Avalon Indra vs Sonus Faber Cremona M

I have just begun assembling my audio system. I bought a Shindo Monbrison and Shindo Montrachet preamp/amp combo and am using the new Sonus Faber Cremona M. I have rediscovered analog and prefer it to CD/digital for now. I was looking to upgrade my inexpensive turntable, but my dealer thinks that changing the speakers might be better. He suggests the new Avalon Indras.

Any thoughts

Hi Bobby,

I just brought a pair of Indras into my system. I love these speakers - they are wonderful at soundstaging and they are great at reproducing inner detail. My listening room was just too small for my prior speakers - Magnepan 20.1's, which are great speakers as well. What size room do you have? Mine is 14.5x18x11. How much power does your amplifier have? I'm using VTL 450's, but Gary at Avalon told me that VTL's integrated amp (I think it's 125 or 150 wpc) drove them nicely as well. I wouldn't hesitate to call Gary at Avalon and ask him about amplifier synergy. The Indra is pretty new, so I don't think there are many around here with first hand experience.

Best, Peter
That seems like a strange suggestion to me. Whereas the Indra would probably better the Cremona M, you have wonderfully musical gear (admittedly, I haven’t heard it together in one system) and, since it is the “M”, probably still fairly new on top of that. Why should you not heave your analogue source into the same league first instead of possibly widening the cleft between front-end and the rest? I’m putting on my most innocent look now, but does that particular dealer perhaps not offer the most inspiring choice of TTs? In Europe the Indra is thrice the price of the Cremona M. In the US that will surely be somewhat different, but I gather we’re talking about a five digit figure difference, aren’t we? I can think of a number of wonderful TT/arm/cart combinations for that!
I agree. Wouldn't change the speakers this fast either. Besides, it's like throwing money in the sewer. The M's are wonderful and for the price difference you can buy lots of stuff that will improve your sound.
By the way, I agree with the guys above. While I love the Indra, I would certainly bring your source up to the quality of the rest of your system...
Thanks for the info. Very helpful.
The story goes like this.
Upon getting the system (which cost a pretty penny), I wanted to upgrade my turntable, since I really listen these to only vinyl. So they really thought that a Brinkmann Balance or Lagrange would be the way to go. However, they would likely equal the cost of my system to date!

So, I looked at other turntables available that would be a bit moree economical for now, but Clearaudios, VPI, and Avids did not really float my boat.

So, I listened to the Indra, which made my cheap turntable sound better. The feeling was the upgrade to the speakers would offer a higher upgrade in sound than an in-between turntable solution. The plan being to gradually upgrade the turntable next year.

And, given that vinyl is really enjoying a renaissance, superior turntable designs will likely re-emerge at perhapos a lower price than today (maybe wishful thinking). I am also a vinyl newbie so I will take a bit of time before I get a final table.

What I wanted to know is simply if the Indras a re vastly superior to the Cremona M.


I have heard the Eidolon and the Cremona M and I liked the Cremona M better. The Cremona M fixes everything the old Cremona couldn't do or lacked. Avalon's are so damn picky on room and location it could or could not work when you get them home.
Thanks Mtdking.

I did not expect an answer such as that! I will take it into account. I will demo the Indra's at home compared to the Sonus Faber's. If it is merely a question of sonic presentation, I will probably keep the Sonus'.

I second Mtdking's comments. I just got rid of my Avalon Eidolons after 3 weeks because when I got them home I discovered they are very particular to room placement. I found (among other things) they need to sit out from the rear wall at least 5-6 feet. Any closer and they close up. However once I found their spot they were special. Just didn't work for my living room which is the listening area. I've heard the Indras and they are better however I bet just as finicky. If you have a flexible room and you are willing to treat it, the Indras will be great. Funny but your dealers comments sound like the dealer in Denver. He would say you could consider changing components in your system but why bother, what you really need to do is switch to Avalon speakers.
Thanks for the heads up. The dealer is going to come to my house and demo the Indras so I can A B the cremona M with it.

