Again, my impression of how the FLC8s sounds is based on the Red, Black, Gunmetal filter setup. For me, the Gold nozzle filter was still a little too bright in the treble, and a friend suggested I try Gunmetal. This sounds just about perfect to my ears, with the biggest bass, warmest mids, and least harsh treble.
The FLC8s is a fundamentally clear, detailed IEM, and with the right filters, counterbalanced for delicious warmth. Tonal richness mingles with transparent, highly articulate rendering. The weight of the notes is on the lighter side, but do not feel hollow. Instead you get a thinner, airier quality. Yet that dynamic bass is ever-present to keep things grounded and deep.
FLC has struck a curious balance between clarity and detail, and a relaxed presentation. It has all the vibrancy of a quick performer, but feels laid-back like a much warmer transducer. Whatever trick they’ve pulled, I approve. These are a very easy listen.
No matter what filter you use, the treble is on the brighter side, and sparkles freely. I find Gunmetal warms it up the most and is quite pleasant to my ears. Using Gold, it was a little fatiguing. Listening to Gunmetal, the highs are well-extended and smooth. There’s quite a lot of air, and light bathes the stage, revealing everything. Symbols and high-hats become prominent in the mix. Textures sharpen into relief. Details galore!
If you want laid-back treble, these are not the IEMs for you. Even with a dynamic driver dedicated to the low-end, the highs are really FLC’s main asset. You can feel the effects on every note, in the transparency and cleanness. The treble is not the finest I’ve ever heard. There is a slight glare, and it will bring out the sibilance if the recording contains any. Indeed, the FLC8s is a revealing monitor.
The mid-range is where that incredible balance shines the brightest. It’s so rich, yet so clear. Honest, beautiful warmth imbues the acoustic guitar, but never at the expense of precision. The intricacies and grain of a vocal piece are showcased in full, all while possessed of subtle lushness.
The romantic notions of the FLC8s are there, though tempered by high levels of technical proficiency. Voices sit large, center stage, with clean boundaries. The empty spaces around, and especially behind the vocals, are filled with a fairly black atmosphere, adding to one’s immersion in the music.
I hear the mids as quite linear and coherent. From male vocals to female, the characteristics are the same: Warm, clear, and extremely detailed. They are powerful and very present, but not shouty or unnatural.
Oh that sweet, sexy dynamic bass. Some people find hybrids a terrible mismatch of tone and quality, but I love them. I have a passion for Balanced Armature IEMs, but a Dynamic Driver delivers a low-end like nothing else in this form factor. Indeed, if you’re using the bassiest filters, the FLC8s is awfully satisfying. It’s not outright bass-heavy, but the lows are emphasized enough to create a thumping, driving force to the music, with great warmth. It’s likely more than some purists want, but as always, there are filters for that.
Sub-bass is raised a bit over mid-bass, and there’s a gradual decline through upper-bass into mid-range. This produces a visceral, rumbling low-end, but one that doesn’t suffer aggressive bloom, and doesn’t bleed into the vocals. It’s tight and controlled, yet mighty as f**k. The resolution and texturing of these sub-registers is impressive. FLC generates such a large, deep bass line. Its timbre is fulsome and luscious. In short, I’m a big fan.
Soundstage is not great, but not depressingly tiny, either. In truth, it’s sufficient to capture your imagination and hold you in the illusion. And at the price point, I’m not sure there is better. Imaging is excellent left-to-right, and okay on the depth axis. The stage itself isn’t very deep, so what do you expect? FLC8s resolves at a high level for a mid-tier IEM. It does a fantastic job rendering all the elements in sharp detail. And those elements have better than decent separation. I’m going to say it: these IEMs are stellar examples of what $300+ can get you.
Oriveti’s New Primacy ($299, Review HERE) is another three driver hybrid, with the DD dedicated to bass. It is warmer and less clear than FLC. The bass is flabbier, with a notable mid-bass hump which does cloud the vocals quite a bit. NP’s treble rolls off earlier, making for a less airy stage and less note articulation. FLC8s is to my tastes a proper upgrade to an already excellent IEM in New Primacy. It separates better, renders at a high resolution, and produces a slightly larger soundstage. If you ask me, FLC’s normally higher price-tag is indeed worth it in this case. Between these two, I go with the 8s every time.
Now… the DUNU DK-3001 (currently $469, Review HERE) is an interesting comparison. Here we have a 4-driver hybrid, with a king-hell 13mm DD for bass. It’s a lot like the FLC8s, only smoother, gentler, and altogether more refined. It flows like a clear blue stream and is one of the most pleasant-sounded monitors I’ve ever heard. The bass is everything the 8s is, even tuned the same, only more organic and a goddamn force of nature. The vocals are just as clear and transparent as the 8s, only liquid, and with a less aggressive presentation of details. DUNU’s treble is much smoother and more linear in its rise. And it extends higher, giving even more air to the stage. In fact, the whole slope from bass to treble feels more coherent. Not that the 8s sounded chaotic, but when you switch over to the DK-3001, you hear the difference. Even soundstage is wider and deeper with DUNU. Separation and imaging is about the same, both being super good examples of quality. The only advantage the FLC8s may have over DUNU is in resolution. I feel the 8s is a touch sharper. Oh! There is one other thing FLC does better: Ergonomics. The DUNU DK-3001 has monstrous problems in this area, and FLC is a f**king champion. The difference is so significant it could mean a decisive win for the FLC8s.