Getting High on Our Own Supply

One of these guys just bought new speakers.


When Upscale Audio employees go speaker shopping:

It was just another Tuesday morning at the Upscale Shop in La Verne, or so thought Ken Davis and Chris Landfield, sales manager and sales team lead (respectively) for Upscale. Ken likes to come to work early, usually around 8 AM, to get himself settled and ready for the busy job of making sure the sales team has everything they need to deliver the highest quality of insight and service to you, our eager fellow audiophiles.

The day begins with coffee and a look through emails, work chats, phone messages, etc. He needs to know if customers have made appointments to listen to gear in one of the four listening rooms or if any visiting manufacturers will be stopping by to visit with Kevin or the staff. In the middle of this daily routine, Chris walked in and changed the trajectory of Ken’s Tuesday.

The idea: Chris wanted to buy himself a new pair of speakers. It’s always exciting when anyone thinks about new speakers, but around here at Upscale, when an employee thinks about it, everyone notices. The vicarious thrill is just too much to ignore.

Ken’s ears perked up immediately; it was time to go speaker shopping. Which speakers was Chris thinking about? Like any good employee, he had been reading and researching the Fyne Audio brand. A newer brand for us, Fyne Audio manufactures its products in the UK just outside of Glasgow, up in Scotland.

Fyne Audio Speakers

All Fyne products are designed by Dr. Paul Mills, formerly of Tannoy. Fyne Audio speakers are known for their concentric driver technology, similar to other brands. What sets Fyne apart from similar technologies, however, is that the team at Fyne is now free to design and innovate without being held back by the confines of any previous brand requirements. Nothing is taken for granted, and every design and engineering choice can be questioned. “Why don’t we cryogenically treat these parts?” “Should we consider altering the structure of the surround to better mitigate distortion?” “Why do we need to be restricted by a rear-firing bass port if a different solution might work and allow a speaker to be more flexibly placed in a room?”

Chris was thinking about speakers in the $20K price range, but the Fyne brand was so new to Upscale at the time that we had yet to hear the F704 floorstanding loudspeakers. So Ken and Chris hatched a plan to unbox a set of the F704s immediately and at least get them playing music so that in a week or so, they’d be broken enough to be listened to seriously.

The F704 is a 2 ½ way, with a downward firing port and BassTrax Tractrix diffuser. The twin cavity loading system sports a 10" IsoFlare point source driver and a 10" multi-fiber bass driver. The crossover is cryogenically treated (a practice championed by Dr. Mills himself) and aids in offering 96 db of efficiency and 8 ohms of nominal impedance, requiring little power. Basically, on paper, this thing came to play music and not much else.

It would have been quite the treat to be a fly on the wall in the room when both Ken and Chris heard the first notes emanating from the F704s. When telling their sides of the story later, they couldn’t believe the speakers were not yet broken in, even though they had just taken them out of the sealed Fyne-branded boxes. What did they hear?

Bass for days, solid and responsive, both in the mid-bass and lower registers; they heard a command and control of the bottom end as almost no other passive speaker could muster. Space, giant amounts of three-dimensional space, creating a vast soundstage, all thanks to open, relaxed top-end clarity. The music flowing out sounded effortless, as though the speakers weren’t strained at all and were being supplied with all the power they needed and then some. Their jaws dropped, and their eyes widened, and it takes a lot for a couple of seasoned pros like these two to be impressed. Ken has designed many speakers over the years, so he knows a thing or two about transducer design, and Chris sets up more speakers in a week than most do in a year. They know their sh*t.

Ken described a viscerally charged experience. The mid-bass expressed itself as a tightened feeling in the room; the F704s were perfectly pressurizing the studio, and he could actually feel it.

For reference, Ken and Chris played tracks like “Chant,” by Nils Frahm, “What it Is” by Amber Mark, and “Little Story,” by Kehlani.

Chris was blown away by a sound that consistently pleased him across any music he played. Like many of us, his musical taste isn’t made strictly of audiophile standards like jazz vocals and bells bonging. He likes bands like Metallica and a newer act, Sleep Token. Over and over, High-res or low, Chris noted that “right out of the box, everything was insanely listenable.”

After a long session of listening to the speakers with Ken, Chris concluded they were among the best speakers he’d ever heard. Chris knows he could spend a lot more money to get a little more performance, but these Fynes would do just fine.

The result? Chris rose from the listening chair on that Tuesday morning and ordered himself a pair on the spot—end of story.

Postscript: Chris hasn’t been going out much over the last few weekends; the F704s keep him glued to his listening chair. Please don’t call Chris, Ken, or anyone else at the shop about the Fyne Audio F704 because their enthusiasm and passion for the model and the brand in general are sure to cause you the best kinds of problems.

fyne f704 loudspeaker

Fyne Audio F704 Floorstanding Loudspeaker (pair)

Upscale Audio's Jake Spencer and Jordan Perez continue their streaming DAC comparisons, and now they're in serious high-end territory with the Lumin X1 and the Aurender A20.

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