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Sonus Faber Sonetto II Measurements (now with a spinorama)

napilopez

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Edit: Spins in this post.

Sonus Faber isn't a company I was ever all that interested in. Their designs are beautiful, but they also clearly trend toward the luxury side of audio. I tend to prefer (and therefore, more often review) speakers that give you the most audio quality bang for your buck.

But there's nothing wrong with luxury. I always say speakers are furniture and should look the part. If you have the money, go for it - as long as audio quality isn't compromised.
Snag_36283e95.png


On that note, the Sonetto family is the company's most affordable line of speakers The Sonetto II is a 2-way bookshelf with a 6.5-inch woofer, and it comes in at about $2,300 a pair (there's a 5-inch model at $1,800). That puts it in a very competitive price bracket, albeit a bit more expensive than the popular trio of the KEF R3, Buchardt S400, and Ascend Sierra 2EX.


For that premium though, you're getting a beautiful build, including the option for a real-wood veneer that looks quite stunning. It also has a leather top that looks cool and feels nice although it makes the quasi-vegan in me cringe a little. It's definitely one of the more unique speakers in the price range.

So, how does it sound? First, here's the horizontal response along with the Listening Window and Early Reflections curve.

Sonus Faber Sonetto II.png


There are several interesting this to note. Starting with the on-axis curve in white, we see a fairly linear response with impressively controlled dispersion, with two quirks. Most obvious is a serious rise in the treble starting at ~7KHz. The response drops off-axis rapidly, the treble remains elevated out to 30 degrees or so. You can see the elevated treble remains in the listening window curve as well.

Sonus Faber's manual recommends toeing in the speakers all the way, but I cannot second this recommendation. As usual, I measured after listening, and I thought the speakers were too bright pointed at the LP. I preferred having them facing straight forward, or about 22 degrees off-axis in my setup, and indeed, the 20-degree curve(not shown) was the flattest in my measurements. Alternatively, you can EQ down the top octave.

On the other hand, if you suffer from hearing loss, you might appreciate all that extra energy in the top octave. I can hear 19KHz without a problem so on axis was not for me.

The other quirk is the shallow but broad scoop from about 900Hz to 3KHz. The scoop is consistent out to 90 degrees and in the early reflections curve, so it's definitely audible - I thought there was a slightly hollow quality to voices, this is probably why. This isn't to say they voices sounded bad, but there was some coloration keeping them shy of neutral. On the other hand, because the scoop is consistent - and therefore not a directivity problem - you might be able to remedy it with some EQ.

Dispersion is impressive, with an even change in response out all the way out to 75 degrees. In fact, the swooping cabinet design actually keeps a fairly smooth response out to 180 degrees (not shown). These speakers have excellent imaging and an impressively wide soundstage. The speakers keep a surprising amount of treble energy out to far angles, though of course, that's because the on-axis response is tuned up.

Note how flat the early reflections curve is. A little too flat, in fact. You'd normally see a bit more of a tilt downward here. Consider that the early reflections curve usually approximates the in-room curve pretty well, and we want the in-room curve to drop about 10db from 20hz to 20khz. Just another piece of evidence suggesting these are on the brighter side of neutral.

Turning to the vertical response, I'm trying a slightly different approach to presenting data. As usual I include the response at 0/±5/±/10/±15 degrees above and below the reference axis (the tweeter, in this case) to find the ideal seating position. But this time I also include a ceiling reflections curve (Average of 40,50,60 degrees above axis) and floor reflections (20,30,40).

Note the dip at 600 now is an artefact from turning the speaker on its side for vertical measurements:
Sonus Vertical.png


The Sonetto II is well controlled enough. You shouldn't be too concerned about listening height, though I'd still recommend being at the tweeter axis or just a bit below. Lobing shows up at steeper angles, which you see in the ceiling and floor reflections curves, but they do not dramatically influence the early reflections curve and horizontal is more important anyway.

Lastly, bass extension is good for a bookshelf speaker, though it must be noted the Sonetto II are quite massive and wide. Probably needed to accommodate that swooping design while maintaining extension.

In all, it's a good showing. They are a bit brighter than I'd like - and mind you, I tend to prefer speakers with a bit of treble 'crispness.' If you have some hearing loss, or have a large, damped room, you might appreciate it.

That combined with the midrange dip gives them a slight 'cold' sound, which others might call 'refined,' 'detailed,' or 'transparent.' Ultimately dynamics and soundstage were what left their mark with me.

I enjoyed my time with them. They aren't quite for me, but I can see them working for certain people in certain spaces. Will follow up with more listening impressions later.

P.S. Note that although I've kept 15-degree data for the horizontal response, I now capture 10-degree data as well to get closer to proper spinorama/CTA-2034a results.
 
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napilopez

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Nice work.
Thanks!

It's an interesting one. The Sonetto II clearly a well-engineered speaker. The basics of fairly linear response, balanced bass extension, and smoothly changing off-axis response are all present here. There's no crossover dip and minimal bunching in the horizontal data, things we commonly see on speakers without substantial waveguides. It seems largely free of resonances, save for that peak at 1.2 Khz that's consistent at all angles.

