In my first article describing my visit to Sonus Faber, located in Vicenza, Italy, this past July, I left off in the leatherwork area of the factory. This article picks up on Europe Tour 2022 in a room where a small group of experienced SF technicians creates the crossover networks for the various Sonus Faber loudspeaker models.
Of course, there’s no better way to start building a highly effective crossover than by selecting great parts. Here you can see some raw ClarityCap audio-grade capacitors in a bin awaiting installation by a technician. These particular parts are imported from the UK.
An experienced Sonus Faber employee works on a crossover board that is angled toward him to ensure an ideal line of sight and proper ergonomics, thus allowing him to work without strain.
Sonus Faber workers don’t toil away in isolation. Instead, they often work in small groups, an infinitely more enjoyable and productive way to attend to the day’s tasks. Spacious, well-lit workspaces were the norm from what I could see.
As this crossover network nears completion, the technician attaches the wiring harnesses that will tether the crossover to the driver(s). The neatness of the entire assembly was a clear priority for this employee, and seeing it should inspire any owner’s confidence that what’s inside their speakers was created with as much care and attention as what’s on the outside.
As I left the crossover assembly area, I spied a group of employees testing a collection of partially completed Sonetto loudspeakers. In this photo, the employee is inserting the baffle of an almost finished loudspeaker into the opening of a test jig.
Once the speaker is fully secured, another employee at a computer will run the test, acoustically measuring the speaker and ensuring it meets its specifications.
In addition to capturing my kids’ personalities perfectly, this photo also shows the stairs that separate the outer wall of the main building from the inner wall. In a perfect application of a term audiophiles are familiar with—decoupling—the air space between these walls keeps direct sunlight away from the inner structure, thereby keeping the main building cool during those sweltering Italian summers. SF was thinking of their workforce and their comfort with this architectural feature, which of course will lead to a better quality result from each employee.
Lorenzo Valè, marketing coordinator at Sonus Faber, explained the efficient manner in which Sonus Faber has organized its shipping area. When you see the handmade nature of the products, it’s hard to believe the factory’s throughput is so large.
Sonus Faber makes and ships lots of speakers every day. I was surprised to learn that most of what we saw in storage was one day’s throughput at the factory.
All Sonus Faber products are special creations, but some are even more special. The Sonus Faber Boutique is a factory within the factory, and this is the place where the most experienced SF employees work on the company’s Reference-class speakers—the Aida, Lilium, IL Cremonese, and IL Cremonese Ex3me. I was told that employees have to work up to this responsibility. The better their work and the longer they’ve been at their jobs, the better their chance of being assigned to this area.
Here you see the work of art that is a Sonus Faber Reference-class crossover. I’ve seen lots of crossovers built by various manufacturers around the world, and most look cobbled together by comparison.
Many subassemblies make up a Reference loudspeaker. This employee is holding a speaker baseplate with the attached down-firing port.
If you look closely, you can see the binding posts protruding from what will be the speaker’s baseplate. This “post-up” orientation makes wiring this Sonus Faber model quite easy while also showing off the quality of the posts and plate they are connected to.
The disparate materials that make up a Sonus Faber enclosure—in this case wood and leather—enhance the beauty of the finished product. SF designers must take into account how these materials will fit together and how each will contribute to the sonic performance the company is aiming for while maintaining the classic aesthetic that makes Sonus Faber speakers recognizable worldwide.
The wooden outer side panels that Sonus Faber is famous for are protected by foam sheeting as they’re transported around the facility. There won’t be any scratches on this speaker!
The Sonus Faber Design Lab is where engineers, industrial designers, and marketers all collaborate on future Sonus Faber designs. There is some technical heavy lifting done here, and the anechoic chamber you see in this photo is one of the tools the company has at its disposal to aid in this process. Here you see Livio Cucuzza, chief design officer for the McIntosh Group, standing in the color-coordinated chamber. Yes, even the SF chamber has a sense of flair to it.
Livio Cucuzza is the creative genius behind Sonus Faber’s designs, and he becomes quite animated when explaining their products or what makes Sonus Faber special as a company. He’s passionate about the things SF produces, but he’s even more passionate about the people who make them. He strikes me as someone whom others would want to work for and produce their best work for in the process.
All in all, my family had a great time visiting Sonus Faber. We fell in love with Vicenza and gained so much appreciation and admiration for the company, its processes, and most importantly, its people.
I snapped this photo as I was leaving the Design Lab. While there I, um, saw some things the company is working on that I can’t reveal quite yet. But what I can say is that, while SF will continue to supply faithful customers with designs they’ll clearly recognize, the company is also working on some new things that will generally surprise—and excite!—loyal SF fans and perhaps those who aren’t SF owners yet. That’s as it should be. After all, what fun is there in always doing just what you’re expected to?
. . . Jeff Fritz