I went in to audition some Sopra 2's tonight and demo'd them against some of the older Sonus Fabers like Olympica III's and the Cremonese (which just happened to be in the room, way out of my budget). I much preferred the Sopra 2's to the Olympicas which sounded quite veiled and soft in comparison. The Cremonese had better, more natural bass than the Sopras and threw a bigger 3D soundstage, but it too had the softer, laid back presentation and recessed/reticent vocals that tend to drive me nuts after a while. I enjoy a dead flat midrange and it turns out i'm picky about it. The Sopras were hanging in there with these $40k speakers simply because I preferred their tonal balance and vocal placement.
Then, at the end of the night the dealer said why don't we give the new Sonus Faber Homage Tradition Guarneri standmounts a try?
Oh my sweet mother of god.
GONE are the recessed vocals. GONE is any hint of syrupy overly-warm sound other than how ridiculously smooth these new speakers are.
What is left was a huge and deep 3D soundstage, with perfect tonal balance. This was far and away the best midrange and treble performance of the night. The vocals placed perfectly on the stage, with unbelievable tone, clarity, resolution, and all with an uncanny smoothness. Zero harshness in the treble with the perfect amount of air. They sounded so natural and open. They also play surprisingly deep, but like almost any standmount you are left wishing for that bottom octave which is covered by the Amati and Serafino.
Enough rambling and forget about any old Sonus Faber stereotypes: these things are special.
You might have to move up to the Serafino. Similar driver compliment to the Sopra 2, with what appears to be lower bass specification that surpasses them.
I had seen the measurements from the big speaker in the line, and it was notably differing from past SF designs, having only a small degree of upper treble rise to offset the loss from driver beaming. It helps keep the in room response more level overall.
Both seem to need an amp that is capable of lower impedance, more so on the Sopra. The Sopra goes below 4 ohm in the mid bass to mid range section. The SF's do so in the treble. Sine there is often loss dynamics in the treble, the Focal's are likely to be a bit more demanding with its curve in the meat of the music.
Interesting, because I've heard the Cremonese and I find that they actually have an incredible midrange presentation when set up properly - but it takes a good amount of time to dial them in, even by someone who really knows how to do so with them. Vocals are weighty and most certainly not recessed at all. In addition, once the speaker is placed, the rake needs to be fine tuned. Also, because of the position of the infra woofers, the speakers should be tried in both configurations in the room - woofers out towards the corners and again with them facing the area between the speakers. There is a review that mentions the importance of listening on axis vs off axis with the Cremonese. Trust me, the midrange is there - you just need to get the balance right by playing with their positioning.
The Amati Tradition is an incredible speaker as well. It has a slightly different presentation than the Cremonese. Because the crossover is handling the phase alignment, it is easier to place them. That being said, I would have no problem owning either the Amati or the Cremonese. Each of them allows the listener to enjoy the music, not just listen for all the "goodies" like sound staging and imaging.
Interesting post, but you are all over the place price wise. A $15,000 pair of stand mounts vs a $14,000 Sopra 2 floorstander. It's too bad the dealer didn't have the Diablo Utopias, which would have been a little more fair. Either way, you got me itching to hear the new Homage Tradition Guarneri (even though I find the name kinda pretentious and don't love the look).
I think the Sonus Faber Elipsa SE easily beats out the Olympica line. I had the Olympica III for a couple years and I know what you mean by being "veiled". They are more closed in and a bit darker sounding. I traded in the Olympica III for the Elipsa SE and everything opened up. Bass is much better and everything from bass - midrange- treble has much more clarity and transparency in my opinion. If you can find a used pair, they were be an excellent buy. Retails for around $24k and could find one for the price of an Olympica III. The Elipsa is a lot easier to place in a room as well and can be placed near the walls. Haven't heard the latest Amati line yet. But I do hear things have changed quite a bit.
Many SF loyalists may not like the new line. IMO you can tell the older line like Cremonese is geared for classical music. It presents the stage behind the speakers and makes you feel like you're in the money seat 12 rows back in the hall. I personally don't listen to classical so they're just not my cup of tea but incredible nonetheless.
The new G's are more forward sounding but not in your face. They're more of an "all rounder" now and can really rock when called to do so.
Listened to Serafino yesterday and was less impressed. Treble was clean but there was just a bit too much for my taste. They had them set up with a lot of toe in so this could've been part of the reason. Bass was very clean and articulate but could've been a bit fuller, which would've helped balance the treble out a bit. They were just a touch lean for my taste.
For whatever reason, I did not get that magic feeling the G's created.
Have you ever heard the Strad or the Elipsa SEs? I owned the Olympica and definitely agree with you about them being veiled. I think the Guarneri Evos follow the same suit, as well as the Amati Futura. Going to the Elipsa SE was a big difference in transparency, clarity, taking the veil off... whatever terms we all use. Goes to show you that no two speakers are alike, even within the same manufacturer. For a full range speaker, the Elipsa SEs at the discount you can get them now for on the used market are tough to beat.
I have had the SF Homage Amati Tradition for about 3 weeks now. I had Wilson Audio Duette 2's. The SF's are extremely pleasing to my ear. The soundstage is awesome even in the large room that I have. I even compared the SF to the Wilson Alexia ( which costs almost twice as much) and I just liked the sound of the SF better.
The Ktema is a part of Franco Serblin's NEW company that he formed after leaving Sonus Faber. Franco Serblin founded Sonus Faber, sold it to what is now the Mcintosh Group, and started a new company of speakers, one of which is Ktema.
Have not heard it. Thinking of taking a road trip in a camper with my wife and dog--pre-retirement--and schedule a string of listening sessions for all of these awesome speakers.