Hardware Reviews

Fyne Vintage Five: a very good year

Fyne Audio Vintage Five speakers review https://the-ear.net

Fyne Audio Vintage Five speakers

I first saw the Mini-Me Vintage Five from Scottish company Fyne Audio at their launch during the Bristol hi-fi show at the start of the year. The looks and build quality appealed at once, even though the units were not playing when I visited their room. It was at the inaugural Oslo audio show that I had the chance for a long listen to the design and decided that the sound quality matched the aesthetics and I would like to try them at home. Such has been their success that it was some eight months before Fyne could spare a pair for review, and I have been using them at the centre of my everyday system, positioned either side of my TV monitor.

Vintage Five concept

Formed in 2017, Fyne Audio is the creation of former Tannoy employees. Among them is audio guru Dr. Paul Mills, the company’s technical director, formerly engineering director at Tannoy. He revelled in the fact that, under Fyne, he was able to undertake projects and develop technologies that “would not have been possible” in the old regime.

Dr Mills has been at the forefront of loudspeaker design for decades, becoming one of the industry’s most respected figures since the early ‘90s. Bringing this unrivalled blend of heritage, experience and engineering knowledge to bear on a project close to his heart, Fyne Audio launched its premium Vintage and more affordable Vintage Classic loudspeaker series.

Fyne Audio Vintage Five speakers review https://the-ear.net

Two models were added at the Bristol launch in Fyne’s retro-styled range: a new top-line and the entry-level Five reviewed here. It features an all-new Isoflare five inch coaxial drive unit which combines a multifibre cone mid/bass driver with Fyneflute surround and a 19mm magnesium dome compression driver tweeter with neodymium motor system.

Fyne have gone for a ‘no compromise’ execution of retro style meets modern engineering built in the UK with ‘timeless style’. The plywood cabinets are hand finished in exquisite, oiled walnut veneers, set with unique burr walnut inlays and finished with gold anodised metalwork throughout. They certainly exude quality.

The grilles (which add another retro dimension) feature a leather tab while below the drive unit is a micro-sized implementation of Fyne’s Basstrax reflex port/diffuser technology. Under this is a Presence control for +/- 2dB in the all-important 4-5kHz region. I had this in the maximum position and found it the best setting for my room.

Quality assured

Before anyone bleats about the price, it has to be remembered that these are not mass-produced, snap-together boxes assembled in some Chinese sweatbox of a factory. These are handcrafted cabinets of superb quality built by a cabinet specialist in Poland. The drivers and crossovers are hand-built in Scotland. During the design process, Dr Mills selected his favourite high-end components, from brands such as Claritycap, Van den Hul, WBT and a number of smaller UK companies. A Glasgow-based engineering company undertakes the metalwork for the Tactrix Cones, plinths and trims, while the overall build process is now done in-house at the Fyne factory in Scotland. Such quality has to be factored into the overall cost, not to mention tax and the margins made by distributors and retailers. Those cabinets are truly a sight to behold: the walnut veneer, burr walnut inlays, gold anodised metalwork trim and plinth style top panel. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous, and a striking statement of ‘timeless’ aesthetics.

Fyne Audio Vintage Five speakers review https://the-ear.net


The single drive unit used is worthy of special note, being a point-source system where the bass/midrange driver shares a common centre with the high frequency unit. The idea is that, with constant directivity following the flare of the driver cone, sound is produced as if emanating from a single point in space, providing outstanding time alignment across the audio frequency spectrum and class leading stereo imaging, even off axis.

At the heart of the driver is a 19mm magnesium dome compression tweeter. A vented rear chamber in the neodymium magnet places the driver’s low frequency resonance well below the crossover region and pushes the break-up mode well above the level of human hearing.

Rather than a simple reflex vent, with plastic tube inserted, Fyne have used their Basstrax downward-firing port system in its most advanced and highly-tuned format to date. It was originally applied to horn loudspeakers in the 1920s, brought right up to date by Fyne Audio over the last five years. Designed as an integrated part of the rigid birch ply cabinets, the lower chamber bass energy is vented downwards onto a large, Tractrix profile diffuser cone that turns the energy into a 360-degree spherical wavefront. This maintains a 90-degree angle at each intersection of the expanding wavefront, in an effort to avoid reflections, and creating a smoother bass response in-room. The result is that the Vintage loudspeakers are much less critical of room positioning than most ported speakers.

The crossover network in the Vintage Five draws heavily on the work behind the flagship F1-12 and distils Paul Mills’ 35-plus years of experience in analogue crossover design. Thus, we have carefully auditioned components, hand-built with point-to point-wiring. Featuring silver-plated matched crystal OFC wiring throughout, once fully assembled and tested, every crossover is deep-cryogenically treated at a specialist facility. This super freezing and slow thawing process is intended to relieve micro-stresses in components, wiring and solder joints, maximising signal transfer and delivering greater transparency to the sound. The technique was pioneered by Townshend Audio and is used by a variety of audio manufacturers around the globe.

Sound quality

With the Fyne Vintage Fives accommodated on my lightweight, open wood stands from Tonträger, and coupled to my trusty Hegel H190 (amp/DAC/streamer combo), I was reminded so much of iconic loudspeakers from the ‘70s; that era of distinctive, classic cabinets and ground-breaking technologies that was such a watershed in hi-fi circles. I could not help but be impressed by the way that Paul Mills, had managed to recapture that nostalgia in this latest design.

