In the last couple of months I’ve gotten a crash course on Sonus Faber of Italy. First, I reviewed the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova I right here at Part-Time Audiophile. Second, I reported on their press conference on the evening before the show started where they unveiled the new Olympica Nova line to the public. Finally, I spent more time in the room later during the show and was able to sit down and interview Jeff Poggi, President and CEO, and Paolo Tezzon, the head of R&D.
When I refer to the company as Sonus Faber of Italy here, it’s to emphasize my own experience with Italian speakers over the past decade. As I’ve mentioned before, I was the US importer and distributor for another Italian manufacturer, considered one of their main rivals, so I kept my distance from these designs for all those years. I started off my conversation with this tidbit, and Jeff and Paolo were amused. Most of the famous Italian high-end audio manufacturers are close geographically, in the north, and the relationships between them are relatively friendly. They all know each other, in other words.
That brought up a second point of discussion. With this bias, I’ve always viewed Sonus Faber of Italy as a company that makes perhaps the most beautiful speakers in the world. They’re famous for it, in fact. But what about the sound? Does it match the fabulous aesthetics? Based on my experience reviewing the Olympica Nova I, the answer is absolutely. But the buzz at RMAF 2019 was that Sonus Faber has really been re-inventing themselves over the last few years, creating loudspeakers that are known for innovative technologies as well as world-class cosmetics.
That’s very much on purpose. As Paolo told me, there was a point in time where the company wondered if they “lost the magic” of the earlier Franco Serblin designs. That started a chain of new features for Sonus Faber of Italy that pushed the performance envelope, starting with the introduction of the Aida in 2012. One of the biggest leaps in performance was accomplished by designing the Damped Apex Dome (DAD) technology for the tweeter, which extends its high frequencies. The design team then worked on stiffer bracing inside the enclosure, and further damping for the bass that allowed the drivers to create that “magic” unfettered by the enclosures.
Two more innovations are incorporated into the Olympica Nova line–the Stealth Ultraflex porting system, which is a vertical slot along the back of the enclosure that reduces turbulence from the air flow, and the asymmetrical cabinet shape that reduces colorations. The two features work together to create a way to fine tune low frequency response in the listening room, depending upon the direction of the ports. I experimented more with this when I returned home and found I able to extract even better bass from the Olympica Nova Is.
After speaking with Jeff and Paolo, I returned to the large Sonus Faber room and listened further. In many ways, Sonus Faber of Italy was the star of the 2019 RMAF. Almost everyone I spoke to at the show was impressed by the new Olympica Nova line, as well as all the other loudspeakers in the room. I’d like to thank Jeff and Paolo for their time, and giving me further insight into these excellent products.