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Fluance XL7F Floorstanding Loudspeaker Design Overview

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The Fluance XL7Fs were double boxed and encased in foam borders along the circumference of the cabinet ensuring they would arrive safely even if the FEDEX guys gave them a little beating in transit. The speaker was enclosed in plastic wrap, void of the typical velvet sock and Michael Jackson white gloves associated with “high end” gear. The gold plated metal floor spikes/cones were located at the bottom of the enclosure (under the foam padding). I initially missed this, so be sure to take everything out of the boxes before tossing them in the trash.

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Fluance XL7F drivers (left) ; crossover (right)

The XLF7 is a 3-way tower design, standing almost 4ft tall and sporting 4 drivers. They are designed and engineered in Canada but produced overseas to keep the costs down to the consumer. The top end of the speaker features an MTM driver topology with dual 6.5” drivers and a 1” silk dome tweeter sandwiched in the middle. I initially thought the cone material of the mid drivers was aluminum, based on their whitish hue, but upon closer inspection I realized it was a treated polymer cone. Nevertheless they looked stunning especially with their butyl rubber surrounds. I removed one of the drivers to have a closer look and found a reasonably thick stamped basket (stamped baskets are typical at this price range) and a vented pole piece with piercings in the cone for further cooling (a welcomed and not-so-typical feature). The cone itself was more rigid than I’ve seen from some metal cones the competition uses. The diaphragm appears to consist of two pieces, the main cone and the inner cone affixed to the voice coil which is the one that is vented. This seemed to be quite a well thought out driver for such a modestly priced speaker system. The 1” silk dome tweeter is ferrofluid cooled and features a neodymium magnet structure. Although it’s not vented with a heatsink, it appears to be encased in an aluminum frame to help cool the magnet. Typically these tweeters don’t offer a lot of low end extension (as far as tweeters go), since they lack a rear chamber, so that is why Fluance chose to employ a higher than usual crossover point (3,500Hz). The 8” downfiring polymer treated woofer has one of the thinnest stamped baskets I’ve ever seen and actually slightly rings if you knock on it. The motor structure is also vented and the cone employs a butyl rubber surround. The cabinet is internally broken into two sections: one for the MTM portion which is in a sealed enclosure and the other for the 8” down firing woofer which has a single 3” flared port with a plastic screen to prevent anything from entering the cabinet. Trust me, if you have small children and they love stuffing their legos into obscure places, you will welcome this feature. The cabinet walls appear to be 0.6” thick, but the front baffle is doubled up to make it a whopping 1.2” thick. To achieve the contoured cabinet shape, Fluance employed multiple cuts in the panels instead of the usually preferred, but more costly, method of plaining found on more expensive designs.

The crossover is mounted to the back of the cabinet and contains a mixture of air core inductors for the midranges, steel cores for the bass drivers, ceramic resistors and electrolytic capacitors. This crossover isn’t constructed of the highest caliber parts per se, but this should be of no surprise given the budget of this design. Still, it appears to be a fairly well executed. Fluance claims to employ Butterworth filter networks which are advantageous at reducing passband ripples at the expense of more shallow roll-off rates.

The manufacturer website claims the bottom woofer is crossed over at 800Hz which I confirmed via the groundplane measurement I took of the bass driver in the measurements section of this review. It looks like a 3rd order 800Hz response acoustical plus electrical response (18dB/octave). Personally I would have liked to see this woofer crossed over at a lower frequency to reduce the overlap between it and the mids (more on this later). The mids of the MTM array exhibit a natural acoustical roll off of about 12dB/octave below 70Hz. They are crossed over to the tweeter at around 3,500Hz to reduce cone break up and off-axis beaming. You’ve got to use a pretty darn good midrange to cross over to a tweeter this high and as you will see in my listening tests, Fluance did their homework here. The tweeter appears to employ a 2nd order HPF to increase power handling and ensure better driver integration.

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Fluance XL7F bottom cabinet enclosure

With the 8” downfiring woofer removed, I got a peek inside the cabinet. The cabinet walls are a bit thin but are contoured shaped which helps rigidity and are reinforced by braces. The port tube is constructed of cardboard and flared only on the exterior. There is an anemic amount of stuffing in the box. It wouldn’t have taken too much to throw more in there to be honest.

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Fluance XL7F Backview

The Fluance XL7F speakers have some of the best binding posts we’ve seen and they certainly don’t typically come on a product of this price class. The connectors are gold plated, accept banana plugs, spades and even bare wire, and ship with removable gold plated pegs. The XL7F are both bi-wireable and bi-ampable which is very rare in this price class.

