“The center can’t hold it,” is one of the most quoted lines from WB Yeats’ much-stolen poem, The Second Coming. It is often repeated in times of economic and geopolitical chaos and fear, finding new relevance each time a new crisis breaks out. But here at Which Hi-Fi? it has a different meaning, but relates to the humble center channel speaker.
The center channel is often the most overlooked speaker in a surround sound system, but we find it’s the part that can make a speaker package coherent, elevating it from a collection of boxes into a full-fledged immersive home theater setup.
A center speaker, primarily tasked with handling dialogue and typically flanked by much larger, more powerful speakers, should be able to hold its own despite the limitations of cabinet shape and position, which are often close to a wall or screen. located.
With the Fyne Audio F8SP AV surround sound speaker package, the brand brings together two of its most formidable floorstanders from its SP (Special Production) range, which supplements existing products with a wishlist of the company’s high-performance innovations.
In this case, the front left and right are a pair of the dominant F502SP, while the rears are the more manageable F501SP. These are joined by not one but two of the brand’s F3-12 subwoofers.
For the first time, Fyne have produced two center channels designed to work with both the F500SP range and the more expensive F700 series. The new center speakers use internal F700 components in an F500SP MDF cabinet. This package includes the larger model, the F57SP-8, with 8-inch (20 cm) drivers and an adjustable Auxiliary Bass Radiator to adjust low-frequency performance. It all sounds very impressive, but can it hold this system together?
Individually, the F57SP-8 center speaker costs £2000 / $2800 / AU$5500, while the front F502SPs cost £4800 / $6500 / $10,495 per pair, and the surround F501SPs cost £3500 / $5000 / AU$6995.
With the F3-12 subs costing £1000 / $1400 / AU$2195 each, the full 5.2 system would set you back around £12,300 / $17,100 / AU$25,453 if you bought it separately. But Fyne has suggested to its distributors that the F8SP AV bundle retails for around £11,000 / $15,000 / AU$24,000), which represents a nice saving on this otherwise pricey package.
As with the rest of Fyne’s premium models, all of the full-range speakers in the F8SP AV package use the company’s IsoFlare drive array arrays, with the tweeter positioned in the neck of the mid/bass unit for precise time alignment, consistent spreading and integration between drive units.
In the F502SP, the array uses a 25mm magnesium dome compression tweeter in combination with a 20cm multi-fiber mid/bass cone and a dedicated 20cm bass driver. The driver edges feature a pie-crust notch known as FyneFlute, which uses an uneven surface to control unwanted resonances.
This 2½-way system is complemented by a down-firing port that shoots into a double-stack aluminum plinth housing a highly engineered Tractrix diffuser. This setup is designed to ensure an even bass response, making the speakers less picky about their placement in a room.
Internally, much of the circuitry and crossover architecture was originally developed for the F700s, including silver-plated Van Den Hul wiring, laminated core inductors, and high-performance capacitors. The connection is via a bi-wire panel on the back with straps and includes an additional terminal for grounding the driver’s chassis.
The cabinets are made of high-density MDF, clad in three different damping materials to control resonances, and come in three flashy gloss finishes of walnut, black and white.
Standing 111cm with plinth, these speakers draw the attention of the room they’re in, with a slick yet unpretentious design and understated use of silver accents on the driver surround and floor spikes. Physically, the F501SPs are almost identical to their big brother, with the same configuration and construction, but reduced in size and sporting 6-inch woofers.
Fyne Audio F8SP AV technical specifications
F502SP Front left and right speakers:
Type 2½ way, firing down to port
Nominal impedance 8 ohms
Dimensions (hwd) 111 x 33.8 x 38cm
F501SP Rear Speakers:
Type 2½ way, firing down to port
Nominal impedance 8 ohms
Dimensions (hwd) 98.4 x 28.8 x 32cm
F57SP-8 Center speaker:
Type 2½ way with adjustable damped ABR
Nominal impedance 8 ohms
Dimensions (hwd) 27x76x29cm
Amplifier output 520W
Type Ventilated, pointing down
Driver size 30cm
Inputs 2 x Phono L & R stereo, 1 x mono LFE
Dimensions (hwd) 48 x 37.5 x 44.3 cm
Built to bridge both the 500SP and 700SP ranges, the F57SP-8 center speaker cleverly complements the visual style of the rest of the pack without directly mimicking it.
This 2½-way speaker features the same 25mm tweeter as the rest of the range in an IsoFlare arrangement within a 20cm mid/low driver. Another 20 cm woofer complements the speaker’s low-frequency output below 250 Hz, while an additional passive bass radiator further extends the speaker’s low-frequency performance, much like the ports on the floorstanding model.
The motor system of the passive unit is controlled by a small switch on the back. This allows users to vary the amount of electromagnetic damping applied depending on how close the center is to a wall. This is a useful key that helps fine-tune performance.
The .2 to this 5.2 package is a duo of the brand’s F3-12 subwoofers, each with a 30cm woofer and down-firing port. Rated at 520 watts, the F3-12 has basic phase and level input controls, as well as an LFE or Normal setting and a Bass Boost option. Reminiscent of Fyne’s standard 500 range, it has a black ash finish and a fairly unobtrusive design.
The carefully controlled scale and weight across the three full-range front speakers are almost disarming in their precision and speed, adding a palpable layer of suspense to action sequences and making almost any sudden movement in horror movies unbearably unnerving.
Watching A quiet place on Blu-ray, the Fyne Audio F8SP shows this liveliness to haunting effect. From the accidental noises made by the family to the thrashing of the monsters that hunt them, the power and weight these hulking speakers provide while remaining agile, precise and textured is remarkable.
Front-end integration is seamless, with a wide soundstage, huge dynamic range, and a scale that’s enveloping and engaging. While the rears integrate with the system tonally, despite our best efforts to customize our JBL Synthesis SDR-35 AV receiver, they’re noticeably less authoritative, and we can’t help but wish the package would instead feature four of the F502SP’s was delivered.
Switch to The batter (2022) on Blu-ray gives the center channel the chance to step out of the shadow of the floorstanders. In a Gotham City where it seems everyone is gargling bleach, the F57SP-8’s rendering of dialogue is effortless, detailed and expressive, breaking the center of gravity of the funeral score and dissonant sound effects to put the story center stage .
In the car chase sequence, the soaring score, guttural growls and engine roar all produce a rich tapestry of low frequencies, which the full-range speakers deliver with a sharp punch. However, the subwoofers, both in standard and boost mode, lack the same level of definition and speed, which unfortunately causes a little disconnect in the whole system.
Switch to music with Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits, the deft timing of the system’s Isoflare drivers is emphasized by Mark Knopfler’s signature, finger-picking style. High transients like the snare can be persistent at louder volumes, but overall the system manages to walk a fine line between exciting and annoying.
This is a speaker package that is dripping with oomph. However, the pit can be a bit exhausting to listen to for long periods of time and requires careful pairing with an AV receiver to get the best performance.
The Fyne Audio F8SP AV package is a captivating surround system with a powerful rhythmic sound that, while not the most transparent, is incredibly entertaining for both movies and music, with a center channel equal to the front pair.
Unfortunately, the rear surrounds don’t quite offer the same power, and the subwoofers aren’t tight enough to blend into this punchy system. But for those who prefer dramatic, head-on sound, there’s still plenty to enjoy here.
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