Watch a 6-minute video review of the Sonus Faber Cremona M or scroll down to read the full review.
A while back I picked up a pair of Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor M speakers for review, with the hope that they might replace my other stand-mounted reference speaker at that time, the Merlin Black Magic – but they did not. As it transpired, I found the Auditor too colored, too warm, too smooth, and not as dynamic as I remember my old Sonus Faber Electa to be. Simply put, the Cremona Auditor M was just too much Sonus Faber.
However, being the glutton for punishment that I am, when I saw the Sonus Faber Cremona M floor-standers listed on my local Craigslist I decided to swoop in and snag them. Three flights of stairs later, followed by a long drive home via Fredericksburg, VA, I had the speakers in my main listening room and ready to hook up.
As y’all should know, Sonus Faber [Sonus Faber website] is a renowned Italian manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers, known for producing some of the world’s most beautiful and best-sounding loudspeakers. The company was founded in 1983 in Arcugnano, Italy, by Franco Serblin, a former opera singer turned artisanal luthier who had a passion for music and a vision for creating high-quality audio equipment that was both aesthetically pleasing and, according to the company’s own spin – acoustically superior.
Serblin’s philosophy was simple: to create loudspeakers that would reproduce music with the utmost accuracy, realism, and emotion, while also serving as objects of beauty that could enhance any living space. He believed that the design and construction of loudspeakers were as much an art form as a science, and he brought his musical sensibilities, technical expertise, and attention to detail to bear on every aspect of the manufacturing process.
The company’s current lineup includes models such as the Olympica Nova, the Aida, and the Electa Amator III. I have fond memories of the original Sonus Faber Electa speakers, I owned them while I lived back in the UK, and I’d probably still own them today if some thieving Piker hadn’t broken into my home and relieved me of them.
While I may return at some point to flesh out this mini-review, right now it’s just a sneak peek into my early impressions of these impressive-looking speakers.
I have to say that the graphite finish on these is quite stunning, and a very modern alternative to the classic Sonus Faber livery that we’re used to seeing. They really do look gorgeous. The spiked stands are designed to tilt the speakers back at quite a steep angle, obviously with the intent to time-align the drivers, and they’re both sturdy and easy to adjust via nuts on the spike tops. Connections to the speaker allow only a single set of cables (no bi-wire or bi-amp options) and are via Sonus Faber’s proprietary clamping system which works very well on both spades and bananas.
As for placement, the Cremonas are similar in size to my reference Piega C40, and I had the floor taped up to mark the optimum position for the C40’s, so I decided to drop them right into the same slots that the Piegas had occupied. This position has them around 8′ apart and 70″ from the front wall, with around 15 degrees of toe-in.
As you can see from the photo above, the speakers are rear-ported so behave better with a little distance between them and the wall behind.
On hand, I had a pair of Iconoclast speaker cables which are here on loan and which I’ve found to sound very good indeed. More on those in an upcoming review. My Veloce Audio Saetta hybrid amps seemed like a good power fit for the Cremona’s 4 ohm, 92dB rating, but later I tried another more powerful amp, the SimAudio Moon W5.3 SE, which arrived here at the same time as the speakers, albeit from a different source.
Sonus Faber Cremona M – Listening Impressions
Right out of the gate, these speakers sounded very impressive. They’re nothing like their smaller siblings, the Cremona Auditor M, in fact, I don’t hear much of the typical Sonus Faber house sound with these larger floor-standers. They’re far less colored than the Auditor M, and tilt more towards a neutral tonal balance, without the over-emphasized warmth in the midrange and midbass that was prominent in the Auditor M’s sound. They’re surprisingly full-range and extend into the mid 30’s, negating the need for subwoofers, at least in my modestly sized room (18x17x9.5 and opening into a smaller adjacent room through 6′ double doors).
The Sonus Faber Cremona M are also quite transparent and do a pretty good job of removing themselves from the soundscape. Nudging them a little closer together helped tighten the center image focus and reducing toe-in by a couple of degrees helped broaden the soundstage. They go plenty wide but not quite as deep as the Piega C40, but maybe that’s something I can tweak as I spend more time with them.
Later, I switched out the Veloce hybrid amps (Hypex class D modules with a pair of 6H30 input tubes per channel) and moved to the Moon W5.3 SE amp, which is rated 175 watts into 8 ohms and doubles down into 4 ohms. While the Veloce delivers a little more power on paper (320 Watts / 8 Ohms 400 Watts / 4 Ohms), the Moon W5.3SE gave the feeling of having a little more grunt and a little more control over the speaker’s 4-ohm load.
Actually, with the Moon amp, these speakers really opened up surprisingly well. They throw a big, layered soundstage and offer up images that are focused and defined and have plenty of air and spatial cues. Compared directly with the Piega C40, there isn’t quite the depth of stage and there isn’t quite the same level of flesh-on-bones, images are a little less solid and realistic, but it isn’t by much.
At this point, all my listening had been via vinyl (Basis Debut Gold Standard Vacuum, Graham Engineering Phantom B44, Audioquest AQ7000, Walker Precision Motor Controller, Manley Steelhead RC, and Veloce Audio LS-1 Linestage). Later in the evening I fired up the projector system and gave Pink Floyd’s ‘Pulse’ a spin through the OPPO BDP 93 universal disc spinner, and it was then that I got to hear a greater difference between the Sonus Faber Cremona M and my Piega C40. Fuelled by a couple of bourbons, I cranked the volume, turned up the pair of Aerial SW12 subs a few dB, and sat back expecting to have my hairpiece ruffled, but it didn’t happen to the same extent that I’m used to. The Piega C40 / Aerial sub combo really pressurizes the room and creates a soundstage that’s quite enveloping and ‘powerful’ for want of a better adjective. The slightly smaller Sonus Faber couldn’t quite deliver the same concert levels as the Piega; sure…they play loud, but they can’t quite match the level of realism delivered by the larger (and 4 times more costly) Piega C40. That’s to be expected and isn’t a criticism.
So that was day one with the Sonus Faber Cremona M, and a very enjoyable day it was. I’ll continue to tweak placement and try different ancillaries, because it’s what we do, right? But really, these speakers have far exceeded my expectations, based on my time spent with the smaller Cremona Auditor M.
Stay tuned and I’ll likely post more of a review at a later date.
CAH March 2023