Wilson Maxx 2 vs Sonus Faber Stradivari

I listened to the Maxx and SF Elipsa before, but not to the SF Strad. However competition for the Maxx is probably the Strad and definitely not Elipsa. What I like about Sonus Faber design is the soulfulness. The Strad also has 4-ohm impedance with 92 dB sensitivity, meaning no need to replace my Pass XA60.5 which I very and very much enjoy. Does anybody have comment on those 2 speakers as to price to performance advantage? Secondly would it be too much to drive pretty Strad with the more gentle side of amplification such as Pass Labs design and Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cable.
I don't know these models but I have "compared" the Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 7 with the Sonus Faber Stradivari. Well compared is a big word. There is a shop in Leiden who sells both and I had a quick listen to both. I think Sonus Faber makes great speakers, they are never fatiguing and et you hear great many details. But they are rather dull, maybe to polite could be great if you listen to Jazz and some classical (chamber music). If however you would like some more guts, less polite, maybe fewer details but more oomph, the Wilson Audio's were better.
I preferred the Wilson Audio.
Not exactly what you are looking for, however, you may find this Wilson vs. Sonus Faber review inetersting:

I would expect Alexandria to out-run Stradivari. In fact Maxx 3 is like little Alexandria. It's Maxx 2 that would be in contention.
Hi Spatine,

i own the Strads and compared them against the Maxx 2 in the same system before buying the Strads. I also am very familiar with Grand Slamm III and Alexander X2 (not v2).

I was looking for soulfulness first, with powerful bass, volume and dynamics second...but obviously still looking for a lot of everything at this level!

My own personal impression of the two (audition system was ARC Ref 3, ARC cd 7, ARC 110 Ref):

The Strad on string quartet was very organic, female vocals had that magic. More so than the Maxx 2...Note i have heard the Maxx 3 is in another category and comparable to the Grand Slamm III which i will get to in a second.

Gypsy Kings, Eric Clapton Unplugged, Eva Cassidy, David Brubeck...in all cases, i took the Strad for its ability to convey the sense of emotion, while maintaining comparable ability to show nuance, detailing, dynamic attack. (Attack was excellent on Strad...maybe a hair less than maxx 2, but super-minor and not noticeable on every track.)

Then, i went the other direction...Deep House, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, and also full scale orchestral (Jurassic Park soundtrack, Beethoven's 9th) to focus on dynamics, the ability of the speaker to crank at deafening volumes and keep it all together.

Here, i would say the Maxx II has greater ability to keep it together on orchestral where a 100-piece orchestra at varying volumes/dynamics within the different instruments, but played at high volume is a big challenge. All of the big Wilsons can keep their composure at near limitless volume.

The reason i went with the Strad is because it probably got me 85%-90% of the way there compared to the Maxx 2s on this test...a pleasant surprise. I am critical in all of my listening...but much more critical on vocals, jazz, blues, than i am deep house or rap.

Now on my system, using a full Class A Gryphon Antileon Amp and CJ Act 2, I can crank deep house loudly enough in a 30'x20' room that the volume is equivalent to a nite club (but with a sense of effortless in the sound that no one in the room realizes how loud it is until they realize they have to shout to be heard by the person standing next to them) and neighbors 2 levels down can hear it (thru solid concrete floor slabs)...i only played it for 2 minutes just to check the Amp was working when i first took it home...honest!

All in all, the Strad is one of those speakers that due to its makers reputation some people overlook. When in fact, when you actuall do side by sides, it is remarkable how well it takes all the magic of the Guarneri (which i used to own and preferred over Quad 2905 in half-day comparison session), and then manages to give the sound a full-bodied depth and presence i have not experienced in any other speaker in as musical a way...except in one...

The Grand Slamm III and Alexandria come at musicality from the Wilson side...accuracy, limitless dynamics and in my opinion manage to deliver an electrostatic like transient attack with a cones fantastic dynamic range and powerful/impact/slam. Whether you consider them "emotive" or "organic" is probably a matter of opinion...i think they ultimately do get you there but by virtue of such an extremely effortless way of delivering sound. i have not come across a speaker that makes everything seem so effortless. this then creates an ease of sound that gets me very close to real music in a real room. I feel they are exceptional speakers and (i would need to double check in a direct A/B of course) i think if i ever upgrade my Strads, i will very very seriously consider Alexandrias.

