Fluance Ai61 – Evaluation 2022

In a sea of wi-fi all-in-one Bluetooth audio system for the nice outdoor or your good house, the Fluance Ai61 audio system ($299.99) stand out for his or her basic design method and assist 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 They are not good, nonetheless, as some elements appear a bit extra outdated than retro, particularly subpar Bluetooth codec assist and the reliance on a bodily distant as a substitute of a companion app. We’re larger 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, you must positively take into account the Fluance Ai61.

Basic 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 couple of completely different finishes: black ash, darkish brown walnut, white and brown (walnut), or white and tan (bamboo). The primary coloration 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 out a fabric grille to cowl them. We totally assist this aesthetic selection, although some individuals may desire a extra sturdy protecting display. The passive left speaker and energetic proper speaker, respectively, weigh round 13.1 and 14.0 kilos. 

Fluance Ai61with remote

Every speaker contains a 1-inch silk mushy 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 enchantment to purists, however we discovered the audio efficiency comparatively clear.

The audio system are appropriate with the marginally outdated Bluetooth 5.0 customary. They assist the AAC and SBC codecs, however not AptX, which implies neither Android nor iPhone customers get hi-res wi-fi audio streaming.

A mix knob and button on the precise 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 precise 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 presents two completely different subwoofer fashions (DB10 and DB12) that work with the system. Ports for the included 8-foot, 18-gauge speaker cable (that connects the precise unit to the left one) and the 6-foot energy cable sit on the underside of the rear panel, together with a grasp energy change. 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 precise speaker’s standing LED, turns it off, or restores it to full brightness). It additionally options a typical multifunction round management array—the central button handles playback, buttons to the left and proper handle observe navigation, and quantity controls are above and under. 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 precise speaker flashes pink if you attain both excessive and flashes twice in blue if you return to the default setting.

The distant is simple to function and kind of important; Fluance does not supply 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 intervene with different related gadgets close by; this distant, as an example, additionally powered up a close-by LG tv. Sure, there are refined (common remotes) and easy (overlaying IR sensors with black tape) workarounds for this difficulty, but it surely’s another excuse why an app would have improved the person expertise. An app would additionally make sense for individuals who plan to stream audio straight from their telephones anyway. And extra refined EQ controls would not damage, 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 an excellent job of stopping bass distortion at high 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 at all times the case for audio system with DSP.

Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a observe with far much less deep bass within the combine, offers us a greater sense of the sound signature. The drums on this observe sound far much less heavy than on bass-forward audio system. In truth, 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 total, with a balanced, comparatively clear signature. Some wealthy, low-mid anchoring is current, however the system by no means actually digs right down to the sub-bass degree—therefore the subwoofer output. If you’d like sub-bass with out shopping for a separate subwoofer, you must select completely different audio system.

Fluance Ai61 rear panel connectors

Ai61 rear panel connectors

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 high notes however not their rumble. It’s the drum loop that will get probably the most low-frequency heft, with loads of thump to accompany its high-mid assault. The vocals on this observe sound very clear with out a lot extra sibilance. After all, 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 gained’t instantly add in the lacking sub-bass.

Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In response to the Different Mary, profit from an excellent steadiness: 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 seen a drop in readability.

One operational annoyance: After we streamed music from an iPhone through Apple Music, the audio system usually clipped the very starting of some tracks. This difficulty did not appear as unhealthy once we skipped to a unique observe inside an album or playlist, but it surely confirmed up once 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 desire 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 straightforward to miss any quirks.

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