Fluance Ai40 Bookshelf Speakers Offer Big Bass and Bluetooth on a Budget

The Fluance Ai40 speakers and remote.
The Fluance Ai40 offers lots of sound and good value, but audiophiles should look elsewhere. Michael Crider

The Fluance Ai40 does three things well: it’s big, it’s loud, and it’s cheap. The speakers have tons of power and Bluetooth for easy connections, but they’re missing the finishing touches that would make them a great bookshelf speaker set.

At just $170 with five-inch drivers, an integrated amplifier, and Bluetooth, Fluance packs a lot of value into this set. But compared to competitors, the sound is just so-so, especially in the midrange. Between that, a style that doesn’t stand out, and a couple of missing creature comforts, it’s a good choice for bargain hunters, but not audiophiles.

The Ai40 is Fluance’s entry-level bookshelf speaker set, and it boasts impressive five-inch, woven glass fiber drivers and 35 watts of power in each box. And “box” is the right word—with MDF wood housings (vinyl wood decals), no driver covers, and a single volume dial for control, these won’t turn any heads. We received the natural walnut color, but bamboo and flat black housings are also available.

The speakers are proudly “designed and engineered in Canada,” and I do like the little Canadian flag tags on the back. If you check the box, though, you’ll see they’re manufactured in China.

Canadian flag on the back of a Fluance Ai40 speaker.
The little Canadian flag is adorable, but the speakers are made in China. Michael Crider

If the style doesn’t say much, perhaps it’s because it doesn’t have to. At 11-inches tall and almost eight-inches deep, these speakers are beefy—too beefy to fit behind the monitors on my desk, for example. But considering the power and size of the drivers, they’re not unreasonably large.

Listening to my typical mix of videos and music via the standard RCA input nearly blew my ears off at full volume. The integrated amplifier offers much punchier bass than you usually get without a dedicated subwoofer (and there’s no option to add one directly, by the way). It was too much sound for my office—these are better suited for a large bedroom or even a living room, assuming you’re okay with just stereo sound and a single RCA input.

The RCA and Bluetooth inputs on the backs of the Fluance Ai40 speakers.
Connections are limited to a single RCA input and Bluetooth. Michael Crider

While they offer a lot of sound and a whole lot of bass, the speakers could be better in the midrange. Compared to my trusty Edifier R1280T, the larger speakers were muddy in the middle frequencies, even after the recommended 12-hour breaking-in period. They also had quite a bit more analog noise, despite coming with heavy-duty cables and nice metal contact points. You can get rid of this by connecting with Bluetooth, but that won’t be an option if you’re looking for a simple setup. Qualcomm’s aptX audio standard is included, so that Bluetooth connection is quite a bit better than some cheaper options.

Controls are also a bit limited. The volume knob is also a power button and a switch between analog and Bluetooth inputs, but bass and treble have to be handled with the included IR remote. The pairing button is on the back of the right speaker, and this does the Ai40 no usability favors. That’s a control that might be used often for guests or quick mobile connections, and it’s hard to get to. There’s no reason the pairing button couldn’t be on the front, the remote, or (preferably) both.

The remote for the Fluance Ai40 speakers.
Most of the speakers’ controls (except Bluetooth pairing) are on the remote. Michael Crider

In terms of value, the Ai40 is competitive for those who want tons of power and don’t particularly care about high fidelity or connection options. To get five-inch drivers with Bluetooth from a competing brand, you’re looking at $50-$100 more. If you want that power on a budget—especially with bass that rattles your teeth in most rooms—go for it. If you need a more subtle performance in the midrange and more than a single wired connection option, there are better choices on the market, but you’ll probably pay more.

What’s an Instagram Theme, and Should You Have One?

colorful spread of photos from the Pantone Instagram account

Every month, a billion people use Instagram. If you’re one of that billion, why not get more out of your time on the app? An Instagram theme will make your posts pay off with new, loyal followers and a more impressive feed.

Instagram themes sync your posts under a cohesive visual concept, giving you an attractive, curated account. While not everyone needs an Instagram theme, they’re a great way to make your Insta more visually appealing and fun. And for anyone hoping to use the platform for personal branding or sales, they’re virtually essential.

Is an Instagram theme right for you? And if so, how can you decide on (and stick to) a great theme? Here’s everything you need to know to create a stand-out Instagram theme that grows your following naturally.

Why Use an Instagram Theme?

