Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $250
Fluance Ai41 on desk
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

Many people these days turn to Bluetooth speakers for the bulk of their music listening. This is fine for when you’re on the go, but at home, you might want to treat your music to better speakers. The Fluance Ai41 speakers offer much better sound, but with all the convenience of Bluetooth.

The Ai41s are an update of Fluance’s previous Ai40 speakers, but they aren’t just a minor update. In addition to increasing the wattage from 70 to 90 watts, they’ve been completely redesigned as a ported speaker, rather than the sealed design of the previous model.

A digital audio input joins Bluetooth and analog audio connectivity, making the Ai41s a perfect option for playing any kind of music in small to medium-sized rooms.

Here's What We Like

  • Great sounding with impressive bass for the size
  • Easy Bluetooth connectivity
  • Analog and digital inputs
  • Subwoofer support with built-in crossover
  • Remote included

And What We Don't

  • No grille means speakers are exposed to potential damage
  • No USB-C connectivity

How-To Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Build and Design

Fluance Ai41 bass ports
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

  • Dimensions: 277mm x 165mm x 193mm (10.9in x 6.5in x 7.6in)
  • Weight (Active Speaker): 3.86kg (8.52 bs)
  • Weight (Passive speaker): 3.37 g (7.44lbs)

The redesigned cabinet is made from MDF composite, making for a speaker that is relatively light yet feels fairly solid. On the back, you’ll notice the new bass port near the top of the speaker. On the bottom, Fluance has added rubber feet that keep the speakers from moving too easily, but also slightly reduce the vibrations from the speaker.

We’re looking at the Fluance Ai41s in the Black Ash finish, which looks quite nice up close. The speakers are also available in Lucky Bamboo, Natural Walnut, and White Walnut finishes, so matching the speakers with your decor shouldn’t be an issue.

The Fluance Ai41s aren’t especially big or small considering the 5-inch woofers, and if you’re familiar with bookshelf speakers, you should know what to expect. If you’re used to computer speakers, the Ai41s will take up quite a bit more space, but they also sound far better than your standard computer speakers.

One interesting design choice carrying over from the Ai40 is that the Ai41s feature no speaker grilles. As an aesthetic choice, this works, but it does leave the drivers exposed. If you have young children around, you’ll want to keep these speakers out of their reach.

The Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2022

Best Bookshelf Speakers Overall
KEF LS50 Meta
Best Budget Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2
Best Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers
Fluance Ai61
Best Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Edifier S1000MKII
Best Small Bookshelf Speakers
Audioengine A2+
Best Bookshelf Speakers for Turntables
Klipsch R-51PM

Connectivity

Fluance Ai41 ports for connectivity
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

  • Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Inputs: RCA L/R, Bluetooth, and Digital Optical TOSLINK
  • Subwoofer output: 80 Hz Low-pass Frequency Cutoff

When it comes to connecting your audio devices to the Ai41s, you’ve got multiple options. The speaker supports Bluetooth 5.0, which is the way I imagine many people will connect most of the time. The Bluetooth connection is solid, and pairing is simple: just put the speakers into Bluetooth mode, and they automatically enter pairing mode.

For plugging in other audio devices, you have both analog and digital options. A pair of RCA jacks sit on the right speaker for connecting analog audio, while an optical input lets you connect your PC or other audio devices digitally.

There is also a subwoofer port on the back of the right speaker. The speakers feature a built-in crossover that activates when you connect a subwoofer. When this is enabled, the speakers cut off low frequencies at 80 Hz and below, letting the subwoofer handle them instead.

One thing to keep in mind if you intend to plug in a turntable is that these speakers don’t include a phono preamp. To hear your turntable properly, you’ll either need a standalone phono preamp or a turntable with a built-in preamp.

Setting up the Fluance Ai41

Fluance Ai41 set up for listening
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

The Fluance Ai41 speakers may look nearly the same from the front, but each speaker is different from the other. All the electronics, connections, and controls are packed into the right speaker. The left speaker is passive, with only a speaker terminal to connect to the right speaker.

The speakers connect via an included speaker cable eight feet in length. The cable is 18-gauge and should be long enough for most use cases. Fluance recommends an 18-gauge cable if you’re using a cable apart from the included one, but if you’re opting for a longer cable, you may be placing your speakers too far away from each other.

After you’ve connected the cable between the two speakers and plugged the right speaker into power, flip the switch on the back of the right speaker to power them on.

