Review: Fyne Audio Vintage Classic XII Floorstanding Loudspeakers

To say I was impressed by the Fyne Vintage Classic XII is kinda like saying I’m impressed by air conditioning—it’s all a matter of degree.

The Fyne Vintage Classic XIIs do many things delightfully well when it comes to reproducing music, but to my mind their most outstanding quality is—excitement! When properly set up, the Classic XII reward careful room placement and toe in, the Fyne speakers are capable of delivering an out-of-speaker presentation that is shockingly tactile and wonderfully rich with bass response that’s uncanny in its ability to sound fully formed in space. Overall, think exciting.

The 12 in the Vintage Classic’s name refers to the size of its proprietary point source IsoFlare driver, a coax design that situates a 75mm titanium alloy dome compression tweeter dead center of the 300mm IsoFlare midrange/bassdriver. The IsoFlare technology was developed by Fyne’s Dr. Paul Mills, who spent the better part of 30 years working for Tannoy.

BassTrax Design Profile. image credit: Fyne Audio

But IsoFlare isn’t the end of the Fyne speaker design story that incorporates two more important pieces—BassTrax and FyneFlute. You can read about this tech on the company’s website () but in brief BassTrax refers to the downfiring port found in all Fyne floorstanding speakers from the F500 Series on up and employs a Tractrix profile diffuser (patent applied for) to convert the plain wave energy to an expanding spherical 360-degree wavefront, integrating energy uniformly into the room.. FyneFlute refers to the scalloped rubber fluting you can see circling the IsoFlare driver’s edge that eliminates mis-termination effects and reduces colouration, providing greater musical accuracy. Or so says Fyne.

I had an opportunity to sit with Dr. Mills and Fyne’s Managing Director Andrzej Sosna during Axpona 2024 and one thing you can count on is there’s real engineering behind every decision and Fyne speaker rooted in decades of speaker-building experience. The main focus of our sit down was to talk about Fyne’s then new SuperTrax time aligned omnidirectional super tweeter but we also touched on things like Fyne’s focus on creating speakers that behave well in-room in the real world and how engineering principles translate into design decisions informed by listening. I commented about the excellent off-axis performance of the Vintage Classic XII, yes they’ve been here that long, which is one result of the IsoFlare point source drivers being “perfectly time-aligned” according to Dr. Mills. What I can add is—it works—as music sounded right and true even as I moved around the Barn off, and way off, axis.

shown with grilles in place around back

Another feature that speaks more to convenience than performance, which I’m very happy to see, is the included grills can hang on the back of the speakers thanks to hidden magnets when not in use. Also around back you’ll see two sets of binding posts on each speaker to accommodate bi-wiring or bi-amping. Fyne claims, and I believe ‘em, a 25Hz- 26kHz typical in-room frequency response with an easy to drive 96dB sensitivity (2.83 Volt @ 1m) and 8 Ohm nominal load.

As you can see, the Vintage Classic’s have a vintage classic appearance all wrapped in a lovely Walnut veneer with nice nubby fabric accent wrapped around the bottom of the cabinet that conceals the BassTrax opening. The build quality and in room look & feel are first rate. Top notch. Lovely.

During the Fyne’s very nearly 4-month Barn stay they mainly got to play with the Naim NAC 332 Preamplifier/NAP 250 Power Amplifier stack (review) and the Barn resident Leben CS600X with the Mola Mola Tambaqui (review) acting as streamer and DAC with all cabling courtesy of AudioQuest including their Robin Hood Speaker Cables (see full Barn and system details). My new Box Furniture Modular Double Wide rack in walnut arrived mid-review for a walnut fest for the eyes.

Before we dig into the music listening portion of today’s proceedings, I want to take a minute to talk about speaker setup and surprises as they relate to the Vintage Classic XII, which spent their entire time on the Barn’s B-Side which is (roughly) 21’ wide and 35’ deep with a 12’ ceiling. I have the cement slab floor marked with blue painter’s tape to make speaker setup easier, as this marked location is where most speakers typically work their best. And this was more or less the case with the Fyne, as they sounded very good soon after I placed them on the tape, as it were. But, and this is very big but, they went from very good to exciting! only after more careful tweaking which accounted for a few inches of adjustment and a slightly more pronounced toe-in.

