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Fluance Signature Series Floorstanding Speakers Listening Tests

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In my approximately 24’ by 13’ listening room, I set up the speakers with equal stand-off distances between the backwall and sidewall, and equal distance between speakers and listening position, with tweeter at ear level and the speakers facing the listening position directly. A Pioneer SC-55 receiver was used in ‘Pure Direct’ mode, so no tonal processing would interfere with the speaker’s natural sound, and no subwoofers were there to disguise its low frequency abilities. Speaker distance from listening position was about 10 feet.

Music Listening

It’s hard to believe that tower speakers at this price point are capable of bass this prodigious.

A good recorded instrument for evaluating speakers is the violin, on account of its distinct timbre. Therefore, one CD I decided to use for a close listen to the Signature Towers is the Kronos Quartet renditions of Philip Glass compositions, ‘Kronos Quartet Performs Philip Glass’ on account of its clean and revealing recording of violins in action. With respect to capturing the rich timbre of the violin, I did not detect anything off in the Signature Tower’s reproduction of the recording and have no complaints there. Headphones do give this recording greater resolution, and I think speakers with hotter treble would do likewise, and a factor in this may be the height of the tweeter on the Signature Towers. My own listening position puts my ears at about mid-woofer height, and a frequency response measurement at my listening position does indicate a somewhat shaded treble compared to measurements made level with the tweeter. Nonetheless, the imaging of the recording came through clearly, and positioning of the individual violinists were stable which made for a convincing soundstage, and this is much more the heart of a musical recording rather than some tiny nuance of an instrument. The Fluance Signature Towers made it easy to enjoy this fine recording once more.

glass.jpg    Odes.jpg

While violins are good instruments for appraising the ability of a sound system to deliver subtlety, nothing beats the human voice for this task, since our hearing is so heavily tuned to that particular sound. For a great recording of a female vocal, I turned to ‘Odes’, a 1979 recording of traditional Greek folk music by vocalist Irene Papas and instrumentalist Vangelis. Irene Papas’ voice is exquisitely captured among Vangelis’s sweeping synthesizers and bombastic percussion. ‘Odes’ contains both delicate and sorrowful passages as well as vibrant, climactic passages. The Signature Towers handled both extremes nicely and everything in between. Papas’ vocals were cohesively rendered, and the instruments, both electronic and natural, were presented with a realism that revitalized this 38-year-old recording. For this classic album, the Signature Towers left me with no complaints.

Brainstorm.jpgSwitching gears to something more rowdy and heavily-layered, I decided to use an album that would press the two 8” woofers much harder than female vocals and violins. Towards this end, I employed John B’s ‘Brainstorm’, a 2002 drum’n’bass and electro album with a heavy dose of synth-pop, meaning lots of bass, and very rapid and heavy percussion. It is a heavy-duty electronic sound meant to be played loud, which is precisely what I did. Here, with the receiver volume set to reference level, the bass was unleashed. The bass that the Signature Towers could produce could be felt as a buzzing sensation on my back, which I think was my sofa vibrating, and I also felt that chest punch on many of the kick drums. It’s hard to believe that tower speakers at this price point are capable of bass this prodigious. The speakers held their composure at very high volumes, and I did not detect anything amiss. I was a bit shocked that, for this album, I didn’t miss the subwoofers. I would have thought subwoofers to be a necessity for music like this, but these speakers handled bass output and extension that did not leave much to be desired.

Movie Content

One film I had been curious about was ‘The Neon Demon’ from Nicolas Winding Refn. I figured it may be a good movie for a speaker to show its stuff since Refn’s movies have been visually and aurally arresting in the past, and I wasn’t wrong on this. As a drama, ‘The Neon Demon’ may leave audiences divided, but it can’t be denied that the film provides a rich sonic experience, owing largely to Cliff Martinez’s mesmeric electronic score. The music is, at times, subtle and at other times pulsating with energy. The Signature Towers handled the range of sound within the film with aplomb, from the quiet chiming of bells to the throbbing turbulence of techno music in a club scene. I had no problems with dialogue intelligibility or the positions from effects noises. As with the album ‘Brainstorm’, subwoofers just weren’t needed for this content. The movie sounded great, and I didn’t think the speakers were holding back the sound mix at all. Necrophilia scenes never sounded better than this!