Controls and Remote

Fluance Ai41 Remote
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

Whether you use the included remote or not, controls are simple. There is a single knob on the right speaker that has multiple functions. Turn it to adjust the volume, or press it to swap through the various modes use can use to connect to the Ai41s.

Fortunately, the LED on the front of the right speaker is color coded. By default, it will light up red, which means it’s in standby mode. The other colors indicate the connection you’re using: green for RCA analog, blue for Bluetooth, and white for optical digital.

As mentioned earlier, connecting to Bluetooth is as simple as switching to Bluetooth mode and pairing from your device of choice. In case something goes wrong here, a Bluetooth reset button on the back of the right speaker makes starting over easy.

The remote controls the features above, but it also controls EQ, which is only available from the remote. The bass and treble controls are subtle, but if the speaker is too bright sounding or doesn’t quite emphasize the bass enough, you can correct it with these controls.

Finally, you can also dim the LEDs using the remote, a handy feature if you’re setting the speakers up in a bedroom.

Sound Quality

Fluance Ai41 woofers
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

  • Woofer: 5 inch Woven, Glass Fiber Composite Driver with Butyl Rubber Surrounds
  • Tweeter: 1 inch Silk Soft Dome Neodymium Ferrofluid Cooled
  • Amplifier: Class D 90 Watts Continuous Average Output (2x 45 watts RMS)
  • Frequency response: 35Hz — 20KHz (DSP Enhanced)

Each Ai41 speaker pairs a five-inch glass-fiber composite woofer with a one-inch, silk soft dome tweeter. Inside the right speaker is a 90-watt RMS class D amplifier that pumps 45 watts into each speaker. Despite the small design, the speakers make clever use of DSP to achieve a frequency range of 35Hz to 20kHz.

To test the Bluetooth functionality of the speakers, I streamed from Apple Music on my iPhone. For analog audio, I connected my Sony NW-A35 Walkman to the RCA ports, while I took the optical output from my Focusrite Clarett 8Pre to test digital audio from my computer.

Overall, the sound quality is fantastic, with surprisingly deep bass considering the size of the speakers. A subwoofer would be a nice companion if you need deeper bass frequencies, but I tested the Ai41s on their own.

Listening to The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” the low-end response was immediately noticeable on Paul Simonon’s bass. This song has percussion spread across the stereo spectrum, with the bass, drums, and vocal taking center stage, making great use of the Ai41s’ stereo field.

Next, I turned to Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan’s “Saturday’s Gone,” which plays some interesting tricks with reverb. Certain sounds are drenched in reverb and sounded very far away on the Ai41s. The more dry elements of the song sounded like they were in the same room.

VCF’s “The Pressure” again shows the low end that the Ai41s can push out. The highs on certain percussive elements get very in your face, but even then, nothing sounded overly trebly or harsh. Aggressive? Yes. Harsh? No.

The maximum volume isn’t quite what you’d expect given the wattage, but this isn’t a bad thing. The speakers don’t push into audible distortion easily at all, but this does come at the cost of volume.

The Best Computer Speakers of 2022

Best Computer Speaker Overall
Audioengine A2+
Best Budget Computer Speakers
Creative Pebble V3
Best Computer Speakers for Music
Fluance Ai41
Best Computer Speakers for Gaming
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Best Bluetooth Computer Speakers
Logitech Z407 Bluetooth Computer Speakers
Best Computer Speakers with Subwoofer
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1

Should You Buy the Fluance Ai41?

The Fluance Ai41 speakers offer fantastic audio performance for the price. Not only are they far beyond what similarly priced Bluetooth speakers are capable of, but also ahead of many competing bookshelf speakers in the same class.

The Ai41s opt for solid bass and distortion-free sound over sheer volume. That means that while these offer plenty of volume for listening to music with the speakers close, they’re not as well suited for home theater usage.

If you’re considering a Bluetooth speaker for in-home use, it’s absolutely worth sacrificing the portability and choosing these speakers instead. You won’t regret the decision.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $250

Here’s What We Like

  • Great sounding with impressive bass for the size
  • Easy Bluetooth connectivity
  • Analog and digital inputs
  • Subwoofer support with built-in crossover
  • Remote included

And What We Don't

  • No grille means speakers are exposed to potential damage
  • No USB-C connectivity
Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
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