Flux Lab Acoustics FA-10 Review

Flux Lab Acoustics FA-10

In this review we take a close look at Flux Lab Acoustics’ new FA-10 amplifier, which is selling for $749 USD.

 

 

Disclaimer: Flux Lab Acoustics provided the FA-10 amplifier free of charge. I only had to pay the import fees and customs when it arrived at my doorstep. Flux Lab Acoustics is not affiliated with Headfonia in any way and not a site advertiser. The FA-10 remains Flux’s sole property and can be asked back at any time. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity!

About Flux Lab Acoustics:

Flux Lab Acoustics (FLA) is a rather young company from the Ukraine. Flux started out in 2009 in the regional market. Back then they launched different amplifiers (electrostatic, headphone, power) for the Ukraine. Today they produce DACs, Amplifiers, Streamers and Tube Amps. Just about a year ago, Lieven reviewed their Atlas streaming DAC/Amp. He loved it so much, that he awarded it with the Best DAC/Amp Desktop title of 2019. Since the day he got the Atlas, Lieven had been raving about it, despite its massive size. Three years ago FLA decided to go global and to stretch their reach a little further.

Here’s a little bit about FLA from their website:

Flux Lab Acoustics is a Ukrainian company dedicated to the design and manufacturing of high-end audio products. Fully designed and manufactured in Ukraine. Flux Lab Acoustics is devoted to developing best-sounding audio equipment.

The team has an unrivaled experience in the high-end audio industry covering both digital & analog board design, software developing as well as mechanical design. The company strongly believes that correctly applied technology confirmed by in-depth measurements at the lab and finally a thorough listening is the way to improve the art of audio reproduction.

Flux Lab products provide a unique blend of ultimate audio performance, timeless design and build quality. Based on the latest technologies and ready for future upgrades due to its software update possibility, they make every audiophile’s heart beat faster. Last but not least, the company takes enormous pride in correlating superb audio performance with reliability.

FLA has been teasing new products on their social media channels for a while. A new DAC/Amp and two new amplifiers are about to hit the market. Today, we will check out one of the new headphone amplifiers – the FA-10!

About FA-10:

The FA-10 is a discrete, Class A headphone amplifier that boasts an output power of 16 Watts into 32 Ohms load. It makes use of a 64-step relay attenuator. People who are not used to relay attenuators might be surprised by the clicks when you rotate the volume knob. That’s perfectly normal.

The FA-10 has three individual gain stages to adjust to your headphone. It features XLR and RCA inputs on the back. Front seated you’ll find a 6.35 mm and a 4-pin XLR output. Unfortunately I don’t have any values for its output impedance. As you can see, the FA-10 is an analogue only amplifier, so you will need a dedicated source for it. If you want a unit with a built-in DAC, you can check out the FCN-10, which has also just been released.

The unit measures 380 mm x 80 mm x 310 mm (WxHxD). The front panel is made out of anodized aluminum, while the rest of the body is made from metal. The entire unit puts 5.1kg on the scale. It stays firmly put in my shelves and doesn’t get dragged down by either XLR or RCA cables. Depending on the country you live in, you will get a 110V or 230V version of the FA-10. Like any good HiFi equipment, the FA-10 uses an oversized torroidal transformer.

The MSRP of the FA-10 is 749 USD and it can be bought directly from FLA’s webshop.

Flux Lab Acoustics FA-10

Flux Lab Acoustics FA-10

Control:

Using the FA-10 is a piece of cake. Especially since there is not a lot to do wrong here.

Plug in your source depending on the output either using the RCA or XLR inputs. Connect the power input to the power cable and hook it up to the outlet. On the front panel you have a total of three switches. The left one turns the FA-10 on and off. The middle one lets you pick the input (RCA/XLR) and the right selects your desired gain stage. You can pick between High (top position), Low (middle position) or Mid (bottom position). Depending on the volume level you want to listen to and the sensitivity of your headphones you can adjust the gain level to your needs.

On the far left, next to the power switch, there is a little white LED that lights up once the FA-10 is turned on. Volume is adjusted with the silver knob in the middle of the front plate. A small dot on it tells you where you’re at. My personal listening sessions have hardly surpassed the 12 o’clock position with the HiFiMAN Susvara.

