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High-End Speakers for UNDER $1000?! | Sonus Faber Lumina I Review

High-End Brand Sonus Faber has entered the Mid Fi arena with their sub $1000 speakers, the Lumina I's.

There are a few questions I want to answer; the first is whether these represent the brand well?

Does it feel like a Luxury Italian speaker at a mid-level price?

And would I recommend this speaker over other offerings at this price point?

For the longest time, while attending HiFi shows, which was what, 2019, pre-pandemic, and visiting my local HiFi shops, I have seen those beautiful floor-standing speakers commanding attention with their stunning Italian design and, of course, the elastic string grilles that added that much more intrigue. Some of those speakers by Sonus Faber reached well into the six figures, dubbing the brand ultra-high-end. The speakers sounded fantastic; however, the fact that I would never be able to afford a pair turned me off from pursuing them as a viable option until now.

In September 2020, they revealed their Lumina series, their new entry-level series of speakers featuring a classy design paired with trickle-down technology from their more expensive lines. So, those on a specific budget they'd like to adhere to don't necessarily have to sacrifice sound quality for value. Sonus Faber prides itself in creating unrivaled sound instruments since 1983 when founder Franco Serblin started the brand in Vicenza, Italy, a city in northeastern Italy known for its elegant 16th-century architecture. Franco Serblin had so much pride in Italy's artistic heritage, specifically their aficionados of acoustic craftsmanship. Several local companies hand-built their violins, violas, lutes, and cellos. Some of the best pieces the world had ever seen. In an interview with Maxim Magazine, the CEO of the McIntosh Group, Jeff Poggi said,

"There's a real rich tradition of amazing musical instruments in Veneto, and the idea of Sonus Faber was how to take that tradition of craftsmanship and instrument making and produce loudspeakers for musical enjoyment." And so the brand really grew up focused on what we call natural sound — we really want to be able to produce the music as naturally as possible."

So it seems Mr. Poggi didn't want to deviate from Franco Serblin's original vision for the brand, which was to build a true marvel in design and sound. Circling back around brings us to the question of why they decided to create an affordable line of speakers when their typical products are what the average consumer would consider expensive. I suppose that's a question for another day. Today we are happy they did it, and I am excited to tell you all about the Lumina I's.


The minute I pulled these speakers out of the box, I noticed something I had never seen in a speaker in this price class. Much of the enclosure is wrapped in black leather, aside from the multi-layer wood front baffle and the bottom reflex port. Another thing I noticed was how tiny it was. I honestly laughed because, in my mind, there was no way that this little speaker was going to be able to produce the sound that a similarly priced speaker like the Dali Oberon 3 was going to provide me with.

For the record, at this moment in time, these speakers are priced at $899 US. I just realized I kept eluding to the fact that their affordable well; now you know HOW affordable these speakers are.

These speakers are in fact made in Italy by the masters of their craft themselves. As I mentioned, the front baffle incorporates multi-layer wood and a natural wood veneer. The speaker is available in three finishes the Walnut and a Wenge, which are both matte and have maple inlays. Lastly, you can get it in a Piano Black. The rest of the enclosure is hand covered in black leather. The bass reflex port is on the bottom of the enclosure with a really cool port design. This maximizes placement, so you aren't beholden to placing these speakers in specific ways because of a rear port. Very nice. The stealth port is ridged similarly to the Aida's, their most recent flagship loudspeaker. So, if people criticize the plastic molding, which I have seen them do online, they need to realize the design is paying homage to their most expensive offering. From top to bottom, these speakers are made to mirror their unique brand design and style. The 4" midrange woofer for these speakers comes with a custom-made basket, and the diaphragm is cellulose pulp along with other natural fibers. I really like the logo on the dust cap as well. I usually don't like that, call me nitpicky, but it works with these. The tweeter is their trademarked Damped Apex Dome, which is the same used in their Sonetto line; this is where some trickle-down tech comes into play. The tweeter has a 1-inch Kurt Mueller hand-coated soft silk diaphragm. Dr. Kurt Mueller is a massive name in German engineering for tweeter components, so it's safe to say these tweeters were made extremely well.

