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Fluance has made a name for themselves over the past 20 years by offering enthusiasts high value – high performance loudspeakers for both two channel audio as well as home theatre and their new reference series is no exception. So settle in because today we are taking an in depth look at Fluances new XL8F reference series floorstanding loudspeaker.
HOW DOES THE FLUANCE XL8F LOOK ?
The reference series sits in the middle of Fluance’s lineup of loudspeakers; right between their Elite and Signature Series. Now all of the reference speakers come in your choice of two finishes black ash, or walnut wood veneer.
But all of the reference series come with a high gloss black front baffle as well as magnetic removable grills. And we have been enjoying the tower speakers with their matching center and bookshelf loudspeakers (X8LS) serving as surrounds.
While the reference series speaker; specifically the towers we are talking about today may look like their predecessors, they have been completely re-engineered from the ground up. From a style standpoint, the new reference series tower has been made to look more streamlined and modern.
While this form factor is largely unchanged, it is the attention to detail throughout that impresses me most. Fluance has managed to make the front baffle of this loudspeaker largely seamless. They went into great lengths to hide any and all mounting hardware for 2020. It is a look that is usually reserved for costlier loudspeakers.
The contrast between the black front baffle and the new white woven drivers is especially nice and adds a bit of graphic punch. beyond mere cosmetic changes. A lot has been done to the new reference series towers to differentiate them from the previous model by 35 hertz, which in some rooms may make the need for an outboard subwoofer completely optional.
THE FLUANCE XL8F SOUND EXPERIENCE
This saves you on space as well as money. I can say from firsthand experience that their reference series towers are not lacking in the bass department. And in our room, no subwoofer was required. In fact, when watching cinematic sequences like the Mars landing from Netflix, the reference series towers transported us to the cockpit of that spacecraft for one heck of a visceral experience.
These XL8F reference series towers utilise Dual six and a half inch woven mid range drivers configured in a unique style array. This means that the tweeter sits between the matching mid range drivers for more coherence. Now fluance has moved to a new woven design which cuts down on vibrations while improving its linear response.
If you are a fan of acoustic music, maybe a vocalist or you just like your favourite actors to have a little bit more of a natural tone, not to mention in room presence, I think you are really going to like what Fluance has done here with respect to the mid range. The silk dome tweeter used in the signature line is carried over into the reference line here and no sound effect will escape this particular tweeter as it extends all the way up to 25 kilohertz.
We are big fans of silk dome tweeters, and that when implemented correctly, a silk dome tweeter can sound just as good as a tweeter with more esoteric materials. And that has been our experience as it relates to the reference series tweeter here. Not to mention it just plays well with a wide range of source material.
The speaker cabinet is incredibly inert and this is thanks to its internal bracing. Now Fluance did experiment at some length with a lot of different bracing schemes with this tower speaker to cut down on unwanted low end resonances. And for a budget minded loudspeaker, it is incredibly well dampened especially around the midrange and tweeter section.
Now it utilises dual rear ports to augment its bass response; not to mention cut down on low end resonance. And while our attention is on the rear of the speaker, this X8LF reference series has gold plated five way binding posts. It is also bi-wire and bi-amp capable.
Another nice touch both visually and performance wise is the inclusion of copper spikes. Now copper spikes will help eliminate vibrations and distortions, which is an absolute must for a loudspeaker with as much bass power as the reference series tower.
Stepping away from the speakers design and build quality, the reference series tower looks and sounds like a full range loudspeaker. The fact that it pulls us off passively is impressive. If anything, Fluance’s reported frequency response claims here seem conservative because the low end extension goes all the way down to 35 hertz. The experience you get from hearing that feels palpable. If anything, this loudspeaker has better bass response than a lot of costlier speakers.
And it is that added bass response that lends a greater sense of scale and grandeur to both music and movies. While it can be easy to get caught up in their bass response, we cannot overlook its mid range. If you like a fuller, way out but not too romanticised mid range, I think you are really gonna like the new mid range drivers here.
The mid range easily matches the bass in terms of scale, so there are not these huge gaps between the two. As a result, vocals have a more true to life sound in terms of their scale in weight with good detail throughout.
And the tweeter that is carried over from the Signature Series is a nice addition here. It really hits a sweet spot for me as I consider it to be very balanced and detailed, but not too critical. So when I listen to recordings that I know to be poor or less than, it does not fall to pieces or become too aggressive to be rolled off as to lack extension or shimmer. The towers can serve up a pretty solid soundstage, both with music and movies. Centre imaging and detail throughout are both great. I have been especially impressed with these speakers’ dynamic prowess, mainly our ability to get dynamics out of it very easily using budget gear like our Sony 1080 av receiver.
In truth, it has been easy to drive using affordable electronics, which is not always the case with a lot of full range tower loudspeakers. On a whole, the X8LF reference series towers are just an elegant easy to drive loudspeaker that I think enthusiasts are going to get a lot of enjoyment out of. For an asking price of just under $1000, they are an exceptional value.
Fluance paid attention to the little details here from the seamless front baffle to the hidden mounting hardware. Heck, that little Canadian flag on the back goes a long way in making an affordable speaker look and feel more high end.
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