Before Bluetooth came along, most speakers lived a sedentary life in an entertainment center. Connected directly to the media source, these cabinets were massive by today's standards because you simply never needed to move them. But now that it's possible to listen to music wirelessly, bigger speakers don't get the same love they used to, as people prefer little ones instead that can come along for the ride.
The Fluance Fi30 wants to bring back that classic style to the Bluetooth market, offering a solid wood construct packed with power for the stunning low price of $149 (about £137, AU$192).
It has no problem with visual presence and fortunately, this large Bluetooth speaker hits most of the key notes in sound performance.
Harking back to the time when beehive updos were common, the Fluance Fi30 sports a mod appearance. It checks all the boxes required for a speaker to be timeless and delightfully retro by today's standards: it's wooden, curvy and monochromatic.
Yep, the 8.3-pound (about 3.7 kg) Fi30 is comprised mostly of wood, an unpopular material among many cheaper Bluetooth speakers today. This choice to go with wood could have backfired with cheap implementation, but the detailing on the whole offers a satisfying and dense heftiness, not to mention a polished look.
Glossing over the build, the frame is made up of two pieces of wood. The first is a hollowed-out shell that offers a smooth, rounded appearance from top to bottom. Around the back, a rectangular-shape section is punched out for the power components of the cabinet.
Taking a closer look at the selection of ports on the back reveals that there isn't much to see here. A single 2.1-amp USB port is nice for charging a device quickly that would otherwise be draining battery over a Bluetooth connection. Next to it is a 3.5mm input for alternative wired listening. As it states on the label, the Bluetooth capability powers down while connected via 3.5mm.
Attached to the front is the second piece of wood, making up the body where you'll find more smooth edges. Similar to the back of the Fi30, two front-facing sections are punched out to make room for the speaker grilles. These black grilles, rimmed with a metallic band, offer a peek inside to the dual 3-inch drivers.
Unlike most modern Bluetooth speakers, the Fluance Fi30 is only powered through a power outlet and packs no internal battery. This alone will turn away people with portability at top of mind, but the Fi30 offers oomph that battery-sipping speakers can't offer.
The Fluance Fi30 makes a bold claim to, at the very least, fill the mod-themed void missing in your entertainment setup, but it also rocks the house with raw performance.
Getting the Fi30 connected is simple. Flip the power switch "on", wait a few seconds for the speaker to get picked up by your phone's Bluetooth antenna and connect. The process mirrors pairing with other Bluetooth speakers in simplicity, but I noticed that the Fi30 lagged behind a bit in its tethering speed, but not to the point of being a deal breaker.
Set up in my studio apartment, the Fi30 is wholly capable of filling the space with sound at a low volume. For a bit of fun, I maxxed out the volume to annoy the neighbors, but also to see if the sound performance translated well to loud volume. Checking specifically for the bass to drop out and the highs to get grainy, I was pleased that the Fi30 scaled well no matter the volume level.
The profile of the sound is full-bodied, but not as warm as I was hoping for with the deluxe wooden frame, like a coffee sitting at room temperature for just a little too long. In all seriousness, the listening experience won't wash you over in detail, but for the low price of $149, good luck finding another speaker that can put out good sound at an incredible volume.
It sizes up to 16.5 inches (419 mm) in length and 5.5 inches (139 mm) deep, which is about the size of a standard boombox. Get the idea out of your head that this is portable. If you're still having trouble with that, the fact that this is a battery-less speaker should do the trick.
Just because the Fi30 is big doesn't mean that it can't be beautiful. The wooden construct adds an appealing visual element to this speaker.
For the money, it's hard to get a better value elsewhere. The sound performance is there and powerful. The functionality, while limited, works flawlessly and the build quality is on point.
The battery-free design narrows the reach strictly to those looking for a wireless home audio solution. This means that, if your power goes out, you can forget about listening to it.
Sound performance lacks the warm qualities of most wood-bodied speaker cabinets. That said, it's tough to expect comparable quality from something so small and affordable in comparison.
The Fluance Fi30 is the reigning king in a lonely subcategory of sedentary Bluetooth speakers. On the downside, it's big, heavy and requires a constant power source. That said, if you're looking for a product made with care and able to serve loud and full-bodied audio, the Fluance Fi30 is precisely what the doctor ordered.