Fluance Ai41 speakers: one minute review
With a few good bookshelf speakers such as the Fluance Ai41 you can dream away for hours while listening to music. And with all their connectivity, you can also use them to amplify the sound of a TV or computer while watching or playing something. However you use them, they shine brightest when up close and personal.
For other applications, they do well enough. If home theater use is your primary goal, there are other solutions that may be a better fit. And if you are looking for one of the best computer speakers beyond that, the Fluance Ai41 come very close, but are still a harbor away.
That said, the Fluance Ai41 offers great value thanks to their fantastic audio with extensive low-end connectivity. So read on to see if these active bookshelf speakers are for you.
Fluance Ai41 speakers: price and availability
- How much is it? $249 (£255, AU$471)
- Where is it available? now available
- Where can you get it? Available in US, UK and Australia
At $249 (£255 / AU$471), the Fluance Ai41 is firmly in the mid-range. These speakers, which have been around since the early summer of 2021, offer great value for the price, even if their features consist mainly of their connection options and a remote control.
In comparison: the Audioengine A2+ goes for just a little more, but with less power and less bass. However, unlike the Fluance Ai41, they come with USB and are therefore slightly more convenient for computer configurations.
Of course you can go cheaper. For example the Edifier R1280dB are nearly a hundred bucks less and pack a decent sonic punch, especially for the price. However, they don’t have as rich a sound or as deep bass response.
Fluance Ai41 speakers: design
- Lots of connectivity available
- USB-C or even USB connectivity would be appreciated
Bookshelf speakers tend to all share the same DNA, at least on the surface. The Fluance Ai41 is no different. They maintain that same rectangular shape with a two-way speaker design and sit somewhere in the middle in size, measuring 10.9 x 6.5 x 7.6 inches.
However, you will find that these outshine most computer speakers out there. They include a 1-inch silk tweeter and a 5-inch fiberglass composite driver, which is not uncommon for bookshelf speakers. But most computer speakers come with much smaller drivers.
The aforementioned Audioengine A2+ has 2.75-inch drivers, along with, for example, 0.75-inch tweeters. Many of them also have only one driver per speaker, such as the popular Logitech Z407. And while the Ai41 requires more desk space than most speakers designed for computers, they offer a fuller, deeper sound than their rivals.
Where the Fluance Ai41 differs from the typical bookshelf speaker design is their lack of speaker grilles. While we prefer the look of a speaker without the grill, it does expose drivers to the elements and potential accidents. The Ai41 is available in at least four colorways, including black ash (black cabinet with a black front), natural walnut (walnut-stained cabin with a black front), white walnut (walnut-stained cabin with a white front) and lucky bamboo (lighter wood-stained cabinet with a white front).
The front right speaker houses the power amplifier that allows you to connect to any source without the need for a receiver. It has a volume rocker in the lower right corner that can also be used to switch sources with a quick press or turn on by holding it down. There are two additional rotary knobs on the back to control the treble and bass EQ.
You’ll also find all connectivity and connectors for speaker cables here, as well as the sub output and a Bluetooth reset button. That sub out crosses at 80 Hz so that when you connect the Ai41s to a subwoofer, you are not overwhelmed by too much bass. Both speakers are also ported on the back, giving them those deep lows.
As for that connectivity, there’s optical audio for use with TVs and higher end desktops, RCA input for use with turntables or any other device with an analog output (you just need to use an RCA-to-3.5mm cable ), and Bluetooth 5.0 which is very easy to pair. While Fluance doesn’t advertise any kind of multipoint connectivity, we are in fact able to pair two devices at once and switch sources by pausing the audio on one and playing it on the other. We can do it with different combinations of sources, including two Bluetooth devices and an analog plus Bluetooth connection.
The only problem with the connectivity of the Fluance Ai41 is that there is no USB or USB-C. We used these speakers with an Alienware laptop for some testing. And since that laptop doesn’t have an optical output, our only choice was to use an analog connection or Bluetooth. We can test with both, with the Bluetooth sounding slightly better than the analog connection – despite a little bit of latency.
Finally, the Fluance Ai41 speakers come with a remote control. Powered by two AAA batteries, the remote lets you choose input sources and volume, adjust treble and bass, and even dim the power LED. And if you use Bluetooth, there are controls that let you fast forward, rewind, pause and play your audio.
Fluance Ai41 speakers: performance
- The sound quality is nice, a bit clear, but with a deep bass
- There are some restrictions for non-music applications such as TV and gaming
The volume on tap on the Fluance Ai41 is more than enough for a personal stereo or computer setup. You probably won’t turn these all the way up if you’re a foot or two away from the speakers. But it doesn’t really have enough volume when used with a TV for a truly cinematic experience. You hear everything clearly. It just doesn’t come up enough to blow you away.
There is a reason for that. The fact that the Fluance Ai41 are ported speakers means you’re sacrificing some volume for better bass response. And the bass response is pretty low for a 2.0 system. It’s not quite wall-shaking, but it’s impressive nonetheless considering there’s no subwoofer. while watching Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringsfor example, you can still clearly hear all the sub-bass frequencies when the rings are shot at someone, or there is some kind of energy surge.
The mids are generally well balanced, although there is a high-mid bulge that seems to make these speakers sound like they are rich but also clear. And the high-end is clear and detailed without being fatiguing. They sound good on everything. Just expect the vocals to pop a little more than you might be used to.
The frequency range is slightly different when connected via the RCA output. And if you’re using these for a computer setup that doesn’t have an optical audio connection, this is probably the way you’ll be hooked up to the speakers.
The audio is a bit fuzzier and a bit less defined by this analog connection. That high-mid bump also seems to sound a bit compressed. And while that more analog sound works well for music, we prefer the cleaner, more detailed sound from the digital connections.
Adjusting the treble and bass controls produces surprisingly subtle changes. The Fluance Ai41 still sounds like itself, just a tad brighter or a tad darker, or with just a little more or a little less bass.
The sound image is quite good. We can easily distinguish between different elements and when they are moved from left to right or vice versa. That is when they are placed close to the speakers, such as in a desk setup. When used in gaming, the soundstage is immersive and the sound reproduction is quite accurate.
However, when using the Fluance Ai41 with a TV and reclining on a sofa more than two meters away, the sound reproduction is less accurate. So picking out elements and where they should be is a bit more difficult.
As mentioned, using Bluetooth introduces the least amount of latency. It’s small enough that we can watch some shows on Hulu without getting distracted, but it’s still noticeable.
Should I buy the Fluance Ai41 speakers?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
Fluance Ai41 Speakers: Report Card
|Where the||While not quite in the budget range, the Ai41 are relatively affordable for what they offer.||4 / 5|
|Design||While there is no USB, there is plenty of connectivity for most devices.||4 / 5|
|Performance||The Fluance Ai41 is somewhat bright with an extended bass response and are excellent sounding speakers as long as you’re not trying to fill a home theater or large room.||4 / 5|
|Total||The Fluance Ai41 doesn’t break the bank, works for most small to medium sized setups and, most importantly, sounds great.||4 / 5|
- Rated first Sep 2022
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