Mcintosh Group Chief of Industrial Design Livio Cucuzza spoke first, outlining the attractive line’s finer physical attributes, after which engineer in charge Paolo Tezzon took attendees on a technical tour of the new speakers that included a detailed description of the all-new sonus faber designed woofers, midrange drivers and tweeter, all of which were derived from the flagship Il Cremonese, as well as the all-new crossover designs that make use of premium parts like custom Mundorf oil capacitors.
Using three graphs Tezzon showed on-axis and off-axis measurements of previous sonus faber tweeters compared to those of the new 28mm H28 XTR-04 silk dome tweeter. The new design combines extended, flat high frequency response along with superior off-axis response.
Also on the agenda were descriptions of the meticulously designed and constructed cabinetry, the rear-firing port system, the segmented inner driver chambers, the spiked footer systems specifically designed for each speaker’s weight, and even the rationale for the lute shape, long a sonus faber design attribute. A full description of the design technology applied to the Tradition line is best left to reviews.
Then it was time for all to pitch in and lift off the “Shrouds of Padua” to reveal the speakers, which more than lived up to physical expectations. These are among the most beautiful sonus faber speakers ever, with all cabinetry and metal work manufactured in Italy and European-sourced drivers manufactured to sonus faber specs. The line is available in both the traditional familiar red walnut and for the first time Wengé wood with maple inlays and brown leather.
The top of the line Amati Tradition, a 3.5 way system features two sandwich cone W22XTR-08 8.5” woofers, an M15 XTR-04 6” midrange and a 1” tweeter. It weighs 135 pounds and costs $29,900/pr.
The new Serafino is a slightly smaller 3.5 way floor-stander featuring a pair of 6” W 18XTR-08 woofers and same midrange and tweeter used in the Amati Tradition. It weighs 115 pounds and costs $21,900.
The floor stander Guarneri is a two way design that uses a W15XTR-04 as a midwoofer and has the same H28 XTR-04 tweeter used in the other speakers. It comes complete with carbon fiber stands for $15,900.
After lunch we were invited to go upstairs to listen to all three speakers, a pair each in three different rooms. The town house’s rooms are not the best listening spaces you’ll encounter but the team has done its best to produce good sound. Not surprisingly the smallest, best treated room containing the floor-standers, driven by a new Audio Research Foundation series preamp and power amp produced the best sound, but the others were good enough to demonstrate the considerable attributes of the bigger speakers.
Being a critic, let me be somewhat critical: the vinyl selected at the town house was bad. So much attention was paid to everything there but the source material: bad vinyl, wrong versions (the Sony/Legacy digitally sourced Dream With Dean instead of the all-analog one from Analogue Productions, etc. This superb facility needs a well-curated vinyl library with a record selection available in every turntable-equipped room.
I shot a great deal of video but unfortunately, the big main room with its high ceiling, swallowed up the speakers’ voices, which were unamplified. I think presenters should be miked to make them easier to hear at the back of the room and to make it easier for microphones on video cameras to easily pick up what’s being said. You’ll see a shot in the video that’s silent. It helps for the knucklehead operating the camera (me) to turn on the microphone!
© by Michael Fremer