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June 2014
Superior Audio Equipment Review
World Premiere
Sonus faber Ex3ma Loudspeakers
Another milestone for the this Italian high-end speaker company.
Review By Matej Isak

 

Sonus faber Ex3ma Loudspeaker  Writing a review and test for something as special as new the Sonus faber Ex3ma (pronounced ex-three-ma) loudspeakers was a real pleasure for me. Combining the passion for writing with the aural experiences is for sure a Godsend for me. I've been following the company from the early days and owned many of their products over the years. In a way I grew up and develop up along with the company growth as a listener, music lover and audiophile over the years.

Sonus faber was always related to something special for me. It was the first company that built the bridge between style and music in such a seamless way that no one managed in doing so before them. Creating loudspeakers that can look as beautiful as they sound was something that seemed impossible to do in the right way. Sonus faber carved their mark upon the Earth with such strong and potent loudspeaker designs that they still resonance as strong at present as they did over the past three decades.

 

The Original
The original Sonus faber Extrema loudspeakers were a milestone in the company history. When first introduced their unique and different looks instantly gained a respective place in the somehow plain world of high-end audio and hearts of those for seeking something different and timeless. Extrema was a statement of extra ordinary and passion. They are still beloved by numerous of audiophiles and music lovers and there are a highly sought after collector items. Many of us still clearly recall both of their distinctive aesthetic and sound characters. They really demanded a powerful and properly designed amplifier to make them sound at their best. Once matted with the right amplifier the musical presentation they managed to create was an atmosphere that was hard to forget. Many tried to follow up this legendary loudspeaker, but none came close with the same attitude and authority.

 

The Successor
Fast forwarding into the 2014 and this year marks another milestone for the Sonus faber. The 30th anniversary of the company reflected their past with standout portfolio of wonderful loudspeaker designs. Their productivity and output set the pace for whole industry a long time ago. So what must be done and needed in the 21st century high-end audio society to create a worthy successor of something as special as the original Extrema's? A lot! Not an easy task and challenge!

Livio Cucuzza and Paolo Tezzon already proved them self highly as a design team. They're both masterful on their own and when working jointly their results brought the Sonus faber into the strong path, which keeps the company strong focus and pace. It's not easy for any company to safely transit into the new era with the wicked and complex world demands of times we're living it today. The creative duo under the guidance of Mauro Grange managed to succeed in a grand way with the company products in past few years. It's highly tricky and risky in the fierce market of today to make the right moves and keep the interest of the people, staying attached to the brand appeal and evoking new emotions of the new customers. Sonus faber moves forward in staying as strong as it was with their daring new steps toward the future.

Ex3ma name came from the Livio. It correlates with the original name of Extrema, but gives it an instant contemporary spirit and spirit. Sonus faber Ex3ma reflects perfectly its sound character and aura surrounded, but more on that later on. The all new Sonus faber Ex3ma is a celebration of premium materials and high technology. Paolo Tezzon pointed out, that usually the Sonus faber loudspeakers are created as musical instruments, but with new the new Ex3ma they created the precision instrument, that still embraces the recognized soul of the Sonus faber.

 

The Ex3ma Impact
Sonus faber Ex3ma LoudspeakersWe all had very high expectations with this 30th anniversary extraordinary product. Bringing something special as the original Extrema loudspeakers spirit back into the life might feel like waking up the legend and dressing them up into the new cloths. On contrary, the new Ex3ma is a complete rework standing on its own with a proud and respectful back glance to the heritage. The first visual impact of the new Sonus faber loudspeaker is majestic. Ex3ma's radiate with a unique and strong aesthetic language. As the originals, the new Ex3ma's stand on their own merits. It is never an easy task to create something visually strong, that clearly managed to work as an functional object d'art. Livio shaped the new Ex3ma with clear and elegant language. The elegance and timeless nature delivers the music in a sensual way. New shapes resemble the primal design that strikes of Extrema, yet adds a distinctive modern "up to date" feeling to them. Ex3ma loudspeakers hides nothing. Their in your face beautiful visuals entrapped you instantly with the radiant red side panels and carbon fibre parts as well as other integral parts forming the visual extravagance. The Ex3ma feels like elaborated sum of its parts, all being fundamental and essential in making the loudspeakers looking complete. 

