Fluance is a funny-sounding name for an audio company, but its speakers are serious values. This Canadian enterprise is known for its almost-too-good-to-be-true, rock-bottom pricing strategy and the extraordinary build quality of its speakers. This is our first look at one of the company's two subwoofers, the DB-150. Fluance sells the sub direct for $199.
Nothing about the look or feel of this full-size (18.5 inches tall, 12.3 inches wide, and 16.5 inches deep) subwoofer betrays its beer-budget price. The 39.4-pound black ash cabinet is built to the same high standards as Fluance's main speaker line, and the finned metal heat sinks, which take up most of the real estate on the rear panel, hint at the quality of the built-in 150-watt amplifier. The front-mounted 10-inch woofer is vented through twin down-firing ports. One minor complaint: the power-on blue LED was irritatingly bright at night.
During the course of the review, we were notified by Fluance that it was about to institute upgrades to the DB-150 design. The plastic cone-shaped feet will be replaced with brass leveling feet; the spring-type speaker wire connectors are out, replaced with all-metal binding posts; and the RCA input will have a direct option that bypasses the subwoofer's internal crossover, which makes it easier to blend the sound of the sub with the speakers in a 5.1 system. Furthermore, the DB-150 will have a "phase" switch to aid in blending its sound with your satellite speakers; many budget subs lack this useful feature.
Sonically, we judged the DB-150 a synergistic match for Fluance's. The sub's powers at the deep end of the bass pool were impressive, yet we wished it had a bit more control and detail. Depending on the CD's or DVD's bass content, the DB-150 sometimes sounded a little muddy (more with acoustic jazz CDs, less with rock music or movies).
We also auditioned the DB-150 with ourspeakers and were able to achieve a seamless blend, but we once again wished for greater definition. When we compared it to the $299 subwoofer, the DB-150's deficiencies were more apparent. The STF-1's bass was deeper, more powerful and precise--its advantages on all types of music and home theater were obvious. Then again, it's 50 percent more expensive. If you're strapped for cash, the Fluance DB-150 offers solid build quality, impressive features, and passable bass response.