I’m no stranger when it comes to the Sonus faber. My admiration, and passion for their speakers goes decades back and I used to own at lest seven or eight pairs from their past line during the years.
I’ve been closely following the company over the years and how they’re slowly taking Sonus faber to 21st century. The latest output is guided by two leading forces; Paolo Tezzon and Livio Cucuzza. They work in tandem now for quite some time with an impressive output of the products in a very short time interval. For a growing company this is not an easy job by all means. High-End audio become very competitive and if you’re not pushing the boundaries by each year you might quickly fall into the “forgotten”. You simply cannot be in a day dream mode.
Marketing logic is of course quite different for Sonus faber and their set of the rules are of different origin, yet standing still would certainly won’t let them stay as recognized as they are. These days you need a constant market appearance and impact to stay on surface and to keep the sales running.
Sonus faber heritage of small monitor speakers goes way back. Most of the people might even connect them more to a smaller speakers then to the floorstanders. These leads back at the days of company first foray into the audiophile high-end audio market.
Chameleon is trying to keep the sensible touch with the past, but also introducing new, more radiant aura and appeal to the wider, younger audience. In doing so, Chameleon brings something fresh and different while keeping the recognizing Sonus faber DNA.
"I’ve always been fascinated by the classic trapezoidal shape of the Sonus faber’s small bookshelves. It was unusual, but at the same time functional. Chameleon is a modern re-interpretation of that concept in a fun and dynamic way.” - Livio Cucuzza.
As Livio nicely sum it up, the Chameleon B is a forward thinking design, that pushes the small traditional bookshelf speakers into the 21st century. Design cue is clear and ravishing. Small B’s encompasses the lightness of insightful looks with the easy to follow sound output and despite its clear modern paced curves still embarks heck a lot of traditional sense of renowned Italian shaping.
LOCK AND LOAD
At the launch of the Chameleon B speakers Sonus faber presented few different panels in what they choose to be most popular colors. They will, step by step reveal more finishes as I’ve been told. This will keep them as an interesting object d’ art for a long time as one can easily, at minute change, morph the looks via removable side panels.
We all know, how audiophiles tend to switch on things and for many this might be a healthy reason to stick to the proud ownership for a longer time. Sonus faber marketing team certainly played with this idea in the initial design goal and the result works.
Removing the side panels is as easy as it gets. Only few seconds needed. Well thought, simplistic locking let you forget about about any complexity and swing with the mood instantly. Call it a pop cultural chameleon nature. Sonus faber does not hide their targeted audience and for general high-end audio industry this is great. We do need more young people to join our high-end society and get affected with the higher quality audio reproduction.
With the Chameleon speakers collection, Sonus faber aims to bring to a wider, contemporary audience all the iconic elements that made them historical and iconic speakers manufacturers. For Vicenza based company these were the guiding blocks; innovative style and design, quality of sound and craftsmanship approach to construction, absolutely made in Italy and “hand made”.
Chameleon embodies all of the iconic design elements of Sonus faber offering a level of customization previously unattainable – the entire cabinet is covered in leather, drivers flange is embellished with aluminium trims and side walls have a structure that houses the exchangeable side panels.
In this way, choosing the finis is no longer a permanent decision. Instead it becomes something that identify the speaker, that can evolve together with customer’s taste: owners of the Sonus faber Chameleon will have the freedom to select the most suitable fit in any environment and for any style of interior design!
“Sonus faber's Chameleon is an optimal solution for those who are seeking an immediate and affordable solution for their listening needs.”
The inspiration for the Chameleon collection derives from the innovative, exchangeable side panels, providing a level of customization previously unattainable.
In keeping with an absolutely contemporary style, the overall design is characterized by simple and clean lines. The cabinet has a slightly trapezoidal shape with rounded corners that bring to mind Sonus faber's earliest models.
The entire cabinet is covered in leather, drivers flange is embellished with aluminium trims and side walls have a structure that houses the exchangeable side panels thanks to a system of pins which allows their simple removal and replacement.
FROM THE HEART OF THE DESIGNER
I’ve kindly ask Livio Cucuzza Chief of industrial design at Sonus faber and Chief design officer at McIntosh Group Inc. to say few words about his vision of the Chameleon B loudspeakers:
“Sonus faber has always appealed to the most creative minds, the customers looking for more than a square box. Chameleon, with its unique potential to change looks in a flash, is another step in this direction.
We all need to surround ourselves with exciting, inventive, brilliant products that will delight and entertain the curious mind - to keep having a sharp outlook on what’s around you and never stop creating and improving."
SOUND AND MUSIC
I’ve tried Sonus faber Chameleon speakers with few different setups. From Crayon Audio mighty CIA integrated amplifier, explodingly fast and potent Analog Domain Isis integrated, Thrax Audio Heros mono blocks connected via one of the kind Robert Koda K-10 preamplifier and fronted via Aries Cerat Kassandra 2 and TOTALDAC D-1 Dual DACs.
Even lower powered integrated can bring a grand breath of life into the B’s and in this way open up the world to many high-end audio and musical lovers of younger age and with limited budgets. My reference gear was used to see how far Sonus faber Chameleon B speakers can be pushed, but I’ve played around also with entry level integrated amplifiers and results very highly satisfying. This is also what Paolo Tezzon - Sonus faber R & D Manger had in mind from the start:
"Chameleon line represent Sonus faber's bigger effort to bring high quality music reproduction in an affordable package, with a nice and fresh design. Any time I was working at them, making choices about what really matters for music reproduction, and what can be eventually sacrificed, I was particularly thinking about young generations. My strongest desire was, and is, that Chameleon could help lot of them in discovering a total new dimension of music listening!"
