I've been following the Sonus Faber story of success from the early beginnings, both as an owner and later on as a reviewer. Franco Serblin started a revolution with his vision and design of speakers. Being based in Italy, Sonus Faber is successfully carrying on the message of tradition in careful handcraftsmanship whilst keeping true to their heritage. There were many design changes over the years and with the growth of the company, yet they always managed to keep the unmistakable aura and true Italian character of company's products. These days Sonus Faber is a part of Fine Sounds Group and along with McIntosh, Audio Research, Sumiko Audio and Wadia. This makes one of the most potent parent companies in the high-end audio world with the brands that resemble classical values and worldwide recognition.
Wood, Leather and Paper
Meet The Designers
It is not as easy a task as it seems to design such a statement product line. In the world of high-end audio and high style design, each year there are always ever-higher expectations to fulfill the demanding worldwide market and customers. Combining a true standout speaker audibly with the state-of-the-art aesthetics is a must these days. And in the upper echelon people tend to see such products as a work of art equally or more so than the sound it produces. So expectations are very high.
I have enjoyed quite some time getting to know
both Paolo and Livio. For this product, there was much to talk about and getting
deeper into the whole concept philosophy. They both continually dedicate their
passion and know-how to the creation of the Olympica III speakers and it shows
both aurally and visually. To understand them better here are the few of their
comments from my exclusive interview:
Olympica became a company statement of contemporary high-end loudspeaker design. True to the heritage and with embracing the latest acoustical developments with Olympica you'll get not only highly desirable reproducer of the music, but an object that stand on its own within modern or classical living spaces. Many things were implemented from Sonus Faber's Aida speakers. Aida was Livio first project and it became a statement. It is still my personal favorite high-end speakers, but Aida demands a large environment to show its true potency.
Paolo told me in our correspondence that quite a bit of technical breakthroughs and innovations that were used in their Aida speaker helped in creating the Olympica line such as the internal structure. There is a new innovative side port that helps in ‘tuning' the room positioning for better bass and the shape itself creates very refined and clearly thought-out product. Paolo says that "The Olympica's wooden structure is a synthesis of the experience gained from the flagship Aida Lyra shape and the classic lute shape, adding a ‘new dimension' to the cabinet resonance control: the ‘triple curvature' profile of the sides and the non-homogenous progressive thickness of the cabinet walls help to obtain an extraordinary reduction of internal resonances."
Natural Musical Impact
The most demanding music material and a mainstay
reference for any high-end, high fidelity audio speakers is unamplified live
acoustical music performed in the natural ambient acoustic environment. Churches
and some of the concerts halls create the decay and reverberation whilst also
generating the sound atmosphere that stands on its own as a reference and
something to be matched in reproduction. We can know the acoustical propensities
of certain acoustical space like small jazz clubs, churches, concerts halls and
so on, but we as a fact don't know almost nothing about the nature of studio
created albums. There is so much unknown and with the processing and post
processing of the music the variety of choices and preferable nature of the
sound goes beyond imagination. We actually receive sort of an art form rather
than some standard with such recordings and albums. It is more an engineers and
producers vision of how music should
sound. This is ok, but it is hard to use such studio music with unknown
propensities as a true reference.
This may be especially true with modern age production.
In the 1950's, 60's and 70's of the last century popular music, jazz, blues etc. were recorded more simply than today with highly skilled musicians. They've performed everything mostly at once and you can instantly recognize this in both sound and the energy of music. Some called this magic of the era. Many recordings from that time I do recognize as reference material and use them frequently. There is some hidden consistency among the quality of recording and you simply know what to expect when you listen to something from the specific time. Sound engineers and producers mastered the craft and art of recording and capturing the music.
Let me look into few exemplary records. Muddy Waters Folk Singer is one those remarkable albums. So is Harry Belafonte's Live at Carnegie Hall. Then Charles Mingus Ah Um, Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue, that could be "overused" for some, but it still represent the pinnacle of the era output and wonderful sounding album. The later Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain was recorded between November 1959 and March 1960 at the Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City. "Concierto de Aranjuez" is the opening song that was by arranged by Gil Evans and Miles Davis from the adagio movement of Concierto de Aranjuez, a concerto for guitar by the contemporary Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo represent for me one of the best intimate moments of music. It is sublime, deep, and intrigues with the lyrical language of the music.
I've known above albums and music by hearth and soul. And I know how they supposed to sound. And it doesn't stop here. In high fidelity, high resolution audio the real challenge of high-performance and reproduction is the ability to recreate an emotional impact. The Sonus Faber Olympica III loudspeakers embraced all the needed attributes of such potency. The sense of music and the magic of energy flow that often happens when things are at the right frequency at the time within a recording. While reviewed the Olympica III they showed avidly the most needed anchor points of music happening. Those are the building blocks of any high resolution audio speaker and urgently needed for the recreation of any musical event. Many so called high-end loudspeakers fails at this task. Creating the state of the art loudspeaker is beyond computer simulated and projected output. It takes a lot more dedication and real world listening, measuring and knowing the materials.
