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Anthony Tam
Anthony Tam's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Oct 6 2005 - 2:06pm
3 circa $3K - $4K standmounts...

Happy Holidays! Good to see Jim Tavegia and Cheapskate still here. I'm back after nearly a year of being unplugged from various audio fora. But... as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Except, perhaps, the fact I've been smitten with thermionic valves over the course of my absence and have jumped ship from solid state. And, of course, my non-audiophilic friends think I'm even crazier than ever.

Holiday/fiscal year end bonus permitting, might be time to think about new speakers. I'm still not quite within the median Stereophile reader's income bracket but fidelity of music reproduction means a lot to me... and spending money on gadgets and doodads to assist with this is one of life's guilty pleasures.

Four... nay, three, speakers I'm looking at:
- Opera Callas (is this still a current production model? Don't see it on their site anymore...?)
- Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor
- System Audio SA2K Master

Haven't listened to any of the above three connected to a PrimaLuna ProLogue Two or similar, relatively low power tube amp. I have heard the Sonus Faber and the System Audio connected to various transistor amps and I liked what I heard. Alas, I have not been able to find any Opera dealer in my area.

Regarding that deleted fourth choice... I liked the Totem Mani-2 but have doubts a 40-watt tube integrated can drive it the way it needs to be driven. Maybe I should have kept my chunky solid state amp...

Any thoughts? First hand through third hand experience with such a setup or similar?

Thanks in advance for any input!

Edit: typos and poor grammar... which is still not 100%.

Buddha's picture
Last seen: 10 years 11 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: 3 circa $3K - $4K standmounts...


Welcome back!

Of the three, I've only heard the Sonus Fabers with tubed electronics and they were sweet.

I think the Opera line is great, too, but I have no clue which models I've heard are current or not! Keeping up with model changes is maddening.

No experience with the System Audio, either. I'll be curious to see what your final opinion about them is.

I do like the Prima Luna line. I have some social guilt about the working conditions and wages from whence they came, but that's just my WASP sensibilities getting in the way of some way good performance for the buck electronics!

Which amp are you going to be using for the new speakers?

Anthony Tam
Anthony Tam's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Oct 6 2005 - 2:06pm
Re: 3 circa $3K - $4K standmounts...

Hey Buddha. Good to see you are still around as well. Happy holidays!

I will be keeping my current integrated, the ProLogue Two. There are insufficient funds to change both loudspeakers and amplification.

Haven't done any serious analytical comparisons as I'm still in the "trying to rationalize the need for a $3,000+ pair of speakers" mode of thinking. First impressions are both the Cremona Auditor and SA2K are refined examples of the modern smallish 2-way standmount speaker. Imaging, resolution, prat, not bad low freq. extension, can play surprisingly loud without undue compression, yada yada.

I think the Sonus Faber might be a touch warmer in the midrange. Otherwise, beats me as to which is neutral or more preferable. Probably depends on taste or even mood at any given moment. Both have impressive presence there, that's for sure. Both are 4-ohm loads and have similar rated power handling although System Audio claims theirs is an "easy load"... however, I haven't seen any impedance curves or reviews for this speaker.

Both feature boat-tailed (lute) shaped cabinets of solid wood. Even their dimensions are within centimeters of one another... heck, I think all three of these speakers use similarly sourced Scanspeak(?) tweeters/woofers.

Perhaps one of these days, I need to lug my amp to the various dealers and hear for myself whether it'll work or not. Once I rationalize the need for them, of course.

I'd hate to spoil this thread with socioeconomic talk but... since I think we'll be dealing with this sort of thing more and more:

Working conditions and wages is relative. China's workforce will go through growing pains similar to the struggles the working and middle class have gone through in Western societies. We didn't get to our present state of affairs without strife during the industrial revolution. Of course, they are a communist state so that makes things a bit different but I think, in the end, cash speaks as loudly as any ideology.

Put it this way... unless there is blatant exploitation and unethical workplace practices, it's better (and safer) they be working in an assembly plant making hi-fi gear or assembling XBOX 360 consoles rather than, say, one of their coal mines. I think Wes Philips comments and insights regarding his recent trip to China might lend some credence to my viewpoint.

And if the (hopefully) successful struggles of the emergent Chinese working class means more quality, affordable hi-fi kit... double bonus! :P

I qualify my views by saying I am an American-born Chinese and relatives who still live in the People's Republic tell me the new manufacturing jobs aren't that bad... relative to what they've been used to.

Unfortunately, I was unable to trackdown who, exactly, was responsible for the defective manufacture of my first XBOX 360 console. It was stricken with the dreaded "3 red lights of death" within 6 months of purchase.

Ultimately, I place my blame upon the greedy, exploitative western designers (M$) for this inherent flaw.

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