An Italian Treat for the Senses
When it comes to aspirational speakers, there are not many that build speakers as beautifully as Sonus Faber. The fact that these crafted pieces sound as good as they look, is just the icing on the cake. However, for the longest time, the cost of manufacturing these speakers in Europe, mean that for many, these speakers stay in their aspirations. The Lumina series however, is here to turn that aspiration into a reality. The question I ask is, at what compromise?
Let’s start with the design and build.
Out the box, which proudly states its country of origin, the Lumina II has the basic rectangular shape of a bookshelf speaker which is logical at this price point. It’s when the protective cover is removed that the similarities end and differences start to show. Firstly, the choice of materials. The entire cabinet is wrapped in a leather finish in black which softens the cabinet feel. This wrap is on all sides bar the base and baffle. Round the back there are 2 sets of binding post, finished with nickel plating and though typical by design, somehow looks handsome.
On the front, the unit for review has the Wenge baffle with maple inlays. The inlays are put in a horizontal line, a few inches apart. This look reminds of the Italian architecture in some of the older cities, a beautiful nod to its roots. This design language is repeated on the Walnut variety as well. The piano black is the only one that gets a more traditional baffle design, if you prefer a more understated look. Magnetic grills are provided, which are better kept in the box. Unless you want to keep the drivers protected of course, then by all means, use it.
The bottom base which is made with quality plastic has a unique fluted pattern and creates a plinth like aesthetic. This design makes the speaker look like a piece of artwork placed on a pedestal, which is fitting, given its striking looks. A nice little touch by Sonus Faber was to hide the port (yes, these speakers are ported) within this plinth, keeping the overall look crisp and clean. Since the port is a front firing design, placement is rather forgiving.
Specifications for the Lumina II is a nominal impedance of 4 ohms with a sensitivity of 86dB. The two-way design mates a 29mm Damped Apex Dome (or DAD) soft silk diaphragm tweeter to a 150 mm (6 inch) cellulose pulp blended paper cone driver. The combination with port gives the speaker a claimed frequency response of 55 Hz up to 24 kHz.
Making some good music
I hooked up the Lumina II to the Rega Elex-R first and started out with some Jazz music. The Lumina’s exhibited a rather neutral sound with great treble that’s rolled off perfectly at the top with a little energy just before the highest points. This gives the speaker a more detailed characteristic in its sound. In fact, detail rendering was very impressive for this price point, just stopping shy of turning technical or cold.
Bass performance is rock solid given the speakers dimensions. Bass is taut, punchy and dynamic. Detail in the lows is great and well defined given the price point. The Lumina II’s bass isn’t perfect however. There is a slight bit of leanness in the weight of the bass as well as overall impact. The bass has depth but it doesn’t feel as robust and tight like that from both the JBL HDI 1600 or Studio 4309. If your listening diet has a strong demand for deep pulsating bass, then a sub integration is advised.
Mid and treble performance is where the meat and potatoes to these speakers lie. Vocals are reproduced rather faithfully and sound authentic. The speaker is also pretty darn good at imaging keeping the vocalist locked in the centre while allowing the music to cast a wide and tall backdrop. With regards to detail, this speakers mids and highs are excellent. In fact, listening to various genres have highlighted the speaker’s midrange and treble performance as being rather accommodating, making them rather well rounded.
Pride of ownership
When it comes to the experience owning a pair, based on my time with it, I would say that it’s highly appealing. Not only does the speaker sound great, but is also exquisitely built from a brand with an amazing reputation for making top flight aspirational pieces. This speaker draws your eyes to look at it. Such is its beauty that every person who has come to the space during the review has talked to me about its looks. Every single one of them, praising its aesthetics.
There is no doubt that the Sonus Faber Lumina II with its excellent engineering and passionate design makes it an outstanding speaker. Its rather forgiving nature also makes it flexible, able to work with most equipment. It’s not a perfect speaker, and there are some shortfalls, but overall, the Lumina II is a home run. I also enjoy the fact that as you upgrade your amplifier, the speakers will grow with it. Improving along the way, as the speaker itself, has plenty of performance headroom.
Finally, going back to my question at the beginning of this review, I asked, what could have been compromised when making this speaker? After much consideration and listening, I think I found it. The only compromise was likely the profit margin! The Sonus Faber Lumina II retails for RM 6,300 and is distributed by Perfect Hi-Fi.