bass-head at a local mini-meet, and both said they were amazing. I didn't even change the tuning to accommodate their preferences. I turned a couple of my fellow Head-Fi buddies onto them, and they both agree that these are right at the top of all the IEM they've listened to in 2015. Most recently, I let @Paulus XII in on them and wasn't surprised when they stole his heart, too. Yes folks, these are the real deal!
     
    Here's what FLC would like you to know about the FLC8S:
     
    FLC Technology is one of the earliest companies in China to explore the hybrid balance armature and dynamic driver technology. In 2011, it is the first company to launch a hybrids customs. The FLC 8S is the first universial hybrid balance armature and dynamic earphones by FLC technology. Due to FLC Technology's extensive experience in the hybrid technology, the FLC 8S features excellent cross over technology which creates a coherent sound between the dual balanced armature drivers and the dynamic drivers. 
     
    FLC 8S recongises that there is no one size fit all sound signature for all users. Hence, it is designed to be highly tuneable so that users can tune it according to their sound preference. While tuneable earphones are not new in the market, the FLC 8S represents the pinnacle of this technology as it allows for 36 variations of sound unlike most tuneable earphones which allows only 3 different sound signature at most. 
     
    The FLC 8S comes with improved built quality and comes with braided cables as compared to the FLC 8.
     
     
    I've also had a bit of back and forth with FLC's founder Forrest Wei (@Flcforrestwei) and learned a bit about him. Like most audio engineers, you've probably never heard of Forrest. Neither had I, but let me assure you that just like the FLC8S, he's is the real deal. Before starting FLC, he worked at Ultimate Ears at the time the venerable Triple-Fi 10 were being developed. He's also worked at Jabra and Harman. As you can see, he's been around the block. He started up FLC because he not only believes in hybrid IEM technology, he believes the sound should be customizeable to give every listener the right sound signature at the right time without buying several pairs of IEM. Besides FLC8S, Forrest also sells a CIEM version with the same 36 levels of custmization. Now that's unique! FLC also has a new line of single-crystal pure silver cables with all the connector choices you need. There's also a new flagship product under development. I've heard a bit about it and can't wait to give it a listen. Let me assure you it's going to be another amazing product from FLC. So there you go. Now you know a bit about Forrest Wei. We're lucky that he recently joined us on Head-Fi, hanging out with us FLC lovers over in the FLC8S thread. Thanks, Forrest!
     
    FLC8 & 8S Thread: LINK
     

    DISCLAIMER

    There is no financial incentive from FLC for writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with FLC, and this is my honest opinion of the FLC8S.  I would like to thank FLC for giving me a chance to test drive the FLC8S, and I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for FLC.
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
     
    I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
     
    Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.



     
     

    SPECIFICATIONS



    1. Driver unit: 8.6 mm dynamic drivers+ dual balanced armature 
    2. Rated Impedance: 11 Ohm 
    3. Sensitivity: 93 dB/mW 
    4. Frequency response: 20Hz - 20KHz 
    5. Plug: 3.5mm gold-plated L-plug 
    6. Cable: 1.30m TPU cable
    7. Price: $350 (LMUE)

     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    As usual, I'll go over the packaging and accessories in pictorial format with a wrap at the end. 
     
    Looks like a plain box, right?
    FLC8S-1.jpg
     
     
    Nope! The top cover folds back to reveal the FLC8S nestled in protective foam.
    FLC8S-2.jpg
     
     
    Then that top layer slides out to the right to reveal the carry case and accessories keychain case. Cool!
    FLC8S-3.jpg
     
     
    Here are all the goodies you get.
    FLC8S-4.jpg
    Sorry about the stray tip in the pic...
     
    The unboxing experience is really fun. It felt like I just kept discovering more and more goodies stashed away inside. I recently got the Lotoo PAW Gold in for testing and noticed that the boxes are very similar. Turns out Forrest is a big fan of Lotoo DAPs!
     
    I like the nearly indestructible metal accessories holder and IEM case. These will most definitely keep your FLC and accessories safe and sound for a long, long time. I'm not sure I'll ever use the 1/4" and airplane adapters. Some might, though. Honestly, these would just end up in my stash of unused accessories. I'm sure you noticed the pair of tweezers were, right? That's weird. Tweezers packed in with a pair of IEM? What's that about? Well, they're supposed to help change the tiny tuning filters. I didn't find them very helpful, though. I ended up just using my fingernails to change the filters. Maybe some will need it, but not this guy. 
     
