You might know Fluid Audio from the SRI-2 Audio interface / studio monitor controller, which we made a review about previously. Fluid Audio isn’t exactly known for developing audio interfaces. In fact, they are better known for creating studio monitors!
The FX8 is one of the popular studio monitors made by Fluid Audio and it’s just seen an upgrade by the name FX80. They’ve taken the user feedback to heart and Fluid Audio claims this to be the best sounding studio monitor below €500,-. Can Fluid Audio deliver on this promise? We decided to find out!
The design sees a huge improvement. Where we found the FX8 to be a bit basic when it comes to design, we find the FX80 to have a very clean design. It sports an industrial look with a sort of matte black finish, which gives it a lot of character.
The casing has been completely redone. It fits better thematically, and the new casing improves the sound, which is of course very important when it comes to studio monitors. The FX8 used to have a slider on the front to control the volume. This was completely unnecessary and could be tucked away on the back where it wouldn’t bother anyone, which is what they decided to do for the FX80.
The FX8 also featured a heat sink on the back, which has been removed for the FX80.
Summed up: FX8 VS FX80
- New design
- New casing
- No heatsink
- New EQ switch
- Volume control moved to the back
- Class-D amp
- Standalone DSP integration
- Tweeter protective cover
The FX80 has an 8-inch woofer. The FX50 is a smaller version with a 5-inch woofer, which is sufficient for a smaller studio or home use.
The build quality of the FX80 might very well be the best we’ve tested so far! The exterior is incredibly well-made and sturdy. It has a matte finish and it feels like a single piece. It’s a very robust resilient speaker.
It’s been made from MDF with a vinyl laminated finish.
The previous versions had a tweeter embedded in the woofer that was very susceptible to damage. They’ve improved this for the FX80 by placing a small perforated grill made of steel in front of it, which looks very neat!
- Frequency response: 35Hz-22kHz (+/- 3dB)
- Crossover frequency: 2.4kHz
- Low-frequency amplifier power: 60 watts
- High-frequency amplifier power: 50 watts
- Signal-to-noise: 90dB (typical A-weighted)
- Polarity: Positive signal at + input produces outward LF one displacement
- Input impedance: 20 k ohms balanced, 10 k ohms unbalanced
- Input sensitivity: 85 mV pink noise input produces 95dBA output SPL @ one meter with volume control at maximum
- Power: 100V-240V ~50/60 Hz
- Protection: RF interference, output current limiting, over-temperature, turn-on/off transient, subsonic filter, external mains fuse
- Cabinet: Vinyl-laminated MDF
- Size (single monitor): 340*254*295 / 13.4*10*11.6
- Weight (each): 7.8 kg / 17.2 lbs
Since it’s a bi-amped studio monitor it has a separate amp for low and high frequencies each with its own capacity, which produces sound more accurately. For other speakers of the same size, you’d have to crank up the volume to properly hear the mid-frequencies and vocals, which isn’t the case for the FX80 thanks to the coaxial design.
Below an extra explanation of the coaxial design by Fluid Audio.
"The Fluid Audio coaxial design adopts some of the same benefits of other coaxial designs, such as being a point-source device with symmetrical dispersion. This provides a consistent off-axis response (a wide sweet-spot) and improves the phase coherence between the low and high-frequency drivers. However, this is where the similarities end. Where other designs use the woofer cone as the high-frequency horn or waveguide, the Fluid coaxial design’s tweeter uses its own independent waveguide above the woofer, greatly reducing intermodulation distortion. What is left is a broad sound stage with incredibly focused and articulate stereo imaging. Mixing has never been so obvious, and mixes will translate to other playback systems with greater ease."
We’re very impressed by its sound. We’ve compared it to three monitors in the same price range and Fluid Audio is the best sounding by a large margin! What great sound the FX80 produces, we’re very impressed!
Low frequencies are well covered by Fluid Audios. The FX80 has a frequency range from 35Hz to 22kHZ, which is a great range for a studio monitor of its price. The Fluid Audio page shows an overview about the different specifications of the Fluid Audio studio monitors.
‘Very impressed by the sound quality, neutrality and capacity of the FX80!
Hardware and features
A woofer is been placed in the center and, since it’s a coaxial setup, there’s a 30mm silk tweeter in front of the woofer. This is a setup you’d normally find with pricier studio monitors like the Genelec 8351A or PreSonus Sceptre S8.
The advantage being that all sound will come from the same direction, which is a small detail but can be very important when mixing music to prevent phase issues. It also means the casing can be smaller.
More and more we find an EQ-switch built into studio monitors, this because not all spaces have the same acoustics and sound different. Besides, the acoustics might not always be the same when you’re creating music at home, which is why it’s important to tune your speaker to your space.
Fluid Audio implemented a system on the back of the FX80 so you can apply various EQ-settings. It’s not entirely user-friendly, but most of the time you’ll set this up once when you initially bring it into a new space and be done with it. Either way it’s a good feature to have for when you need it.
The FX80 also features a roll-off switch, which comes in handy if you’re using an external studio subwoofer. The digitally controlled cross-over ensures the speaker is consistent and clean.
An indicator led is placed above the speaker, which really fits the design and isn’t bothersome at all. This indicator allows you to determine whether the monitor is at the right height for your ears.
It’s good to see Fluid Audio listening to its users. The FX80 has a lot of improvements in comparison to the FX8. They might be small details, but that does make the FX80 an excellent studio monitor for its price range and allows it to compete with other, pricier brands and be one of the best in its price range when it comes to sound.