The Fluid Audio CX7 HiFi Active Reference Monitors - Review

If you are looking for a speaker that delivers big HiFi audiophile sound in a small footprint, the CX7 is worth a listen.
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Fluid Audio has delivered a hybrid HiFi speaker that works both as a reference monitor for your studio or DJ set up and consumer audiophile speakers for home listening. Pulling design and engineering DNA from the incredible FPX7 studio monitors, they have created an interesting "Frankenspeaker" that performs incredibly well for various listening experiences.

Since this speaker was designed firstly for the home HiFi set up, we decided to set it up in that configuration in our home office/vinyl lounge with our UTurn Orbit Turntable with a built-in preamp. The speaker comes with a soft magnetic grill that is easily removed, so you can display the speakers with or without it depending on your design tastes.

The speakers are equipped with a 140-watt amp and 7" woofer which is more than enough for most small to medium-sized rooms, especially if you can get them configured correctly to get yourself in the sweet spot. We have a lounge chair that sits in the middle of the office floor and can get speakers to optimal height. When sitting, the sound from the CX7s was delightful with a variety of genres on vinyl, from Brian Eno style ambient to classic jazz records.

These speakers are honest if you can call a speaker honest, meaning that the sound is not overly colored with too much bass or highs, which is fantastic for vinyl. What you get is rich, warm sound delivered how the artists intended it to be.

One way they can achieve such great sound in such a small package is the coaxial design and AMT (Air Motion Transformer) ribbon tweeter, which is mounted in the middle. It looks funky but brings some cool aesthetics when the grills are removed - but brings an incredible attack, detail, and tightness to the highs that sounds incredible. The best way to explain it is that the accordion-like tweeter acts like a bellows squeezing out the sound. 

Fluid Audio CX7 Rear Inputs and controls.

Fluid Audio CX7 Rear Inputs and controls.

In this configuration, we never needed to take the speakers to their full volume, and they still sounded full and rich at lower Dbs, which is better for your ears anyway. Another nice touch is that you can tweak the sound to fit your space on the back, essentially optimizing the speakers for the room. You can use the Acoustic Space, and Tweeter Trim switches on the back to dial in your output to make things perfect. The speakers also have an auto-off Standby function, so they power off automatically when not in use, which is a nice touch as it's easy to forget your speakers are on.

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The other set up with used the CX7's with was our home DJ set up on the main level, which is a stripped-down set up with a small two-channel rotary mixer and two Pioneer PLX 1000 professional turntables. We occasionally use the Denon Prime Go through one of the line inputs should we want to pivot to a more digital rig. We tested both the Denon Prime Go and vinyl on this rig to get the different feels for analog vs. compressed digital music.

The vinyl sounded great, much like it did on the Orbit Turntable, but with better needles and cartridges and a high-quality mixer, the sound was even better. We tested everything from old Hawaiian lounge music to hip hop to straight-ahead house music, and it sounded great - without the need to crank it too hard. The digital music via the Denon Prime Go was also crisp, concise, and fully balanced with a little more punch than the vinyl due to the modern mastering and audio file quality.

These would work great in a smaller studio and bring a lot to the table, but for the price, you might as well just head for the FPX7s and save a little dough. For us, it seems that these are best for home turntable and DJ setups for those that want to pull out the best sound they can from their vinyl and CDs, or even HD media players like an Astell&Kern AkJr, etc.

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Summary - If you are looking for a pair of speakers that will deliver crystal clear HiFi audio, look great and not take up a lot of space, the CX7 should be considered. They are still a little tricky to get because of the high demand, but a pair will set you back roughly $1100, which is an excellent price for the quality of audio you are getting. Although these can be used in a studio, and it's great to have that flexibility, we would probably just recommend the FPX7s if that's precisely what you are looking for. If you don't have a ton of cash, the FX80s are also an excellent buy for both prosumer studios and DJ setups, at under $500 for the pair.

