These exquisitely handcrafted speakers are made in Italy and beautifully meld rich walnut, polished aluminum, and hand-stitched leather to create a lute shaped three-way speaker that incorporates trickle-down technology from their more expensive speaker lines.
So far this year, I’ve had the opportunity to delve into speaker systems from a few European manufacturers. I have enjoyed unique designs from Danish and French companies that take quite different approaches to sound and design philosophy. Sonus faber (which roughly means “sound or music made by hand”) has had several of their speakers reviewed by Secrets staff over the last few years, including Dr. John Johnson’s recent review of the amazing Lilium. The Sonetto (from sonnet, which means roughly “poetry set to music”) series was designed and built from scratch in Italy. The goal was to create a line of speakers that offered the Sonus faber sound in a more affordable package while maintaining the standards they are known for. Situated just under the Olympica Nova Series, the Sonetto collection offers similar styling and sound with three tower speakers, two bookshelf models, two center channels, and a wall-mount surround speaker. You can build a decent two-channel system from the Sonetto line or go full frontal with a complete matching home theater system. Sonus faber also has a line of subwoofers (Gravis) to finish things off for you. The Sonetto Vs are the middle tower speakers between the Sonetto III and the VIII towers speakers.
Sonus faber Sonetto V Speaker
- Beautiful, lute shaped cabinets that look hand-crafted
- Custom drivers designed and manufactured in Italy
- Articulate sound with noticeably clear mid-range, detailed highs, and solid bass
- Look similar to the Olympica Nova series, but priced more affordably
3-way floor-standing loudspeaker system. Vented box design.
High Definition DAD™, DKM silk dome diaphragm, 29 mm
Custom diaphragm made with cellulose pulp and other natural fibers, 150 mm
Ultra-free compression basket, aluminum cone 2x 180 mm
235 Hz and 3,000 Hz
38 – 25,000 Hz
90 dB SPL (2.83V/1m)
SUGGESTED AMPLIFIER POWER OUTPUT:
50 – 300 W, without clipping
1072 x 258 x 409 mm (42 x 10 x 16 in)
49.8 Ibs each
Sonus faber Sonetto V Price:
sonus faber sonetto v, tower speaker, speaker review, sonus faber, Speaker Review 2020
- Sonus Faber Lilium Floor-Standing Speakers Review
- Sonus Faber Minima Amator II Bookshelf Speaker Review
- Sonus Faber Olympica Nova I Loudspeaker Review
The Sonetto V is a three-way speaker designed to fill a medium to large room with sound. True to their Italian heritage, they artistically meld wood, leather, and metal in a lute shaped cabinet that comes in natural walnut, gloss white or gloss black and wengè (a dark wood) finishes. The distinctive shape is designed to remove parallel surfaces thus reducing internal resonance. The striking leather top has the logo hot branded onto it with a border of hand stitching.
On the bottom of the cabinet is a bass reflex port, so placement is more flexible whether nearer or further from a wall boundary. The column feet are made from milled and extruded aluminum and provide stability along with room for the bottom bass port to breathe.
The drivers have been fully designed and prototyped in Italy and manufactured in China. Sonus faber’s unique voicing comes from a 29 mm silk dome tweeter that employs DAD (Damped Apex Dome) technology and a natural fiber and paper blended cone material for the mid-range. The DAD technology consists of a strategically placed damper that sits in the middle of the tweeter dome to reduce distortion that might build up at that location. (It is not an acoustic lens to evenly distribute the high frequencies like Revel uses on their Concerta 2 line, which I currently own).
This is the same configuration used in the Reference and Olympica collections, as well. The 150 mm mid also sports an “Sf” logo on the phase plug. Both 180 mm woofers are made from an aluminum-magnesium alloy diaphragm that allows for fast, tight bass. All drivers have an aluminum, polished ring along the outside edge that gives them a distinctive, unified look.
The Paracross topology crossover is designed to optimize amplitude/phase and space/time performance. It also provides impedance compensation at low frequencies to make the Sonettos amplifier friendly. Rated sensitivity is 90 dB SPL (2.83V/1m) with a frequency response of 38-25,000 Hz. Each speaker weighs in at almost 50 pounds each.
Upon arrival, I had to carry each speaker up a long flight of stairs to my media room. It was then that I realized how heavy and awkward the Sonettos were to move around. I unboxed them and proceeded to read the included manual. There was nothing particularly new, but I did find a tip on placing the speakers on their heads so I could put the feet on them without damaging the leather tops.
Placing spikes on a heavy set of speakers can create challenges you don’t normally encounter with speakers that rest on rubber feet. I decided not to place them directly on my hardwood floors, but to position them on my carpet. Even then, spikes will not slide on carpeting so placing them on the included discs helped protect my floor. I read that some users recommend replacing the supplied discs with Teflon discs like you would place under furniture legs. This allows the whole speaker to be positioned more easily with minimal effort on your part. This is especially nice when you get into the very fine tuning where I use a laser to get the precise dial-in spot for my seating position. The feet can also be adjusted slightly up or down to get the tweeter at ear level. Once set up, I had the Sonetto Vs drivers about three feet off the front wall, six-and-a-half feet apart, and eight feet from the seat. The side walls in my room are over five feet away from each tower, which really helps cut down on the first reflections. My room is 17’ wide, 13’ deep and 8’ high, which I consider medium to large in size.
