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Fluance Ai60 Quasi-anechoic measurements and spinorama

napilopez

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Hello! I'll try to keep this one short on the subjective thoughts. Those will be in my actual review, I just like sharing graphs here first.

The Fluance Ai60 is very affordable powered monitor at just $250. For this price, you get a pair of speakers with 6.5-inch woofers, AptX Bluetooth, RCA, Optical, and USB inputs, a sub out, plus a remote. They're also some of the nicest looking speakers in the price range I've seen, and feel pretty well-built to boot. I'm a big fan of the two-tone look, for which there are three combinations, though they're also available in all black if you're boring or a goth ninja.

1-ai60w-main.jpg
The electronics are in the right speaker, which uses basic lamp wire to plug into the left one. They are a sealed design - no ports anywhere.

Here's the measurement fluance provides, just a single on-axis graph:
Ai60.jpg

Wow! Except... look at that scaling. 120dB, with some really weird smoothing going on, so it's clearly unreliable. And what the heck is "DSP virtual sound?"

Here's the real deal from 200Hz on up:

Spin Prelim.png


NOTE: No nearfield bass splice for now because I screwed those up; you'll see why in a bit.

Also note I use a significantly taller aspect ratio than Amir. Here's the same measurement scaled to match the Revel M16's:
Spin ASR scale.png

Hmm.

It's not exactly great, but it's at least somewhat timbrally balanced. The listening window is roughly +/- 2dB from 200 to 20KHz, but it's not exactly what I'd call "smooth."

The Early reflections and Sound Power curves are particularly jagged, but the early reflections DI curve isn't terrible other than that 10KHz dip. Subjectively I thought they sounded pretty good but maybe a bit *cough* unrefined. I think the ERDI curve is good enough below 10KHz though that you can get away with some EQing.

Breaking down directivity a bit more, here is the horizontal SPL plot (note I'm now using 10-degree intervals now instead of my old 15, but REW's pretty new dashed lines help me keep the data from getting too cluttered):
Horizontal.png


Horizontal Contour Plot (normalized to on-axis):
Horizontal Contour.png


Vertical at 0/5/10/15 degrees above and below tweeter axis + ceiling and floor reflections.

Vertical.png


Vertical contour plots:
Vertical Contour.png


Horizontal is decent, vertical is average for a two-way non coincident. Interestingly, the Ai60 appears to significantly flatter 15 degrees above the tweeter axis! It loses some excess energy in the presence and upper mids regions. So umm, stand up? Or maybe fluance assumed most people would place these too low, such as on a media console, or on a desk without stands? The world may never know.

Lastly, and this is a biggie, the speaker has some weird behavior around volume controls. Specifically, it appears to apply some kind of loudness EQ based on the volume knob setting. It does not appear to do so based on input signal, only the knob level. This is particularly problematic because there is no display to let you see what volume the speakers are at, other than a single LED flashing red when you hit max volume.

I was only able to do some quick and dirty measurements of this effect, but for example, here is the speaker's in-room response at three different knob settings (note what I think is a room null at approx 30Hz) measured from 1m away:
Volume.png


This was why I screwed up the nearfield bass measurements. I noticed there was just too much bass, and after thinking I'd messed up my baffle step compensation for a while, I realized it was because the speaker was applying dynamic EQ when I'd turned down the knob for the nearfield measurement. Unfortunately, I did not have time to test it again tonight. For those of you curious though, here's what the nearfield woofer response looked like with the dynamic EQ on after baffle step compensation (in other words, the bump is not an effect of the nearfield measurement):
w+t.png

TL;DR: Decent-to-good directivity and bass extension for the price, but I wish on-axis were better given the built-in DSP. I think they could be worth it for the price with some EQ, especially given the design and how many features they pack in. I personally liked them and am happy to recommend them to non-audiophile friends, but the dynamic EQ is annoying and some compression is noticeable when playing loud. They are not the pinnacle of sound quality, but good looking speakers with a good feature set at a good price.

Mainly, just try not to get stabbed by that 10KHz peak off axis peak.

