03 July 2017
- Product Reviews
Sonus faber Olympica II Speakers Review
Sonus faber is an Italian icon in the HiFi world in the same vein that Ferrari is in the automotive world, with the name representing some of the finest in luxury loudspeakers to come out of Italy in the past century and continuing on to present day. If you are looking for some of most stylish and beautiful looking speakers then it will most probably have the Sonus faber name embellished on them. It’s not all about the beauty though as thankfully the sound is also world class and it runs through the entire Sonus range, from the entry level to the range topping Aida speakers.

The Olympia II Speakers that I have for review sit somewhere in the middle of the range as the Venere is below them and then you move up to the Homage range which starts running into serious money. Everything about these speakers screams quality and the attention to detail is second to none. Sonus faber refer to their speakers as musical instruments and as such they look and feel every bit as special as say a beautifully made violin or double bass with exotic woods and leather making up just some of the parts. Even the grill reminds me of the strings of an instrument which look just stunning when pulled tight and attached to each of the speakers.

Build quality and Features

The build quality of the Olympica II speakers is just faultless with a beautiful solid walnut wood used to finish off the top and bottom sections, and varying levels of thickness making up the cabinet, with a ply wood to make the front baffle which is then covered in some sumptuous leather. This makes for a very rigid and solid construction which bears all the hallmarks of a great speaker, even the top is finished in fine leather with the Sonus faber logo embossed into the top. The venting runs all the way down the rear of the speaker’s side with a chrome panel which is perforated with hundreds of holes so as to stop any unwanted chuffing from the ports. Black leather also adorns the rear of each speaker with the serial number badge fitted near to the top. The speaker’s terminal posts are at the bottom of each of them and allow for bi-wiring or bi-amping and the speakers spikes are fitted with two plates to the bottom of each speaker, with a slight variation in height but make the speakers look so elegant when fitted. Even the beauty shots from the Sonus faber site do not do these speakers justice as they look so gorgeous in the flesh.

The drive units consist of three drivers a 1” tweeter with the unique “arrow point” DAD (Damped Apex Dome) sits on top of the Neodymium driver. The mid-range is a 150mm driver with chrome phase plug in the middle which tapers into a point which looks so sleek. Finally, for bass duties a 180mm driver sharing the same properties that goes into the making of the 9” Aida bass drivers. There is a lot of tech that goes into the making of these drive units which can all be found in more detail on the Sonus faber website, and makes for some interesting reading if you are at all peaked by the technical details of the Olympica II’s.
They also come in a piano black if this combination does not do it for you, although this is my favorite colour combination.

Setting up

The Sonus faber Olympica II speakers are fairly straight forward to set up but do weigh in at a hefty 60Kg each so best to move them around the room without the spikes attached. Common sense prevails with such quality that you fix the metal feet first and then you can move them around quite easily on carpet as in my room but on hard surfaces a little assistance may be needed. I place them in the current favorite position where my ProAc K6 currently reside and toe them in slightly and the results speak for themselves with some slight tweaking. I found that they worked best with the ports firing into the side walls rather than faced inwards.

Sound Quality and Performance

For listening purposes I am using my reference McIntosh Labs MA8000 Integrated Amplifier to power the Olympica’s with Transparent Cables Ultra Gen5 speaker wire. For source equipment, I have my Clearaudio Wood Concept Turntable with a MC Concept cartridge, I am also using the brilliant Aurender N100H Music Server, Cyrus CDi as a CD Player transport and the Mytek Brooklyn DAC with external PSU. These are all connected via Transparent XLR cables.

I was very keen to listen to the Sonus faber’s as I just got hold of a copy of London Grammars new album, Truth is a beautiful Thing on CD. From Native DSD I also purchased the album Paper Motion in DXD format which sounds superb in this high-resolution format.

My first album Paper Motion by Paper Motion is a relatively new band, to me anyway but I listened to the demos on Native DSD and was sold, the band are from Dutch descent which have a great sound. It is progressive style rock and in true rock fashion they hit hard with some great beats with the quality of the music is in DXD format, so a hefty 2.6Gig file for the album which I stream from my Aurender. Track 2 Arouse reminds me of some earlier REM and Oasis music but with their own unique signature to the sound and the Olympica II’s have a very natural and dynamic nature with some great bass which is solid and well defined. What surprises me is how big a sound stage the Olympica’s manage to throw inside my room with a very spacious and well balanced image of the sound stage with vocals placed directly in the center of the room. Piano’s off center to the left and the thumping percussion commanding the music with real depth behind the vocals. The treble has an amazing amount of detail retrieval which is very spacious in sound but so well refined at the top end.

The mids are silky smooth and in some ways more relaxed to what I am used to, but in no way, is that a bad thing as the music sounds so right with everything just gelling together so well that I am enjoying the sound that these Italian beauties put out. Track 7 Au Revoir starts off with the percussion hitting a marching beat that sounds so punchy and tight while the electric guitar sounds mellow and then you get the Herb Albert style trumpet which plays so fluidly, that it pulls you further into the music. Sonus faber really have done a splendid job on voicing these speakers as with the slightly relaxed mids the sounds work really well and seem to peel away more layers in the music all the while creating a wonderfully wide and deep stereo image, the kick drum resonating through from the back of the sound stage sounds quite simply divine.

On to my next album which is the eagerly awaited second studio album London Grammar’s - Truth is a Beautiful Thing on CD. I have the deluxe version which has additional tracks over the standard copy. Hannah Reid’s vocals on the first track sound incredible through the Olympica’s with such a clarity that it is hard to imagine them sounding any better, she has such a pure voice and the Olympica’s seem to make female vocals sound more organic than most. The usual deep bass note coming in at the end of the first track having real presence. London Grammar certainly have their own distinct sound and the Olympica’s make this uniqueness stand out for the better. Track 2 Big Picture again has some amazing vocals which shine through and the bass really underpins the track with so much texture and definition that it completes what is already a polished finish from the Sonus faber’s.

Track 7 Non-Believer is a darker sounding piece and more complex mix but the Sonus faber’s do not falter at all giving a wonderful sound stage. I love the harmonious mix of Hannah Reid’s vocals which seem to blend seamlessly. None of the drive units sound out of place, instead they melt together forming one sound which is highly detailed and rich in quality rather than outright quantity. These are speakers which sound good at lower volumes with a tendency to pick out more of the sonic picture than lesser speakers at these sorts of levels. It is not to say they do not sound good when the volume is turned up they do but instead have a more mature nature about them, and am quite happy listening at lower volumes because of this trait. Track 11 Truth is a Beautiful Thing really shows how good these speakers handle female vocals and are one of the best I have had in my room, accompanied by the piano which sounds so melodic and with an excellent tonal balance never drawing your attention away from the lead vocals which are out front and the piano in the background of the sonic picture.

I have listened to many other albums with varying content and they really do set a level of competence that other speakers in this price bracket that may have a hard time at equaling their quality in certain areas of the sound. Sonus faber have certainly delivered the goods with these speakers and finding that delicate balance of price versus quality is something that they have nailed perfectly with the Olympica II speakers.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

At this price level, there is plenty of choice when it comes to purchasing a pair of good floor standers and the Sonus faber Olympica II’s certainly offer a lot. Incredible looks and build quality with an equally impressive sound that never gets tiring to hear. I put a lot of this down to the lovely DAD tweeter which digs out an enormous amount of detail and seems to extend the sound stage further than most regular soft domed tweeters do. If £7000 is your budget then I strongly urge you to put them on your list of considerations and get a demo as I am sure they will not disappoint. Highly recommended.

Sonus faber website

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