The Fluance XL5F 3-Way Floorstanding Loudspeaker Reviewed

Fluance XL5F High Performance 3-way Floorstanding Speakers
Fluance

The trend these days for many home theater speaker systems is for bookshelf-size speakers to serve the front, center, and surround channels, with an added subwoofer for the added deep bass role.

However, as good as many of of those systems sound, when it comes to two-channel stereo music listening, sometimes they come up short. In other words, if you are both an avid movie watcher and serious music listener it is sometimes desirable to have large floor standing speakers for front left and right channels, instead of bookshelves.

With that in mind, independent speaker maker Fluance offers up the 40-inch high XL5F 3-Way floor standing loudspeaker.

The 3-way designation means that XL5F houses three types of speaker drivers within the same cabinet that are assigned specific roles in the sound reproduction process. There is a tweeter for the high frequencies, a midrange for vocals and other sounds within that frequency range, and a woofer that reproduces lower frequencies.

For two-channel stereo listening, this arrangement, if designed well, can work fine. However, within a home theater listening environment, although the woofers in a good floor standing speaker can be effective for the bass frequencies, adding a subwoofer to the mix helps with the extremely low-frequency effects (referred to as LFE) that may be present in many films.

Setup and Use

The Fluance XL5F can be set up in several ways.

  • As a speaker pair for a two-channel stereo audio setup.
  • As the front left and right speakers in a home 5.1 (or more) channel speaker setup (either with or without a subwoofer).
  • As a Bi-Wired or Bi-Amped speaker set in either a two-channel or 5.1 (or more) channel speaker setup.

In evaluating the Fluance XL5F I opted for a straight stereo setup, using just the XL5F's in both traditional and bi-wire/bi-amp configurations, as well as 5.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos setup, using the Fluance XL5F speakers as front left and right front channels, a Klipsch C-2 as the center channel, Fluance XLBP dipole speakers as the left and right surround channels, and two Onkyo SKH-410 vertically firing speaker modules for the Dolby Atmos height channels.

For the subwoofer, I used a Klipsch Synergy Sub 10. However, I also used a setup where the Klipsch subwoofer was removed and relied on the woofers of the XL5F for the bass output.

The home theater receiver I used was the Onkyo TX-NR555 (on review loan) which enabled to me both listen to the Fluance XL5F's within a Dolby Atmos environment as well as in a straight two-channel stereo mode. The TX-NR555 also has the capability to take advantage of the Bi-Wiring and Bi-Amping speaker connection options. I set the two Onkyo SKH-410 modules on top the Fluance XL5F's.

Ideally, it is best to use the same brand loudspeakers throughout, but as a reviewer, I end up getting a lot of different stuff in, thus the "collection" used in this review. I used the Onkyo TX-NR555's AccuEQ room calibration system, plus some additional tweaking using a sound meter to get the best possible sonic relationship between the listening position, room characteristics, and all the speakers used in the system.

The primary external source device I used for this review was OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Disc player, which was used not only for playing Blu-ray discs but DVDs/CDs/SACDs/DVD-Audio Discs).

The Listening Experience

Going into my review of the Fluance XL5F's I was not only reviewing those speakers, but I was also checking out the Onkyo TX-NR555 receiver and the SKH-410 vertically firing speaker modules at the same time.

However, the comments to follow pertain specifically to my impressions of the Fluance XL5F's in two-channel stereo and surround sound listening modes.

Running the Audio Test portion of the Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics Test Disc (Blu-ray Disc version) (Available on Amazon), the were able to produce a faintly audible tone starting at just below 32Hz with a usable low-frequency output at about 40Hz, and a strong audio output beginning above 45Hz. Continuing up with the test tones, the transition from bass through the midrange and onto the high frequencies was smooth.

These results are actually very good, for either a stereo or home theater setup.

There is plenty of low-end response for use in straight two-channel stereo configuration, and actually, enough low response for a home theater setup, if you live in an apartment or small condo, have sensitive neighbors, or just think that having a subwoofer is a little overkill.

As a stereo pair, the front soundstage was wide, with good channel separation, and vocals were anchored well in the center as they should be for good stereo music reproduction. The midrange was full-bodied and clean.

In a "non-subwoofer" stereo setup, I found that the XL5F's bottom end was more than adequate for music CDs with prominent bass tracks, such as Nora Jones' - Come Away With Me, Sade's - Soldier of Love.

Also, as part of a "non-subwoofer" surround sound setup, the XL5F's did surprisingly well in the bass department with movie soundtracks such as Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, In The Heart of The Sea, Jupiter Ascending (Dolby Atmos), The Huntsman - Winter's War, and Pacific Rim.

