The Fluance Fi30 is the company’s first Bluetooth-only speaker. It sells for $149.99, and unlike other Bluetooth speakers, which generally cost more and offer less oomph, this one will not fit in your pocket or your bookbag. In fact, it’s designed to sit on your office desk, or a shelf at home, making it a top-rated Bluetooth speaker.
Okay, so we know it’s not portable, which is both good and bad. Bad, because that means an AC plug (read: no battery option) needs to be nearby. Which is to say you can’t take it to the beach with you. Good, because the sound quality of the Fi30 far and away exceeds any comparably priced Bluetooth speaker, especially the portable ones.
Read: Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Available in a variety of finishes, including a natural wood version, the Fi30 is simple and sleek. My review unit came in a gloss piano black, and without too close of an examination the craftsmanship is exceptional, especially for the money. On the back is a Bluetooth reset button, an AUX input, a USB port for charging 5v devices, and a power on/off switch. Pretty straightforward. In other words, there isn’t any playback control, a remote, and no volume control directly on the unit. Nope, all of these things are administered via the Bluetooth-connected device. Check out our Edifier Prisma Bt 2.1 Bluetooth Speakers review for an equally elegant Bluetooth speaker.
Connecting a handset or tablet is a straightforward process that requires a few button presses. A chime will denote once the device has been paired with the Fi30, which is handy when you come back into the room it’s in.
Because the Fi30 is Bluetooth, it will work with any music streaming service. The range is said to be 33 feet and I’d have to say that is accurate, even without a direct line of sight. It’s also AptX compatible, though few Android handsets, and to my understanding, the iPhone doesn’t support this particular codec.
No matter, because the sound quality, despite the one small aforementioned shortcoming, is relatively good. It’s always difficult to quantify a speaker in writing, but again, for the money, it’s above and beyond acceptable. The lows are a bit lacking in some respects, but amplitude is formidable as is the clarity. In my testing, which has largely been casual, I haven’t detected any distortion or negative resonance at loud volumes, which goes to show how well the Fi30 is made.
The box, which houses the speakers, doesn’t rattle around, and after a few weeks shows no signs of wear, though its glossy black finish shows dust and fingerprints relatively easily. No matter, as it’s easy enough to clean off with a microfiber towel or an equivalent thereof. You can go through our Fugoo Sport Bluetooth Speaker review for a Bluetooth speaker that comes with added protection.
The lack of controls directly on the speaker isn’t that off-putting, though there have been a few times I’ve wanted to turn the volume down and had to scramble to find my phone. There is no speakerphone option unlike the portable speakers from Jawbone and those alike. But it’s really a moot issue since the Fluance Fi30 remains in a fixed position.
So, which one to buy: a portable Bluetooth speaker (like the Jawbone Big Jambox) or the Fluance Fi30? I’m not sure they’re mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re more complementary since both fit well into what is ostensibly your Bluetooth ecosystem. If you aren’t already invested in a speaker system, of any sort, and find yourself in need of a simple solution, you really don’t have to look further than Fluance’s exceptionally well-made Fi30.