In a sea of wi-fi all-in-one Bluetooth audio system for the nice open air or your sensible residence, the Fluance Ai61 audio system ($299.99) stand out for his or her traditional design method and help for each wired and wi-fi playback. The bookshelf-style audio system delivers pure and detailed audio, with true stereo separation—an more and more uncommon high quality. They don’t seem to be excellent, nonetheless, as some facets appear a bit extra outdated than retro, specifically subpar Bluetooth codec help and the reliance on a bodily distant as a substitute of a companion app. We’re greater followers of the Harmon Kardon Soundsticks 4 for a similar worth, which include a subwoofer, in addition to Audioengine’s A1-MR audio system ($229), which flip to Wi-Fi as a substitute of Bluetooth for wi-fi connectivity. Nonetheless, if you’d like room-filling stereo sound and the comfort of Bluetooth audio, it is best to positively take into account the Fluance Ai61.
Traditional Stereo Energy, Wired and Wi-fi Connectivity
The Ai61 audio system every measure 13.1 by 7.8 by 9.2 inches (HWD) and can be found in a number of totally different finishes: black ash, darkish brown walnut, white and brown (walnut), or white and tan (bamboo). The primary colour within the latter two fashions pertains to the entrance panel and the second is the colour of the wooden veneer on the enclosure. The drivers are black on all fashions and the system ships with no material grille to cowl them. We totally help this aesthetic alternative, although some individuals would possibly want a extra sturdy protecting display. The passive left speaker and lively proper speaker, respectively, weigh round 13.1 and 14.0 kilos.
Every speaker encompasses a 1-inch silk tender dome neodymium tweeter and a 6.5-inch woven glass fiber composite driver with Butyl rubber surrounds. A Class D 120W amplifier powers the system and every channel receives 60W RMS. The audio system ship a frequency vary of 32Hz to 20KHz. They make use of digital sign processing (DSP) for all sound sources (not simply Bluetooth), which can not attraction to purists, however we discovered the audio efficiency comparatively clear.
The audio system are suitable with the marginally outdated Bluetooth 5.0 customary. They help the AAC and SBC codecs, however not AptX, which implies neither Android nor iPhone customers get hi-res wi-fi audio streaming.
A mixture knob and button on the best speaker’s entrance panel handles energy (press and maintain), audio supply switching (press shortly to cycle between Bluetooth, RCA, optical, and USB sources), and quantity (flip the knob). The IR sensor for the distant sits on the entrance, close to the underside.
The rear panel on the best speaker homes a number of connections and controls together with USB-C, optical, and RCA inputs for audio, however Fluance does not embrace any of the associated cables. Rounding out the connections is a subwoofer output with an 80Hz low-pass cutoff—Fluance affords two totally different subwoofer fashions (DB10 and DB12) that work with the system. Ports for the included 8-foot, 18-gauge speaker cable (that connects the best unit to the left one) and the 6-foot energy cable sit on the underside of the rear panel, together with a grasp energy swap. Farther up, there’s a Bluetooth pairing reset button.
The included distant management runs on two AAA batteries. It has buttons for Energy, Mute, Audio Supply, and LED brightness (which dims the best speaker’s standing LED, turns it off, or restores it to full brightness). It additionally options a normal multifunction round management array—the central button handles playback, buttons to the left and proper handle monitor navigation, and quantity controls are above and beneath. Devoted buttons to extend or lower the treble and bass (every inside a spread of -5 to +5) reside farther down on the distant. The LED on the best speaker flashes crimson whenever you attain both excessive and flashes twice in blue whenever you return to the default setting.
The distant is straightforward to function and kind of important; Fluance does not provide a companion app, and never the entire controls on the distant can be found on the bodily management board. The buttons are responsive, however the IR-based know-how can intrude with different comparable units close by; this distant, for example, additionally powered up a close-by LG tv. Sure, there are refined (common remotes) and easy (masking IR sensors with black tape) workarounds for this difficulty, nevertheless it’s one more reason why an app would have improved the person expertise. An app would additionally make sense for individuals who plan to stream audio immediately from their telephones anyway. And extra refined EQ controls would not harm, both.
Clear, Pure Sound
On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Ai61 audio system ship a palpable, however correct, low-frequency response. The DSP does a great job of stopping bass distortion at prime quantity ranges with out scaling down the lows. The distinction in bass response at average versus excessive volumes isn’t all that pronounced, which isn’t all the time the case for audio system with DSP.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a monitor with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the sound signature. The drums on this monitor sound far much less heavy than on bass-forward audio system. Actually, it’s Callahan’s baritone vocals that appear to get the majority of the lower-frequency consideration—the vocals exhibit loads of low-mid richness and crisp, higher-frequency presence. The acoustic strums and higher-register percussive hits come throughout with loads of vibrant element. The audio system sound great general, with a balanced, comparatively clear signature. Some wealthy, low-mid anchoring is current, however the system by no means actually digs all the way down to the sub-bass stage—therefore the subwoofer output. If you would like sub-bass with out shopping for a separate subwoofer, it is best to select totally different audio system.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives loads of high-mid presence, permitting its assault to retain its punch, however the vinyl crackle and hiss additionally each take a slight step ahead within the combine. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat aren’t overly impactful—we hear their raspier prime notes however not their rumble. It’s the drum loop that will get essentially the most low-frequency heft, with loads of thump to accompany its high-mid assault. The vocals on this monitor sound very clear with out a lot further sibilance. In fact, altering the bass and treble ranges can have an effect on the default sound pretty drastically. However though rising the bass beefs up the drum loop right here, it received’t out of the blue add in the lacking sub-bass.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel Based on the Different Mary, profit from an excellent stability: The lower-register instrumentation sounds full and performs a refined anchoring position to the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals. The audio system lean a bit into the low-mids on sure mixes, however we by no means observed a drop in readability.
One operational annoyance: Once we streamed music from an iPhone by way of Apple Music, the audio system usually clipped the very starting of some tracks. This difficulty did not appear as dangerous after we skipped to a special monitor inside an album or playlist, nevertheless it confirmed up after we switched to non-sequential songs. Many older Bluetooth audio system and headphones used to have this difficulty, so we’re a bit irritated to see the issue happen right here.
Balanced Bookshelf Audio system
The Fluance Ai61 audio system ship wealthy, crisp, and detailed audio that’s extremely adjustable. We additionally like the flexibility of each wi-fi and wired connection choices, although the Bluetooth implementation might be higher and we might want a companion app as a substitute of (or along with) the bodily distant. As talked about, we’re additionally followers of the Audioengine A1-MR audio system, which swap Bluetooth for Wi-Fi, and the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4, which provide superior subwoofer depth. That stated, the Ai61’s wonderful sound high quality and engaging design make it simple to miss any quirks.