For those who desire comfort and controlling their products with a remote control: no, that’s not possible. The FA-10 can only be controlled by hand. There is no remote control supplied and it also does not have an IR input for third party remotes.

When running, the FA-10 does get warm, but not hot.

It continues after the jump!

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    42 Comments

    • Reply April 21, 2020

      Via

      This is the best amplifier I’ve heard in this price range.

    • Reply April 21, 2020

      teknorob23

      great review and very interesting amp, you mentioned testing with Hugo2. Please could you share your thoughts on how they a) compare just from an amplification POV and also how they partner with H2 on DAC duties. Many thanks in advance :)t

      • Reply April 21, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Teknorob,

        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
        The Hugo2 doesn’t have an analogue input, so I assume you want to know how it handles headphones on its own, right?
        Truth be told, the Hugo2 still is the best single unit transportable DAC/Amp to me. It however doesn’t get my fullsized headphones to the same level as the FA-10. It’s in stuff like dynamics, sound stage and how it’s organized, imaging etc. All that stuff is just better handled on the FA-10 with headphones like the Susvara, Diana Phi or HE1000se for example.

        With the Hugo2 as DAC for the FA-10 it results in a highly detailed and precise sound, it’s a bit colder and more analytical than my personal preference, but I can see why people would go crazy for it. This pairing would definitely be of higher resolution than with the Matrix Element M (which is my preferred unit for the FA-10). With the Hugo2 taking over DAC duties it would all be about the details. The finest drops of information.

        Hope that helps.
        Let me know if you have more questions. 🙂

    • Reply April 22, 2020

      James

      How would this amp compare with the formula s with the powerman. I am looking at this as an option to have with my liquid platinum. I have my friends formula s that he will sell me at a good price but if I can save some money that would be great. I would pair it with the dCS Bartok and Abyss TC.

      • Reply April 22, 2020

        Linus

        Hi James,

        thanks for your comment.
        I honestly can’t tell how it compares to either the Formula S or the Liquid Platinum. Unfortunately I haven’t heard either one of them. But I am very sure that the FA-10 can drive the Abyss TC to very good levels, can’t confirm though. The Flux drives the Susvara superbly and I assume it would do the same with the Abyss. Although the Formula S was specifically designed to get the maximum out of the AB-1266, so it is very likely to push the TC also to its best.
        dCS Bartok: veeeery nice! 🙂

      • Reply April 22, 2020

        Teknorob23

        Thanks for taking the time to come back to me it’s much appreciated. In the meantime I had a long Facebook chat with flux today and they agreed with your assessment of the the Hugo/fa10 pairing and suggested I’d be better suited with It’s balanced sibling the fa12, despite the fact I wouldn’t be availing myself of this extra feature the warmer signature sounds a better match. Their enthusiasm is infectious, pricing seems very competitive that combine with yours and review pretty unequivocal reviews I decided to chance my arm and pull the trigger on the fa12. Thanks again and keep up the good work, although there’s a risk if I keep rewind I’m going to come out of lockdown a lot poorer than I went in and the pay as a stand in teacher at home school does go far 😉 🙂

        • Reply April 23, 2020

          Linus

          Hello Teknorob,

          no worries, I’m happy to help.
          The Flux people are very nice, and I agree, their enthusiasm is very infectious.
          Very cool you pulled the trigger on the FA-12! Let me know how you like it when you received it. I’m also very interested in it. 🙂
          Haha, I know what you mean! I’m also about to buy a new toy (Hugo TT2). But the lock-down restrictions are going to be lifted here soon. Although there will remain some left-overs of the restrictions (masks for example).
          Hope you’re doing well wherever you are. 😉

    • Reply April 23, 2020

      Jerwin

      Hi, nice review and very interesting amp. I am just wondering on how it pairs with the HD800? I am currently looking for a new amp to upgrade from THX-789. While the THX is good, I think I can still get a better sound quality by upgrading to a higher tier amp with the HD800. And since the FA-10 is within my budget range.

      I plan to pair it with PC, Eitr, and RS06 as the source and DAC.

      Also do you consider this to be an “end game” amp? I know there is no such thing as end game in this hobby, but it seems that the FA-10 is a really powerful amp which makes it as a future proof amp.

      • Reply April 23, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Jerwin,
        thanks for your comment, much appreciated!

