I own an early pair of Sonus Faber Electa Amators, but I’m not some fanboy. I haven’t followed every move the company made after they reissued the wonderful Extrema (wish I had bought an original pair). The last I remember, Franco Serblin had passed away and the company was acquired by a conglomerate. Now, it’s just marketing, magazine reviews and hi-fi shows to get your product sold. I believe the speakers are now made in China. Just a sign of the times...evolutionary, and not too surprising. Have I answered your question?
Tonykay. I had heard some of the same but really. They had a great musical iconic sound. They had a certain kind of customer. Their speakers used to be works of art. Now they cheap copies and the craftsmanship and sound are just copy cats. They have not done the brand a favor. Some of their own dealers feel the same way!
I auditioned Amati Traditions couple of months ago.....I found them to be very musical. Exquisite build quality, pin point imaging and just the right amount of bass.
The source components were ARC LS28, VT-80 and TT (sorry, forgot the name of TT). My dealer also had McIntosh setup (C52, MC601’s) but I preferred the ARC components feeding the Amati’s.
I had on loan a pair of Extrema, owned by an importer friend of mine. After several months, I realized they were one of the greatest speakers I had the pleasure of having in my listening room. They loved the juice. My 2 best powerful amps at the time, a Krell KSA 100, and a Threshold Stasis 2 , did ok, but it wasn't until I acquired a Crown Macro Reference, did they come alive and provide me with some of the dynamics I heard from my horns ( still not the same ). But, a wonderful speaker. Enjoy ! MrD.
The real magic exited the company with Serblin's departure (he made a few more models on his own), but it lingered on for while, ever diminishing. I auditioned the Veneres and thought them engineered to impress in a 2-minute hearing, but sub-par for the long haul. Time will tell if the Sonnettos are the start of a come-back.
There's an auteur theory of movie-making; look at how many brands of speakers depend for their excellence on a single designer.
Anyway I have owned two of their speakers. I owned the luito and the auditor m. I asked this question because of the lackluster wood work I was seeing and the new speakers are not as musical and rich to me. Serblin was a master. I read up on him. He was very meticulous about his design, wood work and finished product. The new speakers have a shiny tweeter and the wood feels cheap. They also lost their signature sound. After the Amati future I can’t do the new ones.
Joey you are right. It’s veneer. I hate to say this but when I looked at the Olympica and I was sad to see how they made it. I walked up and touched it and was puzzled. The cabinetry of a Sonus faber was special. Also the warm rich sound was the signature. It’s seems little by little they have started to go farther away from that. I heard the Lillium and I wasn’t impressed like I used to be by the sound of a Sonus faber. The sound would seduce you and you could listen for hours. It was also the most beautiful wood work I had seen in my life. Not anymore. Watching what they have done makes me sad.
I know I’m getting sucked in by a guy who writes like a 7 year old. For that reason alone I’m a fool. There comes a time though when nonsense requires confrontation. As a SF Olympica iii owner, I know first hand just how monumentally off base cj is re: the quality of the more modern SF products. The upper end products are produced by hand in Italy. The materials incorporated in the build and design of the Olympica are world class and uncompromisingly beautiful. Fit and finish is perfect. I’ve read the side walls of the speakers are a walnut laminate over mdf, no surprise there: wood laminates are structurally superior to solid wood. Laminated wood products are used extensively in furniture, building materials, and flooring (as examples) due to structural stability and as substrates to accept a variety of finish veneers. Compared to older SF models, do the more recent iterations sound different? Geez, I would hope so! Different design teams, different ownership, maybe even a different targeted customer base. If my Oly iii’s sounded any warmer or richer I’d probably sell them. They are a great blend of old and new imho. If I want a more ‘traditional’ sounding SF, I’ll buy a pair! It’s not as though they aren’t available.
I’ve spent too much time reading about speakers lately; to learn, fantasy shop, maybe even to change speakers. I enjoy reading pro and owner reviews, it’s entertaining! I can afford to purchase just about anything I read about, though six figure speakers need not apply - I just feel it would be an example of irresponsible and conspicuous consumption in my part to even consider speakers in that price range.
I’ve auditioned speakers in shops, I’ve talked with shop owners whose opinions I respect. I’ve talked with manufacturers and distributors. I’ve owned probably a dozen different manufacturers over the last 40 years. Why haven’t I dumped these new fangled, poorly constructed, non SF sounding speakers? Well: great blend of warmth and detail, gorgeous to look at, huge soundstage, perfect size, not too heavy but very substantial, fantastic fit and finish, extremely easy to just sit and and listen get lost in the music. And that’s just a beginning.
