Fluance AB40 Soundbase review: Beyond your average sound bar

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Reviews
Fluance AB40 Soundbase

The AB40 takes what a sound bar is capable of and pushes it well beyond the next level.

Sound bars are a great addition to your television viewing set up if you are short on space or just don’t like the clutter of speakers that traditional surround sound systems bring. The Fluance AB40 Soundbase falls directly in between a sound bar and a full surround system. Too big to be TA-ratings-92called a sound bar, and too small to be considered a full surround system. So is there room in this crowded market for the AB40? Read on to find out in the full review of the Fluance AB40 Soundbase.

Specifications

  • 2 way 6 driver tv soundbase with integrated amp
  • Dual 1 inch silk soft dome ferro fluid cooled tweeters
  • Four 3 inch aluminum cone with butyl rubber surround woofers
  • Frequency response – 30Hz – 20KHz
  • 90 Watt amp
  • Bluetooth – aptX codec
  • Dimensions 3.9 x 26 x 14 inches
  • Weight 24 lbs

What’s In The Box

  • Fluance AB40 Soundbase
  • Remote and batteries
  • Power cord

Design

If you were to look at the Fluance AB40 Soundbase directly in front, you’d be excused if you thought it was just a typical sound bar. As you look around the unit though, you’ll notice that it is much bigger than your average sound bar. The AB40 is 4 inches tall, 13 inches deep and 26 inches wide. It’s a rather large unit, and with good reason, it’s meant to act as a base for your television. That’s right; you put your television on top of the AB40. This is an ingenious design that solves the problem of placing the sound bar in front of the television. I personally have always hated having the sound bar right out in front. It’s much more aesthetically pleasing underneath the television I think.

The body of the AB40 is made of black stained wood, giving it a rather elegant look. There is a black speaker mesh along the entire face of the unit with the Fluance name right in the center. The speakers behind the mesh are just barely visible, giving you an indication of the sound experience you are about to enjoy. Along the top there are touch sensor buttons for input, power and volume. The rear of the unit has optical and auxiliary inputs as well as the power input.

Installation Or Assembly

As with most sound bars, installation is straightforward. Place the Fluance AB40 Soundbase on the tv stand you are using and then put your television on top of the Ab40. Connect your television to the AB40 and the AB40 to power, and you are ready to go. There isn’t even a bass module to worry about, making the AB40 even easier to install than a sound bar. The remote is simple, with just enough buttons to fully control the system. It is sized just right, the same width and 3/4 of an inch taller than an Apple TV remote, though it is considerably thicker than said remote. The added thickness is beneficial in this case, allowing for easy handling of the remote.

Ease Of Use

Using the system is very easy, you choose your input and enjoy the sound. Beneath the speaker mesh, three different lights indicate which input you are currently on. White is for optical, green is aux, and blue is for Bluetooth. Yes, you can even connect the AB40 via Bluetooth should you choose to do so. All this entails is pressing the Bluetooth button on the remote and then going into your device and pairing it. I connected my phone, and it was very simple. I ran into a problem with this setup because it appears that the blue light had burned out on the unit I received.

There are no other lights or number displays on the unit at all. I would have liked to have a display so I could know what volume it was set on. This would have made jump scares in the movie I was watching a little less traumatizing to be sure.

Sound

The sound of the Fluance AB40 Soundbase is surprising, to say the least. I currently own several sound bars, and they all sound good. The AB40 takes what a sound bar is capable of and pushes it well beyond the next level. First I connected my phone via Bluetooth and took some time to listen to the playlist that I have to test headphones. Sound reproduction is just what you would expect from a set of quality speakers. The highs, mids and bass are all equally balanced. The bass sits right in with the rest of the sound, and that does leave me wishing that there was a subwoofer output on the AB40. There is a bass booster on the AB40 that helps a bit, but even so, I would have liked to have just a bit more bass.

While listening to music on the AB40 shows that it is more than capable of reproducing great sound, this system truly shines while watching television. Everything sounds great, the music is well balanced, and the voices of the actors come through loud and clear. I’ll make that point again, vocal reproduction on the AB40 is fantastic. Clearer than I’ve ever heard from any other system I’ve ever heard. I truly wish every speaker could reproduce the spoken word as well as the AB40’s do. As far as other sounds, there was no hissing or popping from the speakers, not even at higher volumes.

The AB40 has what Fluance calls 3D Virtual Surround Sound mode. Press the 3D button on the remote and get ready for amazing sound from all angles. There were many times during a movie that I heard sound coming from behind or beside me. The sound seems to take on a depth that I’ve never heard from any other system when 3D mode is activated. I’m not sure how Fluance does it, but 3D mode does an excellent job of putting you in the center of the action.

Reception

The Bluetooth reception of the Fluance AB40 Soundbase is advertised as 33 feet with line of sight. I was able to get 34 feet away from the system before it started to lose its signal. The Ab40 also has auto-pairing so that if you lose connection with the unit, it will automatically reconnect to your device once you are back in range.

Price/Value

The Fluance AB40 Soundbase is listed at $249.99USD. For that price you get a great sounding system that sits out of the way, is easy to set up, and minimizes clutter around your television. I think the AB40 is more than worth the price all things considered.

Wrap Up

The Fluance AB40 Soundbase is not quite a full surround sound system, nor is it quite a simple sound bar. It’s smaller than surround systems and larger than a sound bar. While it may not be fully on par with a surround system, it’s closer than any sound bar I’ve ever heard. The 3D Virtual Surround Sound mode that Fluance has incorporated into the system works wonders with sound that belie its small size. The ability to place a television on top of the AB40 makes it ideal if space is at a premium, or if you just want less tech clutter. So yes, I would say there is room for the Fluance AB40 Soundbase in the crowded market. And maybe, just maybe, there’s room for an AB40 under your television.

*We were sent a review sample of the Fluance AB40 Soundbase for the purposes of this review.

Fluance AB40 Soundbase

$249.99USD
Fluance AB40 Soundbase
9.2

Design

9/10

    Installation or Assembly

    10/10

      Ease of Use

      9/10

        Sound

        9/10

          Reception

          10/10

            Price/Value

            9/10

              Nailed it

              • Great sound reproduction
              • Unobtrusive design
              • Bluetooth compatible

              Needs work

              • May be a bit large for some
              • No option for external subwoofer
              • No volume display
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