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Fluance XL7F Bottom View

Turning the speaker upside down you can see the 8” downfiring woofer which fires down at the plinth. While I am a big fan of the brass cone feet that come with these speakers, I wish Fluance would have also provided the option of rubber feet for installations on hardwood flooring.

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Fluance XL7F Grille Covers

The grilles of the Fluance XL7F towers are quite impressive. Instead of the thin flimsy plastic grill covers most speakers in this price class have, the XL7F’s grilles are framed with MDF, including a horizontal support for added rigidity. You just don't expect this kind of detail or build quality which this level of product.

The XL7F’s are currently only offered in the pictured cherry finish. It’s a bit odd they don’t offer an alternative standard black finish but the front baffles are black and the cherry finish looks nice nonetheless. I don’t foresee too many potential buyers finding their only finish option to be an eyesore. All in all, I’d say the XL7F exhibits impressive build quality and components for such a rock bottom price. Now it’s time to see if the sum of the parts equates to good sound.

Set-Up

I tested the Fluance XL7F speakers in the following two scenarios:

  • Audioholics Showcase Theater room - two-channel utilizing the reference gear and premier listening space in the Audioholics Showcase home
  • Friends House to compare to his EMP E55Ti speakers

Listening Scenno-grille.jpgario #1 Audioholics Showcase Theater Room

For the first listening session, I positioned the XL7F towers about 5ft from sidewalls and around 8ft from the back walls and spread apart about 10ft from each other which was about two feet shy of the distance from my primary listening position. After experimenting, I found they sounded their best with pretty aggressive toe-in since the top end of these speakers is a bit laid back and my room is both large (6,000ft^3) and acoustically treated. I used my Marantz PM-11S2 200wpc integrated stereo amplifier and the Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray player as the source connected via balanced cables. All interconnects were furnished by Blue Jeans Cables (1694A Coax) and Kimber 8PR speaker cables with WBT compression banana plugs. The speakers in this case were run full-range with no bass management. For comparative purposes I also used my Denon AVP-A1HDCI A/V processor, Denon POA-A1HDCI 10 channel amplifier to run the XL7F’s in bi-amp mode. I ran the bottom 8” woofers of each XL7F tower to a single amp connected to the LFE output of my processor crossed over at 200Hz. The top portion of the XL7F’s were run as a stereo pair through bass management crossed over at 60Hz.

Listening Scenario #2: Friend's Home Fluance XL7F vs EMP E55Ti

I directly compared the Fluance XL7F and EMP E55Ti speakers side by side on a Harman/Kardon HK 3490 stereo receiver using SPK A and SPK B outputs to switch between speaker pairs. Volume was properly adjusted each time to ensure the speaker pairs were level matched during the comparison. The cables were Kimber 8PR's and the source was the Denon DVD-1920CI connected via Sonicwave toslink to the HK 3490.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

sukihock posts on January 22, 2014 15:45
Listening to these right now. Like the presentation better than my late HTD Level Three Towers. Maybe I just miss the dispersion of a good dome tweeter. Also, I think the perceived strange x-over choice works for this down-firing design. Creates a nice wall of sound.
exlabdriver posts on July 03, 2013 00:54
Good eye, billy, unfortunately mine aren't as good as yours; however, with this Review being at the top of the front page under ‘Audioholics Featured Reviews and Articles’ I assumed that it was one of the latest articles like it normally is when it's on top of the heap there…

TAM
billy p posts on July 02, 2013 21:43
exlabdriver, post: 975338
Post #19 - a thread on Fluance turns into major brand bashing again…

TAM

The post you're alluding too was made 05/15/12….just to set the record straight.
exlabdriver posts on July 02, 2013 19:24
This is a Fluance thread that should be kept on topic discussing the attributes of that gear; however, suffice it to say that my BS Meter pegged on that post…

TAM
Marshall_Guthrie posts on July 02, 2013 14:05
exlabdriver, post: 975350
How many time do we have to see virtually the same post with the same pictures?

It is out there numerous times & in multiple places. Brand bashing at its finest, IMO…

TAM

Sorry, I guess I'm not active enough on the forums anymore to catch multiple instances of the same post. Still, is the content incorrect? I'm not trying to take sides, but if the content isn't untrue, it really doesn't matter how many times it shows up.
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