I powered the Sonetto Vs with Emotiva UPA-1 mono blocks rated at 200 watts per channel and almost all my music was played through the PS Audio Perfectwave Directstream DAC, streaming hi-res music via Quobuz or an occasional SACD. All comments about sound quality are for two-channel stereo without the use of a subwoofer. I left the magnetic grills on during my review, but the Sonettos looked handsome with them off should you chose to go that route. Sonically, I heard no difference.
After a few days of allowing my ears to adjust, I quickly noticed some distinctions between the Sonetto V and my Revel F36s. Both have similar cabinet shapes while the Revels are a few inches taller.
Cabinet size on the Sonetto V is greater in depth and width than the Revels and that manifests in deeper bass, especially when the volume goes up. At no time did I feel the need to use a subwoofer with the music I selected. In fact, if you look a bit in Qobuz, you’ll find some test tracks that allow you to play dozens of specific frequencies. I played a 30 Hz test tone on the Sonetto Vs, albeit the volume was down about 6 dB. Still, their claim of a 38 Hz extension is valid. The bass was also noticeably tight, too. Classical pipe organ music had definition and weight to it, without being muddy or undefined.
Another noticeable difference was in the upper mid-range. The Sonetto V was less thick sounding and more detailed than my Revels. This is not an indictment to the quality of the Revels which have served me well for years, but the overall design and expense eventually comes into play, and the saying about getting what you pay for rings true here. The Sonettos cost considerably more than the Revels by about three grand. The F36s are a great speaker for the price, but the Sonus fabers were indeed a step up in overall sound quality. Whether that sound quality is worth the extra coin is up to the listener. The clarity of the human voice, the weight of the bass, and the overall construction and aesthetics of the Sonetto Vs reminded me of why we enjoy this hobby so much. It is all about the music and the emotional impact it has on our lives.
As I mentioned before, organ music covers so much of the musical range and each organ brings with it a distinctive sound, not only of the instrument but the acoustical signature of the venue it is housed in. By their nature, they are almost always in large churches or concert halls which greatly impact the sound we hear. Capturing all of that can be a recording engineer’s challenge, but good recordings are plentiful.
ATMA Classique “Symphonie No 3”
The Atma Classique label recording captures the great Beckrath organ from the St. Joseph Basilica in Montreal. I’m not going to focus on the performance of Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, which is excellent, but a solo work by Alexandre Guilmant which is a march by Handel from Lift Up Your Heads. After the theme is introduced, the organ plays variations that culminate in a massive climax recapping the theme with the full organ at the end. Besides making the hair stand up on your arms, the sound from the Sonetto Vs captured the ambiance and details from the piece.
You can even faintly hear the clicking of the valves opening from the wind chest in the quieter passages. The bass is a wonderfully crushing wave that sweeps you away at the very end and leaves you holding your breath. Detail and power are all there simultaneously and well presented by the Sonettos. They held their composure even at high volumes with complex music.
For spatial cues and 3D effects, I played the electronica dance hall music from Toy, by Yello. The Sonettos were able to produce the funky bass tracks with a precision that made me think I had accidentally turned on my home theater surround sound speakers. The music extended far to the right and left of the speakers and some sounds felt like they were emanating behind me. Some of the bass notes on these tracks are ridiculously low…and yet amazing! This sense of depth perception was also found on the Telarc disc Grand and Glorious, which is directed by Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony playing famous operatic choruses.
Shaw/ASO & Choruses “Grand & Glorious: Great Operatic Choruses”
In Wagner’s Pilgrim’s Chorus, the male voices blended wonderfully, yet you could hear each section clearly. Poorer speakers would often accentuate the sibilance of the tenors, but the Sonettos provided a detailed sound without overemphasizing S and T. It was much more natural sounding than my Revels aluminum dome tweeters’ presentation.
Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue allowed me to hear an intimate ensemble with both muted trumpet and plucked bass along with drums and piano, et al. Again, I was impressed with the naturalness of the sound and the fine details, like a breath intake or soft drumstick tap. Sound staging was deep, wide and a sense of the recording venue was there too.
The SONETTO V is an affordable way to bring Sonus faber’s unique sound into your system. They look and sound amazing and embody the company’s philosophy of speakers as musical instruments.
- Excellent sound quality with all genres of music
- Detailed upper mid-range with deep bass extension
- Smooth extended treble
- Gorgeous Italian design of wood, leather, and metal
- Sonus faber sound at an affordable price
- Nothing to note
I realize that aesthetics is not needed to showcase a sound system, but having beautifully designed speakers will not hurt with the wife acceptance factor. The Sonetto Vs look and sound expensive, yet they are more affordable for music lovers looking to up their game. They display an ideal combination of design and function that helps make the music more emotionally engaging. You may find other speakers in the $5,000 range, but not many have the design details and sound qualities of the Sonetto Vs. As I get older, my desire to reach the summit in this hobby becomes more important to me. The Sonus faber Sonetto V Speakers remind me that I still have time to reach for something a bit higher without mortgaging my future to obtain it. Bravo Sonus faber!