    The tips are basically the same shape, but the gray ones are softer and are the ones I preferred. And surprise, surprise, tip rolling has been a topic of discussion on the FLC thread. While I enjoy the sound with the stock gray tips, some don't like them and end up using third-party tips. Wide-bore double-flange seem popular. During my conversation with Forrest, I learned that the stock tips were chosen because they conveyed more detail. Even so, it'd be nice to see some different tip styles included to accommodate differences in ear anatomy and to allow users to further refine the sound to their taste.
     
    NOTE: The tuning filters are really small, so make sure to change them over something that can catch them if they fall.
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    Again, I'll attack this section in pictorial format, commenting on what I like and what I think could be improved as I go.
     
    FLC8S
    FLC8S-7.jpg
     
    You can see a lot of the elements of the FLC8S in the picture up above. Lets start off with the earpieces. You can see all three types of modular tuning components for each earpiece that make the FLC8S so unique. On the left earpiece's inner face you can see the RED ULF (Ultra Low Frequency) tuning filter, while on the right earpiece's outer face you can see the GRAY LF (Low Frequency) tuning filter. You can also see the GUNMETAL MF (Mid Frequency) + HF (High Frequency) tuning nozzle. All of these are easy to remove. The tuning nozzles simply screw in. ULF and LF tuning filters are friction fit and fit in snugly. The ULF tuning filter is hard plastic and is the smallest of the tuning components. The LF tuning filter is made of silicone and is a bit bigger. It's easy to distinguish between these two, so you're not going to be putting the wrong tuning filter in the wrong port. Since they are quite small, please change these over the carry case or something similar so you don't lose them. FLC includes an extra of each ULF and F filter just in case you do lose one, though. And if you're really worried about losing them, you can purchase the tuning accessories keychain kit separately.
     
    You can also see the braided detachable cables with memory wire. All is color coordinated in a tasteful BLUE. Perhaps you can also tell from the picture that the FLC8S is pretty small. If not, I'll include an in-ear picture below to show you that they are indeed pretty darn small.
     
     
    FLC8S Schematic
    FLC8S-16.jpg
    Here you can see all the tuning components, as well as the internals. I'll go over specifics for the different tuning choices available in the next section, but this gives you an idea of how flexible the FLC8S are in finding just the right sound for you.
     
     
    Cinch, Y-Splitter, L-Plug
    FLC8S-13.jpg
     
    Good news, bad news time, people.
     
    Stock Cable
    Bad News: The stock cable is fairly springy and is microphonic, and the heat shrink tubing looks a bit shabby. Moreover, the cinch shrink tubing is so tight I had a very hard time moving it up the cable.  I let Forrest know this. He relayed this to the team, and they've made the cinch made a bit looser.
     
    Good news: The FLC8S comes with a high-quality OFC braided copper cable. With its coordinating blue color and heat shrink tubing, it has quite the boutique appearance. And I really like that it has an L-Plug that works with smartphone cases. 
     
    Original Cable
    Besides the stock cable, there's also the original FLC8 cable which is a standard black copper cable that is more supple and comes with a more typical, functional cinch and lacks memory wire. The copper is a bit lower quality, but it is a highly-ergonomic cable and allows the user to choose between wearing the FLC8S up or down and is lees prone to microphonics.
     
    Silver Cable
    The newest addition to the FLC lineup is the brand spanking new single-crystal pure-silver cable, which is very similar in construction so expect the same springiness and microphonics. I just got this, and the cinch on it is just right. Nice!
     
     
    FLC Cables: Original (top), Stock (bottom left), Silver (bottom right)
    FLC8S-18.jpg
     
    NOTE: FLC8S use the same 2-Pin connector as the venerable UE TF10, so you'll have lots of aftermarket options should you choose to go that route.
     
     
    FLC8S in BLUE vs. RED
    FLC8S-19.jpg
     
    In addition to the regular blue color, FLC8S are also available in a Limited Edition Red model. I think a mix n match model would be awesome!
     
     
     
    Worn Up
    FLC8SWornUp.jpg
     
    Here they are worn up with the original FLC8 cable that doesn't have memory wire. Very comfortable for my ears.
     