        It’s been a long while since I last heard the HD800, I owned the HD800S, but also sold that due to lack of use. Personally, I think the HD800 is best paired with a lush sounding tube amp. The FA-10 might be too neutral for the HD800 (at least for my taste). If you are into neutrality and superb precision, this could be it. Flux however is working on a warmer version of the FA-10, which is called FA-12. I have not heard that one yet.

        As you said, End Game is a very sensitive term. 🙂
        But for what it’s worth, I would be very happy with just the FA-10.

        Hope that helps.

    • Reply April 24, 2020

      Raj

      Hi Linus – How does the FA-10 compare to the amp section of the Burson Conductor 3/3X? You mentioned the 3X in associated test gear, but no notes were in the review.

      After reading your and Matty’s impressions of the 3x/3 respectively (and another site starting with “Head….”), I put it on my shortlist for when Burson (hopefully) releases an amp-only version. Been looking for something quieter, yet as holographic, to replace my Airist Heron 5.

      My current DAC is the NuForce DAC-80 paired with the Schitt EITR interface and Schitt Loki EQ control. I’m currently auditioning the RME ADI-2-DAC FS and am really enjoying it, though it definitely needs an outboard amp for full sized cans. Headphones are currently 2016 Audeze LCD-XC but thinking about the Focal Stellia next. Wireworld cables throughout.

      Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

      • Reply April 24, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Raj,

        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Sorry if the C3X wasn’t in the comparisons section, wanted to keep it on point with amps only. But glad you asked!

        The FA-10 is much quieter and has an almost dead silent noise floor even with IEMs. The Burson has more hiss and doesn’t sound as clean. The contrast on the FA-10 is also nicer in my opinion. Both can handle hard to drive cans, but in my opinion the FA-10 does it with more grip and authority. Both are very neutral sounding products, but the FA-10 has more body and flesh to my ears. The Burson does sound more open and wider spread for that matter. It reaches a more holographic staging. I can’t say how it compares to the Airist.

        I am not sure if Burson would release an amp only version of the C3X, although I’m sure many people would love that.

        The XC and Stellia both would be driven well by either the Burson or Flux. The Stellia in particular is supposed to be a rather easy to drive headphone. Matty checked that one out not too long ago, he was very happy with it.

        By the way, it’s okay if you read other review sites, I like Headfonics too (I suppose you were reading their C3 review). 😉
        It’s important to gather as many impressions as possible.

        Hope that helps.

        • Reply May 4, 2020

          Raj

          Thanks, Linus! I went ahead and placed an order for the FA-10, they should have them back in stock in a month or so.

          • Reply May 4, 2020

            Linus

            Hi Raj,
            oh you are in for a treat. The FA-10 is certainly worth the wait. 🙂
            Enjoy your new toy.

            • Reply July 12, 2020

              Raj

              I’ve had the FA-10 for a few weeks now and it’s basically endgame for me!

              I’ve compared it to the Questyle CMA600i, Airist Heron 5, Hagerman Tuba, Linear Tube Audio MZ2… even tried the McIntosh MHA100 on a whim and I’m done searching for an alternative – I’m not interested in the newest Burson C3’s since the DAC is redundant for me.

              Running the ZMF Verite C, RME ADI-2-DAC FS v2 (which I preferred over the Chord Qutest on this amp), Auralic Aires Mini w/ SBooster, and a full Audio Sensibility Impact SE cable loom with Furutech connectors.

              Thanks so much for posting your original review, I wouldn’t have found this gem otherwise!

    • Reply April 27, 2020

      Janis

      An excellent review, many thanks! Could you *please* also review the FA-12, which has just come out? I am in the market for a warm sounding quality headphone amp and would much prefer solid state over tube, though I understand I would get more options with tube. I know Violectric would be a great choice for me, the V280 in particular, but it is really expensive. FA-12 could be a cheaper option.

      • Reply April 27, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Janis,
        thanks for your comment.
        The FA-12 review was requested just yesterday from Flux. So the review for it will come. When? I don’t know yet. But it will come. Just keep your eyes on Headfonia. 🙂
        Unfortunately I don’t have the V280 at home, or any other Violectric product. So a comparison to it won’t happen unless I can source one locally on loan. Which is not very likely to be honest.