TIMBRE TONE AND COLOR
The air is getting pretty thin when one start speaking about the timbre, tone, color, pacing etc. Speaker manufacturers can quickly become nervous by touching this subject.
Somehow, I really have little doubts regarding the voicing of Chameleon B. I’ve known Paolo for few years now and its always his clear goal to keep the sound of any Sonus faber speaker close whats been the Sonus faber golden rule.
Chameleon B speakers follows this path as with other speakers so far. When paired with proper electronics they instantly exhibit the attributes closely connected to the music.
LIFE OF THE MUSIC
Many people were afraid that Sonus faber might loose its orientation and path of the past with the newly introduced models. Chameleon B speakers speakers for speak for themselves and stand out proudly and potently. I’ve talked quite few times with Paolo Tezzon, who is the one to “blame” for the Sonus faber voicing. Not exactly an easy job to execute and along with the aesthetics rules one cannot go in uncharted territory with crossover and acoustics. At the end of the days, everything is also subordinate to targeting price and there are a lot of choices to be made without taking to many compromises. Taking Sonus faber speakers into the realms of present era yet keeping the most important attributes takes dedication and enormous work. And achievement? Yes! Right path, right choices. Chameleon B speakers can be both lively and involving when driven by the properly set up audio system. Of course the final “voicing" is always determined by the owner, but I was not putting any less pressure in testing the Sonus faber Chameleon B loudspeakers with my trusty arsenal of live, acoustical, un-amplified material along with more then healthy dose of R & B, electronica, pop, etc. The variety of material is always needed, yet as I’m always trying to impose; we do not not really know that much about studio produced albums. They are like paintings. Variety of choices. An expression of the producer, mixing engineer and mastering master. To make things really relevant there is one and only real reference and thats acoustic music.
With acoustic music things cannot go into color palette. Instruments sounds the way they do and this is whats its expected from any speaker wanting to be kitten with the high-end audio label.
So where do the Sonus faber big B stand in this regard? Let me put it down in this way. It will depend on the quality of the electronics and the rest of audio paraphernalia. With entry level amplifiers and electronics you’ll get the global overview of what’s possible. If you want to discover both micro and macro detailing and move away from the lurking into the potentials, then moving up on the ladder of quality will push Chameleons B into the loupe, musical - macro and micro view. Not into the dissecting way of exploring the details, but exploring the music and its attributes more profoundly and most importantly, musically enriched.
Little chameleons are not only able to morph aesthetically. They‘re capable of moving along with the different pace of the music that well balanced system can provide them.
You might ask why I wanted to jump on and explore these small speakers. For a few things… I’m still very inspired by the company, I love when something affordable is able to get my interest and even more importantly I really love small monitor speakers. They can help, quite easily into the grasp grand pictorial and satisfying sound outcome being quintessential all the way. For most of the listening environments and surroundings small bookshelf can be a transparent and welcoming window to the world of endless landscapes of the musical universe. This is exactly how I’ve felt when spending my listening and testing time with Sonus faber Chameleon speakers. Enticed sonic experience.
Sonus faber Chameleon B speakers are company most stylish, lifestyle oriented, small monitors up to date. Livio managed to blend sparkling aesthetics and removable side panels into a highly stylish contemporary small monitor, fitting very nicely into to the modern home surroundings. Paolo tuned Chameleon B’s without loosing the sonic touch of recognized Sonus faber character. His managed to upgrade them to the 21st century with transparent, vibrant and open sound nature.
Anyone in possession or reasonably powered integrated amplifier can quickly start enjoying the Chameleon B speakers. These days we have an abundance of nicely specced integrated amplifiers with both DACs and phono preamplifier on board. In this way, paired with Sonus faber Chameleon B speakers one can quickly ensure a very satisfying and lasting musical listening.
For what they represent and at what pricing, especially being made in Europe-Italy I’m awarding Sonus faber Chameleon B speakers with Mono & Stereo Best Buy Award. They're fun, musically potent and stylish! Exactly what 21st century affordable high-end audio product should be...
Text: Matej Isak
Overall well balanced speaker fits nicely into the living rooms even up to 25 m2. Front loaded bass vented system fires directly towards the listeners and offers lesser problems with the back wall positioning and wobbly booming bass.
The upper graph shows on-axis frequency response at 1m, without the room reflections.
This graph shows frequency response at the listening position. The overal response is very well balanced, with a mild depression in the presence region (2 - 3 kHz) and slightly emphasised lower treble.
Sonus Faber Chameleon impedance characteristic.
Sonus Faber Chameleon - waterfall.
Pair of speakers with side panels included.
Optional side panels set (4 panels)
Prices do not include VAT.Shipping and any customs duties that may be related to current standards of individual countries are also excluded.The speakers cannot be sold separately from the first side panels set.
2 way bookshelf vented box
29 mm high definition precoated fabric dome driver with no ferrofluid. Sonus faber design.
1x150 mm. Free compression basket design and PP cone. Ultra dynamic performance and linearity. Sonus faber design.
50 Hz – 25.000 Hz
87 dB SP
SUGGESTED AMPLIFIER POWER OUTPUT
30W – 150W
LONG-TERM MAX INPUT VOLTAGE (IEC-268-5)
315,5 x 185 x 283 mm
OPTIONAL DEDICATED STAND (HxWxD)
725 x 306 x 370 mm
1040,5 x 306 x 370 mm
Via A. Meucci, 10
36057 Arcugnano (VI)