The Vintage Five prove small, retro-style hi-fi can be a Fyne thing – why isn’t there more of it?

Fyne Vintage Five standmount speakers
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Regular readers will know our team has long had more small, but good, hi-fi on our wish list to Santa. 

This week, that wish was granted in a big way by Fyne Audio with its Vintage Five speakers. To catch readers up, these are a dinky pair of retro-looking speakers that first caught my eye at the Bristol Hi-Fi show last year.

The bookshelf speakers sit within Fyne’s retro-styled Vintage line. The main reason they drew my eye is their very distinct retro styling, which is reminiscent of Fyne’s heritage, with the company being founded and full of Tannoy alumni. 

They have the same design as the larger Vintage Fifteen, which the Vintage Five were unveiled alongside and sit in the same family as the older Vintage Ten and Vintage Twelve.

Having seen them in the flesh at the show and in our dedicated listening rooms, I can confirm myself, and the wider What Hi-Fi? team, all agree they look amazing close up.

The speakers are hand-built of birch ply, finished in an oiled walnut veneer and have burr walnut inlays. Like the larger Fifteen, the Five also has an anodised gold trim and leather grille tab. The entire ensemble oozes class and means the speakers wouldn’t look out of place in a 1920s mansion.

Is that unique? Not if you go big. Tannoy has been making beautiful speakers with similar designs since the actual 1920s. Fyne has since continued this trend with its speakers always holding true to the company’s heritage and links to the older, iconic hi-fi brand.

What attracted my attention, and in my mind makes the Five unique, is that their small size means I, and by extension most people, can actually fit them into their homes. Speakers of this design tend to have giant, floorstanding form factors that require lots of space to truly shine. Even if they are standmounts, they also generally have larger dimensions than the Five and require a large amount of space to shine.

The tiny Five don’t suffer from this problem. In fact, when we got them in for testing we found Fyne’s done a stellar job designing them to not only perform but even shine brightest when playing in smaller listening spaces.

And that’s indicative of generally excellent audio quality. Matched with a variety of reference equipment, including the Arcam A5, Naim Nait XS3, PMC Cor and Burmester 088/911 MkIII reference amplifiers and a Naim ND 555/555 PS DR music streamer source, the results were great.

Whether it was bass-heavy pop, refined classical arrangements or rock ballads, the Vintage Five delivered precise, dynamic audio with wonderfully precise stereo imaging. Hence our reviewers' conclusion:

“The Vintage Five are easy speakers to underestimate. The retro appearance suggests that they are for those who yearn for the past, and their dinky size makes them harder to take seriously, especially at what looks to be a high price. But consider the exceptional build, quality of engineering and, when used in an appropriate system, terrific sound, and it is hard not to be won over. We certainly are.”

In fact, the results were so good that part way through the review I couldn’t help but wonder, what other speakers are there like this on the market? If you go to our best bookshelf speakers guide you’ll see plenty of brilliant options across a variety of price points. But you won’t find anything like the Vintage Five, at least aesthetically.

Most speakers this size have distinctly modern designs that, while functional, don’t ooze the vintage charm of the Vintage Five. The closest in our guide are the Mission 770, which cost around the same. Now, they undeniably have a retro appeal, being inspired by the original speakers of the same name debuted in the 1970. But the 770 still look a lot more modern than the Vintage Five, and are also a lot bigger. The same is true of the Wharfdale Linton from 2020, which again, while retro, aren’t quite as classic-looking or small as the Vintage Five.

Am I a hi-fi magpie pushing style over substance in wanting my dinky speakers to look like something a character from The Great Gatsby would use? To some extent, yes, but the fact that the Vintage Five prove speakers like this can also deliver excellent audio in small spaces makes me feel less guilty about that, and happier saying on the record that I wish there were more speakers like them on the market.


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Alastair Stevenson
Editor in Chief

Alastair is What Hi-Fi?’s editor in chief. He has well over a decade’s experience as a journalist working in both B2C and B2B press. During this time he’s covered everything from the launch of the first Amazon Echo to government cyber security policy. Prior to joining What Hi-Fi? he served as Trusted Reviews’ editor-in-chief. Outside of tech, he has a Masters from King’s College London in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion, is an enthusiastic, but untalented, guitar player and runs a webcomic in his spare time.