Fluance XL Series 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System Review

Surround Sound Speaker System on a Budget

Fluance XL Series 5.1 Speaker System with DB150 Subwoofer - Photo - Front View - Grills On
Fluance XL Series High Performance 5.1 Surround Sound Home Theater Speaker System with DB150 Powered Subwoofer - Photo - Front View - Grills On. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Fluance is one of a growing number of independent speaker makers that sell their products internet-direct via their own website or specified partner e-commerce sites, with an emphasis to provide a quality product at low prices, bypassing the usual retailer dealer network, and support their brand with fast shipping, a lifetime warranty, and toll-free customer support.

The Fluance XL Series 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System one their product offerings that is designed to provide big home theater sound for budget-conscious consumers. For a modest price of $729.99, this System features a visually pleasing somewhat compact center and satellite speaker design, combined with a large 10-inch powered subwoofer. For all the details, keep reading this review.

Fluance Speaker System Overview

XL7C Center Channel Speaker

The XL7C Center Channel Speaker speaker is a 2-Way bass reflex design that incorporates two 5-inch Bass/Midrange drivers, a 1-inch tweeter, and two rear facing ports for an extended low-frequency response.

The speaker features MDF (medium density fiberboard) construction with an external mahogany finish, weighs a hefty 13.8 lbs, and is 6.9-inches high, 18.5-inches wide, and is 9-inches deep.

XL7S Satellite Speakers

The XL7S satellite speakers are a 2-Way Bass Reflex Design that incorporates one 5-inch Bass/Midrange driver, a 1-inch tweeter, and two front facing ports for extended low-frequency output.

The speakers feature the same MDF construction and mahogany finish as the XL7C mentioned above. Each speaker is 11.4-inches high, 8.1-inches wide, and 9-inches deep and each has a weight of 8.6 pounds.

DB150 Powered Subwoofer

The DB150 Powered Subwoofer included in the Fluance XL Series 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System has a bass reflex design as evidenced by the combination of the 10-inch front firing driver in combination with two down-facing ports. The cabinet features MDF construction and has a black finish.

The DB150's amplifier is rated to deliver 150 watts of continuous power and weighs 39.40 pounds. The cabinet dimensions are 18.5-inches high, 13-inches wide, and 16.5-inches deep.

Additional Components Used in this Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 used for comparison (5.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3's, Klipsch C-2 Center, and Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Video Display: Panasonic TC-L42E60 42-inch LED/LCD TV (on review loan).

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High-Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Software Used

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - A Beach Full of Shells, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Audio Performance - XL7C Center Channel and XL7S Satellite Speakers

The XL7C Center Channel and XL7S Satellite Speakers, both provided a very good sound listening experience. The XL7C provides a solid anchor for vocals and dialog.

The XL7C, in combination with XL7S satellites, provide a very good surround sound listening experience. The emphasis with the XL7C is on the mid-range, which is most important with vocals and dialog but tapers off on the extreme high frequencies. While I would have preferred more detail with the reproduction of transient and percussive effects, the center and satellites are not overly bright which can sometimes lead to more brittle-sounding highs. The satellites provided smoothness and very good directional placement of sound effects, as well as providing an immersive sound field for movies and music in a 5 channel configuration.

Using the Digital Video Essentials Disc, the observed low-end audible frequency on XL7C and XL7S was about 75 Hz, with usable audio output beginning from between 80 and 90Hz, which provides the needed low end to blend with the DB150 subwoofer.

Audio Performance - DB150 Subwoofer

In contrast to the mahogany finish of the XL7C and XL7S speakers, the DB150 is a large black box. On the outside, the subwoofer looks well constructed and appears equipped to produce strong bass output, but appearances can be deceiving. Even though the DB150 is a rather large subwoofer with a 150-watt amplifier that is capable of pumping out a lot of volumes, it didn't produce the texture and definition of the comparison subwoofers.

The combination of its front facing 10-inch driver and two ports delivers strong bass response down to about 60Hz, decreasing dramatically down to its lowest audible point of about 40Hz, as observed using the audio tests provided on the Digital Video Essentials Disc.

This observation bore out in real world listening in several bass-heavy examples, including the bass slide on Heart's Magic Man, which I use often as low-frequency output test. The bass output of the DB150 softened considerably just before you are supposed to experience the bottom point of the bass slide, which leaves you wondering where it went. Also, Sade's The Moon and the Sky from the CD Soldier of Love, which contains a very deep bass track, sounded boomy and hollow on the bottom end with the DB150.

The DB150 was also a little too boomy in the 80-100Hz range. One example of boominess was evident in the opening ship-to-ship battle scene in Master and Commander. Although the surround effects of wood splintering and crew vocalizations are projected well by the center and surround speakers, the canon fire is just not as well-defined or tight as with the comparison subwoofers.

The DB150 Subwoofer, did not go down to the extreme low end at the same output level as the Klipsch (of course the Klipsch has a much more powerful amplifier), or ES10i (which has a slightly less rated power output, but produced slightly stronger output at lower bass frequencies and was less boomy bass than the DB150), comparison subs. It is also interesting to note that both comparison subs are physically smaller than the DB150.

On the other hand, the DB150 did provide a good transition to the upper bass/lower midrange response of the XL7C and XL7S center and satellite speakers.

What I Liked About Fluance XL Series 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

1. The Center and satellite speakers project sound into the room well, which is perfect for surround sound listening.

2. The XL7C does a good job of anchoring dialog and vocals.

3. The XL7S satellite project both localized and immersive sound well.

4. Smooth transition between the upper-frequency range of the DB1150 subwoofer and the center and satellite speakers.

What I Didn't Like About Fluance XL Series 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

1. Subwoofer doesn't provide audible bass below 40Hz and is boomy in its upper bass range.

2. Would have liked to see sub preamp output on the DB150 for the option of connecting an additional subwoofer.

3. I would like high-level speaker outputs on the DB150 for use with stereo and AV receivers that do not have a subwoofer preamp output that would allow connection from the receiver to the subwoofer and from the subwoofer to the front left/right speakers.

4. Although the center and satellite speakers have a mahogany finish, the subwoofer is only available in black.

Final Take

The Fluance XL Series 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System as currently configured is a mixed-bag. On the one hand, the system is very well constructed, with build quality that you would find more expensive system. Also, the performance of the center and satellite speakers were very satisfying for the price.

On the other hand, the weakness of the system is the DB150 subwoofer. Although it is well-constructed and large, its black finish contrasts from the more upscale look of the mahogany finish on the XL7C and XL7S speakers, and its sonic performance comes up short at the lowest bass frequencies.

For the system price tag of $729.99, the Fluance XL Series 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System is worth considering, but you might be better off purchasing the XL7C ($119.99 Check Price) and XL7S ($179.99 pr - Check Price) satellite speakers separately and then spend $200-250 on a different subwoofer. On other hand, if you like bass that is more loud and boomy than deep and tight, the DB150 might work well for you (Check Price).

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.