Sonus faber experience with the Pagani sound system helped in a great way towards the creation of their Ex3ma loudspeaker. Working with the new materials proven to be very challenging, but they've learned a lot during this project. Paolo told me, that the initial speaker structure was completely made out of special carbon fibre. Everything was great as an idea, but when they started with the practical listening this simply didn't work sound wise. That led to the creation of the unique monocoque structure, that can be combined with other materials. This is the same principle used with the open wheel Formula 1 bodied and other sports cars. To create the desired results, they combined many different materials in voicing the Ex3ma both as high performing and musical. The combination of copper, carbon fibre, wood and metals jointly respond to the stand out visual and sound character of the Ex3ma. It is as vibrant sounding as it is stunning is visual styling.

 

Musical Impact
Bringing so many state of the art materials under one project design can be very tricky. Each of those materials correspond to the certain sound resonate nature. They all have already strong sound imprints of their own and combining them into something musically sounding certainly feels like a far out highly demanding job. Hearing first few notes strikes made all the doubts disappear. This was an unusual impact that was truly not expected from my side. It took some time to settle down with the emotional impact as Ex3mas projected the sound with stamina making music resonate in an everlasting feeling. I think it was hard to project what one was to expected from loudspeakers such as Sound faber Ex3ma. This was an unusual impact, as it is clear that we all want to hear something new, and very special, from Sonus faber.

Sonus faber Ex3ma LoudspeakersWith the strong connection to the sports car heritage using the analogy; the speed, control and lighting fast details were all there presented in a grand way. Interestingly and surprisingly Ex3ma's didn't lost the natural dark warm character. Upon seeing the materials being used for the woofer cones and tweeter I did had my reservations. Beryllium coated tweeter and special woofer cone created out of carbon fiber and mixture of few selected materials doesn't stand in the music favor in the theory. Quite few loudspeakers companies already tried to use high-tech materials. Sadly, practical results were always just the technical celebration and highlight of the exotic materials. They simply didn't work at the musical level.

Sonus faber Ext3ma loudspeakers work in a complete different way. While maintaining the recognized legendary warm, dark natural voicing that resonates with the real natural timbre, Sonus faber added their lightning-fast microscopic insights. Captivating ones senses like a lighting strike, music simply flowing unrestrained into my listening room. I never heard monitor based design loudspeakers filling the room at such full potential as Ex3ma did. The vivid and three dimensional atmospheres reminded me more on the high-end surround system then just mere two channel setup. Ex3ma loudspeakers felt more like floor-standing full range loudspeakers, then just a standard monitor sized speakers. In a blind test i'm sure most would fail to recognize the sound impact as coming from the monitor based design. Woofer mounted on the backside had to do a lot with it.

Sonus faber Ex3ma LoudspeakersIf you ever had a luxury of driving the real sport car, then the analogy is very easy to project into the performance of Ex3mas. With the car monocoque structure you'll fill the road bellow you with every inch of your body. Each turn of the road translates into to the direct driving experience and you have a full control of the machine in your hands. Listening to Ex3ma loudspeakers felt in the very same way. All the smallest micro level nuances were present with such lucidity and presence, that it felt like stepping into the highest resolution illusion of a sound event. It was akin to exploring the timeless warmness of Monet with the many microscopic details. The recreation of sound atmosphere with classical music was alive and detailed as very few speakers are able to do so. Natural reverbs and decays of acoustical un-amplified live played music always builds up the most needed structural points or recreation of any live event. They are among basic structural points of musical replay.