Extra notes:
  • Measurements gated at 6.5ms. I believe resolution should be pretty similar to a 1/20 smoothed anechoic curve above 2-3kHz.
  • I use 25 dB/decade scaling on all SPL plots, which is what the NRC uses and CTA-2034A recommend, though Harman rarely uses it in its own graphs.
  • Measurements made using the RCA input.
  • I make some compromises to be able to make full measurements a bit more rapidly and often in an indoor setting. First is that they are done at 1m. As usual, I checked to see if there are any differences at 2m at a few angles, but I see none within the quasi-anechoic measurements' resolution. I only test bookshelf speakers, so I doubt this will ever be a big issue.
  • The other compromise: yes, 75dB @1m is too low, but this allows me to do the hundred + sweeps without worrying about annoying the neighbors. Once again, I run a few sweeps at higher volumes, to make sure there aren't major deviations in frequency response. Next time I'll make a note to actually save those measurements.
  • Vertical '0' measurement is slightly different because I have to turn the speaker on its side, so the tweeter is closet to the stand.
  • Note, I'm now calculating the Early Reflections curve the proper way, as discussed in this thread. This leads to a slightlybigger dip in the crossover region for non-coincident speakers, but the difference is only about 1dB for this speaker:
    ER.png
  • They do have a nice amount of bass for their size and price. But compression becomes very apparent at high SPLs and they have a limited sense of dynamics because of it.
  • They hiss with the volume knob up. It disappears at lower knob settings, which would be good for a nearfield setup... except they have that unavoidable dynamic EQ on. So pick your poison. I believe they hiss less with optical.
  • Also did not have the time to measure the second speaker to check for pair matching. Could be important because all electronic components are in just the right unit.
 

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badboygolf16v

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The aside about the 8cs is interesting. You have the KH80, I think? Interested to see your thoughts on the cost/benefit vs the 8c. I've got KH80/KH805 and I'm thinking of biting the bullet and getting some 8cs.

Apologies for the OT post. I'll wait for your 8c thread.
 
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napilopez

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The aside about the 8cs is interesting. You have the KH80, I think? Interested to see your thoughts on the cost/benefit vs the 8c. I've got KH80/KH805 and I'm thinking of biting the bullet and getting some 8cs.

Apologies for the OT post. I'll wait for your 8c thread.

I do not want to stay off topic for long, but I'll just say, remember what Dr Toole says that the best speakers are the least flawed. That also means they are the ones that the least flawed for your particular listening situation.

Imo what makes the 8Cs great is their versatility; they sound good with minimal user intervention no matter how you use them. They sound good in a living room, they sound good on a desk (you'll need a huge desk), they sound good if you have them near the walls, they sound good if you have them far from the walls. You can toe them in or out to increase sidewall reflections, or keep them closer to the sidewalls without making bass bloated.

Cardioid directivity plus the fact that EQ based on wall distance is a built-in part of the speakers is a huge deal; the first thing I noticed about the 8Cs was how amazing bass sounded out of the box once I set the distance EQs; something I'll often spend hours tweaking with other speakers plus subs.

Overall they sound great, and they are some of the least fussy speakers I've heard. But I don't think they are inherently amazing in the hi-fi sense of speakers having to be better than one another in this price range. We know past a certain level of linearity that doesn't *really* exist. The 8C are just some of the least flawed speakers I've heard, and it doesn't take much work to get them there.

Bringing this back on topic... Yes the 8Cs sound better than the fluances =P
 
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napilopez

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When used in the best way for this to work, is it still annoying?

I think it's more annoying for implementation than sonically. You never know how much dynamic EQ you are working with. Unless you are at a high knob volume (it seemes to remain flat a few notches before the max volume setting).

Personally, is much rather just use tone controls, which luckily the remote for these has. However, again, the lack of display hurts it here, as you have to count LED flashes from max to know what your bass or treble levels are.

It's possible that at low volumes you could use the tone controls to bring the bass back down to normal levels, and turn up the volume on your source. I did not test this though.
 

theowlery

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" I noticed there was just too much bass, and after thinking I'd messed up my baffle step compensation for a while, I realized it was because the speaker was applying dynamic EQ when I'd turned down the knob for the nearfield measurement. "

Thank you for confirming what I noticed after purchasing these! The bass was so overdone, it sounds like the DSP was designed by a bass player (Full disclosure: I'm a bass player). Interestingly, this seemed moreso with the Bluetooth input than with the RCA input, which is odd. I suppose it's nice if you're watching movies but it's just too thick and wubby for music. :/ Sending mine back. Will try the Vanatoo Zeros.
 

raindance

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I tried the Fi50 bluetooth speaker from Fluance and it also had an ungodly amount of bass boost. I sent it back.
 

theowlery

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It's possible that at low volumes you could use the tone controls to bring the bass back down to normal levels, and turn up the volume on your source. I did not test this though.

I tried all combinations of high/low input levels and still had to pull the bass down to its lowest setting. Still too much, at least with the Bluetooth input.
 
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