        • Reply April 27, 2020

          Janis

          Perfect, thanks for making my day! May I suggest adding the hd800(s) headphones to your test setup. The hd800 owners are always on a lookout for a warm-sounding quality headphone amp. It would be nice to add another candidate to the shortlist where Violectric and Bottlehead amps reign supreme.

          • Reply April 27, 2020

            Linus

            No worries.
            I owned the HD800S a while ago, but didn’t use it much and had to let it go. In the end, I enjoyed other headphones a lot more. It is a critical to pair headphone indeed though. Maybe it would be good for the FA-12.

    • Reply April 27, 2020

      Saad

      Hi, great review and it was very interesting to read however I was also looking for your thoughts of pairing this amp with the Topping D90 as DAC that you have mentioned in the gear section. I also have Topping D90 and I shall be receiving my Susvara in few days. I currently have Monoprice THX 887 amp but I am not sure whether it would be able to drive the Susvara to it’s full potential so I am looking for more powerful amp. Interestingly you mentioned the exact gear i.e. D90 > FA-10 > Susvara. Can you please tell me that how this pairing sounds or is D90 too analytical and cold for FA-10? This review has made me interested in FA-10 but I want to know how the complete system (D90, FA-10 and Susvara) sounds in your opinion.

      • Reply April 27, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Saad,
        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
        The D90 is an excellent DAC (review coming soon), but I find it a bit too cold especially in the mids, where vocals sound too sterile and analytical for my taste. For the FA-10 it’s not my preferred unit, and as you assumed, it’s too cold as a pairing. However, there is also the FA-12 (costs the same as the FA-10) which has a warmer signature overall. It might be better suited for the D90. Flux already requested the review for the FA-12, so I can go into that pairing soon. As long as I haven’t heard it, all I can say is what I read about it. Here’s a link to the product page on their website: https://fluxlab-acoustics.com/product/fa-12/
        When I have the FA-12 at home, I will give it a good spin and put a dedicated comparison to the FA-10 into the article.
        Hope that helps.
        Cheers!

        • Reply April 28, 2020

          Saad

          Thanks so much for your reply. Looking forward to your review of FA-12. Please check it with D90 and see if FA-12 can run Susvara as good as FA-10 can. The FA-12 seems to have less power.

          • Reply April 28, 2020

            Linus

            Hi Saad,
            will do! Don’t know yet when the FA-12 will arrive/be shipped though. As far as I can see, it’s on backorder right now on their website.
            Indeed, the FA-12 only has 2.6W into 32 Ohms, while the FA-10 has 16W. Quite a bit less. We’ll see how it handles the Susvara. 🙂

    • Reply May 1, 2020

      Em

      I came across this while looking for a pairing of lyr 3 and looking at options other than the bifrost and gives me little flexibility for different headphones.

      Zmf aeolus mainly looking what can drive these.
      Quad era-1
      Th-x00
      Grado RS-1e

      • Reply May 1, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Em,
        thanks for your comment.
        The FA-10 should not have any difficulty driving either one of these headphones.
        Hope that helps.
        Cheers!

    • Reply May 6, 2020

      cfranchi

      Hi,

      As you have the hard to drive Susvara, for Hifiman HE6, do you recommend FA10 or Cayin iHA-6 ?

      I will use Chord Mojo -> RCA inputs -> balanced output for max power : unlike other amps, the Cayin handle pretty well RCA to balanced (no quality loss) but don’t know about FA10.

      Also the Cayin has high current mode very useful for planars.

      Hard choice!

      Thank you

      • Reply May 6, 2020

        Linus

        Hi CFranchi,
        thanks for your comment.

        You are indeed right about the High Current mode on the i-HA6. That is a very useful feature for planar magnetics.
        I don’t have the HE-6 myself, but since the FA-10 drives the Susvara just so beautifully, I assume it would do the same with the 6. The FA-10 x Susvara combo is my absolute favourite and I think you’d be happy with it too. But again, I don’t have any first hand experience with the HE-6, so take that with a huge amount of salt.
        So I can’t recommend an amp per se for the HE-6, but if I’d have to just recommend an amp it would be the FA-10.
        Hope that helps.

