Fluance RT81 Review

by Bruno Brozovic

Fluance RT81 impressed me with its solid MDF wood plinth and aluminum platter, which reduces vibrations and resonance. The high-quality Audio Technica AT95E cartridge with an elliptical stylus delivers precise sound reproduction. It’s belt-driven motor and adjustable counterweight ensures stable playback. While the light platter and beginner-level cartridge might not satisfy all audiophiles, the RT81’s performance and technical features are its main strengths.


Fluance has earned a reputable name in the audio equipment industry for many years. Although this Canadian company specializes in surrounding sound equipment, its 6 proprietary turntables are in a league of their own.

But for this in-depth review, I have specifically picked the RT81. Is it worth the price? Does it perform exceptionally well as it claims? Read on until the end to find out all about the Fluance RT81, its performance, specs, pros, and cons.

Fluance RT81 Review

What’s in the box?

When I purchased my Fluance RT81, the box that was shipped to me included the following components:

  • RT81 turntable
  • Tinted dust cover
  • 2 dust cover hinges
  • Aluminum platter
  • Rubber slip mat
  • Rubber belt
  • Removable headshell along with Audio Technica AT95E cartridge
  • Adjustable counterweight
  • 7-inch or 45 adapter
  • 5 ft 100V – 240V (50/60Hz) AC power adapter
  • 3 ft RCA cable with incorporated ground wire (PFHTCA)
  • User manual

Fluance offers lifetime customer support for this turntable and its other audio equipment. Moreover, the company provides a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty on the RT81 turntable, making it a reasonable investment that would function for an extended time.

Construction & Design

Right off the box, the Fluance RT81 turntable gives the impression of promising audio equipment. Each section of this review is going to focus on a different aspect of the turntable to provide you with every detail.


The overall design of the Fluance RT81 for its price point is phenomenal. Each of its integrated components is made with premium quality material that ensures durability and long-term usage.


The RT81 features a solid MDF wood plinth. In contrast to standard plywood, MDF wood has a high-quality composite construction that delivers long-lasting results.

Fluance RT81 Plinth Design

To make the RT81 look like a presentable piece of equipment you can place anywhere, Fluance has used a high gloss finish on the base. The high-gloss finish is available in three versions: piano white, piano black, and my favorite, the natural walnut. With premium-quality construction and aesthetic, high-end exterior finish, the RT81 imparts a retro look, adding charm to the place it is kept.

Fluance RT81 Turntable with AT95E Cartridge, Belt Drive, Built-in Preamp, Adjustable Counterweight - Piano Black
  • PURE ANALOG LISTENING EXPERIENCE - Premium components allow this high fidelity belt driven turntable to recreate the...
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE CARTRIDGE - The Audio Technica AT95E featuring a diamond elliptical tipped stylus is designed to track...
  • SUPERIOR RECORD TRACKING - Enjoy perfect playback using the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm ensuring the stylus is...
  • HIGH MASS MDF WOOD PLINTH - The beautiful piano black finished cabinet is crafted from solid engineered (MDF) wood,...
  • CAPTIVATING SIGNAL CLARITY - Incorporating a high quality built-in Texas Instruments preamp, ground terminal and gold...

Built-in Components

Coming to the components, I could observe how much Fluance has focused on the details to ensure the sound quality is not compromised. The RT81 includes an aluminum platter paired with a rubber slip mat, an S-shaped tonearm that features a detachable headshell, and a prime-quality Audio Technica AT95E cartridge. This cartridge contains a cantilever made with premium aluminum and equips an elliptical tip stylus on its end.

Fluance RT81 Tonearm and Cartridge

A speed selector is also featured on the above surface of the wooden plinth to switch between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM.

Fluance RT81 Speed Knob

The RT81 contains built-in internal and external preamps with a ground terminal. On the back side of the cabinet, two switches are also present. One switch toggles between the line-level and phono-level outputs, while the other switch controls the auto-stop feature.

Fluance RT81 Back Side View

Fluance RT81 Back Side View

The entire plinth with its attached components stands on four pre-attached isolation feet, which provide stability to the entire structure and enhance performance. Last but not least, a fine-quality dust cover encloses the top of the RT81. This dust cover fits into the hinges on the back side and can be detached if needed.

Even though the design is excellent and well put together, does the RT81 deliver top performance as well?

Fluance RT81 Review – Appearance and Functionality

Plinth, Feet, And Platter

Although the solid wood plinth makes the Fluance RT81 highly aesthetic, its construction also helps improve performance. In combination with the isolation feet, the plinth aids in reducing unwanted vibrations and resonance that could ruin the sound quality.

The aluminum platter is evenly weighted so the record can rotate uniformly. I placed the rubber slip mat on the underside of the platter. That reduced reverberation to produce a pure and crisp sound.