     
    Worn Down
    FLC8SWornDown.jpg
     
    With the original FLC8 cable, you can wear them down since it lacks memory wire. This isn't as comfortable for my ears, but my ears are a bit on the small side. I suspect those with anger ears will find it more comfortable. in any case, it's nice to have options, and I do find myself 
     
     
    SOUND + TUNING ACCESSORIES
    Those of you who know me know I listen to a lot of electronic and metal. You might even know that I've been jamming a lot of classic rock lately, as well. I typically listen to music from Autechre, Behemoth, Bjork, Candlemass, Depeche Mode, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, New Order, Rush, and Sigur Ros during my time with new gear. I might throw in some hard bop jazz or modern minimalist composition every now and then. Just wanted to make sure you know what kind of music I listen to for context. Unlike some other reviewers, I don't keep to a strict playlist. Instead, I choose songs I know well and feel like listening to. I feel it's more organic that way. Anyways, on with the show, eh...
     
    As mentioned above, FLC8S has a lot of tuning options. So as opposed to trying to impress you more with vivd descriptions of their amazing sound, I'm going to discuss the various tuning options and which I prefer. Let's start with a run-down of the various tuning filters.
     
    Ultra Low Frequency
    1. Clear = Minimum
    2. Gray = Medium
    3. Red = Maximum
     
    Low Frequency
    1. Clear = Minimum
    2. Gray = Medium
    3. Black = Maximum
     
    Mid + High Frequency
    1. Blue = Medium Mid Frequency + Low High Frequency
    2. Gunmetal = Medium Mid Frequency + Medium High Frequency
    3. Gold = Maximum Mid Frequency + Medium High Frequency
    4. Green = Medium Mid Frequency + Maximum High Frequency
     
    Ok, now you've seen all the tuning choices that await you. Perhaps you can guess what some of the trends are. Did you guess that most people prefer the GRAY and RED ULF tuning plugs? Yup! Perhaps they also prefer the GRAY and BLACK LF tuning plugs? Right again! You also think most people like the GUNMETAL and GOLD MF + HF tuning nozzles? Man, you're good! You got them all right!!!
     
    I played around with the various tuning plugs and nozzles and rapidly came to the conclusion that I'm not a fan of using the clear tuning plugs at all. They gut the bass. Not a fan of the blue tuning nozzle. Guts the upper end. Green's not my favorite, either. It's ok, but it's got a bit too much upper end energy for me for general listening purposes. After nailing down which tuning plugs and filters I'd rather avoid, I started working with my preferred tuning accessories to hone in on my favorite combinations. 
     
    My hands-down favorite is RED-GRAY-GOLD Well-extended bass with good bass impact. Mid-bass is very well balanced with sub-bass. upper bass is reigned in. Very nice. Not boomy. Mids are tilted a bit towards the upper mids. The upper end conveys a good amount of detail without veering into harsh territory. I'd highly recommend using that as a starting point and then try substuting one of the tuning plugs at a time to hone in on your favorite. 
     
    Some of my other favorite tunings are:
    1. RED-GRAY-GUNMETAL. This is very similar to the RED-GRAY-GOLD combo up above but the upper mids are a bit more relaxed. A nice warm, relaxed listen.
    2. GRAY-GRAY-GUNMETAL. This is the default combination and works very well as a reference tuning.
    3. RED-BLACK-GOLD. Choose this when it's party time and let the bass kick!
     
    Beyond the basic tuning, FLC8S is able to convey a good sense of space and spacial cues. It's not the best I've heard, but it is above average for it's price and competitive with higher priced IEM. Of course some of this is source dependent, and I've found FLC8S scales well with increasingly better sources. I've tested it out with my iPhone 5s, Aune M2, Cayin N5, iBasso, Shanling M2 & M3, Soundaware Esther Analog, and most recently the Lotoo PAW Gold. While the FLC8S sound just fine out of my iPhone, add a decent amp to your audio chain or plug them into an entry level DAP and you notice the dynamics are a bit better and the soundstage increases. Move up to a mid-level DAP, and again the FLC8S doesnt at all feel like it's holding your audio chain back. Hell, I'm listening to them out of the PAW Gold I just got in for testing, and it sounds amazing! It's with PAW Gold that I can really hear FLC8S performing at its highest level, and the benefits of the new silver cable are most evident. So if you get the FLC8S, just know that it'll keep up with you as you upgrade your audio chain.
     
