I would never, under any circumstance, give you 36 sound impressions in one review. F**k that! I won’t even give you two filter configurations. No. I’ve told you I’m using Black, Red, and Gold. So, Most Bass, Most Mids, and Medium Treble. Knowing that, you can make your own mental adjustments to figure out if the 8n is capable of matching your sonic preference. I’d be willing to bet it is.
The FLC8n with Black, Red, and Gold filters is warm and bassy, rich, yet elegantly balanced. Clarity has a natural feel, delivering all the goods, without aggression or artificially boosting details. There is a smooth, easygoing quality to the FLC8n, though one not lacking in dynamism.
Treble has plenty of air for my tastes, suggesting good extension. A lower treble peak helps articulate the performance, bringing forth texture and detail. The drum kit is present, but not piercing. Actually, the highs are relatively smooth, with a hint of warmth about them.
Vocals are fantastic! Clean, refined, and possessing a touch of lushness. A moderate amount of body gives the mids authority, without sacrificing transparency. Vocals don’t dominate the music with forwardness, instead choosing to join the band and become a whole. Liquidity mingled with clarity makes this a wonderful, seductive listen.
The bass is a real delight, thanks to that dynamic driver and my fiendish choice of filters. Lows delve mighty deep, rumbling and quaking, punching and kicking as the music calls for it. There’s good texture, and a surprising amount of control and speed. It’s technically very good, but I’ve heard better tonality.
Soundstage is okay. Certainly not small, but also not super wide or tall. It feels pretty natural. Imaging is good, as is separation. Resolution is modest, but nothing to write home about it.
Comparing to the older FLC8s ($299, Review HERE), the new 8n is cleaner, clearer, with better resolution. The 8s has more grain and sounds peaky, perhaps more prone to sibilance. There’s a refinement to the 8n, felt all throughout the presentation. Better separation, more air, tighter bass, and greater beauty in the vocals. Indeed, this is a worthy upgrade.
Final Audio Design released a true winner in the E5000 ($279, Review HERE). For my money, nothing under $500 can beat it. Well, nothing I’ve heard. It’s even more organic and naturalistic than FLC. Smoother, richer, much bigger soundstage, with depth like you wouldn’t believe. The one down-side is how much goddamn power it needs. Most smartphones will struggle to get these loud enough, so you will want either one of those powerful LG’s, or a DAP with decent output. FLC will run fine on anything, as it’s very efficient.
Another superb alternative if you seek organicity and balance in a hybrid design is the Accutone Studio S2 ($339, Review HERE) Plus, no need for filters. It’s more or less perfect right out of the box. S2 has the more natural tuning, with smoother, warmer treble. The bass has a nicer tone, though not as much attack or “fun”. Mids are pretty close between these two. It’s hard to say which is better. They perform very much on the same level.