Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 1 loudspeaker Page 2

The speakers and stands were placed in the locations I had used for the KEFs when I reviewed the SVS SB-3000 subwoofer for the September 2019 issue. This put the Olympica Nova 1s' woofer centers 68" from my listening position and 60" apart. They were 60" from the front wall and 45" from the sidewalls, and toed in toward my listening room chair. However, this configuration left a weakened central image and resulted in a frequency response that rolled off above 2 kHz. Moving the speakers closer together so that they were 50" apart gave the flattest measured treble response and strengthened the central image. Sitting with my ears level with the tweeter produced the most even treble balance. Even so, the KEF LS50s sounded brighter when they were placed on the same stands.

As with the Sonus Faber Minima I reviewed so long ago, the Olympica Nova 1 excelled in the midrange and treble, and less so in the deep bass—unsurprisingly for a smallish loudspeaker. The 1/3-octave warble tones on Editor's Choice extended cleanly down to the 40Hz band. The 31.5, 25, and 20Hz tones weren't audible at my normal listening levels. I heard no chuffing sounds at the lowest test signals when I listened behind the speakers.


For this review, I used two of my Mark Levinson amplifiers: the 25W class-A ML2 monoblocks and the 250Wpc No.534 stereo amplifier. The Olympica Nova 1 has a specified voltage sensitivity that's about average, but I worried that the 250Wpc amplifier might be necessary. The original Minima review had been conducted in both the large listening room and in a smaller study in my previous house. Because the Minimas had sounded better in the study, I anticipated that the Nova 1's would do well in the new condo listening room, which is similar in size to my former study. To explore this idea, I listened to many of the same recordings I had used for the original Minima review.

Similar to my notes for the Minima, the Nova 1 captured the impact of Terry Bozzio's drumhead sounds, rim shots, and kickdrum, heard in Jeff Beck's "Behind the Veil," from Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop (CD, Epic EK 44313). While the Nova 1s' bass output would prove incapable of pressurizing my room while playing pipe organ recordings, kickdrum on the Beck album, and others like it, had considerable heft and speed.

The Nova 1s did well with recordings of midrange-rich instruments, including clarinet and piano. Chopin's Scherzo in B-flat, Op.31, as played by Anna Maria Stanczyk on the first Stereophile Test CD (out of print), came across with a rich, warm tone. Higher up the spectrum, the Sonus Fabers excelled in their reproduction of Dave Samuels's vibes on "Quidado," from Joe Beck's The Journey (CD, DMP CD-481). Orchestral pieces also benefited from the speaker's rich midrange reproduction. The trombones and trumpets played with an usually clear, brassy blattiness during Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, by Christopher Brown and the Huntingdonshire Philharmonic, recorded by John Atkinson on Track 13 of the Stereophile Test CD 2 (CD, STPH004-02).

Imaging was the Nova 1's strength, one measure of which was its ability to precisely locate individual images beyond the speakers' outer boundaries. This was heard on track 10 of the second Test CD 2's "Mapping the Soundstage," as the apparent position of Larry Archibald's voice and hand claps shifted around the Nova soundstage as he moved around the recording venue (just as described in the test record's liner notes).


When I fed the Nova 1s some heavy metal music, they didn't flinch; indeed, they brought out the anguish and sweetness in James Hetfield's bittersweet ballad, "The Unforgiven," from Metallica's Metallica (aka "the Black Album"—CD, Elektra 61113-2), putting across well the harmonies in the guitars and the battering energy in Jason Newsted's bass and Lars Ulrich's drums.

Compared with the KEF LS50s, the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 1s had a richer balance, reproducing the full vocal tones of Stephen Roberts singing the solo bass part of the priest in the recording of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius cited above. Suzanne Vega's vocals on "Tom's Diner," from Solitude Standing (CD, A&M Records, CD-5136), were as three-dimensional as heard on the LS50s, as well as being natural and pleasing.

The Olympica Nova 1s' soundstaging and imaging matched that of KEFs on JA's recordings of the music of Latvian composer Eriks E™envalds, performed by Ethan Sperry and the Portland State Chamber Choir on their The Doors of Heaven (24/88.2 WAV files, Naxos 8.579008/ HDtracks). The Nova 1's bass response, though not as even as the KEF's, went deeper, so the floor stomps of the Portland State Chamber Choir from that recording were more impressive. This difference in sound quality favored the Nova 1s, which, after all, are several times more expensive than the KEFs.

The Olympica Nova 1 may be small and relatively affordable, but it delivered a large amount of musical satisfaction. It didn't play extraordinarily loud or pump out the deepest bass. Its strengths resided in its imaging, its midrange richness, and the absence of fatigue in this listener. My appreciation grew over the time I lived with the speaker.

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.