When you think Bluetooth speaker, you probably picture a portable unit. And the majority of Bluetooth speakers are portables. They’re small, light, and include a battery for use on the go. However, there are also Bluetooth speakers that break with that tradition. They’re big, heavy, and don’t bother with a battery—they’re basically designed to replace a compact stereo system in your living room or den. Freed from the tyranny of miniaturization and power conservation, they can offer seriously amped up sound compared to a portable speaker.
I happened to have two good choices here for separate reviews and thought it might be interesting to compare them head to head. If you’re in the market for a little more performance than the typical Bluetooth speaker or want a new bookshelf stereo, the House of Marley Get Up Stand Up and Fluance Fi50 are both worth considering.
Let’s just say that neither of these speakers is going to be mistaken for a portable. The Get Up Stand Up is a hair under two-feet wide, 13-inches tall, and weighs 15.6 pounds. The Fi50 measures 2.4-inches wide by 7.1-inches and weighs 13.4 pounds. Both speakers also have a large, brick-style power adapter.
Both speakers are primarily designed to be used with Bluetooth streaming (2.1), and both support aptX. Both offer a 3.5mm stereo AUX input, but the House of Marley speaker also offers stereo RCA inputs. Both speakers include a 2.1-Amp USB port for charging a mobile device.
The Fi50’s power switch is located on its back panel. On the top are touch controls for volume, display brightness, and a toggle to adjust bass and treble. The display is a white LED that shows the system volume. The Get Up Stand Up has illuminated top-mounted push-button power and volume buttons. It also includes a basic remote with volume and music controls.
This is where the two manufacturers have taken very different paths. The Fluance Fi50 is a traditional cabinet style, although with rounded sides, chrome spike feet, and a wood finish (Natural Walnut, Lucky Bamboo, or the review unit’s Black Ash) that gives it a retro look. Instead of plastic, the cabinet is constructed of “audiophile grade” MDF. Drivers are exposed.
House of Marley gave the Get Up Stand Up a unique look. The main face is a slab of FSC birch that’s covered with a dark walnut veneer and bent so the drivers angle slightly upwards. Drivers are mounted in the front face, with plastic enclosures that project out the back. The drivers are covered in a brown cloth that complements the walnut finish.
The Fi50 uses a Fluance two-way driver system. There is a pair of 5-inch glass fiber composite woofers that each incorporate a 3/5-inch coaxial mounted, ferrofluid-cooled silk soft dome tweeter. Frequency response is rated at 40Hz – 20KHz and its amplifier is rated at 40 Watts of continuous output. There is a pair of tuned, rear-firing bass ports.
The Get Up Stand Up’s power rating isn’t specified. It’s equipped with 4.5-inch high output woofers and 1-inch high definition tweeters with a frequency response rating of 20Hz – 20KHz. It also has bass ports, but they fire out the sides of the woofer enclosures.
Both of these speakers provide plenty of power, and they certainly outperform most portable Bluetooth speakers. Their size means more powerful drivers (and more drivers overall) than many portable speakers, while the size of their cabinets allows for a little more depth. Either speaker could easily power a party in my living room. However, there are some differences between the two. I tested the speakers using an iPhone streaming Apple Music’s 256Kbps AAC tracks.
House of Marley’s signature sound tends to emphasize the low end, and that’s true of the Get Up Stand Up. It is definitely weighted toward the bass end of the spectrum and if you don’t like that, there’s no EQ control to tweak it. The treble is less pronounced and on some tracks, I could detect hints of compression. The guitar riff on Blondie’s “Call Me” is one example.
The Fi50 can’t quite get as low as the Get Up Stand Up, but it’s no slouch for bass performance. The wood cabinet adds some warmth to tracks, the drivers are nicely punchy, and they’re spaced widely enough to actually add a little depth.
Both of these are nice speaker systems, especially for the money. From my perspective, the House of Marley Get Up Stand Up has a big edge in visual appeal—the walnut veneer and bent wood design is pretty stunning. However, the Fluance Fi50 can also stand out in a crowd (although I’d pick the Lucky Bamboo finish to maximize its retro look) and its sound is brighter, cleaner, and has a little more depth that the Get Up Stand Up. Add in the price difference, and the Fluance Fi50 comes out looking like a real bargain.
Disclosure: Fluance and House of Marley provided speakers for review purposes.