Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 1 loudspeaker

The Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 1 ($6500/pair) is the company's latest stand-mounted, two-way monitor—a lineage that began with their first speaker, the Minima, which I reviewed some 24 years ago. Like the products that followed, the Minima featured a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 4" reflex-loaded paper-based midbass driver, both attached to a leather-covered baffle and housed in a beautiful wood cabinet, hand-crafted in Italy. I enjoyed the Minima's sound, as did this magazine's Sam Tellig, who praised its "sweet, forgiving, slightly rolled-off on top, and somewhat ripe . . . mid-to-upper bass," with superb focus and imaging that was a "treat for sore ears."

I recalled fondly that tiny monitor's imaging and midrange smoothness, so when offered the chance to review the Minima's 2019 descendent, I readily accepted.


The Olympica Nova 1 was designed by Sonus Faber's Paolo Tezzon and shares many features with the $15,900/pair Guarneri Tradition so well described in John Atkinson's March 2018 review. For example, the Olympica Nova 1's newly designed cabinet walls are made from eight thin, cross-grained layers of wood, pressed together and bonded, then covered by several layers of lacquer to create a more rigid structure. The cabinet sides are asymmetrical, with minimal parallel walls. The front and top have the same veneer as the cabinet sides. There's leather on the bottom and, of course, on the speaker's distinctly shaped driver-mount area.

The Olympica Nova 1's drivers are also new and include a silk-dome tweeter with an apex-damping mechanism said to reduce antiphase distortion. The 5.5" midbass driver has an air-dried cellulose-pulp cone and a powerful neodymium magnet, and is set into a die-cast aluminum basket. The midbass unit is reflex-loaded with a vertically aligned slotted port that runs the entire height of the speaker, bordered by a finned aluminum extrusion. Reportedly, the combination of slot and adjacent fins strengthens and stabilizes the cabinet as well as reducing port-air turbulence by facilitating smoother airflow. The slotted port is offset on the rear of the non-symmetrical enclosure, and the left and right speakers are handed: The Nova 1s can be set up with their ports aimed toward the inside or outside. Two pairs of speaker binding posts are mounted next to the reflex port.

The speaker's drivers are crossed over at 2.5kHz using what Sonus Faber describes as their Paracross circuitry, constructed with proprietary capacitors. In his review of the Guarneri Tradition, Atkinson described the Paracross design as differing from "a conventional CLC, third-order crossover in moving the second series capacitor to the other side of the drive-unit, so that that cap shares the ground connection with the shunt inductor."


As with other Sonus Faber loudspeakers, the Olympica Nova 1 has as its grille a row of acoustically inert elastic strings, tied at either end with a metal bar whose ends can be slotted into holes in the speaker's front baffle, top and bottom. According to Sonus Faber, years ago the Museo del violino in Cremona asked the company's founder, Franco Serblin, to loan a Sonus Faber loudspeaker to the museum to be exhibited with the violins and violas. Serblin created a special version of the Guarneri loudspeaker in the shape of a violin, with an elastic-string grille that resembled the instrument's strings—and since then that design has been applied to all models.

The Olympica Nova 1 is held firmly to its optional steel stand ($1200/pair) by two accessory screws; the stand's central pillar is finned in the manner of the extrusion fitted to the speaker's slotted port. The stand's bottom plate may be fitted with four of Sonus Faber's Silent Spikes, used elsewhere in the SF line.

I secured the Olympica Nova 1s to their stands, oriented so that their ports fired to the outsides. Without spikes, the stands are 27" high, placing the tweeter centers 38" above the floor. That forced me to sit more upright than usual in order to hear the maximal high-frequency output from the tweeters' axes—something I noted while listening to the dual-mono pink-noise track on the Stereophile Editor's Choice CD (CD, Stereophile STPH016-2). The central image was appropriately narrow and focused. However, the treble dropped off when I sat lower or leaned to either side. (By comparison, in my room, the sweet spot of the KEF LS50 was wider and thus more forgiving of my seated position.)

Sonus Faber S.p.A.
US distributor: Sumiko
655 Wedgwood Road North, Suite 115
Maple Grove, MN USA 55311
(510) 843-4500

mtrot's picture

Beautiful speaker, and I'm sure it sounds great. But for that price you can just about get into a nice used set of Olympica III and have a great floor standing speaker with significantly deeper bass.

skypunk69's picture

So you make assumptions without even hearing them?

Bit pretentious eh?

mtrot's picture

I heard the Nova 5 at some length at RMAF in September, so I don't agree that my opinion is any more pretentious than yours or anyone else's.

skypunk69's picture

As I do own both and you admitted to never hearing the Nova 1 it is pretentious as most of you so call AP types are.

Sour grapes eh.

mtrot's picture

Umm, okay if you say so, that the Nova 1 sounds quite different from the Nova 5.

skypunk69's picture

Yes for my larger/family room I have the 5 and for my office I have Nova 1 and prefer listening in my office with my Simaudo 390/330A, Rega P8.

So with you never hearing the I and making assumptions on a demo is not only pretentious it is comical at best.


mtrot's picture

So, are you saying the Nova 1 has a significantly different sound from the Nova 5, or not? You don't seem to want to answer that question. If that is the case, then people need to know that.

skypunk69's picture

Depending on reviews from sod's like your self that have never listened to either would be better served by a professional review as found on these page's.

Make it sound like you are working on a cure for cancer.

Yes jam those Nova 5 in a small office and they sound like shite!

But one must make the determination them self bu demoing on similar gear in a similar sized room as their listening room.

Opinions are like what?????????????

