By Sara Valle-Martínez
Sonus faber pay tribute to the titans of music history, from those on stage to those working behind the curtains, with their new award-winning Homage collection. The Homage New Generation melds artistry with cutting-edge innovation to elevate the listening experience to new heights. All the squares in the company’s ethos are checked.
Right in the centre of London, I get off in Oxford Circus and march to the KJ West One premiere HiFi store in Marylebone for the launch of Sonus faber’s Homage loudspeakers. Champagne, salmon bagels, cheese boards and three demo rooms specially designed to give listeners the best experience – they want everyone to know they’re the biggest high-end sound system retail store in the UK and you can feel it as you walk in. The loudspeakers look like elegantly crafted heavy machinery and the display, right before portraits of the likes of Jim Morrison, makes any music afficionado swoon.
The four Homage New Generation models are impossible to miss. They include the Guarneri G5 (5thgeneration) 2-way standmount, the Serafino G2 3.5-way (2nd generation) and the Amati G5 3.5-way (5thgeneration) floorstanders plus the 3-way Vox G3 (3rd generation) centre channel. Conserving the classic lute-shape, they shine like precious objects in accordance with their price tag.
The appreciation of music itself is at the very heart of the company’s decision-making, that’s why they took the lockdown downtime to improve their installations and come up with new ground-breaking concepts and sophisticated designs, available in three finishes: red, wenge, and graphite. Design itself is at the epicentre of the new generation’s improvements in and out. The aluminium “dampshelves” at the top of the cabinet increase rigidity and reduce resonance, while the proprietary UltraFlex anti-resonance porting system maximises airflow.
But how did Sonus faber innovate a product whose image is immune to the passage of time and the changing fashion trends? Easy – they took a step back, reflected, and studied why the product was originally created. “Evolved”, “mature”, and “authentic” were the key concepts for Livio Cuzza, the brand’s Chief of Design.
So, after 39 years of working together, Sonus faber made the artisans of wood officially part of the family and their sleek sound systems. Starting at the very conception of the loudspeakers, the extension of the current range progresses Sound faber’s much-loved Italian-made Homage collection – which debuted in 1993 with the Guarneri – and it honours the genius of the talented instruments that inspired the collection’s creations. The Homage New Generation also benefits from Sonus faber’s latest hybrid crossover system, which uses the finest components available. The use of modern simulation software combined with extensive listening trials has evolved the brand’s proprietary Paracross topology and Interactive Fusion Filtering to next-level status.
Innovation and tradition merge in this new collection. The latest computer simulation and testing equipment has improved the cabinets, which retain the classic iteration of the lute shape, first introduced in the previous Homage Tradition collection, but with modified metalwork including smooth, rounded edges, with a graphite grey anodised finish. Fun fact, Andrew Oattes from Fine Sounds, the UK distributor, mentioned how the product’s paint job got rid of the famous “cup holder” on its top. Who thought handcrafted and pioneering could both be used to describe the same product?
The Homage collection will be distributed by ten dealers in total to give consumers the very best deals. In this case, KJ West One, who also offer at-home installation and specialist advice for improved listening, gave HiFi Pig the chance to be some of the first people to see what the fuss is all about.
After Andrew from Fine Sounds gave us a brief introduction to the Homage New Generation, we were invited to start the demos, which consisted of two parts: an analogue listening of KJ West One’s sales manager Jason Ford’s expensive-looking vinyl box and a digital listening by sales consultant Sebastian Tabor.
Ford used the Amati G5 to play some classics and gems for the audiophiles out there. It started with Am I Wrong by Lee Ritenour and then I was immediately transported to the first row of a crowd, right against the barricade. You can feel the bass deep in your stomach and your heart at the same time. If you close your eyes, the clean sound even allows you to listen to each track within the song and the strumming of Ritenour’s fingers against his guitar strings. Same goes with The Beach Boys’ Surfer Girl or Felipe de la Rosa’s Alguien Canto – the Amati makes you feel like you’re in southern Spain listening to the clapping and stomping of flamenco performers. That’s because the new Homage driver units are time-aligned and phase correct on every single driver. This means that the three-dimensional effect for a more immersive sound is guaranteed. All the heart, none of the thumping and ear-beeping after a live concert.
Moreover, the Amati benefits from a new, more efficient 150mm natural fibre midrange driver with neodymium magnet, plus a new shorter and wider voice coil for greater control, a faster response, and more overall force. The suspension on both the Amati and the Serafino models has also been improved, with optimisation for greater speed and control. Additionally, the Amati has a 220mm bass driver with a 23.6% increase in force. Two separate CCAW voice coils have been implemented in a custom-formed neodymium slug featuring two air gaps for maximum speed, with an integrated heat sync for improved power handling.
The digital listening using the Guarneri G5 was otherworldly. Perhaps I had the best seat in the room, as Tabor himself pointed out while he explained the importance of acoustics and the KJ West One team advice assembled the equipment. One mere centimetre could change the perspective of the listener. To prevent this as much as possible, some of Sound faber’s dramatic improvements in the Homage New Generation include an update of the bracing and porting system, which allow greater efficiency and output while maintaining resonance control and the radical changes in the midrange and tweeter chambers as mentioned above.
Furthermore, The Guarneri’s 150mm driver has led to improvement in control and has tamed resonance right down to 15Hz. It’s important to add that a purpose-built neodymium motor system combined with a new tuning frequency allows for deeper extension without distortion. The entire system has also been optimised, balancing mass to reduce modal vibration. Even songs like Melankoli by Norwegian singer Kari Bremnes or Tumba by Angelique Kidjo (which I must admit, I didn’t know prior to the event) sound like you’re in the middle of whatever’s going on in the song itself – be it an Afropop party, a cry for a long-lost love, or the soul-clenching deep tones of a private Marcus Miller concert – the system definitely does justice to the great bass player’s work.
They are available to order now on Sonus faber’s website, starting at £13,000 for the Guarneri G5 (plus £3,200 for the stand), the most basic design. The £30,000 top the range but sadly we didn’t have the chance to listen to the Serafino G2, which retails at £22,000.