I currently have a pair of Auditors and have owned some other Sonus Faber speakers. Like with any speaker, it's a very subjective thing, but to me they sound very laid back and soft. I'm not saying this is good or bad, it's just my description.
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I am currently running a pair of Cremona M's and primary listening preferences are similar to what you state yours to be.
These speakers are very musical, tending slightly to the warm side of neutral with an analog presentation to my ears. They project a large, effortless sound for a relatively small floor standing speaker.
If I could be of more assistance, shoot me an email and I would be happy to extend pointers with placement, toe in, etc.
Given the music you listen to (very similar to what I listen to), I think Sonus Faber is a great match.
As with any speaker line, there are always some who like the original and some like the new version. That is definitely true with the original Cremona and the Cremona M. The original Cremona have one of the sweetest mid-ranges you can get, although some feel that the slight emphasis in the mid-range colors the sound. The M are more "modern" with less mid-range emphasis and more detail. Which you like better is all about personal preference. The original Cremona were made when Franco Serblin was at the company and the M were done after he left. Many feel that his leaving changed the sound, although from reports I have heard the new Liuto series seems to be more in old style.
I have the orginal Cremona and would not change them for the M. For me the M just do not have the magical mid-range of the original. I am using a Levinson 432 amp and a Classe CP-65 pre. The original Cremona are more picky about electronics than the M. The really like high current amps. Your Levinson and Ayre should be a fine match.
If possible, listen to both the original and the M before making up your mind.
Thanks folks for all the feedback , it's been aluminating . I have a question for Dtc if he is still with us . A long time employee at my local salon , that knows , likes and sells Sonus Faber , claims the M update for the Cremona was to answer a common complaint about the high frequencies , the high's on the M's were said to have been made cleaner and less recessed and little else was changed . He stated he liked both but did not reflect a preference . I have heard both at one time or another , but to much time had passed to drawn a worth while conclusion , also associated equipment was somewhat different . My question Dtc is , have you heard both back to back , and would you agree with his view ? . I will not likely get a chance to here both , ( same time same place ) . Max
Several years ago I owned a pair of SF monitors and auditioned the Ms about a year ago.After owning Avolons and a few others in that class since ,I found the Cremona M to be too polite for lack of a better term,lacking in detail and just pain boring.For jazz which is what I also listen to more than anything there are much better choices in that price range,again just my opinion
I have not been able to listen to the Cremona and the Cremona M in the same setting. The closest I came was comparing the original Cremona and the Cremona Auditor M side by side. Both were driven by Levinson (32 and 432 if I remember correctly.) The Cremona M and the M Auditors share the same mid range and tweeter and should have the similar sounds except in the bass. That was certainly true with the orignal Cremona and Cremona M. I posted on this comparison on an older thread. There was also a long thread from when the Cremona M came out. The original poster ended up with the original. You should read both threads, if you have not already.
Some of my observations
My view is that the orignal Cremona is much richer in the midrange and the Cremona M is more clinical, although many poeple like the M. This is consistent with my view of the Elispa, another of the new models (after Franco left). I have read many opinions on this, but rarely do you hear that they are very similar - it is usually pretty obvious to people. It just depends on the style you like. I think your local guy my just may be being diplomatic, especially since he probably does not have the original Cremona still available. I will say that the old Cremona highs were harder to match with electronics. The M are easier to match. As an analogy, I would compare the Cremona to a good tube amp and the M to a solid state amp. For me, the two are more different than your local guy seems to say.
I really think this comes down to personal preference. Of course, you can get used Cremona cheaper than the newer M, although they do not show up used as often as they used to. I think people who have them are holding onto them.
Do some reading on these other threads. It might help.
If you even get the chance to hear the Strads, they are the epitome of the old SF sound.