THE GOOD: The Fluance XLBP Bipolar speakers have great sound dispersion. The only thing you’ll hear is thick ambient atmosphere. Their excellent build quality belies their super affordable $199 price tag.

 

THE BAD: The XLBP’s mid-range can sound a little soft. Not ideal for front mains.

 

SUMMARY: When used as intended, the Fluance XLBP’s are fantastic surround speakers. Because of this, some may be tempted to use them as front mains. However, a good set of bookshelves or floorstanders would be a better option. Use these as surrounds and they will make your home theater come alive.

 

Fluance XLBP Wide Dispersion Bipolar Surround Sound Speakers for Home Theater

Price: $199.99

4.7 out of 5 stars (55 customer reviews)

2 used & new available from $199.99

 

Fluance XLBP Bipolar Speakers Review

Fluance XLBP Speakers

Fluance has become a dirty little secret in home theater circles. The Canadian speaker manufacturer has been producing near audiophile grade speakers the past few years at a fraction of the price of most of their competitors. Their XL line of speakers is their flagship line which has garnered high praise for their audio quality and value. When our review models of the Fluance XLBP Bipolar surround speakers came in I was eager to put them through their paces to see if they lived up to their reputation. I must say, after spending time with the XLBP’s  I walked away pretty impressed.

 

Our review Fluance XLBP’s came in double boxed and well protected with foam. Hoisting the XLBP’s from the box revealed that the speakers had a good amount of weight and heft to them. The XLBP speakers we had on loan were wrapped in a beautiful mahogany veneer. When the XL’s first went on sale, they were only available in mahogany however, Fluance has recently begun offering the XL line in a dark walnut finish as well.

Fluance XLBP Mahogany Finish

Examining the speakers closely the veneer was wrapped tightly around the speaker with no flaws or indications of shoddy craftsmanship.  Popping off the front grills revealed the black lacquer finish that coats the front face of the speakers. The black lacquer is a nice touch which gives the speakers a quality look and feel. On close inspection, the lacquer is not perfectly smooth. When compared to the SVS Prime series whose piano gloss finish was flawless and perfectly smooth, the XLBP’s have a slight texture to them. However, this could be by design and it doesn’t take away from the speaker’s beautiful appearance. When you place the grills back on, a three inch strip of the black lacquer is still visible running down the middle of the speaker.

 

The Fluance XLBP speakers use a Bipolar configuration which basically uses two full range speaker systems in one cabinet with the goal being to create an omnidirectional sound pattern. Each face of the XLBP’s house a 1 inch silk polymer dome tweeter with a 5 inch polymer mid-woofer. They have an estimated frequency response of  60Hz – 20KHz.

Fluance XLBP Drivers

Performance

The bipolar configuration of the Fluance XLBP’s is designed to create diffused sound in your listening area so that it’s difficult to pinpoint the location of the sound source. For this reason bipolar speakers have become popular for surround speakers where their chief function is to reproduce ambient and background sound effects in a home theater setting. If you look around the web you may come across some people who are using the Fluance XLBP’s as front mains. While this is possible, the diffuse nature of their sound reproduction isn’t ideal for music listening. Since these speakers aren’t intended to be used as front speakers, their performance as front mains won’t play a factor in their final score in this review. However, I do think anyone who’s considering using these as fronts should read on to find out how they fared.

 

The Positives

The XLBP’s create a wide spacious sound and perform well as surrounds. When viewing Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Hulk’s showdown with Tony’s Hulkbuster Iron Man armor gave the XLBP’s plenty of room to shine. In truth, the beauty of a bipole speaker is that it doesn’t draw attention to itself. A good bipole speaker should just vanish into the background leaving behind thick atmospheric sound which creates an immersive listening experience. This climactic battle between two of Marvel’s movie giants is full of layered ambient sounds. The Fluance XLBP’s did their job as they seemed to disappear leaving only a cacophony of crunching metal and crumbling debris.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road is my go to movie right now for testing audio systems. The soundtrack for Fury Road is vast and spacious. The XLBP’s, like they did with Avengers, faded into the background leaving behind only the sounds of screeching cars and screaming War Boys. The speakers blasted a wide sound field that created a super immersive experience. Fury Road’s directional sound effects came through with clear focus through the XLBP’s which resulted in me peeking over my shoulder on several occasions.

 

Bipolar speakers typically aren’t ideal for music listening as their ability to diffuse sound can sometimes strip acoustic tunes of their energy. Nonetheless, I had to check out what these babies could do in the music department. Right off the bat I noticed that the XLBP’s have better bass response than I expected. The low-end on Hozier’s Work Song track was forceful and punchy. Female vocals also came thru with surprising clarity and crispness. For bipolar speakers the Fluance XLBP’s performed better than I would have thought possible.

 

The Negatives

While the XLBP’s do have good treble response and surprisingly good bass, I did note that when listening to various Jazz tracks, instruments sounded slightly muffled. Although they had a spacious sound most instruments lacked focus. Also, male vocals sounded softer and had less energy. When compared to a good bookshelf speaker, the Fluance XLBP’s lacked focus and detail. All of these things could be attributed to the bipole nature of the speaker.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the Fluance XLBP’s do a great job as surround speakers. While you can certainly use them as front mains you’d be better off finding a good pair of bookshelves or towers for the fronts. If used as intended, I don’t think you’ll be able to find a better bipolar speaker on the market at this price.
 


Where to Buy:

See Price on Amazon

 



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