Fluance FiSDK500 High Performance iDock Page 2

Listening is believing
Like most iPod speakers the FiSDK500 sounds best from three to six feet away. Listen from much further than that and you'll start to become aware of its size and you won't get much stereo effect (the speakers are just a little over 12 inches apart from center to center). I'd also recommend tilting the FiSDK500 back a bit, aiming it up to your ear level for best sound when listening in the nearfield, and the stereo imaging will be surprisingly good. There's a nice sense of spatial depth and the image focus is pretty good.

The newly remastered "Dark Side of the Moon" unfurled a spacious soundstage. The clock bells and chimes that open "Time" were clear and the transients crisp. Shocking, I could listen with my "audiophile ears," which is a first for an iPod speaker at any price.

The acoustic bass that opens Oregon's "Leather Cats" was taut and punchy; the FiSDK500's low-end is more accurate than any one-piece iPod speaker I've heard. The treble is clean and clear, but it's the midrange where the FiSDK500 stands head and shoulders over the pack. In all fairness, I didn't have any other iPod speakers on hand for direct A/B comparisons, but this much I can say for sure: I continued to listen to the FiSDK500 long after I was finished taking notes to write this review. That's never happened before with an iPod speaker.

To test the FiSDK500's Aux input I hooked up my VPI Classic turntable (with a Simaudio 320 LP phono preamplifier), and played some LPs. Wow, as ridiculous as the combination is, it sounded pretty sweet. Grooving to Astor Piazzolla and Gary Burton's "New Tango" LP was a pleasure and the speaker's even-tempered balance made the combination work as a genuine hi-fi playback system. Sure, one with limited deep bass and stereo separation, but the quality was apparent, and the FiSDK500 didn't suffer from the dreaded "table radio" effect I've heard from so many iPod speakers.

The FiSDK500 can play pretty loud without overtly distorting, but if volume capability is what you're after check out the Beats by Dr. Dre's BeatBox ($449). That thing can crank to stupid loud levels, but the FiSDK500 sounds better than the BeatBox when played at a more moderate volume.

Fluance managed to jump to the front of the pack with the FiSDK500 by producing what other upscale iPod speaker manufacturers always promise, but rarely deliver: audiophile sound quality. The fact that they did and still managed to hold the line on price only makes their victory sweeter.

Editor's Note: This item is currently on sale at Fluances web site until Nov 7, 2011 for $99 with coupon code: fisdk500

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JAD's picture

What about the Arcam rCube? How is the comparison? It's said to be the best. Tyll reviewed it previously.

mattgosselin28's picture

As far as I know, the SoundDock only employs two 2 1/2" paper cone drivers for midrange and treble, and they call 'em Twiddlers. The bass is handled by a 7" cone in a bandpass configuration. Bose is quite fond of them. As for power ratings, that's something Bose never does, so it's likely something low with an incredible amount of distortion thrown in for good measure.

Donny's picture

Steve come on i know this is about ad money but come on man. At some point you have to get back to your roots. The Arcam rCube is much much better. Now can we start telling the truth, Emotiva is very week from a sound quality stand point. You would think when they were stealing the plans from Rotel they would have gone ahead and stole the amps to.