Prior to this careful tweaking, I was thinking the Fyne’s upper midrange had a hint of a bite and made use of the two adjustment controls located on the front panel marked “HF Energy Adjustment” and “Presence Adjustment” to tame it. The included manual states:

The Vintage Classic Series are provided with two adjustment controls on the front panel, to achieve optimal performance in terms of both the listening environment and listener preference.

The upper ‘Energy’ control alters the level of signal fed to the tweeter, from the crossover point upwards, giving control over how bright the presentation sounds.

The lower ‘Presence’ control only affects the lower treble region of 2.5 – 5.0kHz, and influences articulation and vocal clarity and having an effect on image depth.

And they work as advertised but I decided to work on setup and lo and behold when properly dialed in in Barn, the Vintage Classic XII rewarded with a new level of clarity with not a hint of bite while becoming sonically damn near invisible. You may have heard some people, you know the one’s who are expert at comments, claim that speakers with wide baffles don’t image well and I can tell you, based on decades of experience, they could not be wronger. The Fyne’s, as well as the Barn resident DeVore O/96, image with the best of ‘em. That’s what I like to call a fact.

Saya Gray’s debut album from last year, 17 Masters, is rich with atmosphere, delighting in an array of sounds from bass, synths, trumpet, and more with Gray’s vocals riding the wave. Gray shared, “Music has always been very much an in body/out of body experience for me.” And 17 Masters is both, at least for me, and the Fyne’s reveled in its subtlest sounds, movement, and groove filling the Barn with Gray’s quirky pop-infused funkiness. And I have to admit it took me more than a few headshakes to shake off just how uncanny the Fyne’s presented all of this sonic loveliness in space in the Barn, completely detached from the speakers proper. What’s more, the sound and shape of Gray’s bass was about as rich and dimensional as I’ve heard which also took some getting used to. Nice.

Kim Gordon’s latest The Collective gives me hope for my 70s with its cool groovy badass hotness. Crunchy guitars, buoyant bass, and Gordon’s spoken, recited, and sung vocals were thrilling to dive into through the Vintage Classic XII as they created, along with the Mola Mola and Leben, a great big ball of well defined sound energy to disappear into. With each sonic element laid out in space I could easily follow each player, each source of sonic crush, if I so desired or lean back and take in the entire onslaught whole. The Fyne can release as much convincing energy into even a large space with ease driven by 28 or so glorious Leben Watts. Sweet. I will also share that I loved, loved, the Leben CS600X/Fyne combo more than any other as they brought out the beast in each other.

Back to the Vintage Classic’s bass response, if you love pound-your-chest flap-your-pants kinda bass that’s more sound pressure than sound, I’m not so sure you’ll appreciate the Fyne’s finely sorted low end that delivers dimensional and tuneful bass response that’s as natural as I’ve had the pleasure to hear. Headbangers take note.

One late night listening I did what I don’t typically do these days and that was listen to an oldie but goodie all the way through. You could say I am addicted to listening to the new, filling my mind and body with new music, new sounds, and new ideas which leaves little time for reminiscing. But I wanted to hear Nebraska through this system, all the way through, because I knew it would be special. And it was. All of the Fyne’s strengths—clarity without edge, natural tone color, resolution that conveys the subtlest shifts with ease, and their ability to disappear into music—brought me up close and personal to Springsteen’s most up close and personal recording.

I’ll share a dirty secret—when I first heard Bruce back in the day (early 1970s) I recoiled with attitude and the idea that he was stealing Dylan’s playbook. I had a lot of attitude back in the day, shocking I know, and it kept me from actually hearing and appreciating things like Springsteen. And the thing that shook me out of my self-imposed stupor was seeing how people reacted to his music out in the real world. The absolute joy and abandon his music inspired and he pulled this magic trick off in NJ in the 1970s, which is some kind of miracle in my book. All to say that when ideas intrude on experience and enjoyment, it’s time to get a new attitude.