    FLC8S-27.jpg
     
    I've skimmed some of the other reviews. While I consider the ability to alter the tuning a major strength of the FLC8S, I noticed that a couple people seemed to feel it was a gimmick. Obviously, I disagree. Let me be completely realistic about this. I don't expect anyone is going to be out on the bus and think to themselves, "Hey, I want to change filters on my FLC8S right now." That's pretty unrealistic. However, every once in awhile I do like to change the filters. Like I pointed out above, FLC8S can be a reference-tuned IEM if you configure it properly. So if you need that, it's there for you. Want to throw on some bass-laden hip-hop or electronic music and just give in and have some party time fun? Yup, you can do that, too. Feel like a v-shaped sound sig? FLC8S has you covered. you can even get a dark, warm sound signature if you throw on the BLUE tuning nozzle. Of course, you'll probably go right back to your favorite tuning afterwards. So what? At least you didn't have to go out and buy another IEM to get a taste of those other sound signatures. FLC8S has you covered, baby!
     
     

    SUMMARY

    By now, I certainly hope you're intrigued by these. I truly feel that FLC8S are an undiscovered gem in the IEM universe and hope they finally start to get the attention they deserve. Make no doubt, these are a phenomenal IEM with great sound in a nice, comfortable, small package. Add the ability to tune them to your liking, and they're a force to be reckoned with. And in my opinion, Forrest did a great job creating a highly-tunable IEM. Are they perfect? No. Are any IEM perfect? Of course not, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise!
     
    So what could be better? Well, I mentioned a few minor nitpicks along the way like microphonics, the overly tight cable cinch, and limited tip selection. Luckily the FLC8S have detachable cables, so if you end up falling in love with them you can always look around for a cable that fits your individual needs. There, that problem's solved. Tips? Well, who amongst us doesn't have way too many tips floating around? I mean honestly, I've got more tips than I know what to do with! So that's not really a big deal, either. The one thing that can't be changed is the very small tuning accessories. I know a lot of prospective FLC owners will be nervous about using them. Luckily you can purchase replacements, so just order a set of replacements when you order the FLC8S and you'll be set!
     
    To wrap, I'd like to congratulate Forrest at FLC for crafting a superb IEM that is competitive with IEM that cost significantly more. I look forward to your future creations with great anticipation!
    elnero, omastic, Brooko and 13 others like this.
  8. sandman1990
    4.5/5,
    "Hidden Gems"
    Pros - Sound, Build
    Cons - Microphonics
    [Update] 19-Mar-2016 Added comparisons
     
         I have had the FLC8S for about 3 months but never had the time to sit down and write a review until now. Before proceeding further, I would like to thank all the reviewers and fellow Head-Fi members from the FLC8S thread [link] who initiated my interest in this product.
     

    7ofR4dc.jpg   W6aDsMS.jpg
    hmE3PC8.jpg   2wlfqqf.jpg
    The IEMs and the Tuning Filters
     
     
     
    1 Preliminaries  
    1.1 About Me
         I am a student in pursuit of a master's degree. I got interested in audio equipment rather recently. I am not the usual reviewer and I have spent most of my time here lurking around looking for answers. So, please pardon me in case some things are out of place. In any case, I am looking forward to feedback from the community to try and improve things in the future. The opinions that I have provided in this review are purely based on my listening experience and not any graphs or numbers.

    1.2 Preferences
         I like a balanced sound signature with good detail reproduction. I have a slight tendency to like bright-sounding headphones as long as they are not too harsh or sibilant. As far as musical preferences go, I am a bit of a metalhead.
     
     
    2 Product Overview
         The FLC8S is a triple driver hybrid IEM with a unique tuning system that allows one to tweak the base sound signature in 36 different ways through the use of different filters. On each side, there is a single 8.6mm dynamic driver and dual balanced armature drivers. It has been some time since the original FLC8 became available online. The current iteration, the FLC8S, comes with braided cables.
     
    2.1 Packaging and Accessories
    The following accessories are included as a part of the standard packaging.
    • Two sets of silicone tips in SS/S/M/L sizes.
    • Three sets of ultra-low and low frequency filters.
    • Two sets of mid-high frequency filters.
    • A 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter.
    • A balanced to 3.5mm adapter.
    • A cleaning tool.
    • A keychain with a fob that houses the filters.
    • A metal case.
    • A pair of plastic tweezers.
    • An instruction manual.
     