I prefer the Nova 1 in my office for listening to music (all genre's)

So long Trot!

supamark's picture

the guy practically bragging that he's got a ton of disposable income calling someone else pretentious.... are you the pot or the kettle?

Oh, and if the I sounds significantly different than the III (instead of similar but with better dynamics/bass), then Sonus Faber is not doing it right - and I'm pretty sure they're doing it right.

skypunk69's picture

Pot calling the kettle Bernie.

You opening salvo said it all.

I am blessed with being able to work hard be rewarded and surround my self and my family with the trappings they enjoy.

So go ahead call be pretentious and you are consumed with envy.

Try working harder and getting the things you want in life not just what you need.

Please do take a reading comprehension course the point was an opinion had been formulated without ever hearing either speaker.

Bet after you take that course you will do better in life.


supamark's picture

is something that you will never have... just like that orange, vienna sausage finger having simpleton in the White House who thinks gold plating everything makes it more classy lol. Oh, and since you weirdly went there; I actually come from a family with more money/connections than you'll ever have (and I work my butt off too, bub, and will be starting a new business soon - excited about that).

You make the mistake so many simple people make equating money with morality - most (but not all!) millionaires I know, and I know quite a few of them including my family and myself (old money ftw), are kinda douchey. People secure in themselves don't need to advertise what they have, only the insecure do that. I'm both happy and secure in my self, but you? Not so much, quite obviously.

Bernie is not my first (or second) choice for president, but go on making unfounded assumptions. I wouldn't be bothered by his election (any Democrat(ic socialist) will do), and I consider the Senate a bigger "get" for the Dems anyway because I actually understand how the US gov't is set up constitutionally.

Also, before you critique someone's writing/reading... make sure you can properly use the English language first.

* to the editor, sorry if I'm cranky - I've had the (actual) flu all week and have lost the patience required for suffering fools like this one.

skypunk69's picture

Oh poor child has the flu.

So sorry.......

Also your post is total gibberish and you do need those classes.

BTW Could care less about your political out look was referring to Weekend At Bernie's


So enjoy your feeble flu in your feeble life.

Later Cheeto Breath....

Jim Austin's picture

Trade your personal insults somewhere else. There are plenty of spots for that on the web. This is not one of them.

Jim Austin, Editor

skypunk69's picture

Sorry you are right but>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>LOL

roadsterluver's picture

Thank you Jim!

skypunk69's picture

I did enjoy your rant though.

Good luck with your new business.

mtrot's picture

Yes. I don't understand why this dude is calling ME pretentious because I would expect the Nova 1 to sound very similar to the Nova 5, which I heard at some length at RMAF. And I don't understand why he keeps saying that I've "never heard either", as I've stated repeatedly here that I heard the Nova 5. Weird.

skypunk69's picture

As I do own both and you admitted to never hearing the Nova 1 it is pretentious as most of you so call AP types are.

Sour grapes eh.

Jack L's picture

.... and less so in the deep bass—unsurprisingly for a smallish loudspeaker." quoted Larry Greenhill.

I seldom go for whoever critics audio reviews as I only rely on my ears.
But this time, I full agree to what Greenhill's review on the bookselvers' lack of bass. This is physics.

NO, repeat, no so claimed "full range" loudspeakers, big or small, can reproduced deep bass music as already recorded realistically e.g. church/concert hall pipe organ floor shaking deep bass, or synthetic bass in pop music.

Only viable solution for consumers is to add active subwoofers to retrieve the deep bass music of the original recordings. NO other choice.

That is why I've added 3 active subwoofers to my stereo rig: L, R & L+R to retrieve the missed deep bass music years back.

I never look back as I am so gratified what I have done.

Listening to deep bass is believing

Jack L

Jack L's picture


Are you tellng us Greenhill's above commnent on small loudspeakers not reproducing adequate was a BS?

He is 100% correct. IMO, NO so claimed "full range" loudspeakers, big or small, can reproduce deep bass realistically, e.g. floor shaking deep bass of church/concert hall pipe organ music, & synthesized bass notes of rock music.

To achieve this deep bass effect, active subwoofers are indispensable. This is my years hands-on experience.

Listening to deep deep bass is believing

Jack L

davip's picture

I always find the level of illiteracy among those who claim to be professionally successful, as in this individual's case, to be quite disturbing. Can one truly be considered a 'success' in life when unable to string a simple sentence together and possessed of the vocabulary of a 9-yr old? It's perfectly reasonable to suggest, as the first poster did, that a larger loudspeaker will, all else being equal, have greater bass extension than a smaller one. This is a matter of fact, not of opinion. Why then was he suggested to be 'pretentious' because he hadn't heard both loudspeakers? Do you even understand what this word means? Look up the meaning of this adjective and then compare it to your statements for an example of its true meaning. I've met a number of compulsive liars in the past, and your mouthy behaviour mirrors theirs to a tee. This is not the place for you...

direstraitsfan98's picture

You expressed exactly my sentiments, good sir. I am left here scratching my head why this juvenile and bizarre conversation took place in the first place.

direstraitsfan98's picture

Apologies if I'm wrong, but was the initial disagreement based on this comment by mtrot


But for that price you can just about get into a nice used set of Olympica III and have a great floor standing speaker with significantly deeper bass

What exactly is wrong with this statement, and how is it an assumption? The Olympica III is a floor standing speaker, with a significantly larger volume cabinet, of course the bass is going to reach deeper.

smileday's picture

A suck out around crossover may be related to incorrect sound around crossover: to slightly deemphasize more incorrectly produced frequencies.

I have seen measurement of some speakers with different crossover point (not the frequency where ears are most sensitive). There was a suck out, too.