neondemon.jpg     gravity.jpg

Another film that I thought would be good for demonstrating the capability of a speaker was 2013’s ‘Gravity’. Outside of the tense and sweeping score from Steven Price, nearly everything in the sound mix is what is heard by astronauts. This is a unique and effective approach that gives this movie not only a tremendous dynamic range but also a feeling of intimacy as the soundtrack quickly veers from the clamor of being aboard disintegrating space stations to the quietude of drifting in space where only breathing and heart beats are heard. In this sound mix, sudden silence is as startling as an unexpected crash. The Signature Towers executed the sound mix nicely; they gave the movie an enveloping experience, even though I watched it in stereo only. One thing I must say is that although the speakers do provide a decent bass experience for this movie, this was an instance where they were unable to match the experience when subwoofers are used. ‘Gravity’ has passages of very high energy yet low frequency sounds, and while the Signature Towers do a reasonably good job here, it is not quite the same without a deep-digging subwoofer. However, the tower speakers that would be able to fully recreate the low-frequency depths within the ‘Gravity’ sound mix would have to be a lot more expensive, larger, and much heavier. 

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

rojo posts on January 07, 2017 15:36
Rootman, post: 1165348, member: 81198
I'm not trying to be a troll or anything –

– yet, sadly, accidental trolling occurs alarmingly often. Best to say nothing at all, my dear man.
Dennis Murphy posts on January 07, 2017 15:01
Rootman, post: 1165393, member: 81198
Very Quasi… I'm not trying to be overly critical and get what he's doing.
I guess I'm not understanding what your objection is. Would you also say that Harman shouldn't test their speakers in an anechoic chamber because people don't listen to speakers in anechoic chambers? If so, I think you're misunderstanding the point of measurements like this. They're just intended to sort out the inherent response of the speaker from room effects.
Rootman posts on January 07, 2017 14:55
Dennis Murphy, post: 1165382, member: 29480
The reviewer wasn't conducting listening tests out there on the driveway. He was taking quasi-anechoic measurements. His setup allowed more resolution into the lower frequencies to give a better idea of the inherent bass capability of the speaker. As for the listening environment, as is stated in the article: “In my approximately 24’ by 13’ listening room, I set up the speakers with equal stand-off distances between the backwall and sidewall……………..”
Very Quasi… I'm not trying to be overly critical and get what he's doing.
Dennis Murphy posts on January 07, 2017 13:52
Rootman, post: 1165348, member: 81198
I'm not trying to be a troll or anything, but having bought and listened to high end audio equipment for most of my 60 years(OK, I started at age 10), I know of no one that would ever listen to their rig set out in their driveway, 4 feet off the ground!!!! Unless of course, you are having a field party, like Woodstock!!!! So why run listening tests on stuff out there????

If you want real world stats, use real world listening conditions. I get that not everyone has the same environment….but, I grant you NO one on this man's earth listens out on the driveway to a high end rig on a regular basis, eh???? Enough already with the empirical data!!!!!

Just my two cents after reading and seeing the Fluance speaker review. BTW. I am not listening to BOSE 901's or such. I'm a tube guy with VTL stuff and Maggies and other things. Just saying boyzzzz!!!!

Happy New Year!!!

The reviewer wasn't conducting listening tests out there on the driveway. He was taking quasi-anechoic measurements. His setup allowed more resolution into the lower frequencies to give a better idea of the inherent bass capability of the speaker. As for the listening environment, as is stated in the article: “In my approximately 24’ by 13’ listening room, I set up the speakers with equal stand-off distances between the backwall and sidewall……………..”
Rootman posts on January 07, 2017 11:54
I'm not trying to be a troll or anything, but having bought and listened to high end audio equipment for most of my 60 years(OK, I started at age 10), I know of no one that would ever listen to their rig set out in their driveway, 4 feet off the ground!!!! Unless of course, you are having a field party, like Woodstock!!!! So why run listening tests on stuff out there????

If you want real world stats, use real world listening conditions. I get that not everyone has the same environment….but, I grant you NO one on this man's earth listens out on the driveway to a high end rig on a regular basis, eh???? Enough already with the empirical data!!!!!

Just my two cents after reading and seeing the Fluance speaker review. BTW. I am not listening to BOSE 901's or such. I'm a tube guy with VTL stuff and Maggies and other things. Just saying boyzzzz!!!!

Happy New Year!!!
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