With an Instagram theme, all of your posts are united with visual consistency. Your theme can be based on color: for example, you might post only black-and-white images or only pastels. It can involve the subject: you might post all beach-related photos or all portraits. It can involve a bigger picture: using individual images to create a larger visual mosaic made of smaller image “tiles.” Or it can be anything else you dream up.

For brands, an Instagram theme serves as a sort of shorthand for your “brand story,” or the unique details about your business that customers love. If you aspire to sell to the trendy minimalist, for example, you can reflect that with a theme that involves simple images against clean white backgrounds.

But Instagram themes are also great for individuals. They can give people a clear idea of who you are simply by glancing over your Instagram. And they can make posting more fun, by giving you the payoff of a prettier account.

Social media is all about representing yourself online, and an Instagram theme can help your posts feel more authentic and purposeful. A great theme also tends to attract new followers and compels more people to interact with your enviable account.

How to Create an Instagram Theme

RELATED: How to Create a Personal Brand

Does this posting tactic sound right for you? Then you’ll need to choose the best theme to work with.

Read the remaining 23 paragraphs

How To Switch Between Multiple Instagram Accounts

It’s quite common for people to have multiple social media accounts. Perhaps they have a personal profile for friends and family, and one for business? In an era where private life and work life frequently threaten to overlap with one another online, it is sensible to separate the two wherever possible.

Or maybe you are a social media manager who is employed to look after multiple accounts? On a smartphone, logging in and out of accounts (as well as remembering the login details) is the height of tedium, especially if you have big fingers like me.

Instagram on the other hand makes it easier by allowing you to connect accounts to one another then switch between them with a couple of taps. Unfortunately, it only works on smartphones – for now.

How To Connect Multiple Instagram Accounts Together

My dog has his own Instagram account (what can I say, he’s a real diva). So I am going to connect his account to mine, so I can add photos much more easily.

Once you have logged into the first account, it’s time to hook up the second. So go to your profile and tap on the three vertical lines (the “hamburger menu”) at the top right hand side.

This slides the screen to the left and in the panel which now appears, scroll to the bottom and tap on Settings.

Now scroll all the way to the bottom until you see the Logins section. Tap on Add account.

You will now get the standard Instagram login screen. Sign into the second account.

If you go back to your profile page now, there is an arrow next to your name. Tap on that.

At the bottom of the screen, you will now see a menu with the connected account.

If you have any more accounts to connect to, keep going. I am not aware of any limits imposed by Instagram on account linking.

That is basically it. One further thing to mention is that when you now post photos, you have the option of posting the picture to multiple accounts all at once, which is a real neat time saver.

How to enable thumbnail previews for RAW images on Windows 10

Cameras, real ones and not the ones on your phone, save RAW photos. RAW is a format in itself though RAW files may not always have this extension. Some will use DNG, others will NEF, ORF, etc. The format often depends on which camera was used to capture a photo but RAW is the general name given to these uncompressed photos. By default, Windows 10 can generate a thumbnail preview for a large number of file formats but many RAW formats are not included in this list. Here’s how you can enable thumbnail previews for RAW images on Windows 10.

Thumbnail previews for RAW images

These thumbnail previews will appear in File Explorer. To enable them, install Microsoft’s free RAW Image Extension from the Microsoft Store.

Once installed, close all File Explorer windows that are open to a folder with a RAW file in it. Open a new File Explorer window and navigate to the folder with the RAW images. This time, the generic image thumbnail should be replaced with a proper preview of the image file.

This extension should also add the ability to read some of the metadata that is written to the RAW file though it may still miss some of it. It will not add any special editing abilities to any app.

Out of the box, Windows 10 does provide thumbnail previews for some RAW file formats but not for all of them. If your RAW files already show a proper thumbnail preview, then they’re in a supported format and you don’t need to install this extension. If you’re unable to view metadata for a file even though you get a thumbnail preview of it, this extension may or may not help.

This extension is a File Explorer extension so, if you need to remove it, you can do so from the Settings app. The extension is highly unlikely to slow your system down though in some cases, the preview might take a little time to generate if you’re copying/moving lots of files. Remember that RAW files are large.

If you’re still unable to get thumbnail previews for RAW images on Windows 10 after installing this extension, it is possible that your particular file type is much too niche. In that case, you should look for file managers or photo managers that the maker of your camera may have released and use it to browse your photos. Don’t change the file extension of your files to RAW or anything else. That may damage it.

Read How to enable thumbnail previews for RAW images on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter