Sonus Faber - Final and difficult choice

Dear fellow music lovers,

(Loooooong post below. Thanks in advance to Sonus Faber connoisseurs for reading through it ; I'm facing a difficult purchase decision.)

Brief history : I owned a pair of SF Concertino Home for a year and was completely taken by their beguiling midrange voicing and overall sound, but... ultimately found it lacking in the lower octaves, in both extension and slam (no suprises there, given the design choices for this model). For orchestral music, this translated for me in a reduced sense of scale and authority. And for rock, jazz and techno, the shortcomings were even more obvious ; bass guitar easily sounded constricted, sustained synthesizer notes were not as tight as one would hope, and double bass played at realistic volumes (not overly loud) would simply cause doubling of the woofer and send a scary woosh of air from the ports past my ears...

A year ago, I changed the Concertinos for Dynaudio Audience 122s, hoping for equal midrange virtues with added oomph and tolerance in the bass. I did get the bass, and a very "accurate" midrange... but gone was the magic, the instrumental textures, the stunning realism and palpability, on acoustic intruments and vocals especially.

What to do, what to do...

Back to today. Well, it had to happen : I just have to come back to Sonus Faber, aiming now to find a model that will combine the virtues of the Concertino... with more bass. So here are my choices so far, which must be carefully weighed against the fact that even though my room is medium-sized (16' X 12' X 8'), I am forced to listen with speakers facing the width of the room, not its length, to avoid a nasty room mode/bass cancellation ; this means that I can only sit at a maximum of 8 or 9 feet from the speakers, with them about 8ft apart, and a maximum of 2-3 ft from the front wall, and 2 ft from one of the side walls.

With that in mind, here are my options, many of them available through classifieds.

- GRAND PIANO HOME**. Do I risk bass overload from having the speakers sit only 2 - 3ft from the front wall ?
- CONCERTO, original version on adjustable wood iron stands.
- CONCERTO HOME. (Not currently available in the classifieds, but I would wait for it to come up if consensus gives it the favor over the original version)
- ELECTA AMATOR I (available) or II (not available for now)
- SIGNUM + ulterior subwoofer purchase. Only if the small woofer is more capable than the Concertino's...

My amplifier is a YBA Integre DT, 50-90W, decent current capability.

Your answers will go a long way towards helping my final decision.

Many, many thanks,


**About a month ago, I put up post here inquiring about whether the newest Grand Piano was superior to the older model, and received great insight. Special thanks to Hyperion for his advice and in-depth knowledge of the various models - btw Hyperion if you're reading this : I read the description of your "Musica" system, and the qualities you say it has are *precisely* what I'm looking for. Even our musical tastes seem similar, and WIDE-ranging :-)
I have owned EA I, Minuetto, Concerto Home, and Signum. All mated really well with my REL subwoofer, a modest Q100E (my listening room is particularly bass friendly). With the last two, I found stand height to be critical for getting the bass dialed in. The Signum was fussy about matching electronics, and maybe the Concerto Hoems were too, because I never had them dialed in to a point where I felt satisfied, but I only drove them with a Krell Kav 300i, which was great with the EA I's.

My choice would be the EA I's for loud, or Signums for quieter listening and small rooms with an appropriately sized REL sub for your environment.

I seem to like them at about 26" in my room so the fixed height stand was out. The Signums sounded fine on Osiris 24", with work out closer to 26" in my setup, and cost a lot less than the adjustable stands.

With the sub, best distance from the back wall, to my taste, varied from 48" with the EA I's to 11" with the Signums. I located them, and adjusted the REL controls, so that I could hear the plucking of acoustic bass strings most clearly. This came at the expense of ultimate bass power, but that's just how I prefer it.
it sounds like you have discovered what many audiofiles the end of the day, the physical size of any loudpeaker does come into play when it comes to the weight and authority of lifelike music,particularly in the lower midband and upper bass frequencies. totem manis and hawks do a great blancing act when it comes to refinement+muscle...also castle howards and harlechs,vanderstein 2ce's, and the shahinian arcs. my gradient revolutions do it all in a small room or a large room. i love sonus faber's sound and build quality, but like you have to except their shortcomings and attributes as a brand philosophy which they won't change, and frankly probably don't need to.
I have owned the Concertos which i loved for the magical mids and highs, and mated well with my Classe CA-301, but i longed for more autoritive bass definition, so i purchased a set of Extrema here on the 'gon and felt as though i could live with this speaker for a long time, but the Classe as powerful as it was did not make these speakers sing, but when i purchased my CAT JL-1 mono's, it all feel inplace, i now have phenominal bass and feel no need for a sub.
My love affair with Sonus Faber began with the original Electa Amator and I now own Extremas, Minuettos, Concertinos (not home) and a Solo (not home). Given your room, I'd avoid the EA1 - they really need space to open up, though when they do they are among the best ever. I suspect that with your desire for bottom end, the Grand Pianos would work best. Hyperion is "THE MAN", but I personally preferred the non-home version. Another alternative would be to return to your beloved Concertinos and add an SF Gravis sub...
Brunogolf has a great point. It may simply be that your amp isn't the greatest choice for the speakers. Try more power or bi-amping.

The other possibility to get into some really nice powered subs. A Janis 1/A & W3sbu was designed for people with problems such as yours. Not only will it blend seamlessly, it will fill out the bottom end and will also alleviate the strain on your amp. Supposedly, by crossing over a system at 100hz, you will effectively quadrupal the power available to the mids and highs.
I owned both the EA1 and the Guarneri Homage. I also listened to the EA2 and liked the one better. I would certainly recommend the EA1 for your situation.
I currently own the Concertino's and couldn't be happier. I realize that the lowest octave is missing, and I accept it. Occasionally I feel the need for whats missing, but I know that the magic in the Concertino's is what I crave. I too owned the YBA, but found it couldn't deliver the goods; vocals, especially female lacked body. I would probably keep the Concertino's, and find a sub as was suggested previously. Good Luck