Sonus Faber Cremona loudspeaker Wes Phillips, June 2005
As I had a pair of Sonus Faber Cremonas on hand, and it seemed natural to compare and contrast the Canton Vento 809 DC with this $7495/pair Class A contender. The Cremona, too, is a ported floorstanding three-way with a curved cabinet profile. I level-matched the speakers for the comparison.
Having spent a fair amount of time listening to both speakers individually, I expected that they would tell essentially the same story, with only minor differences in lower-midrange tonality, where I had always felt the Cremona to be a trifle warm (a coloration I entirely enjoyed).
As it turned out, the results were considerably more...interesting than that.
There was more warmth and body in Charles Lloyd's tenor sax on his Jumping the Creek CD with the Sonus Faber. The soundstage also seemed a tad more distant (which is not quite to say "muffled"). The 809 DC delivered more slam from Robert Hurst's bass—I'm not sure it sounded deeper, but it did sound more powerful.
The overtones of Eric Harland's cymbals sounded clearer and brighter—again, not more extended, just more there. Which was more realistic? I'm not sure. I'd become used to the sound of the Sonus Faber's ring-radiator tweeter, so I may have overreacted to the Canton's zip just because it was different. Different isn't always better, but I was very taken by the sense of life and air I heard from the Vento 809 DC.
It began to dawn on me, as I switched between them, that the two speakers might actually be exhibiting a difference in their designers' points of view.
Playing John La Grou's Messiah recording, I heard much the same changes in perspective, but voices were considerably warmer through the Cremona. Not radically so—sopranos didn't become mezzos or anything else that extreme—but the singers seemed about 20 lbs heavier than they did through the Canton. But their voices still sounded good through the 809 DC.
Bass sounded deeper and tauter through the Canton, however. For authority and pure sensation of slammitude, the Vento 809 DC was clearly the champ, though the Cremona never felt deficient in this area. In fact, the Cremona is clearly tuned, like a musical instrument, to create a top-to-bottom coherence that's really easy to like. And like it I did.
If you'd asked me which approach I philosophically embraced before I compared the two speakers, I probably would have answered in favor of the Sonus Faber: sometimes a slight exaggeration is the quickest route to a form of truth. Now that I've compared them, I'm not so sure—the Canton proves that accuracy needn't be ruthless.—Wes Phillips