    2.2 Design and Fit

         I liked the way the box opens up. The materials aren't anything exotic. Everything is rather well organized inside the box. The compact manual has most of the details about the tuning system. The included metal container is very solidly built. So is 6.5mm-to-3.5mm adapter. Each of the two sets of tips, one clear and the other gray, come in SS/S/M/L sizes. The quality, quantity and variety of the supplied tips are pretty decent. The filters are neatly housed inside the keychain's fob. The bass filters are rather tiny and delicate so they might need an extra bit of care when swapping parts. This makes the inclusion of an extra set of the ultra-low and low frequency filters somewhat relieving. The filters, once attached, all sit firmly in place. The IEM housings are lightweight and well-built with decent finishing. The cable is a bit too stiff though. The 2-pin connectors require a bit of effort for removal but nothing herculean. Also, since they have been confirmed to be TF10 compatible, there should be lots of options for those looking for cable upgrades.
         The only major gripe that I could have of the FLC8S is the cable's proneness to microphonics. Also, for people with small ears, the IEMs stick out a bit and it becomes a little difficult to get the stiff memory wire to settle down properly. When it comes to the chin slider and y-split, I want something sturdier instead of simple plastic sleeves. Apart from these, I have no other issues with the fit and isolation.
     
    2.3 Tuning system
         There are three different types of filters for sub-bass, bass, and mids and highs adjustment.
    • Ultra-low frequency (ULF) filters
      • Clear - Minimum
      • Grey - Medium
      • Red - Maximum
    • Low frequency (LF) filters
      • Clear - Minimum
      • Grey - Medium
      • Black - Maximum
    • Mid + High frequency (MHF) filters
      • Blue - Medium + Minimum
      • Black - Medium + Medium
      • Gold - Maximum + Medium
      • Green - Medium + Maximum
     
     

    3 Testing
     
    3.1 Setup
         For this review, I used a FiiO X3 1st Gen + E12A stack as the source. The X3 was connected to a PC as a USB DAC. For playback, foobar2000 with the proper ASIO drivers was used. Prior to writing this review, I had already used the IEM for over 200 hours.
     
    3.2 Sound Quality
         Coming from the GR07 and VC1000, both of which are fantastic units from VSonic, when I listened to the FLC8S for the first time I was rather impressed. It offered better mid-range and treble quality compared to the GR07 and better bass, both quality and quantity-wise, than the VC1000 whilst matching or even improving on its mid and highs. At first, the highs sounded a bit metallic but I think with time, it now sounds much more natural. I started listening with the stock M sized tips and a pair of M sized SpinFit tips before reviewing. For this review, I used the stock tips.

     
    3.2.1 Lows
         With the dynamic driver taking care of the bass, the decay is very natural; neither too fast nor too slow. There is enough impact and control when needed and it goes pretty deep too. Quantity-wise it is a little above neutral with the default Grey ULF, Grey LF filters. The combo of Red ULF, Black LF filters offers the maximum bass. Even in this configuration, the mid and high frequencies are still clearly audible. I was particularly impressed with the way it managed to keep up with the fast-paced bass of some death 'n' roll tracks. It also managed to keep the chilling atmosphere in some raw black metal tracks without adding any noticeable warmth. It really shows the level of control that is on offer. Initially, I often switched between the Grey ULF, Grey LF combo and the Red ULF, Gray LF combo and ended up preferring the former. The Red ULF filter adds a little more impact but I found the Grey ULF filter to be satisfying in most cases.
     
    3.2.3 Mids
         Throughout the review process, I used either the Black or the Gold MHF filters. I felt that the Green MHF filter affects the naturalness of the vocals. The Blue MHF filter seems to make the sound dull and less energetic. In most cases, I ended up preferring the Gold MHF filter. It makes the mid frequency feel a little more present and sound forward compared to the Black MHF filter. With the Black filter, the mids are smoother but the Gold filter provides a bit more detail retrieval.
     
    3.2.4 Highs
         The high frequencies sound crisp and energetic without any noticeable sibilance issues with the Black and Gold MHF filters. The Blue MHF filter cuts down the treble presence while the Green MHF filter introduces some sibilance. For classical-inspired instrumental pieces though, I sometimes found myself reaching for the green filter. The speed, decay and airiness are all top notch. Acoustic guitars are a joy to listen on this.
     
    3.2.5 Soundstage and Imaging
         There is enough width and depth with atmospheric tracks. Everything feels well placed. The layering and separation on offer are very good.
     
    4 Comparisons
     
    4.1 VSonic GR07 Classic
         The GR07 has served me well for over 2 years now. In comparison to the GR07, the FLC8S offers more sub-bass, much more mid range presence and far less splashy treble. There is more detail, naturalness and refinement with the FLC8S. Also, the soundstage of the FLC8S has more 3D feel compared to the flatter, 2D-ish feel of the GR07.
     