2023’s Rising is 27 minutes of acoustic inspired interplay between the US-based trio SUSS and Australia’s Andrew Tuttle. This is peaceful, gentle music, the kind of music that can change a mood or cause reflection and the Vintage Classic XII whipped up a fully believable and delicately engaging world of sound to float within. Once again the Fyne’s core strengths of clarity, color, resolution, and space freed from source filled the Barn with the convincing and wholly engaging world within music. Delicate, detailed, timbrally rich, and spaciously right, this kind of presentation makes time slip away which is exactly what I want from a hifi. If I, or you, find my/yourself checking a device multiple times during the course of a track or album, something’s wrong. Now what’s wrong may not be the hifi or the music as it seems with each passing day we are more attached to devices than reality, but I can tell you that the level of reproduction offered by the Fyne/Leben/Mola Mola system had me happily disinterested in being connected to a perpetually humming network of noise.

In terms of direct and sensible comparisons, there are no speakers on my Favorite Speakers list near the Fyne’s price that I like more. My DeVore O/96 (review) cost $15,900 these days, which is about $4k more than the Vintage Classic XII and to my ears the O/96 have their own set of strengths that map perfectly to my tastes. Chief among them is their uncanny sense of grace, ease, and richness that ring as true as any speaker I’ve experienced, regardless of cost, which is why I choose to live with ‘em. But, $4k is a significant price difference making this more of a reflection of my chosen reference than meaningful comparison. Or to put it another way, at the Fyne’s asking price I don’t have another speaker I prefer based on performance. Of course there’s the matter of looks, something that can’t be overlooked in a largish loudspeaker, but that’s entirely up to the eye of the beholder. To my eyes and tastes, vintage and classic work just fine.

New Age Doom’s 2023 album There Is No End with Tuvaband continues to entice with its hard mix of metal crush and dreamy pop. My favorite track is the album closer “There Is No End”, the most dreamy, least metal song on the album with trumpet acting like the ghost of Chet Baker (think Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding”) around Tuvaband’s sulky vocals. Here, the Fyne’s ability to weave a large, dense and completely captivating sound image transformed the Barn, once again, into a new world to explore where music time holds sway. Even off axis, even way way off axis, music sounded convincing and just plain right which is a quality I would not want to live without due to the nature of how I live in the Barn’s space. Namely, all over the place.

To say I was impressed by the Fyne Vintage Classic XII is a gross understatement. If we take everything into account—performance, build quality, price, and transformative experience maker—I recommend them without reserve. If you’ve been shopping for a last speaker anywhere near the Fyne’s asking price, seek out a pair and be prepared to lose yourself in music.

Fyne Audio Vintage Classic XII Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Price: $11,799/pair
Company Website: Fyne Audio
US Distributor Website: Harmonia Distribution


System Type: 2 way, downwards firing port, with BassTrax Tractrix diffuser
Recommended amplifier power (Watt RMS): 20 – 350
Peak power handling (Watt): 700
Continuous power handling (Watt RMS): 175
Sensitivity (2.83 Volt @ 1m): 96dB
Nominal impedance: 8 Ohm
Frequency response (-6dB typical in room): 25Hz- 26kHz
Drive unit complement: 1 x 300mm IsoFlare point source driver, multi-fibre bass / midrange cone, with 75mm titanium alloy dome compression tweeter, ferrite magnet system
Crossover frequency: 750Hz
Crossover type: Bi-wired passive low loss, 2nd order low pass, 2nd order high pass. Cryo-Lite treated.
System adjustments: High frequency energy (750Hz – 26kHz) +/- 3dB Presence (2.5kHz – 5.0kHz) +/- 3dB
Dimensions (HxWxD): 948 x 550 x 421mm (37.3 x 21.7 x 16.6″)
Weight: Each 54.5kg
Finishes: Walnut
Cabinet Construction: High density fibreboard, walnut veneered with extensive internal bracing