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SX-HTB+ Packaging and Build Quality

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For years we'd heard about Fluance speakers, but until we HEARD Fluance speakers we didn't understood what all the hubbub was about. Fluance has been know for offering what appears to be an insanely low-priced surround loudspeaker solution (or stereo depending upon your needs) for what many manufacturers charge for a single refurbished speaker. While it  wouldn't be fair to  compare the Fluance SX-HTB+ speakers to a $1000 surround sound speaker system, or put them up against the likes of any of the full-priced models we've reviewed, it's amazing just how much you can expect for $300 as you will discover while reading this review. What's even more amazing is that Fluance speakers come with a lifetime manufacturers warranty for parts & labor.

Packaging and Build Quality

fluance boxesWhenever we order from an ID (Internet Direct) manufacturer, one thing we look for is the quality of the packaging. Will it arrive safely and without any bumps or damage to the loudspeakers? With the typical difficulty of returning online orders, it's important to know if you will receive everything with a high level of confidence that they will arrive safely. Well, in the case of the Fluance SX-HTB+ system, the entire 5.1 package comes double-boxed. Double boxing not only protects the shells of the inner products from being physically damaged, it also ensures that there is a layer of shock protection for inner components in the event of a rough transport experience. Inside the double boxed packaging, Fluance had utilized foam packing material that was over an inch thick - giving the contents the ability to take a severe beating without walking away any worse for the wear.

fluance unboxing

cabinet cornersOpening up the SX-HTB+ front speakers, we immediately liked the beech vinyl veneer woodgrain finish, which presents a nice look that fits almost any décor. For some reason (perhaps cost related), Fluance doesn't offer its speakers in a variety of finishes (not even black for these) so you're going to have to decide on your speakers and then take whatever color is available - or vice versa. The finish was nice, as we mentioned, but one cost-cutting measure we immediately noticed was the way the MDF enclosure terminated to a very defined box on the rear of the tower (and the center and surrounds as well). Rather than a full veneer wrap that is more difficult and costly, Fluance uses an inset rear panel. Since the fronts face forward, this won't be very noticeable, but on the surrounds you may be able to see it if they are positioned on stands and set into the room.

The bottom of the tower speakers are neat in that they have a decorative bottom plate with brass floor spikes. We say "decorative" because they aren't truly outriggers, extending no more than the dimensions of the actual base of the floorstanding SX-HTB+ tower speaker. This bottom plate is also veneered to look exactly like the main speaker and it sits offset by a set of four brass colored discs.

flunce spikes

The speakers are all ported - the towers with a plastic cup, and the surrounds and center with a painted cardboard tube. It is this port, and the addition of the second woofer, that gives the SX-HTB+ its unusually low range. The dual 6-1/2" woofers are poly-coated with butyl rubber surrounds that should last a long time. They are shielded, though that is becoming less and less of a problem with new flat panel TVs. We hope the manufacturer drops the shielded magnets in future designs not only for a cost cutting measure but from a performance standpoint.  Why waste magnet power (especially for budget minded drivers like these) on an obsolete feature?  The 1" silk dome tweeter is of the neodymium variety and is Ferrofluid cooled but not heat sinked as we've seen on higher caliber designs.

fluance crossoverBecause we're a glutton for punishment, and insanely curious by nature, we next pulled out the crossover and peered inside the cabinet. You can see that they used air core inductors and electrolytic caps. The crossover looks like its a 2nd order HPF (high pass filter) on the tweeter and a 2nd order LPF (low pass filter) on the woofer. We were surprised to see air cores in a system costing less than a pair of Canadian speakers we previously reviewed that utilized only a cap and resistor as their crossover network - and this in a bookshelf speaker costing more than this whole 5.0 system. Fluance also braced the cabinet with additional MDF, and there is some dampening material, though minimal. We also verified that both drivers are active and the system is two-way, so the added woofer isn't separated from the enclosure and used as a (third-way) bass driver. All of the wiring looked to be about 14 gauge and more than sufficiently secured to the drivers and crossover. 