    • Reply May 6, 2020

      cfranchi

      Ok, by the way, for Susvara do you prefer FA10 or iHA-6 ?

      • Reply May 6, 2020

        Linus

        The FA-10. 🙂

        • Reply May 6, 2020

          cfranchi

          Hmm, interesting 🙂

          Last, do you use 6.35 jack or balanced output ?

          From what I have read at Flux Audio, it seems that balanced is provided for convenience as the FA10 is not a true balanced amp.

          • Reply May 6, 2020

            Linus

            I’m using the 4 Pin XLR mostly, as my cables are terminated to that plug.
            You are right, the FA-10 is not a fully balanced design. Their upcoming FA-12 will be however. But I haven’t heard that one yet.

    • Reply May 11, 2020

      Brian

      Hey,

      Have you heard this amp would any of the Audezes particularly the LCD 3? I’m trying to debate between this and the GSX Mini Headamp amplifier.

      Best,

      • Reply May 12, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Brian,
        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
        I don’t have any Audeze headphones unfortunately. Neither do I have the GSX Mini. So I can’t really say how they’d compare and how the FA-10 handles the LCD-3, but from my listening sessions with other hard to drive planars, I’m pretty sure the FA-10 would handle the LCD-3 like a charm. You just have to keep in mind, that the FA-10 doesn’t color the sound much.
        That’s probably not the response you’ve been hoping for…
        Cheers!

    • Reply May 13, 2020

      cfranchi

      Hi again,

      Which amp did you have used with Susvara before ?
      For Susvara did you used amp that was better than FA-10 ?

      Flux told me that FA-10 can output 10.5w at 50 ohm

      • Reply May 13, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Cfranchi,

        before the FA-10 I used either the i-HA6 or the Burson Conductor 3X, but neither of them makes the Susvara sound as good as the FA-10 in my opinion.

        Hope that helps.

        • Reply May 14, 2020

          cfranchi

          I have just ordered FA-10, your review and experience were helpful.
          Can’t wait to try with my HE6se and Chord Mojo.

    • Reply May 17, 2020

      cfranchi

      Which voltage for DAC input do you set ? 2v, 3v ? Flux told me that FA-10 doesn’t care about input voltage.

      • Reply May 17, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Cfranchi,

        the Element M’s XLR output is rated at 4V RMS, the Chord Hugo TT2’s Line Out is 3V in DAC mode and other RCA line level outputs are usually 2V RMS. So it really doesn’t matter it seems.

        Hope you’ll enjoy the FA-10 as much as I do.

        Cheers!

    • Reply May 26, 2020

      Manish

      The fa10 vs Phonitor X or E for the LCD-4? Now we seen the Topping A90 come out, it measures superbly but i’d be worried it doesn’t have the top of the line power output at 200 ohms.

      • Reply May 27, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Manish,
        thanks for your comment.
        I don’t have the LCD-4 here so I can’t say about how the FA-10 handles them from experience. But it does not break a sweat even with my AKG K240 (early 70’s edition, 600 Ohms). So I assume the FA-10 would also drive the LCD-4 well. All that is just speculation though as I can’t speak from first hand experience. The FA-10 however is a damn fine piece of equipment and one of the nicest amplifiers I’ve heard.
        Also, unfortunately I don’t have the Phonitor amps here. So I can’t compare.

        The A90 does seem to measure extremely well. But measurments aren’t the whole story as you rightfully noted too. On paper it seems like a steady amp, but I’ve heard gear in the past that measure extremely well, but lack excitement and character. So far Topping hasn’t requested a review for the A90 yet, so we will see if that will happen.

        Hope that helps.

    • Reply June 5, 2020

      Janis

      The FA-12 (ideally vs the Topping A90 and THX AAA-789) – will we see that review any time soon?

      • Reply June 7, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Janis,

        I don’t have any news to share unfortunately. Still waiting for the FA-12. Only Flux knows when it’s ready to be shipped at the moment.
        Unfortunately I don’t have the A90 or THX amp. Matty will cover the A90 on Headfonia. 🙂

        Hope that helps.

    • Reply August 7, 2020

      John

      “Flux Lab Acoustics (FLA) is a rather young company from the Ukraine”

      It’s Ukraine, not the Ukraine, just like one doesn’t say the Germany or the Canada and simply says Germany or Canada.

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