I`ll let you guys know how it went.

You could always add a sub to the Cremona's to make them go deeper and improve the overall presentation with it.
I guess what t will come down to is which speaker is least fussy about room placement..
I was recently talking to a friend, a Sonus Faber addicted. He loves the new Cremona, but still thinks there is some magic to the old Extremas that was rarely replicated in more recent SF speakers, Cremonas included. Sorry for going off-topic, but I thought I'd share this...anyone agrees or disagrees?
I guess before they were more on the warm side of neutral. The newer models tend to be more honest, more neutral. Maybe for some this means loss of magic, to others it means SF can finally be used with all kinds of music.
I agree with Hulskof.

I initially auditioned the previous Cremona floorstanders and was blown over by their warmth and engaging personality. I had compared them to a Verity Audio Fidelio and there was no contest. I preferred them even to the higher models of JM labs. They were "not boring".

I ended up with the new Cremona M's and they were definitely moer neutral, less "rumbly"...Maybe even more precise.

I went from a Harmon Kardon solid state receiver to a Shindo all tube setup and they became very seductive...
I have auditioned the Avalon Indras finally.

Here are my thoughts.

Firstly , I think that Sonus Faber may be a little generous with their sensitivity. The 87 db Indra feel louder than the Sonus faber by a healthy margin.

The cremona M is a great speaker;especially the beautiful midrange. It's bass, as always could be better but is more than adequate. It is coherent . It is slightly rolled off and pleasant. While listening, you feel the performance and do not appear to be too concerned with minor details.

The Avalon Indra feels like a veil is lifted off the Sonus Faber! Coherent, holographic, great bass extension. Sweet midrange as well; less "soft" than the Sonus Faber's. I would say that both are very good with personal preferences taking precedence over which is "better".
The musical experience is "more" It is not boring to listen too and yet is relaxing as well.

This is truly a marvelous speaker. For what it is worth, I listened to a Wilson Watt/Puppy 8 on a far more expensive system (Shindo and Brinkmann Balance) and my humble system with these speakers were more enjoyable and engaging. I think these speakers are "better" than the Wilsons.

I have heard Pro Ac's D80...not in the same league. I have also heard JM labs Electra 1027, 1037, and Altos. Dynaudio as well.

I have not heard anything in this league. WOW. I am sold. I am going to exchange my Cremona's for the Indras!

Further update.

My wife, who over the last year has become annoyed with my researching of equipment, keeps saying "stupid sound system stuff".

Upon listening to the Indras, she said, they sound much better than the Sonus Faber's. Also, she said, "What, the Italians are lyng about audio equipment too?" (She is Italian from the same region as Sonus Fabe, and she was referring to the Brunello di Montalcino controversy).

So there you have it.

Congratulations with your sound improvements. Glad to see the Indra performes better, as it should do with that price difference. I guess the Cremona's profit more from a high powered solid state amplifier with their low and whimsical impedance. Your tubegear just might not bring out the best in them.
I totally agree with you. In the product information pamphlet, Sonus recommends a high quality amplifier that does not necessarily mean more power. However, these are not the first Italian speakers I have heard that like power. I had listened to Diapason's Diamante and they too were not nearly as romantic without solid state amplification behind them.

However, given my unexpected penchant for tubes, the Sonus were the wrong match...I had initially demoed them with Ayre electronics, but something about those amplifiers left me a bit "nervous" or jittery after a listening session.

It is all really subjective, but I can only highly recommend an audition with the Indras.

Hands down, my favorite speaker...
Spent some quality time with them (I actually did a lot of the woodwork on the cherry prototypes in all the marketing shots!) At lunch time, I would sit in front of the Indras in a dark room and just melt. I'm convinced that Neil is on a different level when it comes to cross over design, having seen the guts of the Indra and Isis. I'll say no more, but just hope you enjoy them!

I hope you got a new pair because the finish is spectacular.

