Review: Sonus Faber Stradavari Homage Speaker
Art for the ears & eyes!
Not quite a Hermes, Michelangelo, Rodin or Myron in stature, but a joy to behold.
Almost a Renoir, Picasso or Gauguin, but these are not still - They are alive & they will move you.
These could very well be & maybe be the last pair of speakers you will ever want to own or buy.
First off I would like to say that I am a builder & once something is in my system that is 100% - it stays there & not "upgraded" with the possible exception of tubes, cartridges & turntables & arms.
The Sonus Faber Stradavari's replaced the SF Amati's which replaced the Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 6's that I once thought were so great & did so with much more appeal - both visually & sonically.
Turns out that the Amati's just sounded sweeter & played "music" better than the Watt Puppy's did (IMHO).
The finish of the Amati's is on par with the Stradavari's or any SF speaker for that matter - With a very appealing Ferrari, Bentley or Stradivarius lacquer finish.
So why not go for the bigger & badder SF brothers?
About 4 months ago I decided to make the final move & get what I really wanted - Sonus Faber Stradavari's.
I really love the way they look - maybe the best looking speaker ever built & the most beautiful finish I have seen.
Would they sound well with my system?
I just had to find out.
I am a true 300B tube freak & will never change.
IMHO the NOS WE 300B matched octet sets I just bought for the VAC Renaissance Signature Mk. III "One Hundred Forty's" to mate with the SF Stradavari's is a pure match made in heaven - Don't ask what they cost me.
Someone posted an ad for a almost new pair (100 hours) graphite finish SF Stradavari's & I accepted it.
I sold my violin red Amati's within 1 hour & waited about 2 weeks for the Strad's to arrive.
Even 1 week with no music (speakers) is a true bummer!
I think it was on a Thur. I get a phone call from the BAX Global driver that he is downstairs & ready to deliver - I come running downstairs to meet him.
They bring 3 huge boxes upstairs, I tip them & they leave.
This is where the fun starts.
All by myself: I unpack everything & attach the huge (55 lb.) stands & spikes on both speakers (upside-down) - Now what do I do?
I did not want to try to turn the speakers over to the upright position side by myself - Heaven forbid I mar the finish of these beauties.
I call my best friend & Ted (he's been in audio over 50 years) says he'll be over to help me out in about a hour.
I run down & do the beer/soda run & wait for him.
BTW - Ted also helped me set up the Amati's, all my VAC equipment & aligns my turntables/arms/cartridges - He's more like a older brother & mentor.
Ted shows up on time & in about 20 minutes we had them set & in place, we attach the speaker cables - turn on the amps & pre amp & have a drink, wait half an hour for the tubes to automatic bias properly & warm up.
Ted Says "Even if they don't play - They're the best looking damn speakers I have ever seen".
Our first listening session was Patricia Barbara (Cafe Blue) on SACD.
With only about 100 hours on the speakers - they were AWESOME!
Every weakness the Amati's had was now gone.
Please don't get me wrong:
Unless you hear the Stradavari's you may not ever notice any weakness in the Amati's - They still are a wonderful speaker, served me very well & led me to the Stradavari's - Thank you very much.
There was much more & very tight bass/slam, the mids were the best I have ever heard & the highs had no glare.
Ted's jaw dropped & I just smiled - why not?
Next was "Doc" (Doc Severensen - Trumpet Spectacular) on CD & he never sounded better & he really is spectacular.
On deck was Melissa Manchester (The working Girl on vinyl) AMAZING!
Next batter up was Jackson Browne (Lawyers in love on vinyl) Superb.
Back to what Ted knows best - Eric Clapton (Unplugged CD) Ted could not believe that Clapton & the whole band were not in my living room = Grand Slam.
We played a lot of different music for about another 2 hours & went out for dinner (on me).
We knew to leave the amps on as we knew we were coming back to hear more & more & more.
The VAC's & the 300B's were more than ready for the task @ this point.
Herbie Mann was next (Opalescence CD) & we were both floored.
The Strad's deliver true music & nothing more & nothing less = nothing else!
If it's on the record/LP or CD/SACD - You will hear it - whether you like it or not.
I have now have logged over 600 hours on them & they sound better & better each & every day.
I cannot tell you or anyone else how much I love these speakers & the rest of my system - These are probably the last set of speakers I will ever buy.
They are truly beautiful speakers & sound as wonderful & rich as they look - aesthetics are very important to me.
I have never seen fit & finish as perfect as what I now have.
The sound they reproduce is glorious - very deep, spacious, rich & almost alive.
When the spaghetti grills vibrate - they almost seem to dance.
Soundstage is more than abundant, imaging is nearly perfect & they are a true joy to look at & own.
If you have the $ & space - I would very highly recommend that you audition them.
I would also recommend the graphite finish as the cherry finish is way too bright (orange) for me - I never really did get used to the cherry color when I had the Amati's.
If there really is a better sounding or more beautiful speaker system out there - either I have not seen it or I cannot afford it.
They rate 99% as nothing is perfect - with the possible exception of my beautiful wife Luisa.
These speakers are & play very fast & there will be no sub required.
Spaghetti grills are like no grills at all - I leave them on 24/7.
Leather surrounds - a true class act.
Be it Classical, Jazz, Vocal or Rock - this is one speaker that can & does do it all!
BTW - I do not play Rap, Disco or Hip Hop.
Any classical, jazz or vocalist enthusiast will be the most happy & find no equal.
If you have the proper associated equipment - I prefer tubes @ about 100+ wpc & a much better than "decent" pre amp - you will find "audio nirvana".
They are very efficient @ 92 db & carry a 4 ohm load.
I will not go into all the specs - you can do so for yourself.
Soundstage is almost perfect - very deep & wide, but not immense or over your head.
The Strad's play stringed instruments like no other speaker - very liquid, lush & fluid = perfection.
Drums/percussion sound is real & carries the beat, cymbals do sizzle & vocals are fantastic.
Horns sound perfect & almost live.
After about 4 months with them & very careful placement/positioning & tweaking with 0 degree adjustment of the spikes @ 15' away "listening position" (I prefer them almost flat @ about 10 degree toe in & the ideal soundstage about 2' behind me) .
The Sonus Faber Stradavari's do the job 100% & look damn good doing it.
IMHO - There is no better way to spend $20K+ on speakers.
Franco Serblin did a fantastic job with the Stradavari's & deserves his place of honor.
Truly art for the ears & eyes!
VAC Renaissance Signature Mk. III One Hundred Forty monoblocks with WE 300B's
VAC Renaissance Signature Mk. II pre amp with phono
Nottingham Mentor turntable
Kimber Cable TAC ag
SME V5 tonearm
Benz ebony LP cartridge
Esoteric DV50S universal player
Shunyata Hydra original power conditioner
Aural Thrill active:
Power cords (both amps)
i/c Both amps to pre amp
i/c Both amps to speakers
XLR from universal to pre amp
Power cords universal player & pre amp
The Sonus Faber Stradavari's replaced the SF Amati's which replaced the Wilson Watt Puppy 6's