Along so-called acoustical testing I normally
tried and conclude the review with variety of musical material. Sonus Faber
Olympica III loudspeakers showed the ability to bring life to any genre of
music. They are not strictly tight to the acoustical live music, but can embrace
all genres. One of my favorite electronic music, more specifically electro album
The Other People Place / Lifestyles Of The
Laptop Café (Warp Records) is a mythical and mystical album. It
brings a pure poetry of electronic music and compositions followed by the
legendary sounds of Roland 808 drum machine and classical analog synths. Along
with more recognized bands including Kraftwerk, Yello, etc., Warp Records
released some of the best electronic music from early 1990's to today. The
Other People Place represents one of many hidden treasures of true
pioneering and mastering of the electronic music. Sonus Faber's Olympica III
performed steadily and with dynamic impact that holds on to what we expect with
such musical material. Roland's 808 music machine, with its analog nature,
creates unmistakable sounds that have a crisp and clear energy. They smack the
air with a unique attack and creates a dynamic presence of their own. The
Olympica III never failed to bring their correctness and even with 808 demanding
boomy legendary kick the representation was firm and direct. It was most
enjoyable experience to recreate a time warp.
Coming back to the classical music of the past. Toscanini is known for his ardent nature and almost dictatorship like conducting of his orchestra. He demanded the best and pushed the musicians to their limits. This shows in all of his recordings and I'm especially fond of his early 1950's albums. The energy and clarity is remarkable, which is something that also late Kondo-san of Audio Note Japan cherished within his heart. He was after musical purity and recreation of musical event as it happened. In my last few years I'm starting to dig deeper into the classical music with a help of good friend for whom the classical music represent the life and soul. I do know it, yet the exploration of this genre seems like a vast universe of variety and musical journeys.
By each year I'm starting to understand the music more as a whole. Especially with classical and live recorded acoustical music there is a certain way of how we experience it and I'm not talking about typical audiophile jargon. It's beyond pin-pointing the certain instruments and endlessly discussing the soundstage, thunder like dynamic, infra sub bass etc. As written above, music comes and touches us as a whole. Like a large bubble that harmonically moves through the time and space and hits all of our senses. Not only the aural receptors. There is still a lot we don't know about how music enter our perception center and body. What we know and should know is how it sound and should sound. For this again clear references are needed. And those can only be gained by exposing us to the concerts and live performances. This creates an value, that becomes a standard. In past decades it was scientifically proven how our mind creates a dedicated value if we repeat certain things for at least twenty times in a role in a specific time frame. We can experience this with small daily things, but especially with music such as "Ordnung muss sein" is needed for any serious test and review conduction.
This not only set a reference, but enriches us as listeners and more importantly as human beings.
For me, they awoke the passion and sense of music
in a most elegant way. We do share our living spaces with people we love.
Hopefully the old days of the proverbial ‘man cave' for one's audio system are
long gone in this modern world. It's an era of socialization, both virtual and
physical. If we want to see the high fidelity audio grow and become a cultural
place of friendly sharing the things we loved so much, we need products like
Sonus Faber's Olympica III to inspire people to take the needed step into a
high-quality, high performance musical experience. They would naturally share
their passion further and so on...
I see no better ambassador of musical culture as Olympica III. With the direct connection to the legendary "Son of Vicenza" Andrea Palladio and his master creation Teatro Olimpico, Olympica carries the spirit on the past with the clear musical message. And let us not forget that everything, from the card box down to the packaging, is first class. When you open the hard paper sleeves of manual and accompanied booklet you understand the true value of dedication. I really wish all high fidelity audio manufacturers would follow this exemplary approach of high-end audio presentation and first hand experience. For me, it felt like opening the best Hermes silk scarf or Jaeger-LeCoultre watch.
Sonus Faber Olympica III loudspeakers are staying with me as a reference component and my daily tool for testing and reviews. It is obvious that I am fond of the design, materials and sound. But in these times I'm also very demanding regarding design and everything surrounding the overall gestalt when it comes to the objects of high-end and high performance within my home. Products of such class need to embrace so many points to stand on their own. These are not the sole luxury items to be only enjoyed as an eyesight balsam, but akin to a musical instrument that reacts to the music in a most natural and presentable way.
Most highly recommended!!!
Cabinet: Enhanced Lyre shape design, progressive thickness triple curvature cabinet walls damped spread resonance spectrum system. Solid walnut vertical clamps.
Finish: Natural walnut or graphite multicoated with medium gloss ecologically sensitive lacquer.