Review: Fluance Fi50 puts style and sound in a nice wooden box
In the ever-expanding galaxy of Bluetooth speakers, portability and price are often the priority at the expense of style and sound, but the Fluance Fi50 is a slick, wood-frame speaker that succeeds in flipping that script. We took one home for a few weeks to test it out.
First off, let's address what this speaker isn't – it is not portable, like, at all. There's no rechargeable battery inside that you can juice up in preparation for a trip to the beach or the woods. The biggest adventure the Fi50 is designed for is perhaps a trip to the back porch, so long as there's an outlet nearby because this sound box needs to be plugged in at all times. For a speaker that measures 20.4 x 5.7 x 7.1 inches (52 x 14 x 18 cm) and weighs 13.4 pounds (6.1 kg), that might not be such a bad thing.
This puts the Fluance Fi50 in the same category as other high-quality Bluetooth home stereos we've tried recently like the Nano HiFi NH1 or the rocket-shaped Archt One. The key components in the Fi50 are a pair of full-range 5-inch woven woofers, high-end tweeters and a 40 watt amplifier that deliver plenty of loud sound with a clear mid-range and highs but no distortion around the low end.
A wood cabinet and rounded edges make this speaker much easier on the eyes in our opinion than other wireless competitors that tend to have a more garish appearance to compete for attention in a crowded field of options. Available in black ash, a brown walnut or light bamboo, the Fi50 blends nicely into the background of most environments. You can have a look yourself in the promotional video below:
A touch control panel is seamlessly integrated into the top of the cabinet and connected to the digital LED display on the front, allowing easy and casual management of volume and equalizer settings. That said, with a unit like this that has to be tethered to an outlet, we would like to have seen a remote included to easily control volume from across the room. A little haptic feedback on touch buttons is also nice, but perhaps that's just nitpicking.
The attention to detail in the design of the Fi50 is evident in the small things like the included "sound isolation floor spikes," which are really just metal feet that attach to the bottom of the speaker to eliminate vibrations that could cause distortion.
After a ten-hour "break in" period at average volume levels to get the components primed, we pumped the Fi50 up and found it pleasantly able to fill not just a room, but a full house or floor with crisp, clear sound, be it thumping bass and screeching guitars or the distinct syllables of even the most mumbly podcast hosts.
Pairing via Bluetooth or by plugging in via a 3.5 mm port is as easy as we've come to expect, and a USB port for auxiliary device charging is a nice addition. There's no speakerphone to take calls with this one, which normally isn't a key feature on Bluetooth speakers, but it would have been nice here for a device that's likely just to sit in one (probably relatively quiet) place.
All told, the Fi50 can't quite compete for the true audiophile's ears with multiple speaker wireless setups like Sonos that allow you to really get the best sound out of a system for your specific environment. But for a self-contained wireless speaker in a single cabinet, this is a solid speaker that's also a better deal than those ultra high-end systems – it's currently available now online for just $200.
Product page: Fluance