The Fluance RT81 is a belt-driven turntable that offers stability to the vinyl record being played and ensures balanced rotation. It is paired with an integrated high-precision DC motor to deliver smooth operation and rotation of the platter. The speed can be changed between 33.3 RPM and 45 RPM with the switch on the top. Hence, the RT81 serves as an excellent turntable for playing various LP and EP vinyl records.

Tonearm, Cartridge, And Stylus

As I mentioned earlier, every detail of the included components helps deliver top performance, and the design of the tonearm proves it. Its S shape and steel bearing ensure stability and keep the cartridge and stylus balanced on the playing record. For optimal tonearm balance, the attached counterweight allows fine adjustments. The stability and even balance of the tonearm altogether aid in keeping the stylus rested in the record’s groove. It also maintains an optimal centrifugal force on the stylus during playback to prevent skating and scratching.

Fluance RT81 Headshell

One of the components I was delighted to see while reviewing the Fluance RT81 turntable was the cartridge and its equipped stylus. The AT95E cartridge by Audio Technica is a high-fidelity turntable cartridge that offers excellent clarity. Its featured diamond elliptical stylus works in collaboration to provide superior tracking of the record’s grooves.

The cartridge maintains channel separation with an adequate tracking force of 2.0 grams while the stylus rests perfectly on the underlying grooves. It ensures precise and high-definition sound details and gives audio similar to the original recording. Another excellent system attribute of the RT81 is its auto-stop feature. Once the stylus reaches the end of the playing vinyl record, it automatically stops tracking. This feature helps preserve the condition of the stylus and the record.

Integrated Preamp

This review will be lacking if the internal circuitry of the Fluance RT81 turntable is not discussed. The integrated preamp by Texas Instruments functions effectively to boost and clarify signals while reducing noise. Besides that, the grounding terminal prevents hum. The internal preamps refine sound quality by directly connecting the phono signals to the gold-plated RCA output by utilizing a dedicated signal path. With the external line output, external speakers can be connected to the turntable to amplify and widen the reach of the audio.

Fluance RT81 Sound Test

In terms of sound quality, the Fluance RT81 is quite good with a nice amount of detail. The included Audio Technica AT95E didn’t impress me much, but it’s a great cartridge for beginners with a replaceable needle, which is very affordable. Because the RT81 has a standard headshell, you can easily replace the cartridge to experiment, which is a nice touch.

I tried to connect the RT81 to my Musical Fidelity V-LPS and the sound quality was better due to a better sound environment, dynamic range, and slightly lower noise.

I was impressed by the good insulation of Fluance RT81 from vibrations. Although the platter is relatively light, the RT81 absorbs external speaker vibrations well, which is nice if you have a turntable and speakers on the same platform.

Fluance RT81 Video Review

Fluance RT81 Specifications

  • Product Dimensions: 13.75 x 16.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Unit Weight: 14.1 pounds
  • Cabinet Material: MDF
  • Platter: Aluminum
  • Platter Diameter: 12 inch
  • Turntable Mat: Rubber
  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Rubber Belt Design: Continuous Loop (Joint-Less)
  • Tonearm Type: Static Balanced, S-Type
  • Tonearm Material: Aluminum
  • Cartridge Model: Audio Technica: AT95E
  • Cartridge Type: Dual Moving Magnet (MM)
  • Stylus: 0.4 × 0.7mil Bonded Elliptical (Diamond)
  • Motor: DC Motor
  • Speed: 33 1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Weighted): 67dB or higher
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Unweighted): 60dB or higher
  • Channel Separation: 20dB at 1kHz
  • Recommended Tracking Force: 2.0g +/–0.5g

You can download the manual here->Fluance RT81 Manual

Final Verdict

Is the Fluance RT81 turntable worth your money? Overall, the RT81 turntable by Fluance is a pretty great audio device for beginners. It offers consistent quality and sound generation, making sure the listening experience is the exact replication of what the artist intended. At a relatively affordable price, the RT81 is a solid product that can be the perfect addition to your audio-loving lifestyle.

Should I buy the Fluance RT81?

Fluance RT81 Review

Fluance RT81 is a decent turntable. It has its flaws but for that amount of money this turntable is more than good.

Is Fluance a good turntable brand?

Fluance RT81 turntable review

This Canadian-based audio brand has several decades of experience in turntable making. So, the answer is yes - Fluance is a good turntable brand.

Does the Fluance RT81 have auto-stop?

Fluance RT81 Back Side View

You will find a switch on the back of your Fluance turntable, sliding this to the ON position will enable Auto-Stop. Once the stylus reaches the end of the playing vinyl record, it automatically stops tracking. This feature helps preserve the condition of the stylus and the underlying vinyl record.

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