So the 'errors' in the response such as the rising treble and midrange scoop are almost certainly the result of tuning by ear. I'm fine with that as long as the basics are there.
 

direstraitsfan98

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I feel like most Italian hifi companies try to play up their Italian heritage a lot and act like they’re in the same league as products that come out of there like designer handbags and leather shoes. Yes Italy makes some of the best artisan bags and shoes in the world but that’s because these families have been doing so for generations. It feels awfully disingenuous and borderline scam artist to pass off some newly minted company that hasn’t even been around for more than 20 years as having that same kind of prestige, just by being Italian.

Not to mention they hire and employ the most low paid people in the country, in southern Italy. It’s equivalent to all the entrepreneurs starting up hifi companies in Poland and Romania and other impoverished nations and exploiting the dirt cheap labour there. (Audio Note does this)

It all feels like a big snake oil scam if you ask me. The cabinetry work isn’t that special, their crossovers and drivers and implementations of designs aren’t special at all and seem like gimmicks. They put leather on many of their designs for absolutely no reason other then to ply into the “hey were authentic Italian artisan!”
 

mikewxyz

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Napilopez: Nice review. I have a pair of the Cremona Auditor M’s and agree with most of what you say about Sonus Faber speakers. My owner's manual recommends either an equilateral or isosceles triangle set up. SF provided a representative SPL graphs so you can get an idea of the sound from each configuration. However, like you, I prefer them less toed in.

I went with the isosceles set up and my REW measurements sort of matches the general shape so, I'm happy enough.

As an amateur furniture maker, I appreciate the cabinet constructions. I was considering a DIY version with Scanspeak drivers and decided the cabinets were too much work. The bill of materials for the DIY was 66% of the cost of used speakers. No brainer there.

In the owner's manual, B = isosceles
 

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napilopez

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I feel like most Italian hifi companies try to play up their Italian heritage a lot and act like they’re in the same league as products that come out of there like designer handbags and leather shoes. Yes Italy makes some of the best artisan bags and shoes in the world but that’s because these families have been doing so for generations. It feels awfully disingenuous and borderline scam artist to pass off some newly minted company that hasn’t even been around for more than 20 years as having that same kind of prestige, just by being Italian.

Not to mention they hire and employ the most low paid people in the country, in southern Italy. It’s equivalent to all the entrepreneurs starting up hifi companies in Poland and Romania and other impoverished nations and exploiting the dirt cheap labour there. (Audio Note does this)

It all feels like a big snake oil scam if you ask me. The cabinetry work isn’t that special, their crossovers and drivers and implementations of designs aren’t special at all and seem like gimmicks. They put leather on many of their designs for absolutely no reason other then to ply into the “hey were authentic Italian artisan!”

Interesting point about labor and heritage.

In SF's defense though, I do disagree about the cabinets. The Sonetto II is the nicest cabinet I've seen in the price bracket, at least in person. There's a reason most cabinets are rectangular all the way around - it's cheaper. And the "lute shape" seems to be doing its job of reducing internal resonances, minimizing diffraction, and extending off axis response. though there are of course other ways of doing so.

But yeah, some of their marketing is pretty cringe... "An emotional Bookshelf," "An elegant piece of furniture that fills the environment with its warm and enveloping ``voice``" (even though these aren't what I'd consider 'warm' speakers, etc.
 
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pozz

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I feel like most Italian hifi companies try to play up their Italian heritage a lot and act like they’re in the same league as products that come out of there like designer handbags and leather shoes.
It's a good point. Acustica Applicata makes questionably-effective acoustic room treatment products for inflated prices, as does DMSD for vibration/decoupling. But they really go for looks.
 
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napilopez

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As with the Devialet Phantom Reactor, I've made spinorama for the Sonetto II.

Nearfield bass is spliced to the listening window at 450Hz. Keep in mind the sound power and SPDI curves might be a bit off - they are simulated in VituixCad because I only performed one rear measurement at 180-degrees while I had the speaker (I did not yet know how to process the sound power data). Vituixcad basically fills in the blanks between 90 and 180 degrees. I'm including the curves because I think they show the general trend expected from a monopole speaker, but they are not 100 percent accurate.

The ER curve and ERDI curves, however, are computed solely from measured data, at 10-degree intervals a-la harman. Of course, as with any quasi-anechoic measurement, take these with some caution, as I do not have an anechoic chamber nor a Klippel scanner:).

Here you go:

Sonetto II Spin.png


Note the dip at little dip 600Hz might be due to my stand setup - it is small in the horizontal off-axis graphs, but large in the vertical measurements due to placing the speaker on its side. The dip at 1.1K, however, is present in all measurements and appears to be a real artifact of the speaker.

As before, it's a pretty well-controlled speaker, but its biggest problems are that scoop from 900Hz to 3Khz and the excess top-octave energy on-axis and in the listening window. So it is bright due to the treble and somewhat cold or plasticky sounding due to the mids, but otherwise a solid speaker, esp with some EQ.
 
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StevenEleven

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I'm no engineer-is there an imputed room response in there? From my layperson's look at the response curves they look as though they would be intolerably bright, at least for me.

