Fluance Ai40 Bluetooth Speaker Review
- Product Name: Ai40 2.0 Bluetooth Speakers
- Manufacturer: Fluance
- Performance Rating:
- Value Rating:
- Review Date: April 28, 2019 21:00
- MSRP: $ 199 - Fluance.com, $169.96 - Amazon
- SPEAKER CONFIGURATION 2 Way – 2 Driver Bookshelf Speaker System with Integrated Amplifier (Pair)
- BLUETOOTH Yes; aptX Codec
- INPUTS RCA L/R
- TWEETER 1 inch Silk Soft Dome Ferrofluid Cooled
- WOOFER 5 inch Woven Glass Fiber Composite Drivers with Butyl Rubber Surrounds
- AMPLIFIER POWER Class D 70 Watts Continuous Average Output (2x 35 watts)
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE 40Hz – 20KHz (DSP Virtual Sound Perceived by Ear)
- INTERNAL LEAD WIRE 18
gauge Internal Lead Wire
- CROSSOVER FREQUENCY 2600Hz Phase Coherent – PCB Mounted Circuitry
- ENCLOSURE Acoustic Suspension Design
- PHONO PREAMP No
- SUBWOOFER OUTPUT No
- DIMENSIONS 10.9 x 6.5 x 7.6 inch
- SPEAKER WEIGHT 15.1 lbs
- Price for quality
- Deep resonant bass
- No AUX or optical in
- No subwoofer out
Fluance is a Canadian-based audio brand that produces high-
Fluance uses high-performance drive units, advanced enclosure technologies, highly-refined crossovers, and engineered wood cabinets to achieve all new standards in sound performance and technological design excellence. The results are clean, undistorted bass, smooth response throughout the midrange, exceptional high frequency, and accurate sound reproduction.
Fluance Ai40 Bluetooth Speakers Overview
Bold statements. I was impressed in the past with Fluance offerings like the solidly built Fluance AB40 High Performance Soundbase Home Theater System, but bookshelf speakers are a different beast. We expect high fidelity like we see in our passive speakers and are often let down. But with 70 watts total output from a class D amplifier and a 40Hz – 20KHz measured frequency response from the manufacturer I have my hopes high.
The Ai40 was well received in sturdy packaging and foam inserts. No double boxing, but no damage was seen when the Ai40 was unveiled.
Inside the box were all the tools needed to get the Ai40 going: Power cord, remote control, 8’ - 18guage speaker wire, and a surprising twist- a 3ft 3.5mm Aux to RCA Cable.
Fluance sent me the natural walnut finish which I found a
bit mundane, but the Ai40 also comes in Black Ash and Lucky Bamboo which has a cool
white front and bamboo patterned sides. With three finishes to choose from I’m
sure the Ai40 could easily find its way into any décor. The solid build of the
wood cabinet with sexy curved edges though is where you can see what Fluance
has to offer with their Ai40. The thick MDF (medium density fiberboard) gave a
solid feel to the speakers. Much better than cheap highly-
On the back of the active speaker you can see the amplifier panel which includes the 19V DC input for power, the left speaker wire out connectors, the RCA inputs, and the Bluetooth pairing button. Inside the active speaker lies the heart of the system, the class D 70 watt continuous average output (2x 35 watts) amplifier. A built-in adjustment for bass and treble is included in the active speaker for those of us that just HAVE to tweak our system to our liking. One feature missing from the back of the Ai40 is the port. The majority of smaller active bookshelf speakers are ported. We cover the advantages and disadvantages of ported vs non-ported speakers in our article Sealed vs Ported Loudspeakers: Which is Better?
The right speaker is considered active, which I’ve always been a little curious about. How does the manufacturer decide which speaker will be active? In my case it would have been more efficient to have the active speaker on the left, closer to my power strip in my demo room. But alas, a short extension cord will have to do.
The left speaker is passive and is powered from the right
speaker through an 18-
Fluance Ai40 Published Frequency Response (smoothed)
The crossover is designed at 2,600 Hz, which should do a sufficient job at moving the bass/treble frequencies from the woofer to the tweeter. Fluance includes an SPL vs Frequency graph with their paperwork on the Ai40. It’s a flat, smoothed out graph that really doesn’t mean much for critical analysis, so in this case we’ll let our ears do our measurements for us.
On the front of the speaker is a single control knob. Turning the knob will control the volume of the speaker manually, but the option of volume control through your paired Bluetooth device and the remote control is also available. Pressing the knob will control the input options and power the system off. A yellow light means the speakers are paired with an RCA input, blue for Bluetooth, and red means the speakers are powering off.
Note: One cool feature of the Ai40 is that you can control the intensity of the selector light through the remote control.
