Sonus Faber Grand Piano Question


I have been a big fan of B&W speakers and was looking to get the CDM 9NT to replace my aging CDM 1SE. But prices for B&W speakers in my country is ridiculously high.

Just by chance I spotted a pair of SF Grand Piano(old Concerto version, not the HOMES) going slightly below USD1,500 which is within my budget. Will be auditioning the speakers next week but just wanna get some opinions here beforehand.

I've heard that the Grand Pianos are laidback, warm and in a totally different character with the B&W's. Can these speakers go loud? I listen to everything from rock to pop and instrumental jazz like Fourplay and Acoustic Alchemy.
I'm worried my Classe CAP-100 integrated amp might not have enough juice to drive them since I like my music loud. Also I might combine music and HT together and they will be in a huge living hall. Can these speakers do for HT as well?

Until then any advice will be appreciated. Cheers.
Well I've sold the Grand piano's at one time on a retail level. personally, for your needs/situation, I would strongly consider other alternatives, even higher sensitivity speakers. Yes the Piano's are smooth, rather neutral in palate(I think a tad cooler than the slightly warmer B&W's personally, maybe even more towards "Thiel neutral" in coloration), and clear sounding speakers. Overall, I like them in the right application. I do however find the Piano's work best as a more agressive speaker in a smaller room set up, where you can PLACE THEM PROPERLY FOR BEST BALANCE/RESPONSE IN THE ROOM HOWEVER(critical), but/and/or you can set em up where you are hearing more dirrect sound from the speaker than you are proximaly in relation to the walls/ceiling/first reflections!...which will blur the image, color the sound, etc. So, in a smaller room,you'd be acoustically closer to the speakers dirrect sound than you are to hearing the delayed reflections mixed with the sound...otherwise, this "open architecture" layout of tweeter ontop of mid/bass drivers is not as effective for what you want. (note: THX select allows use this basic speaker config in small rooms,or where you sit close to the main speakers!
However, in your case(assuming reasonablly lower ceiling heights in your room) with a large room situation, you are likely to get too much mixing of the delayed reflections in the room mixing with the dirrect sound from your Piano's(if used, or any other speaker reallyl), effectively mucking up your sound. Diappolito's and more controled dispersion speakers are going to be more flexible longer rooms, but it depends.
Still, that said, the piano's are a rather laid back sound a bit(depending on mix of gear), and are LOWISH SENSITIVITY. What that most always equates to(*even though you SHOULD BE SETTING THEM AS SMALL ON YOUR PRE/PRO) a lessdynamically nimble/foreward/involving sound than you cam potentially get from higher sensitivity/more efficient speaker offerings!(note commercial cinema speakers range from high sensitivity/efficiency horn speakers to even more efficient active horn speaker systems that are multi-amped!!...home audio speakers in themselves can't even appoach the kind of dynamic pressence/prowess that these types offer in general.
In their defense however(home audio gear) you are dealing with a smaller acoustic space, where you are likely to be sitting acoustically closer to your speakers, with much much lower volume demands, and you SHOULD BE crossing over your main speakers to an active powered sub, effectively bi-amping your speaker system, which helps dynamic ability greatly! Running the likes of your Piano's as "small" takes a great dynamic responsibility off your amp, and lets the much more dynamically able powered sub(s) take the heat!
So, I'm not saying you can't get great results with those for your needs, but it might be tricky, and the results would probably be marginal for what I'd call "special" and/or "fantastic" HT/music performance!
Let me put it to you this way...if you're a rocker, loud listener, heavy dynamic feind, home theater buff, whatever, you need more muscle and dynamic prowess I think. The Piano wasn't necessarily designed with this in mind.
Could you make that speaker work really well?...I could. But then I've been doing it for 15 years religiously for a living/hobby! Most couldn't.
You could much much much easily get the results you're looking for with other choices is all I'm saying.
If you're like me, and you want audiophile grade transparancy, detail, soundstage, but want killer dynamics(wich most home rigs don't offer sadely), I think you have other choices.
Also, the CAP100*(which I'm familiar, as I've owned many Classe amps) is going to offer lower power for 4/6 ohm speakers. I, on a few occasions blew drivers in my Theil 2.3's using CA150's at more agressive levels in the past! Those amps aren't as strong as the ratings indicate...that's what I've found. They say they double, but I doubt it!!
Anyway, I'd want to know the layout of your room, before making any solid recommendations. What's your room layout/dimmensions look like?
Hi Exertfluffler,

Wow that is a long write-up and thanks for the advice. Well I know that these Grand Pianos are not designed for HT as compared to the newer HOME version, so I may not use these in HT after all and put them in a dedicated listening room. I’m only contemplating of combining HT with music due to financial constraints. Maybe I’ll just get some cheap speakers for HT will do.