    5 Conclusion
         I must admit that I highly impressed by the performance of these hybrids. For me, they score top grades in almost every department when it comes to the sound. Coming from sub $150 IEMs, I cannot really comment if the FLC8S truly delivers top-tier performance, but, I am pretty sure that its the best pair I have owned and listened to till date. Being on a student budget, it was a considerable investment for me but I must admit that I am thoroughly satisfied. For anyone looking to make the jump to next tier from the sub $150 realm, I think a pair will not disappoint.
     

    Brooko, Hawaiibadboy, DJScope and 3 others like this.
  9. d marc0
    4.0/5,
    "The hybrid in-ear monitor with tuning capabilities of up to 36 sound variations!"
    Pros - Tunable with 36 sound variations, comfortable fit, good sound performance
    Cons - short cable, tiny-easy to lose parts
    Hybrid In-Ear Monitors (IEM) now have their own fanbase following the emergence of the first universal high-end one in 2011. Earphone manufacturers recognised this and have since produced their versions of the hybrid configuration: Dynamic Drivers for bass + Balanced Armature Drivers for midrange and treble. I’m proud to say that I am a bonafide hybrid IEM fan. The benefits of having both dynamic and balanced armature drivers in one IEM are unique, almost impossible to replicate with a single driver design. Dynamic drivers offer a natural bass timbre; add that to the superior midrange-to-treble clarity of balanced armature drivers, the end result can be fantastic! That’s If they tuned it right… easier said that done.

    Aside from the hybrid driver configuration, adjustable sound or tuning has become a common feature amongst in-ear monitors. We’ve seen interchangeable tuning filters that can alter the upper midrange and high frequency responses. Other models have bass rings that will cover bass vents, therefore increasing the bass impact and sub-bass extension. In the case of FLC Technology’s hybrid IEM, three tuning methods were utilised, allowing various combinations to shape a sound signature that’ll match your preference. So here, we have the FLC 8S – the hybrid in-ear monitor with tuning capabilities of up to 36 sound variations.

    RETAIL PRICE:           US$ 335
    DRIVER SPEC:           8.6 mm dynamic + dual balanced armature drivers
    IMPEDANCE:              11 Ohm
    SENSITIVITY:              93 dB/mW
    FREQ RESPONSE:    20Hz – 20KHz
    TERMINATIONS:        2-pin, 3.5 mm gold plated L-plug
    INCLUDED CABLE:   1.3 M TPU cable, 1.3 M OFC copper cable
    WHERE TO FIND:      lendmeurears.com

    Disclaimer: This review unit was provided as a loaner. Special thanks to @DJScope for facilitating the tour.

    _DSC4766.jpg

    FLC Technology did a decent job on the FLC 8S’ accessories. It shows that lot of thought came into play before finalising the retail packaging. However, I do think that a few more variations of ear tips and a shirt clip to assist in minimising cable noise (microphonics) could add more value to the overall package. Other than that, all the accessories that made the retail packaging are there to ensure good user experience.

    1. 8 pairs of silicon tips (S,M,L)
    2. 1 metal case
    3. 1 pair tweezers
    4. Low frequency tuning plug: nine (three groups, one group of three)
    5. ultra-low tuning plug: nine (three groups, one group of three)
    6. Tuning catheter: eight (four groups)

    _DSC4717-1.jpg

     
     
    SETUP:
    iPod Touch 5th Gen > OPPO HA-2 DAC/AMP
    16/44 FLAC and ALAC
    T-PEOS hybrid silicon ear tips were used

    TEST TRACKS:
    Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc
    Booker T. Jones – Representing Memphis
    Seductive Souls – How It Feels
    Pantera – Domination
    Daft Punk – Giorgio By Moroder
    Sia – Chandelier
    Jewel – Somewhere Over The Rainbow

    I really like the design and build of the FLC 8S. At a glance, it doesn’t look premium, but upon closer inspection, the plastic housings have a nice, smooth finish with no noticeable gaps. What’s obvious are the unique tuning ports, where the tuning plugs reside and the blue coloured theme from the housing, all the way to the tip of the cable. There are two different types of cables included, a black stock TPU cable, and the OFC copper cable which has the blue colour scheme. The black stock cable may look plain but it’s supple and lightweight. The lack of stiff ear guides make them the cable of choice for those who wear glasses. The aesthetically more pleasing OFC copper cable has a more sturdy build but it’s slightly stiff and retains some memory (shape). The blue cable is quite microphonic (cable noise) when rubbed onto clothes but easily minimised by attaching a shirt clip. Cable length can also be a concern because they seem a bit too short by today’s standard. The shape of the housing may not look the part but they conform to the shape of my ear. Inserting the IEM is very easy, and they sit securely like conventional ear plugs. I also find them very comfortable even after a few hours of listening sessions. Please note that your mileage may vary because we all have different ear shapes and sizes. I have small to average-sized ears so these IEMs will surely fit the majority.