fluance stuffing

After checking out the towers we looked at the center and surrounds and found comparable build quality. One thing we noticed that was different was the makeup of the ports - which were cardboard tubes on all but the towers (and the surrounds' were tiny, almost unbelievably small and positioned to each side of the top of the 4-inch woofer). The included grills were basic but nice and they fit onto the plastic pegs which were affixed at four corners on the front of each speaker. We also felt that the slightly curved top of the grills was a nice touch to break up the rectangular face of each speaker. At the bottom, the Fluance logo was respectfully small.

fluance surround grill fluance surround no grill

I'd have to say that these speakers, while not built to a level commensurate with higher priced products, do take a well-balanced approach and seem to place the emphasis on the right places. Given a budget of $299, and we can assume that  only a portion of that is part of the build cost, there isn't a whole lot to work with. Fluance should be commended for putting together a decent speaker for the price that is capable of introducing surround sound to a whole generation of folks who would otherwise turn to multimedia systems or forgo surround altogether in favor of the whizzer cone wonders found in their flat panel display.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

everettT posts on November 13, 2017 15:51
Biamping off the same power supply doesn't increase the power. Passively biamping dosent do anything and I bet your friend would be surprised to learn that he is probably only pushing a watt or two most of the time.

QUOTE=“MarcG, post: 1220030, member: 83322”]Something I would like to add that I failed to mention

My friend who biamped is using the Onkyo TX-NR646 100 W/Ch (8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC).

He's also only using it 2.0 and he's bi-amping using the extra rear channel. so i'm guessing he's sending 100-150w of power per speaker.


My other friend using the cheap Pioneer receiver and is setup with a full 5.0.
With all channels driven he's most likely only getting 25-40w per channel.
rojo posts on November 13, 2017 11:11
MarcG, post: 1219986, member: 83322
Both rooms are definitely over 4000 cubic feet ( open concept bungalow) .

Imo the only pieces worth it are the towers … the sxs surrounds and sxc center are the weak point … I would just buy the towers separately and 2 sets of sx6's bookshelves ( one set for rears and one speakers for center ) … This Would make a sweet budget setup.. the only concern would be the extra/unused sx6

The SX towers wouldn't be my first choice. Fluance's response graph for the Classic Elite / SXHTB towers hints at problems: cone breakup around the 3.5kHz crossover point, some sort of phase cancellation, and a general recessed sound and probably poor imaging. The Signature Series would be the only Fluance towers I'd consider – but even then, in that price range I think I'd prefer to audition the Emotiva Airmotiv T1, the RBH R55Ti, the Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 + pedestal stands, or wait for JBL to offer another deep discount on their Studio 580 towers. In the $300 range of the Fluance SX towers I'd sooner stick with bookshelf speakers – probably the Affordable Accuracy monitors, or shop for used.
MarcG posts on November 13, 2017 09:59
Something I would like to add that I failed to mention

My friend who biamped is using the Onkyo TX-NR646 100 W/Ch (8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC).

He's also only using it 2.0 and he's bi-amping using the extra rear channel. so i'm guessing he's sending 100-150w of power per speaker.


My other friend using the cheap Pioneer receiver and is setup with a full 5.0.
With all channels driven he's most likely only getting 25-40w per channel.
MarcG posts on November 12, 2017 22:44
Both rooms are definitely over 4000 cubic feet ( open concept bungalow) .

Imo the only pieces worth it are the towers … the sxs surrounds and sxc center are the weak point … I would just buy the towers separately and 2 sets of sx6's bookshelves ( one set for rears and one speakers for center ) … This Would make a sweet budget setup.. the only concern would be the extra/unused sx6
William Lemmerhirt posts on November 12, 2017 20:57
MarcG, post: 1219968, member: 83322
Oddly enough i have two friends who have this system. 1 of my friends bi-amped the towers the other did not

the friend who bi-amped 150w per channel:

the difference is immense, especially in the bass department. These towers LOVE power. I have to say that i was shocked at the low end response from 40-80hz, i could feel the bass on my chest.

The other friend who has them hooked up to a cheap pioneer receiver with 70w/ch bass response is decent, but no wheres near the bass response my other friend is getting with the powers bi-amped

Just curious Marc. How similar is the placement/room size/room construction between these systems? Also, where there any tone controls in play? Ie: bass knob turned up etc.
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