Sonus Faber, Pro-Ject, Sumiko | FLAX 2020

Ever since I reviewed the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova I, I’ve been curious to listen to the rest of the line. I did manage to hear the flagship of the line, the Nova V, at a Sonus Faber event, and I was amazed with the full-range sound and incredible dynamics from a $15,000/pair speakers with a relatively small footprint. At FLAX 2020, I was able to listen to the floor-standing Nova II, ($10,000/pair in a striking wenge finish), and I heard that familiar warm yet incisive balance I enjoyed with the smaller monitors–but with much deeper bass.

Sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Sponsored by Living Sounds Audio
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Living Sounds Audio

Sonus Faber was sharing the room with stablemate Pro-Ject. I expected to like those Italian speakers because I was so familiar with that specific line. But I was truly surprised when I left the room and all I could think about was how much I liked the Pro-Ject analog rig, which consisted of the Signature 10 turntable and arm ($6500 in an even more distinctive olive gloss) and a Sumiko Palo Santo cartridge. I was also intrigued with the look of the electronics, all made by Pro-Ject–the rack was filled with about eight little boxes, everything from the RS Phono and its power supply to the CD Box R52 T and R52 digital processor to the tiny R5 power mono blocks and their dedicated power supplies. It’s an interesting, unique approach.

As I spent time in the room, I was seduced by the system’s easy and sweet demeanor and how I was able to relax and simply forget that I was at an audio show in Tampa. I remember being particularly impressed when Leonard Cohen’s Ten New Songs on LP, and how I felt compelled to buy it after I left the room. (Too bad there wasn’t a marketplace at FLAX 2020.)

I keep mentioning that I was surprised by the Sonus Faber and Pro-ject room, and it had everything to do with that Pro-Ject Signature 10 turntable. My first impression of Pro-Ject, many years ago when they first appeared in the US, was of turntables that were inexpensive but sounded decent. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the quality control issues–I once got utterly frustrated with mounting the Carbon tonearm because it just didn’t seem especially well-designed, but this new turntable is a first-class analog rig in every way…one deserving of my attention and yours.