Good information. Let me examine my FB2 to see its pores.That is a hard no. W968 cannot be HL5x, that is a different structure (it would have a different number), also the X version of the DHS blades are for players who lack hitting power. The X versions are not intended for pros. Don't misunderstand they are very good too, but the thicker core is compensation for using lower-quality wood.
I am fully convinced that blades with ayous core have to have very little and few pores to be good quality.
Michael, if you want to get a good cheap blade you can either go to a store which has dozens of blades, and you can inspect them with your own eyes, or ask a blade maker to select you a very dense ayous core. I think with ayous it is fairly easy to select since it's visible. In a store you can select for example a Fang Bo carbon that has very few and little pores and that can be a really good find. You can use this with BTY IF blades, or Stiga blades since they mostly also use ayous core.
I don't know what to look for in kiri core, but what I know from the hundreds (if not thousands) of Golden Viscarias I saw being sold on wechat is that I never ever saw a Golden Viscaria below 90g, and most of them are more around 95g, while standard Viscarias can be had at 85g, and most of them are sub 90g, this is not a coincidence.
Electronics manufacturers also bin their components, and to take a super easy example if you look for a 1kOhm resistor with 1% tolerance you need to buy one with that spec, because you won't find any among the 5% tolerance parts.
With blades there is a bit of more variance, you can look for an ugly ducking top ply with a good core.
That being said DHS and other brands are not idiots, I think my W968 provincial has a not particularly pretty top limba ply, but has a really dense core so it did not become a HL5 or FB2 blade, it is still W968 provincial.
And also Chinese or Japanese or German etc blade makers are not stupid, if they see a good piece of trunk they know what will become of it.
Since everybody in this thread is so excited about the w968, I actually ordered a Stuor Long 5 clone blade to compare with my friend's DHS HL5. My friend's blade is quite light, at 85g. Therefore for the comparison I asked for a 85g Stuor clone blade. Given what you said about the dense core, I wonder if I should've asked for a 90g.
BTW, my FB2 is 90g.