BitFenix Flo Headset Review
Here we have our first BitFenix review, it also happens to be their very first headset! The BitFenix Flo (BFH-FLO-KKSK1-RP) is a premium gaming headset which features closed-back ear-cups, 40mm drivers, in-line audio control, SoftFeel™ ear pads and the rather lovely BitFenix SoftTouch™ surface material.
Or in the words of BitFenix:
‘From the BitFenix Design Lab comes Flo™ – the premium PC headset made to move with you. Combining studio-engineered sound and signature BitFenix design, Flo delivers the audio you need at the PC and the styling you want on the road. Flo is optimized for stellar sound. Precision-tuned acoustic chambers equipped with 40mm Neodymium drivers ensure balanced, high definition sound whether you’re fragging the opposition, or listening to your favorite tunes on the go. Simply plug in the flexible microphone to dominate your opponents, and then detach it to rock to your own beats during your victory lap. A headset worthy of being worn on the road needs to look the part, which is why the designers at BitFenix have crafted Flo with a clean, stylish, and modern look. Multiple colors offer plenty of options for a look all your own, and signature BitFenix SofTouch™ Surface Treatment lends a premium matte look and soft feel. Flo is also engineered for maximum comfort. The self-adjusting headband contours to the shape of your head and provides optimal support. SoftFeel™ earcups provide supreme comfort during long listening sessions, and aside from providing astonishing durability, the steel frame structure gives optimal pressure for extreme comfort and maximum noise attenuation.‘
Anyone who has tried any BitFenix wares in the past can tell you, they have a sense of style like no one else. On face value the Flo certainly seem to be keeping them on track, but do they really sound as good as they look?
The BitFenix Flo arrived in a smart and not too overstated black and brushed aluminium style box. On the left we have the Headset name, a picture of the Flo itself with some random paint splashes around it (one would assume this is to depict the range of available colours (Black, White, Red & Blue)), a window to the right to show the Flo off, then at the bottom we have the BitFenix branding with a little slogan below ‘Premium PC headset made to move with you’.
On the back of the box there’s a brief on the headset, list of the Flo’s specifications (see below) and a list of the box contents (also featured in picture).
‘Sound That Moves You‘
‘Combining studio engineered sound with a clean yet modern BitFenix design, Flo™ delivers the audio you need at the PC and the styling you want on the road. Dominate your opponents and rock to your own beats during your victory lap.
BitFenix Flo. Go with it.‘
On the side of the box we see the full colour range that the BitFenix Flo is currently available in (personally I rather like the red ones!).
Opening up the box reveals the BitFenix Flo headset within, beneath this we find the warranty information and a contents list. The list (and also found in the box, obviously!) consists of
- Flo Headset
- Flexible Microphone
- 1m Straight Cable With Remote
- 2m Straight Cable With Headphone/Microphone Plugs
- 1m Straight Cable for Mobile Audio
At the time of review the BitFenix Flo is available in four different colours (Black, White, Red & Blue), retails for £49.99 at OverclockersUK and comes with a 12 month warranty.
courtesy of BitFenix
- Signature BitFenix Design – From the get go, the BitFenix Design Lab set out to make a PC headset that users would want to wear away from the PC. Coating the earcups is none other than BitFenix SofTouch™ Surface Treatment for a premium matte finish. Even the cables come with aluminium sheaths for an impressively high-quality look and feel. Available in four vibrant colors, Flo offers the clean and modern form that BitFenix is known for.
- Crystal-Clear Audio – The foundation of any headset is sound quality. Flo brings this in spades with 40mm Neodymium drivers for superbly bright and balanced audio. Precision-tuned acoustic chambers with the closed-back design not only ensure a superior aural experience, but enables excellent noise attenuation for crystal-clear sound – even on-the-go.
- Convenient PC Operation – Flo is tremendously easy-to-use while at the PC. The included in-line remote control with smooth sliding volume action makes it easy to adjust volume and microphone mute, and the flexible microphone allows you to attain just the right angle to ensure clear and noise-free voice communication.
- Supreme Comfort – A good headset should be your own personal oasis. With earcups featuring our SoftFeel™ material, Flo provides tremendous comfort that is ideal for those long listening sessions. The self-adjusting headband gives just the right amount of support, while the steel frame structure delivers optimal pressure during use.