With the crescendos of live drum recordings Ex3ma breathe with grand authority. I don't recall experiencing so many anchor points with any speaker on such size. Actually, very few loudspeakers even comes close to the way Ex3ma recreated the musical experience as whole. Even with the pop and rock songs, the impact didn't go away. The warmness mixed with the lighting speed produced a real stunning audio voyage. I was intrigued, how Ex3ma kept the natural warm character despite the use of highly exotic materials that by their inherited nature tend to bring the tension and unsettling effect.

 

Conclusion
Sonus faber Ex3ma LoudspeakersSonus faber Ex3ma loudspeakers came to life at the 30th anniversary of this legendary Italian loudspeakers company. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate three decades, then with such a product statement. It will sadly only be produced in the limited run of 30 pairs. Few selected music lovers with high budgets will have the luxury of traveling the musical universe with this one of the kind loudspeakers and I won't be among them. Still, I feel privileged in having opportunity to hear them. With building up to the personal references in high-end audio, there is no stopping for the reviewer. If you're attached to some already established paradigms, then it is hard to look and hear beyond the usual. You're trapped. I do believe that the high-end audio industry has quite a bit to tell and bring in future. Holding on to something old just from the commodity is nonsense! Things do move forward. And when they are for better, it should be our goal to acknowledge and accept them. 

Sonus faber Ex3ma represent the lucid insight of what we can expect in the future of the high-end audio loudspeaker design. It is not only the Sonus faber company projection, but a future view into the upcoming years of the high fidelity audio industry at large. Those who follow will follow. Those who lead will lead. Seems simple. I'm extremely pleased that Livio and Paolo, along with everyone within the Sonus faber team, managed to create a fusion of high-tech materials and traditional ones (the wood) in such a glorious and exceptional way. And most importantly the musical!

The Ex3ma ability to project the music with such a high-performance impact enriched by the warmness is both thrilling and inspiring. Sometimes we do tend to see the statement product through the shade of exclusivity. These loudspeakers are for the fact exclusive and luxurious, but there are great benefits. We might overlook them too quickly. The experience gained with creating such a high-performing high profile products points to the new open roads in creating new products with more affordable price sticker and at the reach of more mortals. As we've seen the trickled down technology from their Aida being implemented in the stand-out Olympica line we can expect the similar use of the Ex3ma project experiences. Sonus faber Ex3ma loudspeakers created an everlasting impact in the high-end audio society, which still resonates and evoke discussions all over the globe. It succeeded in the "remake" of the legendary Extrema mythical loudspeakers, and thus setting up another milestone for this Italian high-end speaker company.

 

 

Specifications
Type: High quality stand-mounted monitor loudspeakers
Frequency Response: 40 Hz to 40 kHz
Sensitivity: 88dB/W/m
Impedance: 4 Ohms

Design: two-way, low spurious vibration optimized suspension, E.M.B.A.B.R. (Electro magnetic Brake Auxiliary Bass Radiator), monitor on a dedicated stand loudspeaker system.

Cabinet:

Mid-Woofer: A Sonus faber designed 180 mm neodymium magnet system ultra dynamic linearity mid-woofer. 6N pure copper wire is used on a controlled "eddy current" former. The dynamically linear magnetic field motor has an optimized geometry and a mass damper heat sink.

Passive Radiator:

Crossover: Non-resonant "progressive slope" design, optimized amplitude/phase response for optimal space/time performance. "Paracross topology" topology. Crossover point is 2350 Hz. Adjustable low frequency damping into four different level.

Dimensions: 434 x 282 x 560 mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 46 lbs.
Dedicated Stand: 661 x 360 x 460 mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 66 lbs each
Price: $41,300 (30,000) per pair

 

Company Information
Sonus Faber Spa
Via Antonio Meucci, 10
36057 - Arcugnano (Vicenza) Italy

Website: www.SonusFaber.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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