Anyway, if I solely use the Grand Pianos for stereo listening, it will be in a 11’6’’ x 17’10” x 9’(H) room. So you’re familiar with Classe amps too which is a good thing. You reckon the Classe CAP-100 won’t be able to drive them too well? What if the system is now in this rather ‘small’ room as mentioned above, and I just listen to fairly moderate volumes? If I do get these speakers, I won’t be listening to rock with them as that won’t do any justice to these fine speakers isn’t it? I’ve heard that they have smoothness that the B&W’s don’t have and possess some other fine attributes. The B&W’s will certainly be punchier and dynamic but the tweeter in the CDM 9NT is rather bright I heard and that’s not what I’m looking for. What I’m looking for is a smoothness of the sound and silkier vocals which I found lacking in B&W’s. But am afraid the SF may be too warm or laidback for my tastes as well! Anyway will be auditioning those speakers very soon, and those guys are using tube amps to drive them. Can’t possibly play rock or pop with them. So I might end up with 2 systems. SF for stereo listening and B&W’s for HT and rock. Will have to reshuffle my finances a little!
Actually Kevin, I think you might STRONGLY CONSIDER THE Grand piano's! IN listening to what you said, and in thinking about it a bit more, I think that might be the way to go for you at this moment. You might even strongly consider playing around with them for all your listening needs, and set em up for HT as just 2 speakers for right now! (consider you still need an AV pre/pro to do digital movies correctly!) You need to find out what these speakers can do for you in your set up!(also, you must get them set up right, and get your listening chair(s) into the room a bit, away from the wall. You will have to tinker around with them for best sound vs. your listening possitions! IN that room, it's far too easy to get a boomy, peaky, small room, unatural sound in the bass full range(note, you should still cross em over at 80hz for movies to a powered sub ideally..huge improvment for movies!, and make sure they are coupling with the room well at 80hz as well...which you should not have a problem with with floor standers like those) tinker with seating and speaker placment.
Don't get me wrong from my first posting. You CAN GET GOOD RESULTS WITH THE PIANO'S, for HT and rock! You just need to know what you're doing! Also, I think the 150w classe integrated is a better way to go, otherwise a strong tube integrated!.
I have a buddy who is in the audio business who uses Grand piano's, the matching center, and the onwall matching rears(forgot their names), and he loves it! I haven't heard his set up, but I know his tastes and skills. I used to sell the Grand Piano's, but only briefly. I like the sound indeed overall. With the right gear, in the right set up(again, strongly recommending you make sure you are either sitting proximity-wise closer to the speakers than you are to the dirrect reflections from the wall proportionately, which means sitting acoustically closer to the speakers basically, or consider your acoustic considerations and treatment in the room much more highly and critically!) they can work.and work superbly!
I would just conceed that, for most, people don't know how to deal with this kind of speaker!'s hit or mis!...depending on set up and associated equipment vs. their needs. Again, most don't have a clue..they just stick things in a spot after they buy it...sonic mediocrity almost alway ensues sadely.
Sounds to me like you need to find out what the Piano's have to offer you , if anything. And, I think you won't be dissapointed in trying them. At the very least, they'll show you what a good "musically accurate" speaker can offer..and they're very refined sounding!
Just remember what I said about placment, set up, acoustics, and such. Try them just by themselves, and get em set up properly before you buy the rest of the system, or see if they are for you indeed. YOu can sell em if they don't work out. Hummmm....
I think you might end up just keeping em. Who knows.But they're worth a try if you've got the itch I think.
Hope this helps.
Oh, another consideration with them might be the Plinius integrated. I know the Classe sound is a good match for cheep with the Piano's sonically. And, as long as you don't push the speakers real hard, and run em as "small" for HT, you should probably be fine with MAYBE the CAP100, or better yet, the 151.(I think that's right)...Otherwise, separates.
Note: another cheap "try" would be the dirt cheap Jolida 502 or 802 tube integrated!!!! These are much more forgiving of "clipping", sound simply superb with this kind of speaker, and are way cool!..but I like tubes as well as SS. JUst thought I'd mention.
Years ago, I used to sell Thiels. And the most musical little set up we had in the whole store(and we sold Wilson, Thiel, Audio Physic, Maggie's, Martin Logan's, Celestion's,
etc) was a pair of Thiel 1.5's driven by a little Jolida 502b tube amp! was way too good sounding for the money!
Anyway the sound stage wasn't as huge as others, but it was superb none the less. hope this helps
Exertfluffer you are darn right. The SF Grand Pianos smokes B&W CDM series (in my subjective opinion which is personal anyway). After listening to the speakers for a mere 40 minutes I’ve wasted no time and paid the deposit straight away(he’s got a few friends who are interested as well). Will be collecting those speakers this weekend.

These speakers are really good. They are smooth and refined yet possess a huge soundstage and a commendable bass that is strong enough to shake the room. Dynamics are as good as B&W’s as they can really boogie too! And the most amazing thing is the associated gears that these speakers are hooked too. Guess what (this will really make you laugh). Amplification is a China-made tube amp rated 32W, cd player is a cheapo Harman Kardon, speaker cables are some low-budget brand (forgot the brand) and interconnects are those you find supplied together in the box when you buy some Pioneer DVD player. With all these sub-par equipment I can tell you the sound will astound many even audiophiles alike. The reason the owner is hooking all these cheap gears to his speakers is to let newbies know that the speakers he’s selling are all good stuff and can produce high quality sound even without partnering high-end equipment. In this way, his customers won’t be too freaked out. If he were to hook up a $20,000 system then he will definitely scare his customers away as according to him he is targeting some novice audiophiles who have limited spending power.
I can’t wait to hook the Grand Pianos using my gear! If a 32W tube amp can drive the SF admirably well, I don’t think my 100W Classe integrated will have much problems. Even he thought my Classe will be even much better! My Sony XA7ES will definitely beat the pants off the Harman Kardon, and not to mention my Nordost Blue Heaven speaker cables and Wireworld Eclipse II XLR in comparison with his ‘non-branded’ cables. Really can’t wait…

Oh by the way, he also has a pair of SF Extremas which is very nice indeed sitting at one corner but anyway out of my budget. Auditioned a complete range of Mirage speakers too in his HT setup complete with a projector which is quite nice. By the way, do you know roughly how much does a used Sonus Faber Solo HOMES center speaker cost in US dollars? He’s got one in very good condition but price is slightly on the high side I think at 500 dollars.

The Grand Pianos will definitely bring a whole new dimension in my music listening. Never before I’ve experienced a smooth, refined and silky sound with a sweet midrange (that B&W is lacking) but also has dynamics and a huge soundstage that I previously thought will be sacrificed at the expense of the former.

Till then.