Fluance XL8F review: Home theater heart stoppers

Way again in 1999 two corporations that might loom giant in CNET’s check labs received their begin: Aperion Audio and Fluance. While Aperion has stayed on its residence theater path during the last couple many years, Fluance has branched out to units such because the RT82 turntable, winner of our Editors’ Choice award. The firm is on an actual tear, and the XL8F floor-standing speaker is the newest instance.


  • Big, generously proportioned audio system
  • Excellent sound high quality good for lengthy binge classes
  • Nothing holds a candle to it for the cash

Don’t Like

  • Could be smoother, particularly with its decrease register
  • Dustcaps did not fairly line up

The XL8 range is an economical residence theater speaker vary incorporating rears, facilities and bookshelves, led by these spectacular floor-standers. The match and end of the XL8F is opulent for $600 (£600) a pair, and its pure dimension is unmatched by different audio system at its degree. The sound of the XL8F is open and thrilling, however by no means shrill, and when fed a film soundtrack these audio system merely zing. They’re no slouch with music both.

The XL8 presents a lot better worth than Fluance’s flagship $800 Signature series and a greater design too. The sound can be higher balanced than what I recall from the Signature vary.

While the identical cash will buy you a really good bookshelf speaker from title manufacturers like Elac or Klipsch, should you actually need the utmost speaker in your cash, the large Fluance XL8F has no equal.

Design and options

Twin 6.5-inch glass fiber drivers flank a 1-inch gentle dome tweeter.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Fluance XL8F is a contemporary three-way floor-stander nevertheless it presents as a 2.5-way, with a bass driver hidden within the base. The Fluance has two, 6.5-inch glass-fiber drivers separated by a 1-inch cloth tweeter (referred to as a D’Appolito configuration, named after the designer who perfected the association, Joseph D’Appolito). I did discover that one of many mid driver’s mud caps appeared a little bit tough when seen up shut — they’re all constructed from a chunk of glass fiber, and this one wasn’t glued on sq.. But from the sofa I could not actually inform.

Elsewhere the end is exemplary, and I want the design to the awkward Signature sequence with its tiny, yellow midrange driver on the high. The XL8F towers are fairly tall at 46 inches excessive, just one.5 inches shorter than the monster Signature. They’re deep, too, with a view to accommodate that bottom-mounted 8-inch bass driver. 


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The speaker cupboard tapers on the again, to scale back inside reflections, and culminates in two rear bass ports (so it really works higher should you depart a number of ft distance from the wall). The entrance baffle incorporates a piano-black end in a selection of both black ash or walnut for the edges. 

The fixtures are simply as luxurious as the remainder of the speaker, beginning with a magnetically attaching grille. The gold plated binding posts are solid-looking and there are two units in case you wish to experiment with bi-wiring or bi-amping.

The audio system are rated at a 87dB sensitivity, which means they might be pushed by most receivers or amps, and are able to a 35Hz-25KHz frequency response.

While no-one is absolutely auditioning audio system in shops in the intervening time, the corporate helpfully presents a 30-day a refund trial on audio system purchased by way of its web site.

How does it sound?

As I anticipate from a speaker with a bottom-firing bass driver, the Fluance has a giant, daring sound, nevertheless it’s additionally able to subtlety I did not anticipate. That midrange-tweeter-midrange association is ready to reproduce loads of element in music and flicks, with a generously open character. I in contrast the speaker to my go-to reference speaker, the $900 Q Acoustics 3050i and located that the Fluance sounded higher in a number of key areas, particularly when it got here to watching movies.

The Fluance XL8F’s mixture of deep bass and a revealing midrange made it an ideal associate for the foyer scene from The Matrix. This scene mixes balletic slow-mo, ricocheting bullet sound results and a pumping electro rating, and the Fluance welded them collectively in a satisfying method. Though the Q Acoustics was in a position to deal with the low-end portion higher, the Fluance delivered the shout of “Freeze” and its echoing tail in a extra revealing style.

Watching Avatar, the Fluance demonstrated its eager ear with the plush rainforests of Pandora. During the Thanator chase scene the press of Jake’s machine gun was extra jarring when he realized the Thanator needed a cat-person meal as a substitute of the elephant-like Hammerhead Titanothere. The sound of the chase was merely extra visceral when heard on the Fluance than its counterpart. In comparability, the Q Acoustics had been a little bit extra inert, extra bass-focused and barely much less thrilling general.

When it got here to music the 2 had been shut, however the Q Acoustics’ extra laid-back high quality and top-to-bottom consistency gave it a slight edge. I listened to all the things from Claude Debussy’s nocturnes to jazz to rock music, and located that the Fluance’s abilities lay in music with loads of element. The XL8F can actually provide you with a vivid sense of the efficiency area and make the audio system themselves disappear — so long as issues do not get too free. 

For instance, the opening moments of Phoebe Bridgers’ Know The End gave me goosebumps when heard by way of the Fluance, and this continued because the chorused electrical guitar slithered round behind the singer. At 2:45 the bass drum that propels the second half of the tune was deep and pulsing. Only when the tune received actually chaotic did the small print turn into a wash.

Surprisingly the Q Acoustics offered a distinct tune, and one which was in the end rather more satisfying. The tune’s intro guitars sounded greater, and as a substitute of staying in thrall they had been thrust outwards into the listening area, enveloping me. When the tune received hectic the audio system stored all the things in focus higher than the Fluence, and the 3050i’s eager midrange on the chanted vocals and the enraged “rahhhhhh” had been extra finely expressed.

Should you buy it?

Yes, you may buy your self a fairly killer soundbar for $600, however there is no method it may match the Fluance XL8F for both bodily presence or the flexibility to breed a thundering film soundtrack. There are few floor-standers that may do what the XL8F does — marry crushing bass energy with an open, detailed sound — and none of them price $600. The Q Acoustics 3050i is a extra refined speaker, particularly for music, nevertheless it prices $350 extra and it is not as well-designed. The Fluance XL8F presents an distinctive worth and in case your price range is underneath a grand, and you’ve got the room, these audio system needs to be on the high of your audition listing.

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