Sonus faber Electa Amator III speakers review part one


2018 has marked the 35th anniversary for Sonus faber and Electa Amator III is an ideal product to mark such a lengthy standing market presence.  We live in a global world where high-end audio has reached and touched thousands in not millions of individuals. Yet, even such a prominent brand as Sonus faber cannot stand still. Our beloved market calls for a consistent forward-thinking attitude, that focuses on both; the existing customer base and new potential buyers needs and aspirations. 

And what is the recipe for success!? An ongoing commitment to continually adapt and evolve while drawing inspiration from the past. The latter is especially relevant for the company with such a vibrant and rich history as Sonus faber. 


On my Italian trip last summer I’ve stopped at Vicenza at Sonus faber to see my old friends. Quite some time passed since we’ve seen each other and I’ve promised to visit the factory when I’ll be nearby. It was great to see Livio, Paolo, and Marta again. 


For years these three strong individuals are forming a friendly golden triangle and with the recent changes in the company, they were given a grander chance to push boundaries.

Such creative freedom also introduces quite a responsibility and they’re highly aware of this. This is why both Sonetto line and Electa Amator III are the results of the prolonged study of the market, brand’s direction and enormous heritage.

THE INSIGHTS


I've asked Livio Cucuzza (Chief Design Officer at World of McIntosh) and Paolo Tezzon (Chief of Sonus faber R&D and technical department) a few questions about this new two way speakers that feature main technologies and design solutions, already used for the last Sonus faber creations...


Matej: Solid wood, brass, and marble. Why these particular materials? 

Livio: In the design lab we are constantly researching new technology and materials, we are crazy for new things, new suppliers, new processes. This attitude moved us in multiple new directions, expanding the know-how of Sonus faber and the group brands. Despite this, some time is important to stop the run for a moment and look at basic things. Electa offered us the opportunity to slow down and play with high-value elements rediscovering the soul of solid materials. 

In this way, we selected just 4 materials and use them to show their nature as much as we can, using them for their main characteristics. Solid wood for its peculiar resonance, leather to control the reflections on the front baffle, marble to add a strong mass to the base of the speakers, brass to couple together the parts.


Matej: How would you define the shape of the classical Electa and the latest version? 

Livio: The classic two-way solid wood speakers of Sonus were a pure exercise of shape and proportions. Every dimension is crucial, every detail can transform the product from a simple box to pleasure for the eyes.  It was great fun to play with the same rules. Simple things are the most difficult sometimes.


Matej: Electa Amator III seems to look back at the heritage line of the Sonus faber speakers. What was the exact inspiration behind the EA III design? 

Livio: Absolutely. The inspiration was exactly that heritage. I still remember that day when we collect all the speakers we have in the company from that period and we studied their proportions and volumes. It was educational for all of the team. We learned the art to create emotional products using a very limited number of elements.


Matej: When do you know to stop with the design process, so the product doesn't become over-designed? 

Livio: Over-design of the products is something that I really hate. Unfortunately, this is a big trend these days in many sectors. In a world where we are overexposed to many different things, we are forced in limited attention time for them. So, the tendency of the designers is to use a very high number of elements to fast impress the audience. This tendency is in direct contrast to the creation of timeless pieces, as we wanted to do with our Electa III.  


I don't know if there is a rule to understand where is the limit. We usually do all the process following our inspiration, without paying too much attention to the limits, then we go back, step by step to understand if the product can be credible even if we eliminate some elements. This process needs some time to be completed, usually you have to do several prototypes to find the right balance and time is the most precious resource as today. Not many companies can afford it.


Matej: Would you say the EA III reflects and embodies the new era for SF and can we expect more products like this in the future? 

Livio: As I said, we designed Electa to be timeless. This way we hope it will be in conjunction with the past and the future. Sonus faber will always produce pieces like that.


Matej: Can you tell us a bit about the particular selection of the drivers, voicing and crossover.

Paolo: Well it’s not correct to talk about “driver selection” when it comes to Electa Amator III: wehave reached a huge portfolio of “self-developed drivers” during the past years so it has been mainly about picking the right ones for this specific project and eventually modify them a bit.

The DAD tweeter has been pretty simple, it is the exact same unit we are using in our top designs, from Guarneri Tradition up to Aida MY2017.

The mid-woofer is a modified version of the Aida MY2017/Lilium/Il Cremonese midrange using of course a longer voice coil to provide it with the proper excursion, substituting the neo Magnet with a powerful ferrite one and using a dust cover instead of the phase-plug for maximising the emitting surface (Something very important when it comes to bass reproduction)


Matej: Did you try to stay close to the sound of the original Electa?