    39552cd3_FLC8S-16.jpg

    The tuning feature on the FLC 8S utilises three different adjustments, which sets this IEM apart from its hybrid counterparts. Four sets of tuning catheters can be interchanged and attached on to the nozzles; these are responsible for tuning the midrange and treble. To adjust the bass quantity, three sets of low frequency plugs are available for the front tuning ports. Last but not the least, three sets of ultra-low frequency plugs can be used to adjust the sub-bass extension. Mix and match… you’ll find 36 various combinations with noticeable difference in sound signature. At the end of the day, I believe  most users will stick with one or two combinations to match their preferred sound signature. My personal favourite is the recommended default combination: Gray Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) plug + Gray Low Frequency (LF) plug + Gunmetal (MF/HF) Nozzle catheter/filter. Please take note that the tuning plugs are very tiny and can easily be lost or misplaced. Changing the sound signature is a fiddly process and requires a proper setting to avoid losing parts. A pair of tweezers is included as a tool for installing the tuning plugs; please do not attempt to use the said tool for facial grooming *wink*.

    TUNING ACCESSORIES & HOW THEY AFFECT THE SOUND

    _DSC4784.jpg

     
    RECOMMENDED COMBINATIONS

    _DSC47841.jpg

    For the purpose of this review, I will be using the recommended default combination. This can serve as a reference for FLC 8S users; and by using the description of the tuning accessories above, one can estimate the effect of interchanging specific tuning plugs or nozzle filters. The sound presentation for the default combination is the most “balanced” when compared to the other combos. The Gray ULF and LF plugs’ effect is a slight accentuation in bass. The Gunmetal MF/HF catheter or nozzle filters effect on tuning is a neutral midrange with a smooth upper midrange; while the treble has a slight emphasis that projects more energy and extension.

    Most people seek a great bass response before anything else in the frequency spectrum. The same holds true for Hybrid IEM fans, the bass performance holds a massive influence on the buyer’s decision. Fortunately, the FLC 8S holds its own when it comes to bass control, texture, and layering. The test track used for this section was Giorgio By Moroder by Daft Punk. The details come through clearly with every bass guitar line and drum beat. Sub bass rumble is sufficiently felt. Timbre is quite organic and natural sounding, so differentiating various instruments is not a hard task with this IEM. The transition from bass to midrange is seamless, another testimony on the FLC 8S’ competence in keeping the midrange clear of bass bleed. While not the best in the market, the FLC 8S is competitive enough in its price range. Since this is a review, I’m going to nit pick and determine key areas for improvement. The bass decay times seem a tad bit slower than other high end IEMs. Bass tightness could also be improved to uplift its sense of urgency. Really minor nit picks but these shortcomings are noticeable when listening to fast bass lines or drum blasts. Pantera’s Domination from their debut album is an excellent track to demonstrate bass speed or decay times.

    _DSC4776.jpg

    Midrange is akin to the meat in a burger. It’s the main focus of the entire experience and the FLC 8S is as tasty as good burgers can get. Instruments and vocals sound naturally life-like. What impresses me is its ability to smoothen the upper midrange to relieve poorly mixed tracks of potential harshness. Sia’s all-time famous Chandelier is a track I use to test upper midrange control. Too much boost in this area and it’ll sound harsh, edgy and fatiguing. The FLC 8S manages to keep a more pleasing presentation, devoid of potential harshness. On the other hand, clean sounding tracks with piano or female vocals as a centrepiece might leave you wanting for more presence. Jewel’s rendition of the classic – Somewhere Over The Rainbow, presents an intimate vocal performance but clarity and definition seem to take a back seat when listening through the FLC 8S. Not quite noticeable but something to take note of if you’re a critical listener. Overall midrange balance is good and quite enjoyable for most modern music.

    _DSC47801.jpg

    I prefer the treble response to have ample energy, airiness and extension. Well, I’m happy to report that the FLC 8S passes with flying colours although with a caveat. There’s a slight over-emphasis in the treble response making the presentation a bit brighter than intended. Scratchiness and sibilance can be an issue at high listening volumes or brightly mixed recordings. Take Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories as an example. The entire album was intricately mixed and mastered that sibilance is non-existent even on the FLC 8S. Put in some early 90’s rock tracks and you’ll immediately hear the exaggerated SSS’s and cymbal crashes. As long as you’re particular with song selection and stick with quality recordings, the FLC 8S will continue to impress.

