Sonus Faber - July 22-23, 2013
- Written by Doug Schneider Doug Schneider
- Parent Category: Company Tours Company Tours
- Created: 23 July 2013 23 July 2013
Whenever I tour a company, I try to cover all facets of production, but I also try to figure out what makes their products unique and focus some attention there. At Sonus Faber, it wasn’t all that hard to find a few things, but one thing really stood out: leather. It’s synonymous with the brand, and when I took a moment to think about it, I couldn’t come up with another other company that’s implemented the material so successfully and consistently in their speaker designs. As a result, it’s no surprise to find a large area of their factory’s production area just for that.
Of course, not all of Sonus Faber’s speakers have leather now -- the Venere line doesn’t. But Venere is Sonus’s lowest-priced line ever, and it’s not made in Italy; instead, to keep costs low, all the Venere models are made in the Far East under strict supervision of Sonus Faber staff. Venere aside, every other current speaker model does have leather and is made in their factory in Italy. In addition to leather processing, the crossover building, assembly, QC testing, and final packaging all take place in-house. What’s not done in the factory is done nearby -- their stunning-looking cabinets, for example, are made not by them, but by a subcontractor in Italy that only does work for Sonus Faber.
One interesting thing I learned about Sonus’s leather is that most of what they use is synthetic, which, according to Enrico Fiore, their marketing manager, isn’t done for cost savings, but because synthetic leather has better consistency (e.g., appearance, thickness, functionality, color, etc.) than the real stuff, which translates to better speaker quality. I believe him because some of Sonus Faber’s speakers are very expensive, so the margins are certainly there, meaning they could afford to use pretty much anything they wanted. Plus, they don’t cut any costs insofar as woodworking goes -- the level of craftsmanship is out-of-this-world good -- or for things like binding posts, footers, and various cosmetic embellishments, which are top quality and obviously quite expensive to implement.
The one series that does have real leather, mind you, is Olympica, which is their newest and what they were mostly building when I toured the production floor on July 22 and shot the photos in the gallery below. The real leather comes from bulls, which Enrico says is the best. It is cut, stamped with Sonus Faber’s logo, and adhered to the cabinets on the factory floor. Right now the Olympica series has three models: I, a two-way stand-mounted design; II, a three-way, single-woofer floorstander; and III, a three-way, dual-woofer floorstander. They’re all built to the same high standard and exude a high level of quality and styling that is rare at their price points, but typical of Sonus Faber designs.
But Olympicas aren’t the only models they’re building these days. I also saw a pair of Aidas, as well as a smattering of Amati Futuras being built. As Enrico said to me as we walked around, “What you see on the production floor varies by the day, so you never know what will be there.”
Publisher, The SoundStage! Network
A pair of Aidas in mid-production
Inside the Aida's complex cabinet
The Aida's leather wrap is decorative and helps to damp cabinet vibrations.
Sonus Faber's marketing director, Enrico Fiore, holds up the Aida's tweeter and midrange.
The tweeter and midrange are proprietary Sonus Faber designs.
Most of the drivers in the Aida (note shown: the rear tweeter and midrange)
An Olympica front baffle about to be finished with leather
The leather . . .
. . . is pressed into place and secured with glue.
Staples are used in the corners.
The binding-post hole being cut out on the leather-wrapped rear panel
After the holes are cut, the leather is rubbed so that it is perfectly attached to the wood.
The leather used for the top panels on the Olympica I, II, and III
The leather is . . .
. . . cut at the factory . . .
. . . and sewn as well.
The Sonus Faber logo is also stamped in at the factory.
The finished leather top caps
The leather top caps are glued into place and secured with an attractive aluminum ring.
The crossover-building area
All crossover points are hand-populated . . .
. . . and hand-soldered.
Caps for the crossovers
Internal wiring for the Olympica models
Internal wiring for the Aida and Amata Futura models
Stradivari Homage binding-post plates
Enrico Fiore with a finished Olympica II crossover
Finished Olympica-series crossovers
The main portion of the Amati Futura crossover
Amati Futuras during final assembly
The Amati Futura's front baffle
An Amati Futura goes face first into final acoustic testing.
Olympica IIIs during assembly
The Olympica III woofers waiting to be secured into place
The wires from the crossover are soldered to the drivers.
The Olympica III tweeter and midrange minus the mounting screws and faceplate
The Olympica series features a real-wood finish made from walnut, which is typical of Sonus Faber designs, but unique to this series are the thin, white separators made from maple -- earlier speakers had black maple.
Another feature unique to the Olympica line is the slotted, resistive port. The port not only looks attractive, but designer Paolo Tezzon says it performs better than a conventional port.
The interesting view that's directly to the side of the production-area floor
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