[section_title title=”Performance”] Performance
To start with the musical performance of the Flo, I was quite surprised how well they performed, especially across lighter tracks such as vocal and acoustic heavy Laura Marling offerings. Being closed back headphones, the Flo is already set on the path of a more a bassy affair due to the constriction of air.
Laura Mvula’s Green Garden and Sing To The Moon both offer a soup of instrument and vocal layers to test all facets of the Flo that doesn’t obviously pander well to the design of the headphones. Specifically Sing To The Moon, there is a strong percussion based intro to the song that has a strong presence and a nice scratchy overtone during the instruments air time. Similarly, Laura’s earthy vocals come through quite punchy with good separation between artist and instrument. Moving onto Arcade Fire’s Reflektor, The Flo holds it’s own here also. The heavy synth element built into the track as well as Arcade Fire’s instrumental foundation makes for a good test where everything but the kitchen sink is concerned. The highs for the keyboard and other electric effects remain distinctive but there is heavy and domineering weight to bass within in the track, really, working towards the design of the Flo. At times on Reflektor the bass just sounds like someone has turned an EQ setting right up rather than giving off a precise feeling of volume.
Switching from music to gaming and The Witcher 2 was our test case here, namely, during a battle for a fortress called Vergen for those who are familiar with the game. The sections has a ringer of areas with prime audio to move through including battles you as the player take part, the ambiance of AI battles and set pieces in the distance as well as some conversation episodes. The Flo performed great in every area and i’d have no reason to doubt it’s qualities as a gaming headset. Sword clanks had a nice pitch to them, the rumble and mumble of background noise sounds good enough to be noticed but not to the extent it’s distracting and the switching to the more focused conversation sections present voice clear – which is integral for any RPG. The upside to a closed back design where gaming is concerned is, generally, there tends to be more prominent ‘wow’ moments in sound and the Witcher 2 does this during your spell selection screen. There is a low ‘hum’ as time slow downs on this menu screen and the Flo reproduces this with great satisfaction. As you close said menu suddenly time and the sound speed back up with a nice zip which was an effortless and satisfying exercise for the Flo.
In addition to gaming and music, I tested the Flo with some video content also. House of Cards was the test subject here and with it’s focus on conversation and drama between the various leads I thought this would be an ideal subject for the The Flo. Much like the vocal heavy audio tracks from Larua Mvula, the Flo pushed out vocals nice and clear and ensured Kevin Spacey’s voice is as soothe as ever – even when he’s conniving! House of Cards also has a lot of transitions between the series soundtrack and conversations scenes and even thought the source isn’t solely focused on audio, the Flo did as good a job as any in handling the slow introduction of vocals over the suspensive undertones of the soundtrack during the build up to certain scenes.
Last but not least is our focus on the voice capabilities of the Flo. Whether it was on my phone or through the PC the audio quality of the Flo’s microphone was certainly serviceable. I didn’t notice any crackling and specific black spots either during Skype or audio recording samples via Audacity and my phones built-in solution. I think if there’s anything to be said negatively about the voice communication of the Flo it’s to do with the odd microphone design. Firstly, and this is my opinion, it sits awkwardly in front of your mouth. The mic can be adjusted in and outwards but not easily up or down away from your mouth, and as it’s detachable, it has be taken off and plugged in when needed if this is an annoyance for you. Secondly, the mic itself just isn’t suited for out and about use, which again I find baffling when the Flo headphones themselves look good enough to wear on the bus (and the included 1m cable is perfect length) and not your typical gaudy gaming headphones. If BitFenix has maybe gone for a clip-on type mic they’d have hit a winner on viability alone.
So where does the Flo sit with me and is it worth your time and money? We’ll find out next.