This thread is a perfect example of irresponsible reporting and a reason I don’t post often. There’s an incredible amount of immature, agenda driven, nonsense based posting that it just degrades the whole point of the forums.
After he left Sonus Faber, Serblin designed and had manufactured at least two models that are not SF.
There are various events that are not all simultaneous, I don't know the exact chronology: FS leaves SF, SF is bought out by larger company, FS passes, and perhaps larger company bought by even larger one.
Anyway, Serblin's last designs obviously owe a lot to his vintage Fabers. Sadly, there must be very few in circulation.
As far as irresponsible reporting. I am a fan of the older Sonus faber designs. I don’t like the new ones personal preference. I like the older wood work. Before the olympica came out I thought that the were the most beautiful speakers in the world. The Olympicas don’t look bad but I’m not a fan of the new designs. I don’t like the shiny tweeter or the wood work. The woodwork on the new ones are nice just not to the level of the serblin designs. But anyway. Just not a fan of the newer stuff but I love the pre - olympica designs.
something I think we may forget or ignore is how dependent a quality listening experience is based on the medium and recording itself
during the same listening session I can go from awe to indifference to surprised to amazed to disappointed and the only thing that changes is: cd, vinyl, tuner - did the system change? no, only the medium
so there’s that to consider when evaluating components
Hey markmendenhall I loved Sonus faber. I almost sprung for the Amati futura and was going to have to wait to by an amp and a source months down the line to just afford them. I think they are the most beautiful and musical speakers in the game. It’s a hard act to follow up plus honestly venture capitalist bought the brand. They have no earthly idea how unique a position that the company held in history and the industry. I’m not dissing your speakers I’m just sad because everywhere I turn I see corners be cut and prices going up!
Well I really liked the old SF models I heard; Cremona M and an older Ellipsa but I have to say, I really love the look and sound of the two newer models I’ve heard; Olympica iii and the amazing Amati. I think SF are in good hands. For those bitching about the Venere line, why judge a company by its entry level offerings? They don’t represent the company’s full abilities at all, and really, how could they? I think the best real world speaker they make may just be the new Serafino. Haven’t listened to these but they are gorgeous and if they sound somewhere between Olympica iii and Amati, they should be a winner!
On their website if I counted correctly they have nine categories of speakers. The Reference, The Homage, The Olympica, The Sonetto, The Venera, The Chamleon, The Principia, and not to leave them out, drum roll here, The Special Edition. I did;t count the total number of speakers, sure it must be up there.
If you were designing speakers in a line that large would you start at the bottom and make an inexpensive little speaker and then continue to make them better and better till you arrived at the Reference or would you start at the top making it with passion, utilizing all the resources at your disposal and the work your way down, making each one a little cheaper and sounding a little worse? Sort of the road to hell.
Look this is a really big companie and many of those speakers are designed by bean counters and not be retired violin makers.
Good Day, for those who care....
When Serblin was with SF they were a family owned company. They were sourcing parts from Denmark, Switzerland and Germany. They were using highly skilled Italian craftsmen to design & produce their products.
At a certain point they partnered with an Italian VC Quadrivio Capital SGR. Back in those days one of Quadrivio's biggest holdings was a frozen food line. This coincided with when SF parted ways with Serblin. He went on to produce speakers under his own company.
Quadrivio used SF to back door their way to gain control of Fine Sounds. Through Fine Sounds Quadtivio bought controlling interests in several companies through a consolidated debt structure with in the luxury high end audio market.
This new structure included consolidating costs on every level as well as key leadership positions. Some of those companies were/are Sumiko, Audio Research, Rel, McIntosh, Wadia and of course Sonus Faber.
Quadrivio sold Fine Sounds Group to LBO Yarpa. LBO then backed McIntosh in a management by out of Fine Sounds which is now called McIntosh Group. Fine Sound still remains on the board.
All one needs to do is to look at these brands before and after all this happened. Everything became homogenized. Rel got out and is its own company again. But Wadia is gone. Will Sonus Faber suffer the same fate only time will tell.
I ended up special ordering a pair of SF Amati Tradition Homage speakers. It boiled down to those are the Wilson Alexia 1's. Side by side I enjoyed the sound of the SF more than the Wilsons. The look, fit and finish are world class. The sound is very musical. It does not blast you like say Magico or the Wilson. It took me 4months to get them built in Italy. I am extremely happy. Prior to these I had the Wilson Audio Duette 2 speakers. I would agree that the lower end SF's may not be as good but their higher end speakers are awesome.
