- Written by Jim Clements
- Published on 20 November 2013
Design and Setup of the Sonus faber Venere 3.0 Speaker System
The most fundamental design goal for the Venere's was an engaging, airy and detailed sound that would be suitable for all types of music and all kinds of users. That sounds like a pretty good mission statement to me!
Sonus faber also wanted the Venere speakers to be easy to incorporate into your listening environment. The Veneres are simple to set up, have excellent dispersion characteristics and the ported models have ports that fire out of the front baffle to reduce boundary effects from the rear wall.
The most obvious outward trait of these speakers is their striking looks. First of all, the internally-braced cabinets are lyre-shaped in keeping with a common Sonus faber characteristic. And the top plates are slanted downward from the rear to the front. So these cabinets are without parallel walls. This not only prevents strong internal resonances, it also improves the structural rigidity of the cabinets.
The main speakers also have tilted baffles to time-align all the drivers. The baffles are curved to avoid off-axis diffraction effects. The top is tempered glass with the Sonus faber logo silkscreened on. The base plate is also tempered glass with adjustable aluminum feet included.
All drivers are designed by Sonus faber in their lab and are made to spec by their suppliers who are among the best in the world.
The largish tweeter is a 29 mm silk dome that was scintillating to listen to and tested very well in my bench testing routine. This driver crosses over at 2.3 kHz to a 6" polypropylene textile midrange with an aluminum phase plug. The midrange and the two 7" woofers all have proprietary "Curv" cone cross sections. Speaking of the woofers, the 3.0 is actually a 3-1/2 way design. (Which raises the question; why not call them the Venere 3.5's?) In any case, the top woofer operates in the range of 180 – 220 Hz while the lower woofer extends down to a claimed roll off of 38 Hz (which was supported by my bench test results; ~34 Hz in-room).
There are curved guides around the all the drivers that creates a slight horn shape which contributes to an even more vivid and engaging sound. No details were provided regarding the crossovers except this, "Crossover designed to promote a clean signal path and thus the musicality".
The Venere Center has three active drivers, a 29 mm silk dome tweeter that crosses over to a pair of 6" Curv cone mids at 1.8 kHz. This speaker also has a lyre-shaped cabinet and comes with a heavy rubber base that allows the speaker to be placed either above or below your screen and then tilted to fire at the listening position. It is front ported via two slots, one on each outer edge of the cabinet.
I used the Venere Walls as the rear speakers in a 5.1 set up. These are also a bass reflex design but with one active main driver while the other driver is a passive radiator. These speakers come with a unique mounting scheme as far as home speakers are concerned. It operates much like a typical outdoor speaker. You mount a bracket to the back of the speaker and one to the wall then these get bolted together. So the speaker can swivel on its longer axis, but that's it – just panning, no tilt or azimuth control. My only real complaint with this system related to the wood screws that you must drive into the speaker cabinets – I would much prefer threaded inserts.
All the Venere models were equipped with magnetically attached grills. They are available in gloss black, gloss white or a gorgeous real walnut finish. I wound up getting real wood mains and a glossy black center and rears. They all were serious eye candy, but I was most taken by the real wood; it's like tiger's eye in that it shimmers in the light and has an uncanny depth in the grain.
All in all, the Venere speakers exhibited a remarkable degree of refinement in their build quality, particularly considering their price point. I'm not sure how it is possible to produce speakers with all the physical qualities of these babies and keep them at such an accessible price.
I also got a REL T9 subwoofer to go with this review set. I will be writing up a full review on this subwoofer in a separate article. But let me just say that this little sub was one mighty impressive little piece of audio engineering in its own right.
I placed all speakers in the usual locations around my theater space. I mounted the Walls on the Walls. The Center was actually a little too wide to fit on the shelf below my screen so I had to invert the shelving which placed it about 3" lower than where I typically have my center speaker. But that was OK as I was able to tilt it up on the rubber stand so it fired unrestricted toward my ears.
With the mains, I placed them on either side of my projection screen as usual and eventually settled on having them aimed not directly at me, but a little off to sides to where they were basically about 10 degrees off-axis.
I drove the main speakers with a Krell S550i integrated amp set to theater bypass throughout most of the review period. I wanted to mention this here because I connected the REL sub to the speaker terminals as recommended by REL. I tried the unbalanced LFE input at first and then tried the connection off the speaker terminals. I much preferred the second connection method. Can I explain why? Not really. REL says that it passes the sound of your power amp to the sub but I'm not sure that's it. Let's just suffice it to say that I was able to get a substantially better blend between the Venere 3.0's and the sub by using the speaker outs. Mind you, the difference was not subtle nor was it insignificant.