Review: Fluid Audio FPX7 Monitors

Fluid Audio’s latest monitor, the FPX7, combines a 7” woofer with its AMT ribbon tweeter in a coaxial design, for a good-sounding console-top speaker at a reasonable price. Let’s take a closer look.  

The company

Fluid Audio was founded by loudspeaker Engineer Kevin Zuccaro, after stints with JBL, Cerwin-Vega, and M-Audio. The company produces a variety of speakers, including a Bluetooth model, a PA (sound reinforcement) design, and a series of powered studio monitors—the Fader series—which range from smaller console-top sizes (4”, 5”) to a slightly larger (8”) model, plus a companion subwoofer. The FPX7 is the first in a new line—the Fader Pro series—FPX stands for Fader Pro Coax, and, assumedly, this line will eventually include different sized models that all incorporate the FPX7’s basic design.

Fig 1 Fluid Audio FPX7 monitors

Fig 1 Fluid Audio FPX7 monitors

The specs

The FPX7 pairs a 7” woofer with Fluid Audio’s AMT ribbon tweeter. The woofer’s ported enclosure provides good bass extension—the speaker’s frequency response is spec’d out at 42 Hz to 27 kHz ±3 dB, and listening bears this out. This low-end response is excellent for a speaker of this size—the FPX7 is 12.1” x 8.5” x 10.5” (HWD)—the slight extra depth probably helps with the bass extension. Ribbon tweeters are known for their smooth, detailed quality, and this one certainly lives up to that reputation. Fluid’s AMT (Air Motion Transformer) design combines the ribbon tweeter with a built-in waveguide, allowing for well-controlled dispersion, with a wide sweet spot. 

Fig 2 The FPX7 monitor—front view

Fig 2 The FPX7 monitor—front view

But the main selling point for the FPX7 is its coaxial design. Coaxial speakers, with the tweeter mounted in the center of the woofer, can allow for a more phase-coherent wavefront, which enhances detail and imaging, potentially offering a greater sense of depth and three-dimensionality than more typical designs. Fluid’s design also incorporates a DSP-controlled crossover, to ensure optimal phase between the two drivers. And to round things off, the FPX7 is powered with 140 watts of biamped Class A/B amplification, which lets it deliver clean sound even at loud levels. 

The box 

As you can see from the photo above, the speaker sports a pleasant, slightly industrial design, with a stepped blue fader on the front panel, to aid in calibrating levels. Around back, there’s the usual AC power connection, on/off switch, and voltage selector, plus a generous heatsink for the biamped power section. Up top, there are balanced inputs in both XLR and 1/4” format, plus an unbalanced RCA input as well. Two 3-position switches let you subtly shape the FPX7‘s frequency balance. A HF Trim control has options for flat response (±0), +2 dB, or -2 dB. Likewise, a low-frequency control, labeled Acoustic Space, offers a similar range—flat (±0), -2 dB, or -4 dB—to allow the user to compensate for the positioning of the speaker. Flat (0) would be for free-field (“full-space”) use (console top placement, well away from the side walls and floor), while -2 dB and -4 dB would be for placement either at a single room boundary (“half space”, up against a wall), or in a corner (“quarter space”). 

Fig 3 FPX7—rear view

Fig 3 FPX7—rear view

The curved design of the MDF cabinet, besides undoubtedly helping to break up any internal resonances, gives the FPX7 a more compact appearance, at least from the front. It’s a little deeper (even without counting the heatsink) than my other monitors, but it still fits comfortably on a console or desk top—at 22 lbs it’s solid, but not overly weighty, and easy to move around and position. 

In use 

But, of course, specs don’t really tell the story when it comes to speakers—so what about the sound? Well, if I had to characterize it in only a few words, I’d describe the FPX7 as tight, focused, and detailed. Auditioning them in the near-field, in a free-field (console-top) position, on a variety of sources, I found them smooth and well-balanced, even at louder levels. The bass is tight and, thanks to the port, has excellent extension. There seems to be a very gentle bump in the upper bass/lower mids, which adds some additional fullness, but it never draws attention to itself, and it balances out the highs nicely.  

There seems to be another very slight bump in the midrange—I’m guessing around 2-4k?—which I assume is responsible for the FPX7’s focused quality. In my room, with the rear-panel high-frequency adjustment set to flat (±0), this provided a noticeable presence, at times a bit strong for my taste, but switching the HF setting to -2 tamed it completely, while still preserving the highs, and I left the switch in that position for most of my listening. 

Even with the HF switch at -2, I’d definitely describe the FPX7 as a forward speaker, but again, this is a subtle characteristic—the sound never gets harsh or edgy, always remaining smooth and balanced. For mixing, I’d guess that forward character might tend to affect the level of vocals by a dB, perhaps, but that’s right in line with the variances between all top-notch studio monitors—I’d be very comfortable mixing on these speakers. In fact, mixes I’d done on my main studio monitors (KRK 6000s) translated seamlessly.

Where the FPK7 really shines is in its detail. It does very well at revealing interior detail in busier mixes, like the subtle sound of a pick on strings, or slight hi-hat variations. But this is not the kind of hyper-detail you sometimes get with overly bright speakers—the FPX7 manages to achieve it while delivering smooth open highs, and an overall even balance. This is no doubt due in part to the coaxial design, which tends to provide better imaging, due to the (phase) alignment of woofer and tweeter, and the ribbon tweeter itself, which certainly contributes to the overall smoothness of the sound. 

Conclusion

Fluid Audio has come up with an excellent mid-size console-top monitor with the FPX7. Anyone in the market for a speaker that combines tight, extended bass with a detailed, open sound should definitely give this model a good listen.

Price: MSRP: $699.99 Street: $549.99

Pros: Tight, deep bass combined with a smooth, open, well-balanced character, with excellent detail

Cons: Not really—forward character can be a bit strong, but it’s easily controlled with the HF switch

Web: http://fluidaudio.net/products/fader-pro-series/fpx7

 

 

Joe is a musician, engineer, and producer in NYC. Over the years, as a small studio operator and freelance engineer, he's made recordings of all types from music & album production to v/o & post. He's also taught all aspects of recording and music technology at several NY audio schools, and has been writing articles for Recording magaz... Read More

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