Canada’s Fluance is an audio brand that has made waves in recent years for its excellent turntables, but the company cut its teeth making speakers. So it’s not surprising that Fluance offers a line of powered bookshelf speakers. The company just released new models, and I had the opportunity to test the new Ai41 powered bookshelf speakers.
Easy Setup, Flexible Inputs
If you’ve had any experience with powered speakers, you know the drill. One speaker is slightly heavier as it houses the amplifier. This speaker also has a power and volume knob and a power input. It plugs into a wall outlet, but there is no power brick to deal with and Fluance includes a 6-foot power cable.
To connect the speakers, there is an 8-foot length of 18 gauge speaker wire in the box. That should be plenty of length to get some stereo separation. Because these powered speakers use standard binding posts and speaker wire, you can easily replace the wire if you want additional length.
In terms of setup, get some distance between the speakers if possible (for enhanced stereo effect), and position them at least a few inches from a wall to give the rear bass ports sufficient space. That’s about it. These speakers are small enough to place on a bookshelf or desk, and you can mount them on stands if you want.
Fluance offers considerable flexibility for getting audio into the Ai41s. There are dual RCA jacks, so you can connect pretty much any audio source including a CD player, PC, or turntable (so long as it has a PHONO pre-amplifier). The optical TOSLINK input provides a pure digital connection for TVs. There is also Bluetooth 5.0, so you can stream your favorite music service using a mobile device.
For fans of thumping bass, there is also a subwoofer output. There are no speaker grills included with the Ai41s, so don’t position them anywhere that the drivers might be subject to being accidentally hit.
I wouldn’t expect much from an amplifier or receiver and a pair of speakers that cost $250. However, Fluance managed to work some real magic with Ai41 powered bookshelf speakers. They’re equipped with 5-inch woofers, 1-inch tweeters, and a Class D amplifier rated at 45W per channel. The audio is further enhanced by a DSP.
The result? You’re not going to mistake this for an audiophile system, but it sounds good. Far better than a package with this price should. The tweeters deliver crisp high notes, while the 5-inch woofers deliver on the midrange, with a decent bass showing. (If you want more low-end, there is an output for an optional subwoofer.) With the included remote control, you can adjust bass and treble to fine-tune the sound. And don’t forget, there is actual stereo separation—something you’re not going to get from any single portable wireless speaker, no matter how advanced its DSP. With a total of 90W of power on tap, these can pump out the volume as well. And they do so while eliminating the space and cost of a standalone amplifier or receiver.
Pair the Ai40 powered bookshelf speakers with the Fluance RT80 turntable I reviewed earlier this year (it’s equipped with an integrated PHONO pre-amp) and you have a very capable, two-channel stereo, vinyl listening setup—with Bluetooth streaming—for under $500.
Fluance Ai41 Powered Bookshelf Speakers Key Specs
• 5-inch woven glass fiber woofers
• 1-inch silk soft-dome neodymium ferrofluid-cooled tweeters
• Class D digital amplifier rated at 45W per channel
• Acoustically tuned MDF wood cabinets with rear bass port
• Frequency response 35Hz – 20KHz (DSP enhanced)
• Bass and treble adjustable with remote
• RCA and Optical TOSLINK inputs
• Bluetooth 5.0
• Subwoofer output
• 10.9 x 6.5 x 7.6-inches
• Available in black ash, black walnut, white bamboo, and white walnut finishes
• Includes remote, 2 x AAA batteries 8ft 18 gauge speaker wire
• 2-year warranty
• MSRP $249.99
There are plenty of applications for powered bookshelf speakers. Everything from computer speakers to a home theater upgrade to a replacement for a component stereo system.
The Fluance Ai41 speakers are equipped to handle all of these scenarios in a compact, powerful package, with a $249.99 price tag that undercuts many portable wireless speakers. If you’re shopping for powered bookshelf speakers and want to stick to a reasonable budget, these should be on your list.
if you want speakers with a bit more power and bass kick, Fluance also sells the Ai61 powered bookshelf speakers, which offer larger 6.5-inch woofers and an amplifier delivering 60W per channel for $50 more.
Disclosure: Fluance provided speakers for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.