Last summer, I reviewed the latest generation of powered bookshelf speakers from Canada’s Fluance. The Ai41 speakers performed extremely well, especially when you consider their very reasonable $249.99 price tag. Highlights included a Class D digital amplifier rated at 45 watts per channel, a two-way design with 5-inch woven glass fiber woofers and 1-inch silk soft-dome neodymium ferrofluid-cooled tweeters, a bass-ported and acoustically tuned MDF cabinet, Bluetooth 5.0, and a remote with bass and treble adjustment.
The Ai41s are a solid deal. However, the Fluance Ai61 powered bookshelf speakers—which are the subject of this review—make a strong case for spending an extra 50 bucks. They offer everything the Ai41s do, but more of it.
Bigger Woofers for Deeper Bass
The Ai61 speakers are equipped with the same woven glass fiber woofer you’ll find in the smaller speaker, but instead of a 5-inch cone, in the Ai61s it’s a 6.5-inch cone. The larger woofer improves the bass response, providing a little more low-end muscle compared to the smaller speaker. The DSP-enhanced frequency response for these speakers is 32Hz to 20kHz.
Want even more bass? Like the Ai41 speakers, the Fluance Ai61s are equipped with a subwoofer output port. Plug in an optional powered subwoofer, and you’ll be able to really shake the walls.
The Fluance Ai41 speakers are equipped with a 90-watt amplifier. Having 45 watts per channel on tap for a compact stereo system means the music volume can get very loud. The Ai61 speakers get a 120-watt amplifier, for 60 watts per channel. When I tested the Ai41 speakers, they could easily play music to fill a large room without the volume causing any distortion. With Ai61 powered bookshelf speakers, I could crank up music that filled the entire floor (and more) at impressive volume.
Don’t forget, the wireless remote Fluance includes makes it easy to control volume as well as bass and treble from across the room.
The Ai 61 speakers gain a USB-C input to complement the RCA AUX and TOSLINK optical inputs. This allows for an all-digital connection to a source like a computer.
Downside: You’ll Need Slightly More Space
Increasing the driver size and giving the larger driver more room to move air means increasing the speaker enclosure space. The Fluance Ai61 speakers measure 13.1 inches tall by 7.8 inches wide, and 9.2 inches deep. That makes them noticeable larger than the Ai41s (at 10.9 x 6.5 x 7.6-inches). They will still fit on my bookshelves, but it’s pretty close—especially the increased depth.
For many potential buyers, the downside to the Ai61 speakers won’t be an issue. However, if you’re setting up a system in tight quarters, the extra space required by the larger speakers might be the tipping point. In which case, stick with the Fluance Ai41s.
Fluance Ai61 Recommendation: An Extra $50 Well-Spent
Fluance designs powered bookshelf speakers that make a great anchor as a compact, 2-channel stereo system. Add one of the company’s turntables with a switchable pre-amp (like the Fluance RT80 reviewed in 2021) and you have the perfect system to enjoy your record collection—plus the convenience of Bluetooth wireless streaming, and even optical input for your TV.
The Fluance Ai61 powered bookshelf speakers are an easy recommendation. For an extra $50 over the Ai41s, you get a bigger woofer, deeper bass, more power, and USB-C input. That’s a small premium to pay for all the extras you get. And at $299.99 these powered bookshelf speakers still cost less than many portable Bluetooth speakers.
Disclosure: Fluance provided speakers for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.