Following a much-welcomed trend in Hi-Fi of consolidating components (and therefore cable clutter), they offer true stereo sound and elegant styling for a modest price. Powered speakers are becoming much more common as of late, and with good reason. The guesswork of which amplifier to pair with your speakers is removed from the equation. And the manufacturer has control over the entire signal path optimizing it for the chosen drivers. Additionally, the mess of wires connecting the amplifier to the speakers is no more. Powered speakers are normally relegated to recording studios or on desktops connected to computers. With mobile devices as the sole source for many people, convenience has taken priority and single box Bluetooth speakers have become more commonplace. So, the move towards powered speakers is a very logical, happy medium if not a nice step-up.
Fluance Ai60 Powered Bookshelf Speakers
- 2-way / 2-driver Powered Speaker
- 1 Inch Silk Dome Ferrofluid Cooled Tweeter
- 6.5 Inch Woven, Glass Fiber Composite Drivers with Butyl Rubber Surrounds
- Integrated Class D amp with 100 watts Continuous Average Output
- Subwoofer Output
- Bluetooth aptX, Digital TOSLink Optical, Micro USB, RCA inputs
If you haven’t heard of Fluance before, they are a Canadian online Hi-Fi company. They have a full roster of speakers available on their site and this one, the Ai60, is a really welcome addition. Add to that an MSRP of $299 and it becomes even more enticing. If you think about it, a pair of good passive budget speakers would run you about the same price, add an amplifier and cables, and you’re looking at twice that. The Ai60s, the focus of this review, are changed in design from Fluance’s offerings. On top of being powered by a 100W integrated Class D amplifier, the Ai60’s house RCA, optical, USB, Bluetooth, and a subwoofer output. Wireless auto-pairing technology automatically pairs a Bluetooth device when in range, and aptX enhanced audio technology ensures powerful and well-defined sound. Now selfishly, I have been looking for a pair of powered speakers for my DJ set up. My search had been the in the budget studio monitor area, think Yamaha HS5’s or Rockit G3’s. And while those are good options, the Fluance Ai60s offer more functionality and flexibility that I had not previously considered.
Fluance claims that the Ai60s are ‘The Right Speakers for Any Experience’. Whether that said experience is listening to your vinyl collection, binge-watching Netflix, or playing video games, the aim is to elevate the listening experience. I should state that I didn’t review these by audiophile standards. In that, these are not made to be your reference monitors of choice, they are more so your everyday speaker. From a connectivity standpoint alone, they could easily sit in place of a soundbar.
2 Way / 2 Driver Powered Bookshelf Speaker System with Integrated Amplifier (Pair – 1x Active 1x Passive)
Yes; aptX Codec
RCA L/R, Digital Toslink Optical, Micro USB
1 inch Silk Soft Dome Ferrofluid Cooled
6.5 inch Woven, Glass Fiber Composite Drivers with Butyl Rubber Surrounds
Class D 100 Watts Continuous Average Output (2x 50 watts)
35Hz – 20kHz (DSP Virtual Sound Perceived by Ear)
2600Hz Phase Coherent – PCB Mounted Circuitry
INTERNAL LEAD WIRE:
18-gauge Internal Lead Wire to Reduce Signal Degradation
Input: 100-240V; Output: 24V 3.0A
Acoustic Suspension Design
DIMENSIONS (H X W X D):
13.1 x 7.8 x 9.2 inch
Fluance, ai60, powered bookshelf speaker, bookshelf speaker, powered speaker, Speaker Review 2019
The Ai60s are available in black or walnut, both with black faceplates; or white walnut and lucky bamboo with white faceplates. When I first saw the press release, it was the lucky bamboo variant that caught my eye. And luckily, it was one Fluance sent me. The cabinets measure 13.1H x 7.8W x 9.2” D with curved edges and are of the sealed enclosure variety. This lends itself to tighter bass. The black 6.5” woven, glass fiber driver is housed by butyl rubber surrounds while the soft-domed tweeter is surrounded by a waveguide for a better off-axis response. The build is excellent, and the black drivers contrast nicely against the white faceplate of my review sample.
Power is supplied by a Class D amplifier which splits 100 watts between each speaker. So not the deepest of speakers but Fluance claims a frequency range of 35Hz to 20kHz via DSP (Digital Signal Processing) Virtual Sound. Still… 35Hz? I was curious to see how they would fare when things got low.
Fluance has gone an extra step for these speakers. It’s a much-appreciated step too. Included in the package are Remote Control (two AAA batteries included!), a 100-240V Power Adapter, 8ft 18 Gauge Speaker Wire, a 3ft 3.5mm Aux to RCA Cable, a Quick Start Guide, Fluance Catalog (a nice touch in this digital age) and 2 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty. The right speaker is the one that houses all the connections – subwoofer output, RCA input, optical input, and micro USB to connect to a laptop. The latter two would mean that there is a DAC onboard (bonus!). Around the front of the right speaker, you’ll find an infrared port for the supplied remote and a knob that switches input sources and turns the speakers on. You’ll also see a small LED light that by color indicates which mode you’re in. Luckily the Ai60s come with a small sticker which indicates which mode corresponds to which color. You can remove it, but I left it on for my listening so I wouldn’t have to refer to the manual.
Speaking of the remote, it comes in quite handy. It’s a small plastic piece with rubber buttons. All the essentials are there; power, mute, volume, track navigation, source, and play/pause. And some non-essential but nice to have functionality like controls to adjust LED brightness (or turn them off altogether), and dedicated treble and bass tone controls! The default startup settings are flat, but you can tweak the tonality (+/- 6dB) to your heart’s content.
