Fluance Ai41 bookshelf speaker review: More power and versatility [Video]

Fluance has built a reputation for premium-sounding hardware at an affordable price. We’ve taken a look at one of the turntables, a portable speaker, and the earlier version of the speakers we’re looking at today. With great sound, a few upgrades of the previous generation, and a reasonable $250 price tag, Fluance is poised for another hit with the Ai41 powered bookshelf speakers. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details. 

Slightly updated design

Like many of their speakers, Fluance has four colorways available for the Ai41: black ash, black walnut, white walnut, and the white bamboo color we have. Overall it’s a simple design that measures 10.9 x 6.5 x 7.6 inches. They take up much more room than the popular Audioengine A2+ desk speakers, but they hit lower and pack more power, as well. 

From the front, you’d be hard-pressed to find any visual differences between the older Ai40 and the  Ai41 we have here. On the front of the speaker are the 1-inch silk tweeter and the 5-inch woven woofer. Toward the bottom is an IR receiver for the included remote and a volume knob. Pushing in the knob switches input modes while holding it in for a few seconds turns the speakers off. 

Things start to get a little different on the back. First, the speakers are ported on the back for more bass response. There is a familiar Bluetooth button, but Fluance has also added an optical input as well as a sub output to the right cabinet. 

The Ai41 cabinets are crafted from MDF and are internally braced for a predictable sound.

Fluance Ai41: connections

All of the inputs and outputs are located on the back of the right speaker. Standard RCA connections are great for everything from analog turntables to computer speakers, while an optical input can work with more modern devices and a Bluetooth 5.0 connection is convenient for more casual listening. 

Hardware

On the Ai41, Fluance has pumped up the power a little more than the previous model. An integrated 90W amp delivers plenty of juice to fill a room with sound. The speakers can deliver a frequency response from 35-20kHz with a DSP enhancement. The tweeter is a 1-inch silk neodymium dome that keeps audio crisp and clear, while the 5-inch glass fiber woven woofer handles the mids and lows.

Though if you want even more power, Fluance also has the Ai61, which features a 6.5-inch woofer and a 120W amp for just $50 more. 

Fluance Ai41: video

How do they sound?

Just like the Ai40 speakers, I’ve been greatly enjoying listening to the Ai41 cabinets from Fluance. There is plenty of power to fill a room and the speakers themselves sound great. 

On the low end, thanks to that DSP enhancement, the bass feels low and full. Bass frequencies are pretty subdued in the default EQ mode, so I tended to use the remote to pump up the bass a few notches.

Likewise, highs are kept under control and were not harsh. Vocals come through crisp and clear across all genres of music. Ai41 may not sound as clear as higher-end speakers, but for $250, they really do sound great. 

Stereo separation was also great with the strings dancing nicely back and forth from left to right on Sound and Color by The Alabama Shakes. The Eagles’ Hotel California – Live on MTV, 1994 also shows off the impressive separation and imaging with the wide variety of instruments being placed clearly throughout the soundstage. 

The remote

One handy feature is the included remote. With the remote, it’s easy to dial in volume and you can even make EQ adjustments. There are 10 levels to both treble and bass that can be adjusted with the remote. When you hit the top or bottom of the range, the LED light near the dial on the front of the speaker will blink red, letting you know there isn’t any more room for adjustment.

You can also quickly switch between inputs with the remote, change the brightness of the LED light, and mute the speakers. 

9to5Toys’ Take

Fluance’s Ai41 speakers are a great upgrade over the older generation. I did like the $200 price on the older set, though, and $250 is a little harder to sell, but the added upgrades make the speakers more versatile and powerful, so it’s a win. Overall, they’re a great-sounding and easy-to-use pair of speakers that sound better than what the affordable price point would suggest. They take up some space on a desktop but would be great for a dedicated vinyl player or even flanking a TV. Thanks to the wide variety of input options, they can have a few different uses for your listening needs. 

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