In July 2022, I traveled with my family to Vicenza, Italy—home of Sonus Faber, the famous Italian loudspeaker maker. We were treated to a magnificent company tour, a delectable lunch and dinner, and great conversation with Livio Cucuzza—chief design officer for the McIntosh Group—and his staff. I recounted the highlights of that day in two articles published on SoundStage! Ultra: “Europe Tour 2022: Arriving in Vicenza and Visiting Sonus Faber” and “Europe Tour 2022: Sonus Faber Speaker Production and Design Lab.”
Livio Cucuzza with a Serafino Tradition
What I wasn’t able to share at the time of writing—which I now can—is that Livio also invited me to preview one of the speaker models from the soon-to-be-launched Homage Tradition line. Sonus Faber has created four new speakers to directly replace the previous models (all prices in USD): the Amati Tradition floorstander ($36,000/pr.), Serafino Tradition floorstander ($26,000/pr.), Guarneri Tradition standmount ($19,000/pr. including stands), and Vox Tradition center-channel ($17,000). The speakers are available in Red, Wenge, and Graphite finishes.
The new Homage Tradition speakers have many technical advances over the outgoing line, which was introduced in February 2017. Except for the tweeter, the drivers in all four models have been redesigned and significantly upgraded. But no single improvement is more important than the new midrange driver. To house these new drivers, the loudspeaker enclosures have been reengineered, with newly optimized subenclosures for the redesigned woofers.
One of the SF team’s design goals for the new line was to massively improve the midband, and ample resources went into doing just that. Livio and his team added a purpose-designed chamber to control resonance from the midrange so that the impedance peak of the driver is canceled mechanically. The new Homage Tradition speakers’ crossover networks have been made simpler because of this advancement, which the company has named Intono.
In my conversations with Cucuzza, other crossover details emerged. Sonus Faber is now using their Paracross topology in the bass, along with their Interactive Fusion Filtering (IFF) network for the midrange-to-tweeter handoff. IFF was first seen in the massively successful Maxima Amator loudspeaker.
These engineering solutions helped the team discover how to create a purer sound with vocals and midrange instruments, which was exactly what they were striving for. That new midrange driver also looks different than any SF midrange before it. Livio and his team are rightfully proud of the engineering behind it, and more importantly, the sound they’ve achieved.
Cosmetic updates have also been applied to the new models. For example, the tops of the speakers are more refined, with the Sonus Faber logo inserted inside the lacquering. This gives the top of each speaker a visual depth that makes it seem as if you could almost reach into it. Overall, the new look is cleaner and sleeker than the previous design.
When I asked Livio about the differences he and his team were hearing in the new speakers, he wasn’t coy in his appraisal: “In terms of performance, the speakers are faster and more controlled in the bass section, while there’s more resolution in the midrange.”
In describing the new midrange and bass sections, Livio explained that there is now better cohesion between the drivers. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to the new crossover topologies at play.
As with all SF speakers past and present, owners will be proud to display the new speakers in their homes—the Italian sense of design is evident in every handcrafted model the company produces in Vicenza. From an appearance perspective, Livio revealed that aesthetically, “the main goal was to simplify the design of the speaker while maintaining the overall elegance.” And there are even more of what the designer described as “precious details” to be appreciated, even if each loudspeaker’s look seems simpler at first glance.
Livio and his team had a pair of Homage Tradition Serafinos installed in the large listening room in SF’s Design Lab building, located right across the street from their main production building. I asked what he and his group were hearing specifically with the new speakers that was absent in the outgoing models—which were highly regarded loudspeakers in their own right. According to Livio, “The main difference between old and new is in the reproduction of the soundstage. The soundstage is now free from the speaker itself. Also, the crossover is now phase and time coherent, so acoustical elements on the stage are more three-dimensional and realistic.” Livio also reflected that an advantage of the new design is that it “makes the speaker easier to place in a room.”
Livio succinctly summarized the sonic improvements Sonus Faber set out to achieve with the new line: “We wanted to improve the level of detail, the dynamic capability, and the strength of the bass without losing the classic SF sound signature.” And did they succeed? I was about to find out.
As I listened to “Liberty” by Anette Askvik, from the album of the same name, the singer’s vocals were spookily present in the room, her high notes delicate and floating completely free from the loudspeaker cabinets. Vocals were not only clear, they popped right out of the soundstage with an ease I’ve rarely heard.
Fifty-three seconds into the song, the bass seemed so remarkably weighty that I asked if there was a subwoofer in play. Livio smiled and said no. The bass power and agility I heard belied the dimensions of the two midsized cabinets set up in front of me.
Even though SF’s listening room was quite large, the soundstage managed to spread from wall to wall and displayed great depth. I was astounded at how easily the Serafinos drove the room—there was a sparkling energy in the air due in part to the surprising bass capability of these loudspeakers, but the midband and upper registers kept pace perfectly, too. The Tradition Serafino is a speaker that can scale with whatever music you play through it. As I was listening, I found myself thinking, “This is especially impressive for a speaker this size!” I could easily track the music’s ebb and flow with an effortlessness that’s normally only evident with much larger loudspeakers, so it seems that you won’t need to go bigger than the Serafino for most applications. Bear in mind, however, that there’s an even larger speaker, the Amati, available in the Homage Tradition line should the need arise.
Livio Cucuzza summed up the goal Sonus Faber set out to achieve with the new line: “Be respectful of the Sonus Faber sound signature but offer a more advanced product.”
Livio Cucuzza with the Fritz family
To my mind, it’s mission accomplished, in every way imaginable. I left Vicenza excited about everything I’d seen and heard during my visit to Sonus Faber. Nothing was more exciting, however, than the energy in the air about the new Homage Tradition line’s upcoming launch. Having experienced the sound of the new line for myself, I know why the SF team was so jazzed. As an enthusiastic audiophile, I’m just glad I can finally share this experience with you.
. . . Jeff Fritz