I'll second the praise. I heard the Indras and Isis. IMHO Isis is the most spectacular speaker I've ever heard. Of course at $65,000 they'd better be right?

They're both really clean and holographic. Now that I've heard them I think everyone else plays on a 2 dimentional world, and Avalon lives in a 3 dimentional one. I own Aerial 20t's and they're great but not 3 dimentional like the Indras or Isis.
Not to mention that they are tonally excellent and are easy to drive and all of your components to shine though.

I also listened to the Isis and it is a larger version of the Indra (or vice-versa). Listening to each one in the appropriate room size, I could not tell the difference between the two.

I will say this, however, they did not sound nearly as magical with CD (what does) versus vinyl.

I listened to the Isis on a shindo/VTL setup with a I believe the top of the line Naim CD player. Very nice CD sound, but my 500$ turntable with a decent LP sounds much better and really exploits the strengths of the Indras.

All in all a very special and very heavy product.

As they say in Italian, complementi!
Bob, are you seriously talking about the Naim CD 555?

I am by no means trying to be inquisitional or sarcastic as I can sense your passionate enthusiasm, but in case you are referring to the CD 555, can you please tell me what your turntable/arm/cartridge is? I may want one of those for myself.
I am not one for analyzing things in great detail verbally. I basically walked into this business trusting what I like or not.

I approach my wine drinking the same way...I have long ago stopped talking about notes of vanilla, cherry and spice, and come to love and appreciate a well made and "unfake" wine (there are lots of those out there, but that is a whole other discussion).

My turntable is actually the first turntable I have bought, an extremely humble Pro-Ject expression II for 500$.

I will never forget the first time I hooked it up to my previous system and played the same song on vinyl and CD (on an equally humble Harmon Kardon CD player). Only a deaf person could not tell that the old vinyl copy was clearly superior. At first, it sounded "weird" since I was used to digital sound for years, and that was because it sounded like real instruments, more detailed, more dynamics, etc...

Curious to learn a bit more, I even took my turntable to the dealer, and compared it to a 5000$ clearaudio setup. Yes the clearaudio was a bit better , but price is price, and I was surprised that the difference was not far more pronounced.

When I returned to the CD player in that awesome setup, I guess all the shortcomings of the digital medium were revealed .

I actually wondered if an extremely detailed and transparent system may actually be a wrong choice for CD/digital...maybe if digital is your primary source, you would want a euphonic system (like Sonus Faber Cremona M's with solid state). Just a thougt.

So there you have it. I do not think it is a matter of a 30-40000$ CD player being "beaten" by a humble 500$ record player. I think it is a matter of the vinyl medium, with decent play back, to be a "better" and truer medium than CD.

By the way, those that say bass is better on CD vs vinyl...I think the bass on CD sounds a bit artificial. I saw Metallica live, and even that bass did not sound like what is on CD's... The vinyl gets it better and more accurately, to my ears anyway.

So, after these experiences, I basically am not using my CD player and with at least 3 vinyl stores in my area supplying all the music I need...Well, there you have it.
Dear Karel,

I just saw your system! Wow...as a newbie, I am wondering how you can listen to CD!

Hi Bob,
I was genuinely curious about your TT since I always like to discover things both on the analogue and the digital front. Allow me to make a "vinous" comparison as well: I am not interested in drinking labels or Parker points - the most horrid idiot on that scene - and so I think I can perfectly understand if one just unerringly "feels" one thing is better than another that may be way more expensive. One must just allow the thought to enter one's own mind.
Just a few more things to show you where I'm coming from:
You think vinyl is the inherently better medium; I wholeheartedly agree!
You remark in particular that vinyl is better on low frequencies; I obviously agree!
On top of that there is of course the fact that most - mainly, but sadly not only "popular" music - CDs are disastrously engineered especially in terms of dynamics (in the past we have seen a few decades of crappy vinyl productions as well admittedly)
You wonder how I can listen to CDs; now there my resounding answer is AMR CD-77!
... and productions such as the ones from Fonè (just found out that recording "wizard" Giulio Cesare Ricci has a small vineyard btw), ACT, Stockfisch, Tacet, Chesky etc. So, that's why I also firmly believe CDs don't necessarily kill the music.
Happy listening!