- Made to Move – Designed with mobility in mind, Flo is meant to be taken with you. Removing the flexible microphone and using the included mobile audio cable transforms Flo from a PC headset into a premium lightweight headphone that drives stunning audio on-the-go. With Flo, PC headsets no longer need to stay with the PC.
|Materials||Steel, Plastic, SofTouch™ Surface Treatment, SoftFeel™ Earcups|
|Colours||Midnight Black, Arctic White, Fire Red, Cobalt Blue|
|Acoustic Design Dynamic||Closed-back|
|Driver||16µ, Neodymium magnet, Φ40mm|
|Rated Impedance||68 Ω|
|Headband Pressure||Approximately 5N|
|Connectors||Gold-plated Φ3.5mm stereo mini-plug with aluminum sheath|
|Cables||1m Straight Cable With Remote, 1m Straight Mobile Audio Cable, 2m Straight Cable With Headphone / Microphone Plugs|
First impressions of the BitFenix Flo are surprisingly good! I mean a premium PC gaming headset for £49.99?? Our particular review sample is predominantly black, but not just any old black, the vast majority of the Flo is coated in BitFenix SofTouch Surface Treatment which I like a lot. It also helps to further accentuate the chrome accents used elsewhere in the Flo’s design. The headset is light at only 200g and also feels reassuringly sturdy despite its lightweight design. This is even more impressive when you consider that this is BitFenix first headset!?
The left ear-cup features both the audio in and microphone sockets. The cup itself is covered in black SofTouch surrounded in a chrome frame with a chrome BitFenix logo, the right ear-cup has no additional features, but looks good anyway! Both cups are adjustable via the up-down tilt/swivel method. This helps the Flo sit in place via a clamping effect. Although they don’t have the plethora of adjustability that some other headsets out there have, they still remain incredibly comfortable when in situ.
After the finer details of the ear-cups, the headband is a little bit of a disappointment. Instead of the usual leather bound, cushioned numbers we have become accustomed to, we have what seems to be a plastic (or perhaps even vinyl!?) tension band, with air cushions underneath. At first glance it looks good, when touched the total opposite, but when in use it is actually very comfortable.
The supporting part of the Flo headband is of the thick wire variety, I’m guessing one or both maybe hollow to hide the wire going from the left cup to the right. This is in itself quite a nice touch as it keeps the headset looking tidy and unfussy.
The headband is adjustable (with a little work at least, as it’s a little stiff!) by approximately 15mm per side, this works by pulling the slides up or down the suspension cables. Which seems a very small amount, but when you take into account the suspension style headband, it should fit all bar the most gargantuan of heads!
Both sides of the Flo are ovular in shape and feature fully closed-cups (that’ll please the Mrs!), the ear-cups are covered with a material called SoftFeel, which is a leather like material and rather nicely soft. Hidden within each ear-cup there’s a 40mm Neodymium Driver.
The very out-of-place looking microphone is approximately 130mm long and connects to the left ear-cup using a standard 3.5mm audio socket. By out-of-place, I mean ugly, sorry! It’s flexible and removable, but come on BitFenix, you put all this time into designing a fantastic looking set of cans and throw on this? Would Aston Martin throw a bull-bar on the front of a DB9? I think not…
The left cup also houses the audio socket for which we have a choice of cables. First up is a 2m audio cable with headphone and microphone plugs, this is to be used in conjunction with the 1m in-line control audio cable. It’s nice to see that BitFenix have thought about the cable length, 3m should be just about adequate to reach from any motherboard audio sockets to where the user is sitting. The third seemed an odd but very welcome 1m audio cable aimed at mobile media devices (with a headset looking this good who wouldn’t want to be seen out and about wearing it?). All of the cable plugs are of course gold plated. Sadly none of the cables are braided (we love cable braiding nearly as much as flashy LEDs here at pcG!)
A feature that I think you’ll find visually pleasing and I myself find pretty cool, are the cable ends. BitFenix have placed some rather nice aluminium sheathe’s around them, with BitFenix on some, and on others microphone or headset images to signify their use. The in-line remote is a simple cylinder design again coated in the rather lovely SofTouch. The remote features microphone mute and a volume slider. Rather nicely the volume slider doesn’t just slide, it clicks. This almost gives it a tactile feedback (I’m not entirely sure this is actually an intentional design feature, but it’s nice nonetheless).
As the BitFenix Flo would be classed as a Premium headset, it will be paired up with the on-board audio of our Test Motherboard the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING, this brilliant motherboard from MSI features a Realtek ALC1150 chipset with MSI’s Audio Boost technology.