Although i respect Maggies, Thiels, Hansens, Martin Logans...none has come close for me in terms of magic as with the Strads. But the A-2s set up right i am pretty sure would convince me to trade up.

this is just one person's opinion...hope it's helpful! The main thing is...enjoy!!!
ohhh...one more thing. REgarding amplification, the Strad sounds very, very good on medium powered tubes...i used to run it with a cJ mv60...but having gone to full Class A SS, i will say that i prefer the bass being WAAY more powerful and tigher, and more delineated. I also find the spaciousness has improved.

Generally, i have not liked the Homage series with harder sounding SS...unlike the Cremona series which seems to respond very well to harder SS (i am defining harder as Krell which honestly is still excellent).

So in your case, I think Pass is a great option. I have a very good friend whose ears i trust. he listened to evo402, pass 350 and Gryphon Antileon with Strads.

he said evo was great for dynamics but he missed what made SF special. The Pass brought all that back with intricate sound, etc...

Hope that helps!
Lloydelee21, I very much appreciate the detail comparison of various speakers and amps. I decided to put up with the drive and did some audition. These speakers so drastically varied in performance depending on everything else, even with the "best" of each brand of associated equipment. I did check specific models, and these dealers knew to connect the best supporting equipment for these speakers (Stradivari, Maxx 3, and Sasha which replaced the Watt/Puppy)

I tried the Strad with a mixed of Linn and McIntosh equipment. It sounded so boomy. With all Linn equipment, the Strad sounded considerably cleaner but was dry. The Strad seemed to perform best with all tube McIntosh setup. It sounded somewhat more vivid than my Pass/Prelude MTS but definitely did not warrant the money. Don't make any judgment yet.

Moving on to Wilson speakers, the Maxx 3 was driven by Theta amp with Theta CD player, and it definitely did not come alive, sounded far worst than Maxx 2 driven by BAT that I heard a couple years ago. The funny thing was that the Sasha sounded better than Maxx 3 because Ayre MXR drove it. Now the store owner did tell me that Maxx 3 required at least 400W/channel because of its woofer. So the MXR did not have enough power to drive the Maxx.

I came home with about the same thinking as before doing the road trip. The Prelude MTS does edge out Sasha, but I do understand that Pass XA.5 series amp. is such a superior Class A amp. So my XA60.5 monoamp. can definitely cause the bias. Now there is no way that Maxx 3 truly sounds worse than Maxx 2 or Sasha. It's because of the equipment mismatch. Maxx 2/BAT definitely has that extreme wide bandwidth. I somewhat felt like I was in a live performance. But I just don't know if that means Maxx 2 is a better speaker design than Stradivari. McIntosh tube preamp. and amp. might not be the best equipment to drive the Strad.

The surprise about the whole road trip did not come from the trip intent. At one of these dealers, I listened to the McIntosh tube monoamp. driving Snell A7 Illusion. The soundstage just came alive, from classical to rock music. The mid range, specific singing voice, coming from the Snell was so real, as if the singer was right there in front of my eyes. The strings and contrast between music segments was so vivid. I did listen to a lot of equipmetn through the years, and none of them have that vividness for the orchestra strings. Base authority was fine. I actually drove away not wanting Wilson nor Sonus Faber but the Snell Illusion specifically.

Thanks for your comments. Sorry for your disappointment. Such is the roadtrip of audiophiles in search of great sound. Speaking for the 2 speakers you heard, I found Maxx's to sound great with ARC equipment, and 'ok' with Krell (unless the Evo One)..particularly if soulful is what you are looking for. Again, the Maxx 2 comes at music from the technical end. I have found the Strad to be good with tubes (many love McIntosh with Strad) and good with SS A (Soulution, FM Acoustics, Gryphon, etc). It is not the most transparent speaker...I have compared with electrostatics, Wilson, and they do not have quite that transient snap/attack. But they deliver vocals really well, and have enuf detail for some people.

I have not heard these Snells. They sound intriguing to say the least. Good luck and pls post when you've made your choice! Enjoy!!
Very different speakers, same class I suppose, personal taste is the main factor for deciding!
Hi Spatine

Unfortunately what you have heard in your hifi shop trip is typical of the " hit & miss" affair of listening to systems at shops. Sometimes you get the great sound, sometimes you don't.

I own Strad's and run them with both Mac tube gear and cj tube gear.

The Mac tube gear sounds great and is not boomy at all - however it is a little slower in delivery due to the mid hall delivery of the electronics.

