Fluance’s Fi50 Bluetooth Speaker is a wireless audio solution that blends elegance with excellent sound in a reasonably priced package (now $199.99, down from the original price of $299.99).
Some wireless speaker systems feel and sound cheap with their plastic speaker enclosures. Not so the Fi50 cabinet, which is hand-made with engineered MDF wood to suppress resonance and distortion for accurate response, increased warmth and an overall more natural sound. Other premium components include dual full-range 5-inch woven woofers, high-end tweeters and a powerful 40 watt amplifier.
The result — thanks also to Fluande’s AptX enhanced audio technology — is clean, undistorted bass, a clear midrange, and transparent natural highs. It’s all driven by a 40-watt amplifier, which delivers a truly impressive frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz
With the Fi50, you can wirelessly stream music instantly from your iPhone, iPad or or other Bluetooth device. There’s also a USB input for smartphone or tablet charging; however, however, the input can’t be used for playing your tunes from the device.
Speaking of Bluetooth, the wireless connectivity uses Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR --which is an older version of the standard — though it also has EDR (enhanced data rate). The Fi50 is supposed to automatically connect to your devices via Bluetooth, but I found this to be a hit or miss proposition.
Weighing in at 13.4 pounds, the Fluance Fi50 isn’t portable speaker. But its design helps enable it to output bass response that few (if any) portable powered speakers can match.
Besides sounding great, the Fi50 looks fantastic. The cabinet comes wrapped in a choice of three wood veneers: walnut, bamboo, or black ash. The speaker comes with both rubber feet or metal spikes that can be threaded into sockets on the bottom. The spikes are better for preventing vibrations, but I recommend using the rubber feet, as they’re less likely to damage a desk, counter, etc.
Touch controls for volume, bass, treble and display brightness sit atop the case. Afront-facing LCD shows basic information such as the volume.
You can find speakers for less, and you can spring for speakers with even better sound. But I’m unaware of any Bluetooth speakers in the $200 price range that can compete with the Fluance Fi50 on when it comes to aesthetics and sound quality.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★