The BitFenix Flo headset simply connects (when I finally found the ends of the 3m cable chain!) to the motherboard audio via the two (headphone/mic) 3.5mm Jack plugs.
The BitFenix Flo was tested using our Intel Test Rig, running Windows 7 64bit (service pack 1) with all necessary Drivers installed. No further software is required for full functionality of the headset, hence none was supplied or installed!
The following Games were used during testing:
- Battlefield 4
- Metro Last Light
- Grid 2
- Batman Arkham Origins (benchmark)
- Unigine Heaven (benchmark)
The most important attribute of any headset is of course its audio performance. This is something that the BitFenix Flo has really surprised me (ED: Shocked me!) with. It sounds accurate, everything is crisp and clear, with just the right amount of bass and a good treble, it ticks all the right boxes. In fact they’d easily give any headset I’ve previously tested a run for their money and still come out sounding good!
One of Battlefield 4‘s biggest strong points is the audio. I’ve been deafened by the whir of high speed rotor blades of the gunships flying above and had to clench my bum cheeks as the crane I’ve been sniping from comes screeching down in Gulf of Oman. Metro Last Light all of a sudden feels very lonely and even the shadows feel more sinister. The BitFenix Flo really adds something to the atmosphere. While playing Loadout, the heavy thuds of my customised rifle bring out the best of the comically grotesque squishing sounds as body parts are being blown away. In Grid 2 the engines roar and the tyres screech, leaving just the smell of burning rubber the missing component from actually being there! While as the lead in Batman Arkham Origins you really soak up the eeriness as the Danny Elfman style music, helps you really get into character. The Benchmark graphics in Unigine Heaven play second fiddle as the dreamy music takes centre stage with it’s ethereal strings followed by pulsing bass.
I even risked going public by listening to some tunes whilst out and about. They certainly perform as well as my Klipsh S4 (although perhaps a little less discreet).
Whilst not as comfortable as my day to day headset, the Creative Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega, they are certainly very light, comfortable and less of a mouthful! The SofTouch ear-cushions are exactly that, soft and very comfortable, even whilst wearing glasses. One of the most import aspects for me is the ear-cushion ability to let my ears breathe and not give me sweaty cups (ear-cups that is). If anything I would only say the clamping effect of the headset could be ever so slightly tighter to make them feel a little more snug under ear.
The detachable microphone that comes with the BitFenix Flo headset is again high quality. When using Mumble, Razer Comms or Steam chat, it sounds clear and natural with very little pick up of background noise (well that’s according to my online buddies). The flexible boom is long enough to prevent the dreaded stubble rub and edible microphone problem, yet flexible enough to keep it where it needs to be (near your mouth). It performs well, but just looks out of place and wrong, not in keeping with the design of the headset itself.
Should you go with the BitFenix Flo?
They look simple, elegant and understated with some nice chrome highlights, which is good, even great and in my opinion probably one of the best looking headsets out there right now. The Flo’s slender appearance and lightweight (200g) frame really helps to belie their incredible performance. BitFenix have even gone through the trouble of producing a select choice of colours to suit your rig (or shirt, shoes, handbag etc), how many other seasoned headset manufacturers can say the same?
The BitFenix Flo is currently available for £49.99 at OverclockersUK…… Yep that’s right £49.99! For that you get a hell of a lot for your money!
This isn’t to say the Flo is the perfect gaming headset. I’d have really liked to see braided cables, a more premium headband covering (why not use the comfy SoftFeel?). Then the removable microphone despite its decent quality, does not match the beautiful styling of the headset and isn’t covered in SofTouch, to be blunt it’s ugly. Yet these are by no means a deal breaker (just a few additions/suggestions for the BitFenix Flo MK2!?).
BitFenix have produced a little bit of a shocker here. Instead of picking up a headset, covering it in SofTouch and branding it their own, or suddenly thinking ‘Hey, we can make some money out of headsets, lets bang out any old rubbish, sit back and reap the benefits!’, they seem to have really done their research and come up with something a little bit special. Let’s not forget the Flo isn’t just the first headset released by BitFenix, but also the very first Gaming peripheral! With a first time effort like this, I’m certainly looking forward to see what’s next to fly out of the BitFenix Design Lab!
I can ‘Go with the Flo’, will you?
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Many thanks to Overclockers UK for providing this sample for review