Now, as we visit the speaker's rear, the leather is perfectly tucked into the enclosure. It comes with two pairs of nickel-plated five-way binding posts if you want to bi-wire or bi-amp the speakers. These speakers aren't too friendly to drive, meaning you need to feed them some juice. They have a sensitivity rating of 84db and are rated as 4-ohm loudspeakers. So, I used my Cambridge EVO150 as the core amplification for my evaluation. The speakers are crossed over at 2000Hz, and the actual crossover is attached to the rear of the back plate. I measured these speakers using REW to see if they matched Sonus Faber's 65Hz to 24kHz rating; let's see how they did.

REW Measurement

I performed both near-field and in-room measurements. Let's go over the near field first. As you can see from the graph, it stays reasonably linear from right around the 65Hz point well into 17kHz, where the top end starts to roll off. The 65Hz measurement perfectly aligns with the company specs, which is nice. The mid-range has a very slight slope from 400Hz to 4kHz, which is fine because I love a gentle V curve in my music. This is a near-field measurement though, so I measured from around 6 to 8 inches from the speaker. As for the in-room measurements, as you can see, the acoustics in my room is working against me instead of for me. Those dramatic nulls and peaks are because I do not yet have an ideally treated room. However, the bass doesn't roll off until the low 60s; these speakers could potentially dance around the mid to high fifties depending on the room and how they are positioned. Now it's time to see how they sounded. If they sound the way they measured, I think I will be more than happy. Overall both measurements were good and if I were judging by the measurements, I would say this speaker has a lot of potential of sounding really pleasant.

Sound Quality

I looked to my Qobuz playlist for my music to test these speakers, which is now featured on Qobuz's Hi-Fi Audio Partners list of playlists, which is a tremendous honor. Thanks to my friend David Solomon for making that a reality. It's filled with different types of music from rock, electronic, ambient, post-rock, hip hop, and jazz, so there is quite a bit to choose from, which is perfect because I really wanted to put these speakers through the gauntlet. I started with some Radiohead and Tool to test the imaging and overall soundstage. Wow, guys. These speakers are tiny and pack a Rocky Balboa punch. These little Italian Stallions blew my mind from the very beginning with their expansive soundstage. To test the bass, I went with a track called Okay by Shiba San and some Glitch Mob tracks, and these speakers came to school prepared for class. The bass was very present, especially for the 4-inch driver handicap. They sounded like they were dancing on the fence of full range. For the top end, I decided on Crystal Method's Post Punk which had a combination of fantastic bass beats and intense high-frequency melodies and sounds. The top end was enjoyable. Not fatiguing whatsoever. These speakers are absolutely great. I wanted something with prominent vocals for the midrange, so I went with Money for Nothing by the Dire Straits. The midrange was tame but still came off with authority. The one thing I cannot stand is a loud midrange, which gets old very quickly. How they just hit my radar now is beyond me. I want to thank my good buddy Joseph from Audio System Specialists for first turning me on to the idea of the Lumina's because I am hooked.

So, to answer the questions I posed at the beginning of the review, yes, these represent the brand very well. They have trickle-down technology and an aesthetic that you wouldn't usually find on speakers priced under $1000. Who are these for, though? Well, I would say anyone that likes to listen to music will find these endearing. It doesn't have a particular sound that only a specific type of ear can enjoy, like Bowers and Klipsch. These, in my opinion, were made for the avid music listener that wants to own a loudspeaker made for the enjoyment of sound. I will not give out awards just yet, because, as it stands, a pair of the Lumina II's are sitting in my room waiting for a ceremonious unboxing. After listening to these, I immediately contacted Sonus Faber and wanted to hear the bigger brothers to these phenomenal little stand mounts. So, when I deliver the evaluation on the II's, I will be comparing the two and officially awarding one of them with the Gold Standard award. These speakers excited me about my music and that my friends is why I enjoy reviewing speakers. It’s when I stumble upon a brand and speaker line that I get so fanatical about. The last brand that did this to me was Aperion Audio, and now I am experiencing it with Sonus Faber.

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