This is fun...a kindred spirit. I do pick my wines however, according to Robert Parker...if he likes it, I will not! I do not like molasses and overdone wines...exactly what a lot of CD recordings are like.

I noticed that your speakers have ceramic drivers. The Avalon Indras have them too. What do you think is the difference between ceramic drivers and other materials (like paper, carbon, metal, etc.).
Hi Dbjain,

I have a pair of Avalon Indra and a shindo Giscours preamp.

I first bought a giscours premap (just amazing ;) ) and after I tried to find my speakers.

I listened to : Wilson WP8, Sonus Faber Cremona M, sonu faber stradivari, Verity Audio parsifal, B&w 800d and some others.

(I don't like the sound of sonus faber because it is slow and quite lush.)

For my taste (clarity, speed, tonality, soundstage) the avalon Indra is another league in comparison to the others.

Maybe it can help you in your search ;)
I don't think the Cremona M is slow and lush at all. The old one maybe, but not the M, which to me has much better speed and clarity. I don't know how it compares to the Indra, but seeing the price difference in my country (Indra being more than 3 times as expensive), the Indra better be good! ;-)
I agree that the Cremona M is faster and more transparent than the previous version; ? maybe less euphonic. I kind of liked the old one because of its euphony.

But, I chose the Indras over the Sonus Faber's. In Canada, the price difference is not as high as it is in Europe, and the Indras are in another league over the Sonus'.

I agree with Samuel. I too have listened to about the same speakers and they are not the same.
If Avalon could just make them a full range speaker the Indra would be awesome speaker. I just have a hard time buying a speaker for over $20,000 that does not go below 30 with some good output. Even the Eidolon just need more bass output to compete with Watt Puppy 7, vandersteen 5a and others in the same price class. They sound very much like Kharma 3.2FE to me but with a tad more bass. With a good sub the Indra's would be a keeper. I sold my Eidolon for a pair of Aerial 20T and then I realized how much bass I was really missing. With the Eidolon I was listening to music that suited the speakers not music that I wanted to listen too. If that makes sense.

But the Indra should not be compared to Cremona M since they are twice the price.

The other thing that needs to be noted is that any Avalon needs more room behind the speaker to get this sound then any other speaker I have had. In most homes it's not practical. I needed about 7 feet behind the speaker to get the 3d to kick in. That was right in the middle of the room. With my Watt Puppy 7 and Aerial 20t I needed only 3 feet to get the same 3d sound.
Just some non information
Avalon Indra 25.000 euro, $40.000
Sonus Faber Cremona M 7.800euro, $12.500

With price differences like that I have the Avalon are better. these are the price I could find in the Netherlands. Hw much do they cost in the US?
Hi Mtdking

If Avalon could just make them a full range speaker the Indra would be awesome speaker.

Yeah it exists, it is the Isis ;)

Even the Eidolon just need more bass output to compete with Watt Puppy 7

I don't agree with you on this point

The wp8 are not neutral and exagerated the low mid ; these speakers have not very deep bass.

Same thing in the upper bass with the Aerial 20T that have +5dB on the 60/80hz

In fact very few speakers reach 20/30 Hz

But I agree that the Indra lacks a little bit of bass

I chose the indra because you can add a sub, in comparison to the other speaker at whom you can't add clarity, naturalnees and imaging

But i can understand that somme people want hudge bass for a $20 000 speakers.

But the Indra should not be compared to Cremona M since they are twice the price.

Even compared to sonus stradivari (40 000$) , the indra is way better to my taste.

I needed about 7 feet behind the speaker to get the 3d to kick in

You are right Avalon speakers needs space, but their imagins is quite unique (!)

