CNET First Look
Fluance XLHTB speakers offer big soundThe Fluance XLHTB is a head-turning set of speakers at a reasonable price and while it sounds perfectly fine in a home theater context it lacks the performance subtleties peers can offer.
[MUSIC] When it comes to buying surround speakers for your home cinema, there isn't really a sweet spot. You can keep on spending until you've mortgaged off your house and never fully achieve movie nirvana. However, there are some psychological stops along the way with 1,000 bucks being one of them. The Fluance XLHTB, is a five speaker surround package, without a sub, that fits comfortable below this limit, at $799. The first thing you notice is that these speakers are huge. And unless you have a large living space, these are pretty much overkill. For the money, this is a very handsome looking offering, with a combination of piano gloss, and cherry vinyl wrap. Black is also available. And the appointments are very nice, with each of these towers coming with an eight inch base driver in the base though they're not really subs as [UNKNOWN] claims as they don't have their own volume control. And the fittings are also high quality with possibly the best looking binding posts I've ever seen. The other speakers aren't quite as high quality with an audible hollow sound when you knock the [UNKNOWN]. And the fittings aren't quite as cool. This lopsidedness carries over to the performance as well. With the towers being decently good, and the all-important center channel only being okay with boxy dialog. The towers are immediately impressive though, with those subs carrying a very big sound. But what is missing is subtlety. Mid-range [UNKNOWN] is just as important in movies as it is in music and it can get lost on this system. It sounds lopsided at times, just too bassy. And we've heard some harshness in the treble if you push the volume up on the wrong material, which wasn't evident either on more expensive or cheaper speakers. The Fluance SX-HTB is a very high system and it works well for Blockbuster movies. But music, a dialogue driven movie, are left wanting compared to its competition. This has been Ty Pendlebury for CNET.com.