However, although providing a satisfactory result in a "subwoofer-less" surround sound setup, combining the XL5F's with a subwoofer is still the best option for movie moving if you want thundering, deep, bass when that information is provided by the source. I found that to be the case when I included the Klipsch Sub10 in the review setup.

On the high-frequency end, the XL5F's provide a very good presence for percussion (music) and transient sounds (movie effects), but can sometimes exhibit some brittleness.

Setup Tip: If you are using the XL5F's in a 5.1, 7.1, or Dolby Atmos/DTS:X home theater speaker setup, and your home theater receiver has an automatic speaker setup/room correction program, and if you are not using a subwoofer - set your front left and right speakers to Full Range or Large, if that option is available.

However, if you have a subwoofer, even though the XL5F's are floor-standing speakers, set your speakers to Small and let the setup program determine the appropriate crossover frequency.

Also, another option you might have is to tell your home theater receiver that want the low frequencies to come out of both the XL5F's and the Subwoofer (sometimes designated as LFE+Main).

The thing to do is experiment see which of the above options delivers the best, lowest, bass response).

Also, when used as main speakers in a home theater setup, I found that the XL5F's did a very good of directing sound into the room and blended well with the Fluance XLBP surround speakers, and for Dolby Atmos, also blended well with Onkyo modules. In addition, the top surface of the XL5F's provided plenty of room to accommodate the Onkyo Dolby Atmos modules (should work with most other branded modules as well).

Final Take

Listening to the XL5F's for an extended period of time, I was very pleased with the results. However, I did not perceive any performance difference when using the Bi-Amp or Bi-Wire connection options with the Onkyo TX-NR555 home theater receiver. That being said, I found that the XL5F's sounded very good in all the setups I used - especially when you consider the features and sound quality they offer for less than $600 a pair (speakers may be sold as single units or pairs - check listings).

However, no speaker is perfect, and although XL5F's are very flexible in terms of setup and use, and their sound quality, although very good (see "pros" below), didn't quite match the cleaner highs, midrange presence, and tighter bass of the floor standing speakers I have in my own "collection" which includes a pair of Klipsch Synergy F2's and a pair of JBL Balboa 30s (both the Klipsch and JBL's are no longer in production - and when they were new, carried higher prices than the Fluance XL5F's).

Fluance XL5F Pros

  • Stylish floor standing speaker design.
  • Good midrange and strong low-frequency output, detailed highs.
  • Bi-Wire/Bi-Amp connection options.
  • Great price.

Fluance XL5F Cons

  • Highs can sometimes sound a little brittle on CD music playback.
  • Did not notice any performance difference between traditional, bi-wire, bi-amp connection configurations using the Onkyo TX-NR555 home theater receiver.
  • Slightly top-heavy physical design.

Taking all into consideration, if you are looking for a set of floor standing speakers for a stereo or home theater system, and don't have a lot of cash, the Fluance XL5F is definitely an option to consider.

Fluance XL5F Product Specifications

  • 5-inch Mid-Range (Polymer treated with Butyl Rubber edges)
  • 6.5-inch woofer (same polymer and rubber construction as the Mid-range speakers), with additional support via rear, mounted port for an extended low-frequency response (Bass Reflex Design).
  • 1-inch Neodymium Ferrofluid Cooled Balanced Dome Tweeters
  • Frequency Response range is stated as 45Hz to 20khz.
  • Crossovers at 580Hz (woofer-to-midrange) and 4,600 Hz (midrange to tweeter).
  • Sensitivity 88 db.
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Bi-Wire/Bi-Amp speaker terminals
  • Power handling is rated at 40 to 200 Watts
  • Dimensions (H x W x D) 40.2 x 9.2 x 11.8 inches, Weight 29.5 pounds.
  • What Comes In The Box (in addition to the speakers): Eight Isolation Floor Spikes for Hardwood or Carpeted Floors, Instruction Manual, Lifetime Customer Support/Parts and Labor Warranty.

Buy From Amazon (Available in Mahogany, Dark Walnut, or Black Ash).

For more on Fluance speakers, read my previous review of their 5.1 channel XL Series speaker system and XLBP Bipole Surround Speakers

Additional Movies and Music Used In Association With This Review

Blu-ray Discs: The Age of Adaline, American Sniper, Battleship, Gravity: Diamond Luxe Edition, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Unbroken

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, John Wick, 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 - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie.

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

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