There’s no denying that Sonus Faber, and McIntosh Labs make beautiful-looking gear. The craftsmanship, attention to detail, and handmade nature of their speakers, and amplification components scream bespoke. But the reason these two marques of high-end audiophile fetishism do so well, and have been around so long is because they not only look amazing, they sound amazing.
The room set up at Hifi Centre for the Vancouver Audio Festival showcases the two audio houses connected by Transparent Audio cables, their Opus Series was in use for speakers (overkill said the Transparent rep), but I don’t think their openness was lost on the system.
Gear in the room consisted of the Sonus Faber Il Cremonese loudspeakers, a pair of McIntosh MC601 mono blocs being fed by a McIntosh C2600 preamplifier/DAC via coaxial out from a laptop streaming a mix of local files, and Tidal. There was an enormous McIntosh stack at the end of the listening room, but everything other than the C2600 wasn’t in the mix for the demo sessions.
With the big mono blocs powering the 3.5-way, 92dB Il Cremonese, the bottom end of all the tracks I heard had real extension, and control which allowed the tone, and timbre of stand-up bass, electric bass, drums (both electronic, and acoustic) to carry through the lowest octaves. The sound stage extended well beyond room boundaries in both the vertical, and horizontal planes, and there was realistic pressurization, and room loading from all instruments, and voices.
Spatial projection from tracks was mid-centric, with nothing pushing too forward, or conversely really drawing you into the stage. It had a very balanced feel to all types of music without instrument congestion on big rock numbers or orchestral pieces. This system had real speed on transients, and gave the upper registers plenty of space to air out cymbal, woodwind, and high-hat decay. A very enjoyable set up that will jive well with those who love deep bass, and a concert-hall like presentation.