Details: Single balanced armature headset for gaming and music
MSRP: $129.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $100 from amazon
Specs: Driver: BA | Imp: 26Ω | Sens: 105 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 3.5mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear
Accessories (4.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), Comply foam tips, proprietary PC adapter, proprietary smartphone adapter/connector, cable guides, and semi-rigid zippered carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The plastic shells of the Flux In-Ear Pro look like a combination of the Phonak PFE and Brainwavz M3 designs. Above the y-split, the cable is of average thickness and features an inline microphone and single-button remote. Below the y-split, the cable is thick and flat, terminating in a proprietary 8-pin connector. From there, one of two included terminations can be used – a 4-pole L-plug form smartphones and other portable devices, or separate microphone and stereo audio plugs for use with a PC
Isolation (3/5) – Average for an armature-based set
Microphonics (4/5) – Good with over-the-ear wear, average otherwise
Comfort (4.5/5) – The fit of the Flux In-Ear Pro reminds me of Phonak’s defunct “Perfect Fit” earphones, which remains one of the most comfortable in-ears I’ve tried to date. The Flux Pro is a little larger but otherwise fits similarly. Though advertised as wearable either cable-up or cable-down, the earphone requires the channels to be swapped for comfortable cable-down wear
Sound (8.5/10) – The SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro is the company’s higher-end in-ear offering and is priced similarly to a number of other balanced armature earphones on the market. Overall, it is a good performer – well-balanced, with good bass depth and smooth, gentle treble. Bass extension and impact are rather impressive for a single BA – punch is about on-par with the HiFiMan RE-400 and MEElectronics A161P, though not quite as tight, and on bass-heavy tracks the low end definitely hits harder than one might expect from a single armature, exhibiting good depth and rumble.
The midrange of the Flux In-Ear Pro is nice and prominent – a little less clear compared to the Etymotic Research HF5 and HiFiMan RE-400, but still good. It is smooth and not overly prominent, with a slightly warm tone and no discernible grain. At the top, the Flux Pro is again smooth and refined – more so, for example, than the MEElec A161P. It sounds a bit duller than the MEElecs but the more forgiving treble presentation is likely worth the lack of energy for many listeners.
The presentation of the Flux In-Ear Pro is highly reminiscent of the Ultimate Ears 600. It boasts good width but only average depth and layering, especially when compared to higher-end sets. While wide, the soundstage of the Flux Pro is not as airy as that of the HiFiMan RE-400, for example. The less expensive Flux model, too, occasionally has the upper hand when it comes to soundstage depth and dynamics.
SteelSeries’ two in-ear monitors are both impressive performers but the sound quality difference between them isn’t as great as the price suggests. The armature-based Flux In-Ear Pro is flatter and more accurate, with more prominent mids, less bass, and smoother treble compared to the dynamic-driver Flux. It is also more sensitive, requiring less power to reach listening volumes.
The cheaper Flux model, on the other hand, boasts more bass and appears to have better bass depth. In terms of clarity the two are very close, with the more prominent treble of the Flux sometimes giving it an edge in vocal intelligibility. That same treble can sound a little grainy compared to the Flux In-Ear Pro but overall the two aren’t far apart. The soundstages of both earphones are similarly well-rounded but the Flux can be a little more dynamic at times.
UE’s only remaining single-armature model, the UE600vi, is a direct competitor of the Flux In-Ear Pro. It is one of my favorite single-armature earphones, offering a slightly mid-centric sound with smooth, refined treble. The Flux Pro has a more balanced midrange presentation – while more mid-centric than, say, the dynamic-driver Flux, it emphasizes mids less than the UE600 does. It also has a bit more bass impact and better depth – always welcome traits in a single balanced armature earphone. The downside of the Flux Pro favoring bass over the midrange is a slight drop in clarity compared to the UE600. The treble, too, seems to be a bit duller on the Flux while the UE sounds a little more crisp and transparent.
The UE600 has a source matching caveat, however – it prefers sources with very low output impedance. The Flux In-Ear Pro is less sensitive and has higher impedance, sounding more consistent between sources – a definite plus for gamers and others planning to use them with a variety of audio devices.
VSonic’s dual-driver monitor is a bright and crisp-sounding affair, offering a major sonic contrast to the warmer, smoother Flux In-Ear Pro. Compared to the impossibly tight VC1000, the Flux Pro sounds bassier and boomier, with a warmer tone and poorer clarity, especially in the midrange. The VC1000 also provides quite a lot more treble energy at the expense of being very unforgiving when it comes to sibilance and harshness. The Flux Pro, while more dull-sounding, sounds a lot smoother and doesn’t butcher poorly-mastered tracks.
Value (8.5/10) – The SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro is a solid single-armature earphone that accomplishes what it sets out to do, providing a balanced and accurate audio experience with a feature set that also makes it suitable for gaming. The over-the-ear form factor is comfortable and unobtrusive and the included PC headset adapter is a nice touch – I’ve only seen one other higher-end earphone ship with one (the MEElec A161P). Overall, while the Flux In-Ear Pro may not be as shockingly good a value as the regular Flux, it certainly delivers solid audio performance while asking little in the way of concessions.
Pros: Comfortable form factor; good overall sound quality; PC- and smartphone-compatible
Cons: Cable-down wear requires swapping left and right channels