Set up was dead simple. Following the supplied Quick Start Guide, I was up and running in minutes. I plugged in the power block and connected the 8 feet of wire between the two speakers. Bluetooth paired instantly from my iPhone 8. From there I eagerly connected the RCA from my trusty old Rane DJ mixer and optical from my Marantz CD player. Fluance recommends 10-12 hours of play at a moderate volume to break in the speaker, letting the rubber loosen and stretch to allow the cone a larger range of movement which results in better sound reproduction. I grudgingly obliged and put on a Radiolab playlist and went about my day.
These speakers go loud. Way louder than I would have thought going in to this review. And the bass response was very unexpected given their size. Part of this might be attributed to the fact that Fluance has applied subtle compression to the presentation. This, I believe, is to aid the sealed enclosure design so that the woofer and tweeter don’t blow out. Simply put the soft sounds are louder, and loud sounds are quieter. This may ward off audiophiles to a degree but maybe not those in search of everyday beaters. Because then this safety net is a nice thing to have. You can crank up the volume without worrying about damaging the drivers. It should be noted that there is an audible hiss coming through the speakers. This is somewhat standard for budget powered speakers. Depending on the source, it is more audible if you’re paying attention to it. I noticed it most with Bluetooth. This is further exaggerated by increasing source volume. You can mitigate the hiss by lowering the source volume and increasing the speaker volume.
ShyFX “Ragga Muffin Soundtape”
I discover a lot of new music via Soundcloud and most recently this has been on steady rotation. Holy smokes is it good! Carnival Culture is refreshingly different and begs to be played at unruly volumes. Streamed via Bluetooth off my iPhone 8, there wasn’t a noticeable drop in sound quality. The bass isn’t overpowering so you get a good sense of the overall sound of the Ai60s. They have a crisper high-end edge when played loud but when not cranked to unruly volumes the sound is quite balanced and flat being neither too warm nor too bright.
Daniel Pemberton “Spiderman Loves You”
Our daughter Winnie has a new found love for Into the Spider-Verse and we have probably watched this movie about 50 times. I didn’t know of Daniel Pemberton before but man, he is talented. There are two soundtracks for this movie available on Spotify, one with that god-awful Post Malone track (which I unfortunately now know by memory) and the original score by Daniel. Spiderman Loves You sounds like an action movie had a baby with a 90’s Freestyle Stevie B track and we absolutely love it. The orchestral sounds backed by a strong drum loop crash through the Ai60s and sound absolutely amazing. We were listening without a sub and thought we had it turned on. The low end was substantial and surprising.
AMAR Records “Splinters LP”
I have this on vinyl only, so it was time to par the Ai60s with Fluance’s own RT85 Hi-Fi Turntable. I had previously enjoyed this duo together. In combination, this setup brings out the best from both pieces of equipment. Out of Town by D Bridge showed off an open soundstage and the frenetic sound came alive. The highs were crisp, and the bass was very deep and defined. A more spacious track, ‘Don’t Believe’ by Akcept & Another Channel just fortified this.
When paired with my B&W 610 Subwoofer I noticed the onboard software does not include a high-pass crossover. Adjusting the tone controls on the remote also affects the subwoofer output, so be careful there. There’s a lot of bass content on this album so I found myself leaving the bass control at its default ‘flat’ setting as there was more than enough on tap. Without the subwoofer, the speakers still went good and low, a subwoofer was helpful but not absolutely necessary. With the volume at neighbor-unfriendly levels, the woofer would move like crazy, so I erred on the side of caution to save the woofers and my ears.
Ma Fleur “The Cinematic Orchestra”
I haven’t bought a CD in ages, but I thought that testing one through the optical input would be worth it. Glad I did! Of all sources, it was the best. A bit clearer than the others. Not by a large margin but slightly. The audible hiss was less noticeable as well. This a boon for those looking to use the Ai60s as their primary sound source. Using an optical connection from your tv or cable box will yield best results. The bonus track, Colours, is my favorite. It’s slow, somewhat cheesy, building up and winding down again. It doesn’t beg to be cranked up but at a moderate volume, it helps show off the dynamic range of the Ai60s. To be honest, the entire album shines on these. If you fancy testing these out I would wholly recommend having this CD handy.
With surprising bass and excellent build quality, the FLUANCE AI60 POWERED BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS represent a superb choice for an everyday speaker for just $299.
- Beautiful fit and Finish
- Ample Connectivity
- Open Soundstage and Deep Bass
- Can play loud!
- Low pass for the Sub output along with independent control.
Good looking, great sounding, deep and well connected, I’m in love. Although the Fluance Ai60 Powered Bookshelf Speakers dive deep into the lower octaves, the addition of a subwoofer would be ideal for bass heads. For a decently sized room or small condo, the Ai60s provide more than enough volume to rock a party. These are just as advertised: ‘The Right Speakers for Any Experience’.
If you are in the market for a soundbar or sound base and a wireless speaker, do yourself a favor and audition these. To be honest, at $299 you might as well go ahead and buy them now and try them out. Fluance offers a 30-day risk-free trial with any purchase. If you feel they’re not for you, simply send them back. But honestly, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. I might have to send a payment to Fluance myself as it’s going to give me great pain me to send them back. The wife’s going to have my head!