The Sonus faber Stradivari Loudspeaker Makes A Stunning Comeback
Frequency Response: 25 Hz - 35.000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms
Sensitivity: 92 dB SPL (2.83V/1 m)
Dimensions (HXWXD): 54 x 28.1 x 16.8 inches
Weight: 138.9 lbs each
Sonus faber is famous for making beautiful speakers, but the new second-generation Stradivari just might be its most breathtaking design yet. Making its debut at the Munich High End audio expo, the Stradivari celebrates the brand’s 40th anniversary in classic Sonus faber style, replete with exquisite wood grain and luxurious leather. The original Stradivari speaker launched 20 years ago, and in the intervening decades, Sonus faber has moved away from the wide-baffled, shallow-bodied design of that speaker, focusing instead on designs with somewhat more conventional proportions. In order to marry the aesthetic of the original with the sound of more contemporary Sonus faber designs, the new Stradivari has been “artistically redesigned and technologically improved,” according to the company, which describes the speaker as “a union between a vision of a dream and the art of technique that pushes the limits of innovation and engineering."
The premium woodwork and first-rate finishes remain, as homage to the speaker’s namesake, the famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737). But while the original version had an elliptical shape (when viewed from above), the new speaker has a pentagonal footprint that reportedly provides “an enhanced listening experience.” This more angular structure looks no less graceful than the original, but is able to “accommodate the latest advancements in audio technology,” according to Sonus faber. The most interesting of these is probably the speaker’s approach to low-frequency management, which includes adjustable woofers that allow the listener to tweak the Stradivari’s bass output to suit the size of the listening room. Sonus faber says that this distinctive feature is the result of innovative engineering carried out with the aim of “creating a bespoke sound experience.”
It is never easy for a designer to re-invision an original launch, so when the conversation came about redesigning Stradivari it was challenging but also exhilarating. How do we recreate a product that continues to stand the test of time and has almost become an artifact? For this, we needed to figure out how to bring Stradivari into this generation of Sonus faber. We wanted to ensure that the new Stradivari represented all the advancements Sonus faber has made in sound technology to date, while still keeping the brand’s classic external look and feel.
— Livio Cucuzza, Sonus faber’s Chief of Design
The Low Frequency Adjuster (LFA) system controls the ultra-low-frequency tuning to optimize room response. Sonus faber says that LFA technology is “inspired by the compensation of the resonance peak of the driver in the cabinet, to be able to obtain a damping of the low range without introducing resistive elements in series with the signal. On the board adjacent to the binding posts, a four-pin system has been created: one common and three peripherals that are connected to the central unit with a jumper, where each of the three possible composition positions allows you to set a different low frequency response.” This adjusts the output the of the speaker’s two 10¼-inch woofers. The vented “Stealth Ultraflex” system promises bass down to 25Hz. The rest of the 3.5-way design includes a 1.1 inch Tripod DAD Arrow Point tweeter and a 5.9-inch midrange driver in its own sealed box. The tweeter uses Sonus faber’s patented tripod structure, which manages the oscillations of the silk dome, reportedly resulting in greater high frequency dispersion and control, even at higher volumes.
Meanwhile, the midrange driver benefits from Sonus faber’s “Intono Technology,” which guarantees the most natural possible reproduction of the midrange frequencies, according to the company. It’s reportedly the result of the engineering team’s study of resonant cavities. A separate interior chamber is created within the cabinet, connected to the midrange enclosure via a calibrated hole. Sonus faber says that the energy of the “internal air stiffness generated by the speaker’s movement is channeled and reduced by Intono’s duct.” The result is said to be a more natural sound, all while significantly reducing the size and number of components required in the crossover filter.
Another advanced technology in the new Stradivari is an “Anti-resonant Organic Basket” for the woofer, which is “specially designed to avoid vibration modes generated by the woofer membrane,” according to Sonus faber. The woofer basket’s unique organic shape, designed in-house by the Sonus faber team, relies on asymmetrical structures to “act on the vibration modes generated by the loudspeaker membrane, making the basket anti-resonant.” Sonus faber goes on to say that “the organic imprint is at the origin of the inspiration of this technical element, fully aligning itself with the Natural Sound philosophy of each Sonus faber product.” The poetic language used here is probably the result of a translation from Italian, but I think the take-home nugget is that this woofer basket project merged the mechanical and the aesthetic in a way that really highlights what Sonus faber is all about.
Lastly, the speaker’s reflex port is designed with what the company calls “Clepsydra Technology,” named for the ancient Greek water clocks that measured time by tracking the regulated flow of liquid into or out of a vessel. In the context of the new second-generation Stradivari loudspeaker, Clepsydra Technology is a downward-firing, hourglass-shaped bass-reflex port specially designed to maximize low frequency performance. The unique geometry of the port duct reportedly minimizes the standing waves that are generated inside the duct, while simultaneously shortening its length. The down-firing emission also guarantees maximum freedom of positioning in the room, according to Sonus faber.
Inspired by the excellence of the legendary Italian Renaissance violin-making tradition, the Stradivari speaker is a testament to Sonus faber's dedication to innovation and ingenuity. In the eighteenth century, the violin making tradition evolved, challenging the classical rules and enlarging the instrument’s shape to create a unique tone. Likewise, the Stradivari speaker seamlessly blends Sonus faber’s design and engineering philosophy to produce an unparalleled soundstage. Stradivari represents a meticulous reinterpretation of one of the most recognizable loudspeakers in the history of high fidelity. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the Stradivari's impeccable finish elevates its design to new heights. The Stradivari's construction follows the same handmade processes that are applied to the most important musical instruments, ensuring a truly exceptional audio experience.
— Sonus faber
The second-generation Stradivari is available through authorized Sonus faber dealers such as our channel partner Audio Advice for the substantial price of $50,000 per pair. The sumptuous wood finish options include graphite (a dark gray), wenge (a rich brown), and the stunning red finish that I’d choose.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.