Sonus Faber Amati Homage loudspeaker And what about the Audio Physic Virgo?
Despite my Amati ravings, my long-term reference, the Audio Physic Virgo, need not apologize for its performance. It is still a very special loudspeaker. The proof is that Audio Physic has had a difficult time selling the excellent $10k/pair Avanti, which is priced between the Virgo and the $19,000/pair Caldera. (From what I've heard of the Caldera, I find it inexplicable that this speaker is still placed in Class B in Stereophile's "Recommended Components" rather than Class A.) The Virgo is that good.
Compared to the Virgo, the Amati offers lower apparent distortion and resolves low-level dynamic contrasts far better than the Virgo, and better than any dynamic speaker I've heard. The Amati's rich, pure midrange causes a sensual meltdown the Teutonic-sounding Virgo can't approach, and the Italian speaker has fewer cabinet colorations—particularly in the midbass. The Sonus Faber's senses of "touch," of emotional communication, overwhelm the Virgo—and every other speaker I've heard.
The Virgo does offer greater "slam," "physicality," and (at least in my room) disappears more effectively, leaving a bigger, more open soundstage. A few visitors have concluded that while they were moved by the Amati's ability to touch their hearts, they still prefer the Virgo's "balls."
I, on the other hand, find myself pining away for the Amatis. How to convince my (nonaudiophile) wife to spend that kind of money? Amazingly, that was the easy part. After her first audition of the Amatis, she stood up and found herself saying—almost involuntarily, as if Beetlejuice himself had taken over: "I don't care how much they cost—we have to have them!" Guys, this direct quote says more about the Amati Homage than my whole damn review.—Michael Fremer