North American Launch of Sonus faber Sonetto
On June 20th, Sonus faber invited select dealers and reviewers to Kansas City to experience the new Sonetto line of speakers. I was thrilled to be a part of this group and immediately agreed.
Wait. Kansas City? Why? Sonus faber’s American HQ is in Berkeley, CA. McIntosh, the sister company, has a gorgeous townhouse in Manhattan that showcases Sonus faber speakers. I asked my agent, Scott, but he just said “you’ll find out, grasshopper. Be patient. When you can snatch this pebble out of my hand…”.
So off I go to sunny KC. Arrived early on Wednesday June 20th, so I walked around the city. I had asked my friendly Uber driver who had picked me up from the airport about places to eat. “Jack Stack Barbecue”, she replied without hesitation. I wasn’t going to argue with her, so I went there for lunch. If you ever find yourself in Kansas City, and you like Barbecue, I highly recommend it. I had ribs and ends, and I was happily stuffed.
Everyone met at the lobby that night, and headed out for dinner. Guess where? Jack Stack! I was so full I just had a salad.
Next day, we headed to 1900 Building (yes it’s actually called 1900 Building). This was the original LEE Jeans factory which has been converted to a Performance Arts Center. Steve Karbank of the Karbank Real Estate Company is the driving force and vision of this project, and what a magnificent result. The 1900 Building hosts public and private events, from concerts to weddings. There’s also a world class restaurant. Steve is a lifelong audiophile who loves the sound of Audio Research, McIntosh and Sonus faber. He specified that the amplified systems be made up of the 3 companies.
Sonus faber Brand Manager and Head Trainer Will Kline took us through a brief history of the company, the products, patented technologies and how the speakers are designed and made by hand. Although I was aware of some of the technologies and the hand-made nature of the speakers, the presentation really inspired me. Sonus faber doesn’t just pay lip service when it says the speakers are hand-made. The company hires artisans, old-world craftsmen (and women) to carefully and painstakingly build, shape, sculpt, stain and assemble each speaker. Modern technology is used to carefully enhance the production, but each step is still overseen and ultimately built by highly skilled people.
We then listened to a pair of Sonus faber Lilium driven by Audio Research electronics. The sound was glorious; musical, organic, tremendously dynamic. It effortlessly filled a fairly large room.
Next was an acid test. We were brought to the large, open and airy space where live concerts are regularly hosted. While musicians played live, we were encouraged, indeed pushed to compare the sound of the live performance against the amplified version. McIntosh electronics powered 5 Sonus faber Vox speakers strategically positioned throughout the room. I got up to about 6 feet from the musicians, then walked all over the auditorium.
I was stunned! The sound from the amplified system was remarkably similar to the live performance! I’ve been a part of 3 such comparisons before. Never had I ever thought that the amplified version was anything but amplified. This, however, blew me away. The experience was a true ear opener for me.
Will Kline and his colleagues then broke us into 2 groups, and trained us in the Sumiko method of speaker set up. This methodology aims to place the speakers in the best possible position in the room, and optimize the speakers’ toe-in and rake angle.
The Sonetto series was then introduced. Replacing the Venere, Sonetto features in-house designed drivers like the Damped Apex Dome tweeter, natural fiber midrange and aluminum-alloy bass drivers. Sonetto will be made in Italy by the same craftsmen that make the Olympica, Homage and Reference series. Quality of materials is very high, including leather wrapped top and choices of Walnut, Gloss Black or Matte White finishes.
Sonetto will start shipping by September. We are expecting our first shipment of Olympica, Homage and Reference shortly. Please contact us to see and experience these Italian masterpieces. In a world where products are mass produced and physically boring, Sonus faber stands in direct contrast. They have soul.