Stereophile's Products of 1992 Loudspeaker

Loudspeaker of 1992 Sonus Faber Extrema ($14,000/pair including stands (footnote 1); reviewed by Martin Colloms, Vol.15 No.6, June 1992 Review)

I first heard a Sonus Faber speaker some years ago in the home of a friend in England. I forget which model it was, but this minimonitor boogied like a good'un, while managing to avoid destroying the subtleties present in the music we played. (I've been surprised at the fact that this Italian range of beauties has only recently been distributed in the US.) When Martin Colloms told me at the beginning of the year that he wanted to review the Extrema, Sonus Faber designer Franco Serblin's attempt at the ultimate speaker, I didn't need any encouraging to tell him to go for it.

The stand-mounted Extrema combines the expensive Dynaudio Esotar soft-dome tweeter with a Danish midrange/woofer and a TDL woofer used as a passive radiator. The superbly finished cabinet is fabricated from laminated walnut, and the crossover is realized without capacitors, a series-resistor/shunt-inductor providing the first-order high-pass feed to the tweeter. In-room, the Extrema's bass extends nearly an octave below the lowest note of the four-string bass, the stereo imaging is first-rate and well-focused, and the overall balance, while a little sweet in absolute terms, is fundamentally neutral and free from the twin speaker devils of hardness and glare. An "effortlessly musical transducer," according to the normally restrained Martin Colloms. Sumiko's presentation of the Extremas at the 1992 Summer CES was a highlight for many visitors, including myself.

Finalists (in alphabetical order

Apogee Centaur Major ($3395–$3785/pair; reviewed by Thomas J. Norton, Vol.15 No.4, April 1992)
Sound-Lab A-3 ($7410/pair; reviewed by J. Gordon Holt, Vol.9 No.6, September 1986; Vol.11 No.6, June 1988; Vol.11 No.11, November 1988; Vol.15 No.1, January 1992 Review)
Spendor S100 ($2990/pair plus stands; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.13 No.6, June 1990; John Atkinson, Vol.14 No.12, December 1991 Review)
Thiel CS2 2 ($2250/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.15 No.4, April 1992 Review)

Footnote 1: Note that all prices are of December 1992.

dalethorn's picture

Sonus Faber speaker: I bought their first headphone, the Pryma ($550) in 2015, yet it's still essentially unknown months later in headphone circles. So do I assume their speakers have fallen out of audiophile favor?

Spica SC-30 budget speakers: I think Stereophile's earlier reviews of the Advent and the FMI-80 fell into this category, or maybe even moreso.

michael green's picture

Thank you Stereophile for the mention and Guy for the fun listening! "92" was an exciting time!

michael green