When you think about Bluetooth speakers there are some names that immediately pop into your mind, such as the UE Boom or the Bose Soundlink, but probably not many of us have heard of the Fluance Fi30 and Fi50. These are two different speaker models made by a small Canadian company that offers their products exclusively online. What separates these speakers from some of the other competitors in the market is a deep rich sound that’s produced, at least in part, by their adoption of an MDF Wood cabinet design. There are some key differences between the two models and we’ll take a closer look at these below.
The Fluance Fi50 is the newer and more expensive model of the two, retailing for around $200, or about $50 more than its predecessor, the Fluance Fi30. They’ve made a couple of key upgrades in the new speaker, but they have still maintained the great sound quality that was a key feature of the Fi30. Both are great choices, but for an extra $50 the Fi50 is probably the better buy.
The Fi30 produces a nice clean sound that doesn’t distort or degrade when you turn up the volume – it’s just that it’s not one of the loudest speakers on the market, producing only 6 watts on two channels. Fluance seems to have recognized this shortcoming and they’ve addressed this issue in their new and improved Fi50 model. This speaker produces a very respectable 40 watts – which is more than enough to fill any room in your home with the sound of some great music. It really is quite a difference and a marked improvement between the two models.
When you take a look at these two speakers side by side you’ll see some notable differences. One of the key differences between the two speakers is that the Fluance Fi50 allows you to have a lot more control of the sound coming out of your speaker. It has a built-in LED display that lets you see the adjustments as you make them, and there are controls on the top of the speaker for adjusting treble and bass. By contrast, the earlier model had no way of changing your sound output whatsoever except by using your smart phone or tablet wirelessly connected to it.
In This Case Size Does Matter
The Fi50 is noticeably bigger than the Fi30. The newer model weighs in at about 14 pounds as compared to about 10 pounds for the earlier model. The reason for this difference is that the newest speaker includes more speaker drivers to help it produce a much more powerful sound. At best, the Fi30 works well as a speaker for comfortable listening in a quiet environment, but the later model is a great choice for a party or social gathering with it’s much more powerful sound. For an extra $50 it’s well worth the upgrade.
The Benefits of Wood
One of the main reasons that both of these speakers are able to produce such high-quality sound is because they’re encased in an MDF Wood cabinet. Most Bluetooth speaker systems feature plastic cabinets which aren’t designed to produce the same level of acoustics. What you get from a speaker inside a wood cabinet is a deeper, richer sound that simply can’t be produced in a plastic-encased speaker. Either one of these models will sound just as good at high volume levels as it does at lower volume levels – there is no notable distortion.
Playback and Extra Options
Both these speaker systems can be connected to your smart phone or tablet via Bluetooth, and they also have the capability of connecting to older devices using an auxiliary jack located on the back of the speaker system. Fluance does use the older Bluetooth 2.1 standard, but that’s not a major issue for a speaker system that’s not designed to be taken on the road.
Another great feature of these speakers is that they also have a USB port on the back which will allow you to charge your smart phone or tablet while you listen to your music. It’s more of a convenience item, but it is a nice extra feature.
The Fi50 also supports AptX streaming if you have a device that supports that standard. If you’re not familiar with what this is, it’s a driver system that’s supposed to make Bluetooth audio sound a little bit better. Most people probably won’t be able to tell much of a difference between this sound quality and standard Bluetooth audio though, so while it’s a nice feature to have, it’s not really a main selling point.
As we’ve already mentioned, both of these speakers are pretty heavy – weighing in at 10 pounds and 14 pounds respectively – but that’s not the only issue you’ll run into with the speakers. They do not have a rechargeable battery, which means you’ll have to use them close to a wall outlet and you won’t be able to take them with you on the go. They do still have the wireless convenience of Bluetooth, which means you don’t have to abandon your smart phone when you walk away from the speaker, but you won’t be taking these speakers for a bike ride with you.
A lot of Bluetooth speakers have the built-in speakerphone capability that allows you to use your smart phone hands-free while you listen to your music. Unfortunately, these Fluance devices do not have speakerphone capability, which may be an issue for some people. The speakerphone option is a nice feature that many of us have come to expect in a Bluetooth speaker system.
Great Sound at a Great Price
Both the Fluance Fi30 and the Fluance Fi50 offer great value for money. Either one of them will impress you with their sound quality, but for the extra $50 it’s definitely worth upgrading to the Fi50 model. This speaker not only pumps out your music at a much greater volume, it also has some great built-in controls which will let you tweak your music until you’re satisfied with how it sounds.