Professional Audio With Limits
The audio side of the spectrum is one that is incredibly important to gaming, even if it doesn’t get the same, easy priority evaluation that graphics do. Most people can easily tell the difference between the original rendering Final Fantasy characters like Cloud on the PS1 and Tidus on the PS2, but when it comes to gauging the difference in audio quality, things can get a bit more subtle. Some people claim that having discerning taste in sound is strictly the realm of audiophiles, but companies like Fluance are here to challenge that notion. They are a Canadian company trying to provide quality sound at affordable prices, and they’ve released a wide range of products to accomplish this. One of those products is a Bluetooth speaker system, and while there’s no question of how good the sound is, there are plenty of questions about its actual utility.
The Fluance Fi30 is a tentative first step for users entering the world of the audiophile. All the basics for outstanding sound are here, at a price range of only $150. It’s a small stereo speaker system that’s made out of MDF audio grade wood, which means Fluance cared enough about the sound to use building materials that wouldn’t distort or resonate with the sound coming from its speakers. Unlike most consumer products, the speakers for the Fi30 also have a “break-in” period, which, again, is something that will be familiar to audiophiles. This simply means that components of the speaker have to be used continuously (in this case, roughly ten hours) before they reach peak operational efficiency. Most of this will be new to more casual consumers used to simply having their sound play out, but for audiophiles, the type of construction material used, and the break in period are all aspects of ensuring that the sound is as clean and good as it gets.
And on that front, the Fi30 delivers. From a pure audio perspective—especially considering the price—this is an impressive speaker set. Once properly broken in, this delivers fantastic, rich, warm sound that nicely represents all the ranges, whether it’s bass, mids and highs. In many ways, despite the relatively cheaper price, the Fluance Fi30’s sound rivals many mid-range and high end speakers, and sits firmly near the top of the heap when it comes to smaller, all-in-one stereo speaker solutions. It really does sound that good.
Where the problems with the Fi30 come in are the usage of this little speaker system. The system is designed with Bluetooth connectivity and is meant to pair with a Bluetooth enabled device such as a smartphone, tablet or even portable gaming system, like the PlayStation Vita. This means that the Fluance Fi30 has been designed around a VERY specific audience. It’s for people that want tip-top audio quality from a Bluetooth ready device, perhaps for use in the office or the home. At $150, you’re paying a relatively low price for a quality audio experience, but this is not a particularly versatile or portable speaker solution despite its high audio quality. It’s very specific purpose limits the amount of usage you’ll get from it, but if you have a phone or tablet with an extensive ripped CD collection, or are willing to simply plug your device in via 3.5 mm audio jack (thus negating its Bluetooth functionality entirely and defeating its intended purpose) then there’s a lot of bang for your buck in terms of sound quality.
If you would like to purchase this speaker system, you can find them at online at Fluance.com