As mentioned earlier, the Ai40 comes with a RCA to 3.5mm cord for playback through a tethered device. Although it would have been nice to see an optical-in for upgrading your TV speakers, the RCA inputs on the back of the speaker are a nice upgrade from the 3.5mm input the more inexpensive Bluetooth speakers come with. All the accessory components such as the speaker wire, RCA mm cord, power cord and even the remote control are made of high-quality materials Fluance is known for.
As with other Bluetooth speaker systems, setup takes just a few minutes. For initial listening tests, I set up the speaker system with the speakers 5’ apart and 30” off the floor with 1’ behind the speakers. Once the speakers were plugged in, I depressed the Bluetooth button on the back of the unit. Within seconds the Fluance Ai40 paired with my iPhone and I was ready to go.
The colors on the front of the unit correspond with what the speaker is doing.
Blue (solid): Bluetooth is paired
Blue (flashing): Bluetooth pairing mode
Yellow (solid): RCA
Red (solid): Standby mode
Red (flashing): Mute
Red (double-flash): Bass or treble set to +/-5
Blue/Yellow (double-flash): Bass or treble set to 0
I pulled up some of my usual Bluetooth speaker demo songs
from my phone to see what the pair could do. First up was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s
“Tin Pan Alley.”
The intro high guitar riffs were distinct,
clear, and melodic. The soft tap of the cymbal and snare edge showed the
capability of the ferrofluid-
The remote for the Ai40 is simply laid out: Volume up and down, track forward and back, mute, and an easy treble and bass adjustment. For “Tin Pan Alley” I boosted the bass almost up to full. There were many times when the bass control feature came in handy. In a small room, the low end bass came through loud and clear, so it was nice to be able to adjust it to my liking without it overpowering the room. For most songs I kept the bass at about half level. On the other hand, I found the best placement for the treble level was all the way up. The small white light on the remote flashed twice when you reached full levels on either bass or treble.
Michael Jackson – "Smooth Criminal"
The Ai40 reproduced the heartbeat like intro to "Smooth Criminal" with precision. The cuts to Michael Jackson’s voice stood out clearly. The mids were a bit muffled in this song, but it’s hard to tell if it was the speaker itself or the recording playing through Bluetooth. The Ai40 never broke up at medium to high volumes I played it at.
I was giving a lecture the week I was demoing the Ai40 and decided to bring them with me to test them in a larger setting. The speaker pair was connected through the 3.5mm port in my computer using the supplied AUX cable. I depressed the front volume button so it was on the “Yellow” setting and was ready to go. The 1,200 sf room I was in had nearly 13-foot ceilings and ubiquitous industrial linoleum tiled floor. Between the hard floor and solid concrete walls I didn’t expect much from the small speakers, but how I was wrong! The Ai40 did an exceptional job of replaying the short video clips I had embedded in my presentation.
After the lecture I decided to sit in the room and listen to
a few tracks played from my computer to see how the system compared to the more
intimate setting of my listening room at home. I played the Eagles 1994
acoustic version of Hotel California. Several people sat with me and commented
on the immense lows coming from the Ai40 system. Soundstage
separation were far beyond what you could get from a single box system. Like “Smooth Criminal”,
the mids were a bit mushy here, but I attributed it more to the size and
acoustics of the room as opposed to the speakers or source material.
Note: Like other Bluetooth speakers I have auditioned, if you are streaming from your phone and you get a text or phone call, the ringtone comes through the speaker which can scare the ever
loving crap out of you!
The Fluance Ai40 Powered Bluetooth Speaker Pair far exceeded my expectations of what a $200 active speaker setup could do. In fact while writing this article I found them on Amazon priced new for $170!
I could easily see it paired with a hi-fi turntable to provide an exceptional 2.0 stereo sound experience. Connect the pair using RCA cables to a phono pre-amplifier or bypass the external pre-amp if your turntable has one built in. If you’re shopping for the Ai40 on Amazon, the superstore web giant will even recommend buying the Ai40 along with Fluance’s RT80 HiFi Turntable for an additional $169 (limited time offer).
Like other speakers in this price range it would have been nice to see
a sub out and optical input for an easy-to-
easy- to- use sound bar killer. A simple acoustic room adjustment program or
app for your phone would have been nice too. At $200 or less, the
Fluance Ai40 was twice the price of our recently reviewed Dayton Audio MK402BT
and in this case they do sound twice as good.
For those of you looking for a solidly-
built pair of Bluetooth speakers that sound good, it would be hard to make a better
choice than the Ai40 for $170. The speaker pair comes with lifetime customer support and
a 2-year full manufacturer’s direct warranty as well as free
shipping from both Fluance and Amazon Prime, so
you can be guaranteed a happy minimal investment in this speaker pair.