Maybe 7 feet is a little bit exagerated :-^

For starters I don't audition speakers in dealer rooms. There is no way you can tell what a speaker sounds like in different rooms. To say that one speaker sounds better than another in different rooms on different gear is ridiculous.

My room had a dip at 65hz and a bump at 40hrz so speakers will sound different my room compared to your room.

The other thing is a speaker that cuts off around 38hz but goes down to 28hz and has low output or doesn't move much air is less likely to affect the lower midrange. If you add a sub to your Andra listen to what it will do to the midrange. That is what all full range speakers have to tackle. Not easy.

I get -3db 24hz in my room with the Watt puppy 7. With the Eidolon I got -6db at 32hz.

Coming back to the comparison of Cremona M to Indra, it would be much more fair to compare the Italian with the Avalon Ascendant, which is more or less in the same price range (the Avalon still costs more than the Sonus Faber in Holland). Which speaker would come out on top then? Any one who compared the two?
For starters I don't audition speakers in dealer rooms. There is no way you can tell what a speaker sounds like in different rooms. To say that one speaker sounds better than another in different rooms on different gear is ridiculous.

I completely agree with you.

I had the chance to compare the WP8, Avalon Indra, Eidolon and Isis in the same room with the same equipment behind.

My room had a dip at 65hz and a bump at 40hrz so speakers will sound different my room compared to your room.

The other thing is a speaker that cuts off around 38hz but goes down to 28hz and has low output or doesn't move much air is less likely to affect the lower midrange. If you add a sub to your Andra listen to what it will do to the midrange. That is what all full range speakers have to tackle. Not easy.

I get -3db 24hz in my room with the Watt puppy 7. With the Eidolon I got -6db at 32hz.

Ok with the room effect you go down to 28hz, but i'm sure that the 70/100Hz is far to exagereted with that deep bass.

The eidolon is far more neutral so maybe it doesn't go that deep , but the bass and midbass that the avalon produce is (in my opinion) far better in term of quality

We always read in review that the bass region on WP8 is terrific, i don't think so

For me the midbass region is always the same and not enough articulate contrary to the mid bass of an indra for example

Size does matter to a certain point ;) Quality of bass is the key for me, but for movies WP8 's bass is great and go deeper.
I think the Wilsons sound really nice. However, the Indras really allow your components to come through; just make sure hour system is not too "etchy" or too "hi-fi"; you may get listening fatigue quickly.
Oops, haven't replied to your question of last week yet. I've come to love ceramic drivers ..., if they are expertly done (Avalan, Ayon, Tidal, Thiel). Though I can't say I've heard so many as to justify a statement of general superiority, so I won't. The thing is, they seem to perform exquisitely in an area that's high on my list of virtues: they are fast. Immediate attack, very natural decay. Is it they don't store energy that much as e.g. metal that upon release can muddle up the signal? The other thing is, they appear very uncoloured to my ear. For instance, I very much like Antonio Forcione recordings; the Tidals make for a beautifully melodious acoustic guitar where the instrument is played like that. On the other hand, Forcione will suddenly accelerate, hard slaps on the strings and the wood and... no speaker to spoil the fun! If it's inexpertly built though, you can get an edginess that is hardly enjoyable. Also, combining ceramic drivers with other material must be a very delicate art mastered by not so many. But again, I'm not fixated on ceramic drivers. (Well, I like to work with ceramic kitchen knives also, but apply them wrongly and you can bid farewell to your knife, so I use Aritsugu knives just as often ;^))
Follow up. I went with the Indras first. Changed the amp from the Montrachet to the Shindo CC 80 mono blocks (huge difference). I then began the source changes. Upgraded to a large Clearaudio Magnum. Nice subtle change. However, it was when the graham Phantom was put in that it really sang. An ebony TR cartridge followed, and a nice subtle change happened. Finally, I changed the turntable to the Brinkmann Bardo (massive effect). System stable now for 4 years and no desire to change.
Just have to point out that by describing them as "2 completely different sounds" you just DID compare them HELLO!!