We’re big fans of Fyne Audio’s standard F501 floorstanders. As past Award-winners, they remain terrific performers for their £1299 ($1750, AU$3195) price. Despite appearances, the Special Production version we have on test here is a rather different and far more ambitious proposition.
The Special Production idea is to take an existing product and hot-rod it by implementing as much of Fyne Audio’s high-end technology as possible. The company’s engineers haven’t held back, as the huge price difference between the standard F501 and Special Production version indicates.
Like all of the company’s premium speakers, the F501SPs use an IsoFlare drive unit array. The IsoFlare array places the tweeter in the throat of the mid/bass unit.
This configuration allows a degree of time alignment, so that the sound from each drive unit reaches the listener at the same moment. Additional advantages include improved integration between the drive units and more consistent dispersion characteristics.
Type 2 1⁄2 way, downwards firing port
Max power 360W
Frequency response 36Hz - 34kHz
Dimensions (hwd) 98 x 29 x 32cm
The array used in the F501SP has a 25mm magnesium dome compression tweeter coupled to a 15cm multi-fibre mid/bass cone. The surround on the mid/bass (and the partnering dedicated bass driver) is fluted so that unwanted mechanical energy in the cone is controlled more effectively, leading to cleaner, more detailed results.
A downward-firing port augments the low-frequency output from these drivers. The standard F501s have a perfectly satisfactory wooden plinth and diffuser arrangement that the port fires onto, but the SP version takes things to another level. Here, it’s a highly engineered twin level aluminium set-up, echoing the designs used on the company’s high-end models.
This downward facing port and diffuser arrangement is designed not only to produce deep and controlled bass, but to also make the speakers less fussy about room placement.
The F501SP’s drive units are linked with a new, highly specified hand-built crossover network and the whole lot is connected with upgraded silver-plated Van Den Hul wiring. Even the cabinets have changed; the panels using denser MDF and lined with three complementary damping materials to control resonances. These SP floorstanders come in a trio of classy gloss finish options – walnut, black and white.
While these towers are fairly tolerant of a close to wall placement, they really shine when given room to breathe. Angle them slightly towards the main listening position to solidify their stereo imaging.
If you’re looking for excitement and energy we can’t think of an alternative that betters these at the price. Play Nirvana’s Nevermind set and the sound simply erupts from the speakers, generating a sense of drive and attack that makes it hard to sit still.
We’re surprised at the weight and authority of the SP’s bass. These are relatively compact towers, but partner them with capable electronics and the deep, punchy quality of low frequencies is impressive.
Cobain’s vocals come through loud and clear, and never get lost in the mix. These towers have enough finesse to texture his voice convincingly and capture the fire in his delivery.
Moving to Dvorak’s New World Symphony No.9 shows other sides to the F501SP’s character. They have the dynamic reach to cope with the music’s powerful crescendos and the sonic authority to do justice to a full orchestra in full flow.
Once positioned with care, these speakers image well. They have a focused and precise sound that captures low-level detail well. It’s an organised presentation, one that pulls every instrumental strand together to produce a cohesive and musical sound.
Tonally, this Fynes aren’t the smoothest performers. That IsoFlare array has many strong points, but in our experience it doesn’t tend to produce the sweetest highs or offer the even-handed neutrality of the best alternatives.
It’s important to note that the F501SPs remain more than acceptable in these respects, provided the partnering electronics are chosen with care. Equally, rivals that do better in those aspects invariably fail to match the Fynes in their areas of strength.
The difference in price between the standard F501 and the SP version is massive, but then so is the jump in performance. These are truly thrilling speakers that bring music to life in a way that eludes most rivals. If you’re contemplating a purchase at this level, make sure you have a listen before buying anything else.
- Sound 5
- Compatibility 4
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best stereo speakers
Read our Fyne Audio F501 review