Who are these for? These speakers seem best suited for the audiophile on a budget that wants to rich full sound in a smaller footprint. They are also suitable for DJ setups if you are more particular about your music and want something more refined.

More on the CX7 | Company Specs

www.fluidaudio.com

Amplification and Crossover Network

The specially designed Class A/B bi-amplifier separately drives the low and high-frequency drivers -allowing each to work independently and more efficiently. Like the FPX7, the CX7 uses an oversized toroid transformer for the power supply. This provides plenty of clean power, with a ton of headroom. Utilizing an external heat sink on the amplifier keeps the heat outside of the enclosure, which allows both the amps and the drivers to operate at lower temperatures. When the speaker is not in use, there is an integrated standby function that powers down the amplifier to conserve energy. Combined with phase-optimized crossover networks, the drivers blend together, resulting in a coherent soundstage across the entire DSP controlled audio spectrum.

Woofer

The woofer driver is 7"(178mm) in diameter and utilizes a low distortion magnet structure. That magnet drives a high temperature voice coil, which is mounted to a polypropylene coated, paper pulp cone. The cone is anchored to the frame with a pliant butyl rubber surround which minimizes high-frequency resonant peaks that may be transmitted from the cone. Although many claim to use "space age" materials in their cones, since the 1920's, the most popular material for woofer cones has been paper pulp. Why? Not only it's great strength-to-weight ratio, but because of its excellent damping characteristics - leaving the woofer to reproduce pure tones, not the ringing resonances.

Tweeter

The CX7 tweeter is what makes this speaker so unique and sound so extraordinary. The yellow part in the middle of the speaker is a 28mm x 43mm Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter with a neodymium magnet. AMT tweeters have long been known for their precise detail and lightning fast attack. What makes the CX7 so unique, however, is that it is mounted in the center of the woofer, in a coaxial configuration. Not only does this make the "acoustic center" the same for both the woofer and tweeter, which drastically improves the speaker's vertical off axis response, but it also allows the speaker cabinet to be a little shorter and more compact. Besides it's extremely refined detail, the AMT provides outstanding imaging and depth.

Bass-Reflex Port

The circular hole at the bottom of the front panel of the CX7 is the bass-reflex vent port. It is designed to effectively tune the speaker cabinet to a certain frequency, and maximize the bass output of the speaker. It is put on the front panel in order to fire directly at the listener, and also to allow for flexibility of placement (as a rear firing port may interfere with the wall behind it).

Enclosure and Protective Grille

The enclosure design of the CX7 has a very important role in shaping the overall sonic response of the speaker. Besides being made of acoustically efficient MDF material, it is internally braced to dampen out internal standing waves inside the cabinet. This lowers audible distortion which can cloud up the imaging of the speaker. The front baffle also has a cloth grille, which adheres with neodymium magnets. This grille is acoustically transparent, but protects the speaker drivers from damage.

Specifications

  • Frequency response: 42 Hz – 27 kHz (+/-3dB)
  • Crossover frequency: 3.5 kHz
  • LF Amplifier power: 90W RMS
  • HF Amplifier power: 50W RMS
  • Signal-to-noise: > 100 dB (typical A-weighted)
  • Polarity: Positive signal at + input produces outward LF one displacement
  • Input impedance: 20 k ohms balanced, 10 k ohms unbalanced
  • Input sensitivity: 85 mV pink noise input produces 95dBA output SPL
  • @ one meter with volume control at maximum
  • Max SPL@1m : 106dB
  • Power: Factory programmed for either 100 – 120V – 60Hz, 220 – 230V – 50Hz
  • Protection: RF interference, output current limiting, over temperature, turn-on/off transient and subsonic filter
  • Cabinet: Painted MDF
  • Size (single monitor): 308 x 219 x 264 mm / 12.12" x 8.62" x 10.5" (HxWxD)
  • Weight (single monitor): 17.8 lbs / 8.1 kg

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