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Fluid Audio F5 Monitor Speakers Review

fluid audio f5 review

TL;DR:

Fluid Audio F5 Review. At under £200 the digital Fluid Audio F5 active monitor speakers offer remarkable value from a small footprint. With great professional studio ready sound quality and tight bass, the bedroom producer will instantly fall in love.


Review Preface:

Whilst Fluid Audio may not necessarily be a household brand that you are yet accustomed to; this brilliant professional audio manufacturer is one that should soon prick up your ears.


Sporting a product range that consists of three sets of monitor speakers each targeted to an entry level audience, Fluid Audio have expertly crafted their (sub two-hundred pound) affordable range of monitors to contain many of the elements that would usually be seen within ‘premium’ products, but without breaking the bank.


Whether you are pondering your first active monitor speaker purchase, looking at a spare set to gage translation/AB, or even to have as a backup, these flagship F5 monitor speakers may just be that perfect swap for your hard earned cash.


Unboxing and Features:

As courteous as it may be, describing how strong the box is that will transport your purchase here is not something that we feel needs to be discussed. However, you do have our word that it is unremarkable, and should more than adequately protect your purchase during transit, although I would like to reassure you with is that they come with two two-meter kettle leads for each side. Just like every other monitor speaker purchase you will have to make sure that you buy the relevant cables to go from your audio interface to the F5’s. The F5’s support both a balanced XLR input and TRS jack inputs, as well as an unbalanced RCA input from perhaps an audio player. If you do choose to this then please make sure that before you power on your speakers after you have set the volume output to infinite (∞) on the faceplate. This goes without saying for any variable output speaker system, and best care practices must be considered as neither we, or Fluid Audio, will accept any misuse of such devices.


As you will be aware of, the Fluid Audio F5 monitor speakers are active studio monitors and do not need an external power amplifier to operate. Surprisingly the F5’s have an extraordinary amount of power from the amplifiers; notably the tweeter is delivered with 30w and the low frequency driver is supplied with 40w. In total 70w of power is on offer for such a compact unit, but luckily the internal digital circuit does have an output current limiter and over temperature cut off to protect the speakers from user damage. These features can help protect the monitors and prolong their life. Likewise, this digital circuit has a couple more features that might interest the unsuspecting user.


Notably, this digital circuit has a subsonic filter so that the cabinets can remove frequencies below 49Hz to avoid low-level resonant frequency artifices during playback, and has an inbuilt transient input sensor to reduce energy consumption. However, during extensive testing, I have found this feature to be somewhat deflating. Whilst it is important to reduce energy consumption, it feels as if the F5’s brain is a touch too slow. Upon playback it takes around a second to kick in, and certain songs that are introduced with a dynamic stab are left missing this crucial beat, but if you are not predisposed to anger when you miss the scene setting rhythmic hit, this may not matter. This is not to say that this is an unnecessary feature, it is actually to just highlight only a minor niggle.


One of the best features of the F5 monitor speakers is that recessed pinhole LED indicator in between the tweeter and the low-frequency driver. What it offers you is the best way to arrange the pair on your (acoustically treated) desktop so that you are perfectly aligned within the sonic sweet spot. Simply, all you do is turn your head towards the left or right monitor and move the enclosure until you can see the apex of the LED in your direct line of sight.  It couldn’t be much simpler, and it genuinely works very well. I would go as far as to say that I would like to see this feature implicated into the designs of other monitor speakers.


Build Quality:

With a high acoustic efficiency MDF cabinet design, and a black matt vinyl laminated finish, both the low-frequency drivers and natural silk domes feel very secure with thanks to a tight ABS plastic faceplate. During extensive testing no rattles or distortion was detected. Additionally the tweeter has both a typical acoustic horn guided shape in the faceplate, and is slightly recessed to produce more accurate results from the output audio, whilst no rattles or distortion was detected, likewise the F5’s are magnetically shielded to protect against interference coming from such devices as mobile phones. It is these visible queues combined with smaller subcutaneous engineering that makes the F5 feel as every bit eligible for a higher price.


Sound Quality:

Being such a small pair of monitors, you could easily be fooled into believing that this duo cannot pack an explosive punch, but this is where you would be wrong. Whilst there is not a busload of low down gut wrenching bass, the precision timing that these beasts have across the spectrum is, at the least, impressive. When this is married with an exceptional frequency response that sounds engaging at any volume, you get a monitor speaker that is on the right tracks to be a sure fire hit. This is the F5’s… the Fluid Audio team have somehow engineered the F5 monitor speakers to own the qualities that would normally be associated with the most established and revered of brands; a particularly hard task to get right at this price point.


Typically we would have expected to hear a woolly or (overly) boxy heavy tone with this pair, and yet again the F5’s have eluded our stereotypical expectations. Beginning with the treble, there is a crystalline type shimmery sound that is not overly critical or piercing in its execution. Although the Fluid Audio team state that the F5 monitor speaker is highly transparent, but our experiences have suggested that the treble frequencies are slightly forward or extended in comparison to a recessed upper mid-range. This is a signature that works very well with vocal lines, and I would imagine the F5’s would do very well in a voiceover studio, as a first pair of monitor speakers, or as a second pair to gage translation across consumer systems.


Underneath the slight favourable frequencies noted above, I can indeed confirm that the bass frequencies, low mid-range mid mid-range, can be best described as transparent. The F5’s do not sound weedy for this reason, and you are able monitor audio with precision and clarity. However, please note that because this pair does not have a user configurable EQ setting to best match the acoustic environment that you will be using them, this pair would best suit a small to medium type room. Yet due to their compact size to output power ratio, these speakers can easily be used in on-location environments.


Now, lets discuss the stereo image. Typically, the F5’s do a great job of making it easy for the producer to create a mix that has depth and spatial clarity. All instruments appear to be well amalgamated, and not overly separated. Likewise, there is no extreme separation between different frequencies. It does have to be known that each of the monitor speakers works in tandem with each other when the user is aligned to the sweet spot. If the user does move around this location, then they will experience a slightly ‘thrown’ sounding spatial environment, and it is also important to doubly check that that the monitors are aimed up, or down, so that the monitors are level in every way. Apart from this, the F5’s deliver a stereo image that is highly anticipated, and unremarkable.


Review Conclusion:

At a snip under £200.00, these Fluid Audio F5 monitor speakers are an absolute bargain. Throughout this review we have discussed why these small powerhouses are more than worthy for your hard earned cash. Suiting users of all abilities, the F5’s can be used for endless critical applications. They have a sonic signature, dynamic range, and stereo image that are unusual for such a low price, and because of this they come with our recommendation. Overall we award the Fluid Audio F5’s with a four-and-a-half stars.


Edd Harris

Edd Harris - 22nd October 2013

Global RRP: €299.00

Editors Rating:

Four and a Half Star Award
Fluid Audio F5
4.5/5 stars
Fluid Audio F5 Review. At under £200 the digital Fluid Audio F5 active monitor speakers offer remarkable value from a small footprint. With great professional studio ready sound quality and tight bass, the bedroom producer will instantly fall in love.