Even the very inexpensive Pioneer speakers (FS-52s and their bookshelf and center channel siblings, recently discontinued I believe) do not have rectangular enclosures, FWIW. I hope @amirm will measure them some day.

Not meaning to offend here, just my layperson's reaction. Thank you for the time and effort and insight.

Edit: I do see predicted in-room response in purple, and listening window response in white, now that I read the fine print.
 
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napilopez

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I'm no engineer-is there an imputed room response in there? From my laypeeson's look at the response curves they look as though they would be intolerable bright.

Even the very cheap Pioneer speakers (SF-52s and their siblings, recently discontinued I believe) do not have rectangular enclosures, FWIW. I hope @amir will measure them some day.

Not meaning to offend here, just my layperson's reaction. Thank you for the time and effort and insight.

No engineer either; I have a philosophy degree :).

They are definitely bright. The solution is to listen well off axis - pointed straight forward. The treble flattens out at about 20 degrees, which is a pretty standard angle for the speaker to be in with no toe-in in a living room setup. No clue why Sonus recommends toe-ing them in, perhaps because their buyers tend to be older with some hearing loss, or it sounds more "hi-fi."

Once well off-axis, they're still bright, but much more tolerable. Also depends to how sensitive you are beyond 10K. I can hear perfectly well up to 19K, so yeah, the treble needs some trimming.
 
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napilopez

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Revisiting this speaker's measurements, here is the revised spin (fixed early reflections):

In particular, the ERDI isn't as pretty due to the increased weighting of the vertical:
Sonetto II Spin Fixed.png


However, the Sonetto II is interesting because upon revisiting it, I don't think I gave it enough credit for its directivity. Specificall I think it actually has some of the smoothest horizontal directivity I've measured from a cone and dome, no/minimal waveguide speaker:

Sonetto Directivity (hor).png


Perhaps this is more notable in the normalized off-axis SPL plot:

Sonetto Directivity Normalized 2 (hor).png

You get very little crossover dip and very little of the bunching that normally happens around the presence region on speakers this size, which suggests the cabinet doing its job at minimizing diffraction.


It is the wide vertical lobing that might messes up the sound:
Sonetto Directivity (ver).png
So once again, while the midrange dip is unfortunate, I do think it is otherwise quite a respectable speaker if you listen well off axis (20 degrees is pretty much flat other than the midrange scoop).
 
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Wes

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Thanks for the work & review. It would be interesting so see how their spendy speakers do. They are certainly beautiful and have some interesting designs - like the internal weight on a string or whatever it is.

I wish Italian hifi companies would build on the great Italian heritage of food, wine, and sports cars (not the low reliability tho), and act like they’re in the same league as those products. Maybe they are?
 

direstraitsfan98

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I wish Italian hifi companies would build on the great Italian heritage of food, wine, and sports cars (not the low reliability tho), and act like they’re in the same league as those products. Maybe they are?
They do, even the brands that don't deserve it, like Pathos, Audio Analog and Synthesis. They play up the whole Italian heritage to the nth degree but IMO they really aren't close to the same level of craftsmanship as the aforementioned things you mentioned that Italy is known for. I think Sonus Faber might be the sole exception. Out of all the brands mentioned, its the only one older than 20 years.
 

Ilkless

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Revisiting this speaker's measurements, here is the revised spin (fixed early reflections):

In particular, the ERDI isn't as pretty due to the increased weighting of the vertical:
View attachment 59187

However, the Sonetto II is interesting because upon revisiting it, I don't think I gave it enough credit for its directivity. Specificall I think it actually has some of the smoothest horizontal directivity I've measured from a cone and dome, no/minimal waveguide speaker:

View attachment 59188

Perhaps this is more notable in the normalized off-axis SPL plot:

View attachment 59189
You get very little crossover dip and very little of the bunching that normally happens around the presence region on speakers this size, which suggests the cabinet doing its job at minimizing diffraction.


It is the wide vertical lobing that might messes up the sound:
View attachment 59190So once again, while the midrange dip is unfortunate, I do think it is otherwise quite a respectable speaker if you listen well off axis (20 degrees is pretty much flat other than the midrange scoop).

Sonus Fabers since the Chameleon have had good-to-excellent directivity masked by a very V-shaped response as you note. The Venere and Olympica stuff are the same too, based on NRC and Stereophile graphs.

I'm hoping to find Venere S measurements because you can still find those around on sale. Huge Italy-made floorstander (rest of the Venere line were the first SFs to be made in China) with a complex, pretty, veneered cabinet for around 3k ish.
 

tuga

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q3cpma

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Thanks for the work & review. It would be interesting so see how their spendy speakers do. They are certainly beautiful and have some interesting designs - like the internal weight on a string or whatever it is.

I wish Italian hifi companies would build on the great Italian heritage of food, wine, and sports cars (not the low reliability tho), and act like they’re in the same league as those products. Maybe they are?
Don't know/care about hi-fi, but the RCF Mytho is a very cool Genelec clone. Too bad it's almost the same price as a Genelec.
 
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