Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home surround speaker system Page 3
Male voices were portrayed with proper authority, free of chesty or boxy residues. Female voices were equally unencumbered by unpleasant artifacts, and sibilants were smoothly rendered yet with exemplary clarity and detail.
The Wall Home
The small, solid, leatherette-covered Wall Home surround speaker is wall-mountable and comes with adjustable brackets that screw into threaded holes drilled into the baffle's rear. These Walls won't come tumbling down, and can be horizontally adjusted or raked up and down over a 30° arc, depending on orientation. They can also be used as L/R/C and rear satellites in a smaller system. As surround and "effects" speakers, they worked quite effectively with the Solo and Grand Piano Homes, producing the requisite acoustic bubble. The silk-dome tweeter's apparently smooth response made localizing the speakers difficult (a good thing, of course), even though the "effects" pair were within 2 feet of my ears. In my home theater, all four Walls were stand-mounted at ear level.
I was so impressed with the Walls' musical performance on DTS music discs that I took a pair downstairs to my 2-channel room to have a listen. Despite the low-frequency limitations of such a small speaker, two Wall Homes produced a credible and musically pleasing sound accompanied by an open, 3-dimensional sonic picture. As in every other Sonus Faber speaker I've auditioned, the Wall's tonal balance has been cannily drawn—in this case, to give a sonic impression of more low-end heft than there probably is, but without the usual midbass bloat such attempts usually create. If you're considering Grand Piano Homes up front, Wall Homes should be your choice in back.
You couldn't ask for a greater study in contrasts than the Infinity IL60 system I recently reviewed and Sonus Faber's Grand Piano Home system. The former was produced under the supervision of Dr. Floyd Toole, a brilliant technocrat, the latter by an artisan using science as a valued resource but not as the primary determinant. One is from a large conglomerate with almost unlimited financial and manufacturing resources, the other from a smaller specialty firm dependent on custom outsourcing for driver technology. The results embody two very different answers to the same question: How do you get some pulsating cones in a box to sound like live music?
If I were setting up a home-theater room in which music and aesthetics took distant back seats to cinematic sound and technology, I'd probably go with the Infinity system, which costs thousands less and includes powered subs. Looks are subjective, of course, but I find the Infinity's appearance more appropriate for the set of Star Trek than for a living room, and its sound didn't move me emotionally—the hair on the back of my neck never stood up. But for sheer visceral pleasure and crisp, clear, "cinematic," movie theater-like sound, the Infinity IL60 is superb and a bargain.
If I were setting up a movie and music system in a living room or other mixed-use room in which aesthetics are important, I'd opt for the Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home system. Its sleek looks are dramatic, but not to the point of dominating a room, and the Home's sound is intoxicating for music, and robust and sufficiently dynamic and powerful for films. It will play loud without strain and has superb dynamics, resolution, and transparency. Well-recorded musical scores can sound almost too good, drawing attention to themselves as entities separate from the picture. But that's a problem I can handle!