Twoleftears, I own a pair of FS Ktemas. I purchased them while living in Italy. These speakers will be buried with me. I have had them for 5 years now.
I used to own Cremona Ms s/p Franco leaving the company and they sucked. SF after FS is garbage. I have history with both pre and post FS SF. I can honestly say with out a doubt SF is only a fraction what they once were. Now, SF is not a bad speaker now. They are just different and can’t be compared to the old.
I have heard Accordos and Ligneas on many occasions with multiple different combinations of electronics. More than happy to comment more if desired.
Sonus Faber can’t follow a good amplifier,like d’agostino, esoteric,cor..Because he isn’t fast enough. I’ve heard them 3 months ago: terrible. A fast song like Equinox 5 and Zoolookologie (Jean-Michel Jarre) was a disaster. It was a “ mishmash” of Instruments that flowed together. Also “Set me free (Chris Rea) was bad. The best you can do is: Match it,before buying, because that’s very important. Ask,to have it in your room for a couple days (weeks) before buying it.
Twoleftears requested I give an impression of the FS Ktemas. Truly, the Franco Serblin website explains the history of the design of the speakers, so I will refrain in giving a background and post the link: http://www.francoserblin.it/home.php?lang=e
To summarize, Franco had the passion to develop art using music in the construction of speakers. Originally he believed in capturing the sound of beautiful instruments and trying to convey concierto sound to as close to original as mechanically as possible. He believed in having the ability to provide a large sound stage and depth so it immersed the listener in feeling like they were listening to a live performance. So, his original speaker design, the Snell, separated the mid/tweet from the bass. in doing so, it provided a large sound stage. Obviously a difficult task indeed.
Through out the 80s, 90s and until he sold SF in the 2000s he strove to make beautiful aesthetic instruments in the design of speakers. His speaker design was simplistic, but well tuned using the best designed speakers called Scan-Speak from a Danish company. The internal wiring developed by his son-in-law Y-ter and the cross-overs and wood construction built in Italy. FS perfected it.
Fast forward, SF sold to a large enterprise (Sumiko) as spoke of early in the thread. The engineers steered away from the simplistic design and focused on complexity. As you will see the new design is much different the old. Just take a look at the Almadi design in comparison to the original design of the Strads. Yes, SF continues to make the legacy speaker design such as the Stradivaris and Guarnis, but if you ask anyone who have listened to these speakers designed and built during the FS era to the present day era will say they don’t sound the same. Today, some would say they sound more mechanical, clean and perfect where the old sound warm and airy. At the tail-end of the FS era at Sonus Faber he stated that he felt pressured to design speakers for mass market and transition in making his speakers more complex. I believe I read his last speakers he designed, the Elipsas were not to his liking. I can imagine you can do a search and read more on this.
Ok, now let me focus on Franco’s work status post selling SF. He decided to return to his original design of the "Snell" and develop the Ktemas. He used his ability as an artist to design a beautiful cabinet, purchase Scan-Speak speakers, use his son-in-laws own speaker wire design and construct the crossovers internally in Italy. As a result, the Ktemas were born or many would say, the "Snell" revived. Two Scan-Speak mid drivers, tweeters and two rear firing woofers. Please take the time to read 6moons review in 2011 on the Ktemas. I have found this review to be one of the best in giving history and impression of the Franco Serblin. http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/francoserblin/1.html
Franco died in March of 2013. His son-in-law took over the company and continues today to build and distribute the three FS designed speakers, Ktemas, Accordos and the Ligneas. Both the Ktemas and Accordos were build prior to demise of FS, but Massimiliano built the Ligneas after his death, but stuck with the FS original design.
Personally, I had the fortunate opportunity to purchase production number 75 of the Ktema FS model. I purchased these speakers in San Bendento Italy from Audio Plus. These speakers were delivered to this store directly from FS’s son-in-law. I purchased these shortly before Franco’s death. Matter of fact, they were delivered to me in May of 2013. I remember this because I remember reaching out and asking the community if there was a need to be worried about purchasing these speakers and finding replacement parts if needed at a later date. I guess I was worried about the company folding. Today, I will say, these speakers were the best purchase. I have not had one issue. I love the old Franco Serblin sound of being warm, spacious and vocal focused. Anyone who have heard the Strads will contest to this sound. They love Class A amps and powerful tubes setups. I run Accuphase Class A and they are a match in heaven. I truly believe he reached his mark in formulating the "Snell" sound with these speakers.
Again, long live Franco.
P.S. Production #1 of the Ktemas continue to reside in Tokyo Japan. I ran into them while living there.