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World of McIntosh: Listening to the Sonus Faber Guarneri Tradition

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The McIntosh Group had set up representatives of the new Homage Tradition loudspeaker line in different listening rooms, scattered throughout the WoM Townhouse, and then invited their dealers, distributors and the local press to wander about, to see, touch and taste. I might have gotten a bit close, but promptly asked the taken-aback designer Livio Cucuzza if I was the first to lick a speaker could I then keep it, but he shrugged, saying “who says you were first?” An excellent point, and one sufficient to reel my gob back from the lusciousness of the Guarneri Tradition. But only just.

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The listening room on the fourth floor of the five-story townhouse was one of the two with actual room treatments, colorfully accented and assisted by an artful splash of throw pillows in front of the speakers. In this room, I found components from Audio Research, sourced from their new Foundation Line of entry-level gear, all wired up with cables from Transparent Audio.

On top of the rack was the new VT80, a KT120 vacuum tube integrated amplifier in their entry-level Foundation Line, and one that’s good for 75 watts per channel. The new DAC9 was tucked underneath. Off to the side sat the new LS28 preamplifier, with a top-loading CD6 squatting above it, next to the amp. The price for each of the Foundation Line component is about $7,500 each; the CD6 is about $9k.

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Transparent Audio cables used in the Guarneri system included the following.

  • 4x 2m Plus Balanced Interconnect: $975 2m
  • High Performance USB: $350
  • 12’ Plus Speaker Cable: $1,100
  • Performance Bi-wire Adapters: $170
  • 4x High Performance Power Cord: $320
  • Powerbank 6 Power Conditioner: $695

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Someone told me that, perhaps, designer Paulo Tezzon had left his “voicing CD” playing in the CD6 when I came in, but because Shazam had absolutely no idea what those tracks were, I can’t tell you what it was I was listening to. I can tell you that it was bloody freakin’ electrifying, and I had the delightful out-of-body experience you get when getting a good stomp on through a two-way speaker. Imaging was very good, and the percussive presentation snapped my head around and popped both eyes right out of their sockets. Holy crap, that was a fun demo.

Winner winner, chicken dinner. I’ll take it!

Ask me, the sound coming out of the “little guy” at The Townhouse was clearly the one to beat, and this particular David had absolutely no qualms or issues fending off all comers, Goliath upstairs included. In all fairness to the other demos, which were lovely in their own ways, The Everything in the Guarneri demo room simply meshed in ways not obviously possible with the much larger speakers in the other rooms.

The traditional red finish is gorgeous, deeply lustrous and wholly magnificent, but I still prefer the Wengè with the aluminum inlay. Aesthetically, I think the carbon-fiber stands match much better with a more modern look, so perhaps that’s part of my gestalt impression. Regardless — this speaker not only has the looks, it has the big, clanky brassy ones to back them up with epic sound.

If anyone out there is listening, I’d very much like to have some quality time with this speaker. Oh yes, yes please.

Specifications

2 way, full para-aperiodic vented box “Stealth Ultraflex System” and “Zero Vibration Transmission” technology implemented on the dedicated stand, decoupled from the floor, stand mount loudspeaker system.

Tweeter

H28 XTR-04. Sonus faber silk dome 28 mm “Arrow Point” DAD, implemented with a natural wood acoustic labyrinth rear chamber.

Midwoofer

W15 XTR-04. Sonus faber designed 150 mm neodymium magnet system ultra dynamic linearity midwoofer.

Cross-over

Non-resonant design, optimized amplitude/phase response for optimal space/time performance. “Paracross topology”. The impedance at low frequencies is controlled for a clear and friendly amplifier performance.. Highest quality is used in terms of the components: last generation Mundorf “Evo” Oil and Silver/Gold/Oil capacitors, Jantzen inductors.

Cross-over point: 2.500Hz.

Frequency Response

40 Hz – 35.000 Hz, Stealth reflex included.

Sensitivity

87 db SPL (2.83V/1 m).

Nominal Impedance

4Ω.

Suggested Amplifier Power Output

30W – 250W , without clipping.

Dimensions (HxWxD)/Weight

377 x 239 x 375mm / 148.5 x 94 x 148″

16 Kg / 35 lbs

Dedicated Stand

(entirely made in Carbon Fiber)

Dimensions (HxWxD) 758 x 300 x 390mm / 298 x 118 x 153.5″

16 Kg / 35lbs

Price

$ 15,900 (stand included)

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1 Comment on World of McIntosh: Listening to the Sonus Faber Guarneri Tradition

  1. James Romeyn // February 5, 2017 at 1:23 PM // Reply

    The answer to the question, “How could Sonus faber possibly out do the prior generation Guaraneri stand mount speaker?” This speaker is almost painfully beautiful to look at in the images. Thanks for bringing your “Big Boy” camera, lens, and lighting!

    If the Italians could only put their sense of taste and style into pill form…

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