Paolo: Yes, in a way! While using our today’s technology and solutions, such as the Paracross topology, I aimed to an overall frequency response/Tonal balance which is less natural than my other designed and a little bit more colored following the kind of sound typical of the old Sonus faber speakers, but without their limitations. In just one word: It’s a REINTERPRETATION of that attitude and that sound. In order to emphasize this behavior, we went searching for capacitors sounding a little bit warmer and rounded than the usual ones.

Matej: How would you define the new Electa Amator Sound compared to the rest of the Sonus faber speakers' family?


Paolo: According to what I just said Electa Amator’s sound is less, precise, accurate and correct (like the contemporary Sonus faber are…) while being more romantic, colored and warm with a nicely laid back midrange.

Matej: How important are the built-in parts and how much the solid wood construction adds to the final sound?


Paolo: Construction and built-in parts are always important, this is true for every loudspeaker system and Electa Amator III makes no exception. While the sandwich combination of the marble base and the thick solid walnut provide to the cabinet the perfect combination of damping and rigidity. Of course, the wood tone is absolutely playing a role in the overall presentation.

SUM UP


Trust me, being a full time the high-end audio reviewer is not truly a straightforward, non-complex and most glorious job on the planet, although many people do feel so :). But, it’s certainly among the most rewarding ones. As reviewers we have our own expectations about the products coming in for the testing, so do the companies. They‘re expecting something more than just objective from our evaluations. The optimal balance of mutual satisfaction for both parties seems to be thoroughly established only when the product is designed properly, operates on a propagated level and provide the estimated value, set by the indicated retail price. If any of these ingredients is missing the interconnection can be too quickly shattered and none of the involved sides benefits. What to talk about the reader/potential customer. 


This is why the quality on every turn is so vital and Sonus faber team did their job as expected, a step beyond typical norms! In high-end audio, everything starts with the first encounter. Unlike many (too many) high-end audio brands the iconic Italian loudspeakers’ manufacturer knows about this and has put a lot of efforts in the surrounding product paraphernalia and not only at speakers’ design. For example... Sonus faber manuals were and still are among the best in business. They’re exemplary. I’ve owned many of the company’s product over the years and rushing the unboxing to find that gorgeous, upmarket selected paper print handbook reflected my enthusiasms from more than two decades back. That tells a lot about the enduring sense for perfection…


Electa Amator III is refreshingly original, yet familiar enough to be recognized at the initial eye glance as a part of past and present Sonus faber family. This is never easy to achieve, but Electa Amator III aura is  unmistakable 

In the second part of the review, I’ll concentrate on the sonic part with actual music references. But I’ll not let you linger without a hint! 

The new Sonus faber Electa Amator III interestingly blends many of the juxtapositions (old/new, warm/transparent etc.) I’m certain, that like yours truly most of the audiophiles and music lovers didn’t expect the Sonus faber Electa Amator III speakers on the market and I definitely didn’t predict such a sonic outcome. New Electa Amators are modernly open sounding with the recognising warmth, that is more connected with the qualities of original voicing, translating to the instant involvement with the music. The key ingredient, that has captivated thousands of hearts in the past! 


So yes, from all of the perspectives this is rather a refreshing surprise. Like the design itself, the particular sonic outcome is making Electa Amator III standing on their own in the Sonus faber portfolio and this will undoubtedly draw many people to investigate into them. Even outside of typical audiophile circles. 

All in all, it’s hard not to be enthusiastic about these Italian beauties aesthetically and sound wise! Stay tuned for part two!

Matej Isak

PRICE


10.000 € for pair stand included.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

SYSTEM
2-way bookshelf/standmount vented loudspeaker system

LOUDSPEAKERS
Tw: H28 XTR-04 DAD™, Ø 28 mm
Mw: MW18XTR-04, Ø 180 mm

CROSS-OVER
2500Hz

FREQUENCY RESPONSE
40 Hz – 35.000 Hz

SENSITIVITY
88 dB SPL (2,83V/1 m)

NOMINAL IMPENDANCE
4 ohm

SUGGESTED AMPLIFIER POWER OUTPUT
35W - 200W, without clipping

LONG-TERM MAX INPUT VOLTAGE (IEC 268-5)
20 V rms

SPEAKERS DIMENSIONS (HxWxD) & WEIGHT
375 x 235 x 360 mm
14.8 x 9.3 x 14.2 in
14,6 Kg ea – net weight
32,2 lb ea – net weight
STAND DIMENSIONS (HxWxD) & WEIGHT
720 x 300 x 350 mm
28.4 x 11.8 x 13.8 in
9,5 Kg ea – net weight
21 lb ea – net weight

CONTACT


Sonus faber S.p.A.
Via A. Meucci, 10
36057 Arcugnano (VI) – Italy

Tel: +39 0444 288788, +39 0444 288722