Fluance is an audio company based in Niagara Falls, Canada. The company built its reputation building affordable, high performance speakers. But lately, it’s been expanding into other product lines.
One is turntables, including the excellent Fluance RT81 that I reviewed earlier this year.
Another is Bluetooth speakers and wireless music systems. And that takes us to the subject of today’s review: the Fluance Fi70 wireless music system.
Unboxing and Initial Impressions
It’s difficult to describe my reaction on seeing the Fluance Fi70 box sitting on my front porch. It was huge. And heavy. Like 45 kg (100 pounds) heavy. At first I felt sorry for the poor courier who’d had to lug it up the steps. Then I felt a bit sorry for myself as I struggled to wrangle the huge box through the front door.
Once unpacked, the Fluance Fi70 had shed nearly 20 pounds worth of cardboard, but with its stand, this music system still weighs 81 pounds (nearly 37 kg). The pedestal stand is solid metal and does require some assembly, but it’s a simple operation with eight screws and pre-drilled holes. You may want to have some help tipping the speaker on it’s back to attach the base, though.
Also included are a remote control, antenna wire for the radio (yes, it has an old-school AM/FM radio!) and a 3.5mm AUX cable.
When assembled, the Fluance Fi70 stands three feet tall (0.9 metres) and it’s nearly as wide. It’s solid and definitely not going anywhere. It has a definite retro vibe, with rounded edges and big cutout in the centre. A magnetically attached black cloth speaker grill is included, but it can be easily removed if your prefer to see the drivers.
Setup is a matter of connecting to your mobile device like any other Bluetooth speaker. That gets you wireless streaming. There’s also optical input if you wanted to connect your TV or game console. A standard 3.5mm AUX input lets you connect devices directly. There’s AM and FM radio—with presets—so you can listen to your favourite radio station without having to be connected to the internet. Remember radio?
A front-facing LED display does double duty as a clock (another throwback), while controls are via touch-sensitive controls on the top of the speaker, or using the included remote control. There’s also a full-sized USB out port on the back that can be used to charge your devices. Battery power? Nope, this behemoth is not a portable Bluetooth speaker. It stays plugged in at all times …
Fluance Fi70 Key Specs
Fluance Fi70 in Action
Once I had the Fluance Fi70 set up, positioned and ready to go, it was time for the main event. Playing music.
This is where Fluance’s speaker expertise really comes into play, and it’s also an “a-ha!” moment where you realize the unique design also serves a functional purpose.
The weight? That’s because Fluance didn’t build the speaker enclosures out of plastic, they’re constructed with engineered MDF wood for superior sound. No multi-range drivers, you get the performance of separate tweeters, mid-range drivers and woofers with tuned rear bass ports. Those woofers are 8-inches in diameter—wider than many entire portable Bluetooth speakers. The big hole in the middle? That’s because the Fi70 is designed as two speakers, each with its own enclosure. The stand not only gives you somewhere to safely put the Fi70 (it’s not like you can set it on a bookshelf), it raises the system off the floor to an optimal height for audio projection. It’s also the perfect height to set your smartphone or a drink …
Driving the works is a dual channel amplifier that delivers 140 watts per channel for a total of 280 watts of audio output. To put that in some perspective, in my ever-growing collection of wireless speakers, the most powerful features a total of 150 watts of amplification. 50 watts is considered to be at the high end for these sort of systems.
The output lives up to the expectations set by the impressive specs.
Bass performance absolutely blows away what you get from even the best portable Bluetooth speakers. The audio is detailed across the frequency range and there’s more depth than a typical all-in-one speaker system can deliver. You can adjust the bass and treble if needed using the remote or the integrated touch controls, but it’s not hard to find a sweet spot.
At one point (when my wife wasn’t home, obviously) I cranked the Fi70 to around 75% of maximum to blast Pink Floyd’s “The Happiest Days of Our Lives.” The helicopters in the intro and Roger Waters’ hammering bass literally shook the room, but didn’t distort. It was glorious. I suspect my neighbours enjoyed it less than I did, though.
The Fluance Fi70 doesn’t quite match the experience of listening to music through a pair of speakers. You need six feet to eight feet between two speakers to get true stereo effect, but the Fi70 does a much better job than any other all-in-one unit I’ve tested to date.
And it gets impressively loud.
Pair it With the Fluance RT81 Turntable for a Complete Stereo System
I mentioned earlier that Fluance also makes turntables. I used the Fi70 paired with a Fluance RT81 turntable (which has a built-in pre amplifier) for a complete home audio solution. Bluetooth streaming, plus vinyl capability played through a high quality speaker system. It doesn’t get much better …
Who is This Music System For?
If you really love music, you want Bluetooth streaming capability, but you don’t want to invest in a traditional component stereo system, the Fluance Fi70 is a very compelling alternative. And it is going to outperform pretty much any Bluetooth speaker on the market. If you’re decorating a room that could use a an extra piece of furniture, there aren’t many speaker systems that can pull off that trick like the Fi70 can. My review unit was black on black, but if you wanted to take its funky retro look to the next level, the Fi70 is also available in a Lucky Bamboo finish.
The Fluance F170 isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of speaker in a very large package. If you’re not sure whether this is the one for you, check out the huge selection of speaker systems, portable Bluetooth speakers and multi-room wireless audio solutions at Best Buy. If you can’t find the audio system you want with all these choices, it probably doesn’t exist …