I have recently gone back to cj tube gear and the sound is better again. I little more control and life, mainly due to the fact the amplifiers are a bit more forward in the vocal delivery and feel faster. Purity is at an alltime high with this combo.

Personally I feel that the Strad's have plenty of detail and transparency for me and an organic feel that really allows me to attach to the music better than other speakers I have heard.
They can be seen as a little lean in the bass compared to the Wilson's, (definataly not boomy) so for my big room adding a REL subwoofer adds a nice sense of ease in the dynamic bass delivery that is pleasing overall to enjoyng music.

BTW, the pass labs XA60.5 wil be fine, however like any big speaker like this - going to 160.5 would be evern more heavenly.

good luck in your search.
Hi Shane...

Have u broken 300 hours yet? I have placed everything on new equipment rack...3" thick birch ply with black african sapele veneer and piano gloss finish. It sits decoupled on top of 1.5" slab of slate. Wow...took 4 guys to carry it. But it made the Gryphon less dark, added lots more detail, deepened soundstage and dropped the bass half an octave and cleaned it up. I was genuinely surprised in spite of everything I'd read about equipment racks and their benefits...fortunately it cost a LOT less than the reference brands...finite, HRS, and others I've considered.

Loving the Strads more now...that said, I was considering changes my cables to lighten up the system a touch...but now I want it to settle in before I try. If I do...any thoughts? I have old pre-XL Ref interconnects and speaker cables.

Your advice always appreciated!!!
I'm proposing Stealth and Jorma among others...
Thanks, Kops! I will look into them...the key is finding someone in London who sells them.

Stealth Indra should be a great choice with Sonus Faber! You can also try Yter, which is the same cable as the one inside the Strads.

Good Luck and Happy Listening!
Thanks, Argyro! Nice system...I had thought very hard about Wavac having heard so many amazing things about it...but could not get hold of one to audition. I am very happy with my s/hand Antileon anyway. ;).

As for Stealth, from what I have read, that makes sense. The Gryphon, Antileon and Strads are all a touch dark...as is the older Transparent Ref (pre-XL) cabling. So Stealth (or new Transp Ref MM) might just be the thing to add a touch of 'light" back into the system. Thanks again for your advice!

Hi, now living with my second pair of Strad´s and here are the list of amplifiers i´ve tried on:

Krell Evo 402
McIntosh MC-602
2 x Accuphase A-60 in bridged mono
2 x Accuphase A-45 in bridged mono

In my ears there is only one of them who actually can deliver together with Stradivari....
which is...
There and then the MC-602 was nearly a perfect fit with Stradivari in my ears.
At second came the A-45´s, at third the A-60´s and
then the Evo 402.....
Hi...just an update on my own Strads and my question above about switching cables. I switched out my Mullard 7308 tube for an Amperex 7308 (US, gold pins)...that kept all the musicality of my Mullard and added "a light" to the voices and upper registers which is exactly what I was looking for. So (for now) I am done. Thanks for the advice.

I have listened to Maxx 3 driven by CJ tube equipment and the Maxx's sounded unbelievable. The CJ's were not delivering 400w so I do not get why the dealer made that statement. I have w/p 8 driven by Ayre mx-r and they sound great and I think mx-r has more power than the CJ's that were driving the Maxx 3. I think the mx-r would drive the Maxx 3 just fine.

I think there are probably a number of Maxx 3 owners who would question the need for 400w+ to drive them.
Bjbcab, I tend to agree with you. It's a bit too edgy to hear that a top of the line Ayre amplifier, which is highly regarded, couldn't drive practically anything. Besides, the Maxx 3 and gigs I heard at that dealer sounds worse than his Sasha, and definitely fell well behind the Maxx 2/BAT I heard elsewhere. The whole thing does not make any sense. Since I own Pass equipment I also called Pass Labs directly. This "Q" woofer design from Wilson Audio, whatever that means, just gives out more distinctive bass at higher power input. Pass believe either an XA100.5 or perhaps the XA160.5 would drive Maxx 3 just fine. Everything thus far seems to jive with what you said.

I would still hope to hear more information regarding the Snell Illusion if possible. Hardly any individual knows about it. Stereophile was the only major reviewer with comments about it. Spending that kind of money on a fairly unknown piece despite how wonderful it may sound to me the 1st time is rather risky. I only know that Snell used to be hot a few decades ago, then they went silent.