    Overall sound presentation from the FLC 8S is effortlessly grand in scale; more on the width of the soundstage rather than depth. Spacing between instruments or musical cues is above average, better than most IEMs in this price range that I’ve tried. Imaging could’ve been better if there was more depth but at least it’s good enough to maintain a cohesive presentation. The recommended default configuration has a nice, balanced sound signature. The low end frequency response is slightly on the warmer side of neutral. The mild accentuation in the treble region complements the low end warmth and helps maintain the overall balance. Listening to Seductive Souls – How It Feels, was quite a euphonic experience.

    _DSC4783.jpg

    The FLC 8S is a well featured high end hybrid IEM, thanks to its tuning capability. I don’t expect anyone with the FLC 8S to be changing combinations regularly, but it’s a good option to have when you feel the need. I would recommend the FLC 8S to those who are planning to upgrade from a beginner’s setup but unsure of their sound preference. Having the option to customise the sound to your liking is the safest way to avoid regrets in portable audio purchases. It is also a great solution for people who have hearing loss or sensitivity in specific areas of the frequency response. The FLC 8S is flexible enough to attenuate or accentuate certain frequencies that can help improve the user's listening experience. So it is important to try all the tuning combinations to find the sound variation that's perfect for you. I surely hope that FLC Technology will continue to innovate and produce wonderful products. They are already on the right track with the FLC 8S and a few more minor tweaks to the sound will move this product forward to top-of-the-line status.

    NOTE: The ratings meter above is inaccurate. It should be:

    ScreenShot2016-03-05at9.52.58AM.png

    Ritvik, Brooko, djvkool and 7 others like this.
  10. originalsnuffy
    4.5/5,
    "Detailed, open sound. Massively customizable. "
    Pros - Sound can be fine tuned to listener preference. High fidelity at reasonable price point.
    Cons - Difificult to insert filters. Easy to lose filters. Moderately easy to get ear fit but not dead simple. Tuning could be "overkill" for some.
    I had the pleasure of listening to the FLC8S for about 10 days. 
     
    I listened to these on a FIIO X3 Gen II, a Shanling M2, and the venerable iphone 6S.   My comparison is to LZ-A2 using Comply foam tips, Phonak Audeo PFE-022 with black filters and Comply foam tips, and Carbo Tenore using stock tips. 
     
    I listened to a wide variety of music, including Rock, Jazz, and Classical.  Something that surprised me was that I could listen to all varieties of music with these and get a pleasurable experience.  Normally I reserve the Phonaks for classical, where bass is not as important and musical accuracy is important.  But with these I was very happy no matter the source material.
     
    They sounded very good with all players, but were especially terrific with the Shanling M2.  The Shanling is a very neutral and clear sounding unit, and really brought out the best in these earphones.
     
    I found myself noticing the clarity of instruments, yet easy shifted to simply enjoying hi res music.  There is a reason these IEM units have developed a buzz; it is simply not just hype. The detachable cables can come loose fairly easily, so I would be careful with the units when used in public areas.  I stuck mainly to the blue cables though I did try the other two cables that were in box.  Somehow I preferred the blue cable comfort and stuck with those.
     
    My overall conclusion is that these provides an exception level of audio quality with a high degree of customization.   I mainly fiddled with the low bass, as I was very happy with the stock tunings. The effect was subtle but helpful to add sub bass.
     
    It is interesting to me that most other reviewers of this headphone also seem to go with the stock tunings, with the possible exception of adding more sub bass.  That is because these IEM units have an essential “rightness” to them right out of the box.  
     
    Customizing these IEM units is not super easy.  As other have mentioned, the small rubbery plastic inserts are difficult to manipulate and go flying about.  I would suggest working on a clear table and not over carpet.  Pieces can and will go missing.  I ended up using the tweezers to remove the tuning devices but put them in by finger. 
     
    My overall suggestion is that the manufacturer consider offering a cost reduced version of these with the base neutral tunings with the exception of somewhat tweaked sub bass.   I think a more basic version with this sound signature at the right place could become a monster product.  I realize the tunability put the manufacturer on the map, but now that they have a name I would readily purchase a cheaper, less tunable version. 
     
    I would also suggest studying the fit of the Carbo Tenore, which somehow gets the sound right in a very comfortable to wear format.
     
    These are exceptional IEM units and my sense is that improvements on these will ultimately be about fit, comfort, and price and not about sound quality.
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