Fyne Audio Vintage Five speakers review https://the-ear.net

In a reverse to normal procedure, due to panel members’ availability, I lived with the Vintage Fives in my system first before the listening sessions in earnest got underway. My first thoughts resembled those from the Oslo show audition, namely that they kicked rather good bass for such a small cabinet with a five inch driver. I am used to shoebox monitors with their rapid LF roll-off and so the bass output of the Fives was unsurprising.

I really enjoyed the sound quality which was accurate and clearly the aim has been to go for a neutral tonal balance and to replicate what is on the recording as much as is possible given the drive unit and cabinet size limitations. We were spared unwanted colorations and human voice exhibited no sibilance, nasality or chestiness. The cabinet also remained free from boxiness and I was able to enjoy the whole of Vivaldi’s Gloria (King’s College Choir/Cambridge Academy of Ancient Music under Stephen Cleobury) when I had intended to listen just to the angelic opening.

My usual diet of Poirot, Rumpole of the Bailey and Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries all passed muster with an enjoyable rendition as good as I can remember. The voices not displaying any unpleasant or unnatural anomalies, and I could immerse myself into the plots.

The listening panel duly assembled and the source material changed. They chose Gary Jules’ Mad World, a delightful mix of vocals and piano. Comments were that the Fives were a bit bass-light and we made some alterations to improve things for musical enjoyment. The stands were swapped out for some filled metal ones from Custom Design, and the speakers were moved to closer the rear wall. The bass output was enhanced considerably and the overall impression was very favourable; the soundstage deliciously deep and wide and the frequency response now extended downwards to something approaching the quoted bass roll off point of 46Hz.

fyne vintage 5 at Bristol hi-fi show 23
Fyne Vintage Five (left) and Vintage Fifteen

Having a point source drive unit removes the ‘hot spot’ effect and it was a delight to be able to enjoy the fine imaging capabilities of the Vintage Fives in a variety of positions across the room. The treble is highly refined and augmented so well to the midrange which, in turn, integrates to the lower frequencies in what is clearly a very well-designed product.

Next, we enjoyed All About Eve’s debut album Martha’s Harbour with female vocals and guitar. Imaging here was shown to be spot-on and the Vintage Fives also able to extract immense levels of detail and portray the sound so effectively as to bring the performers to life in such a harmonic way. Before the panel left, we had time for some jazz courtesy of Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong in that amazing stereo version of the High Society soundtrack. The feet began to tap and broad smiles emerged as Bing appeared on one speaker followed by Louis on the other. Before that thrilling musical climax, which was handled with aplomb, the track begins slowly as we are introduced to each instrument in the band and each does a little solo. The speaker’s timing credentials were assured here and everyone went home happy.

Just before packing the speakers for their return, the heavyweight Hegel H600 (all £10,500 of it) arrived and I connected the Fives just to see what would happen. My goodness. That such speakers could perform so well on a high-end amplifier was incredible. The bass performance was now beyond what could be imagined from such a small enclosure(Simply Red’s Money’s Too Tight), the timing now so spot-on that you might be listening to loudspeakers at three-times the cost (Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to do With It).


The aesthetics alone do almost enough to sell the Vintage Five to me, but we are here for the sound after all and I have to say that I enjoyed them and liked everything they do. The only criticism could be that they don’t perhaps do as much as some will expect for the outlay, although attaching a beefy amplifier goes someway to compensate. That said, I would always much rather a transducer does what it does accurately than try to achieve something and fail. Too many designs fall into that latter category and are the poorer for it. We just have to accept the laws of physics and admit that a 50Hz bottom-end response is what will be. The bass response is there, just not as deep or with as much weight as a larger drive unit and bigger cabinet can muster.

Fyne Audio Vintage Five speakers review https://the-ear.net

The Vintage Fives are not a forgiving speaker, they are perhaps not as warm or lush-sounding as a BBC-type monitor. They are, however, very tolerant of room placement and, as we showed, sensitive to stand type. They are certainly precise, but without being annoyingly analytical, and manage to extract tremendous detail from recordings with a fine treble response and awesome midrange.

The overall balance is natural and we are thankfully spared unpleasant colorations and distortion, such is the expedience of the design. The overall soundstage is larger than might be expected from such a diminutive design, and it sounds full-bodied, deep and quick.

With electronic music they make a decent stab at creating a believable sound while they are simply a dream on spoken voice and a delight on classical repertoire and jazz ensembles. I have no hesitation in recommending them as well-engineered, exquisitely styled and competently engineered compact loudspeakers.


Type: reflex loaded 2-way standmount loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: 1.9kHz
Drive units:
Mid/bass: 125mm Isoflare point source driver, multi-fibre cone
Tweeter: 19mm magnesium dome compression, neodymium magnet
Nominal frequency response:  46 – 38,000 Hz (-6dB in-room)
Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms
Sensitivity: 87dB @ 2.83v/1m
Connectors: single-wire binding posts with earth point
Dimensions HxWxD: 350 x 219 x 260mm
Weight: 6.2kg
Finishes: walnut wood veneer
Warranty: 5 years

Price when tested:
£3,750 per pair
Manufacturer Details:

Fyne Audio Limited
T 0141 428 4008


standmount loudspeakers


Trevor Butler

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