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This review first appeared in the August 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Sonus faber. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: 21.990zł/pr

Rushing through the halls of the MOC exhibition center in Munich trying to keep all my scheduled meetings and attend all intended showcases, I somehow missed Sonus faber's presentation of their latest speaker line. I have no idea how this happened. I suspect that the emphasis placed by the exhibitor on their top range didn’t allow me to focus on anything else. Due to my oversight it was only months later that I could finally see the speakers with my own eyes for the first time.

And what a treat that is. The new Olympica line which includes the Olympica I stand mount under review looks better than any earlier design from the Italian masters to pay direct tribute to the late Franco Serblin. In fact all three models look as though they'd been designed and built under his supervision. In classic Sonus fashion the design combines leather, quality walnut known only from Italy and Japan and sleek metal trim yet arrives at something new which echoes their most fetching designs from the past.

According to the accompanying literature the Olympian design solutions derive from experience gained with the flagship Aida. The name refers to the monumental Teatro Olimpico, the work of great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio which was created before his death as a gift to the city of Vicenza between 1580 and 1585. Since 1994 the Teatro Olimpico along with other Palladio buildings in and around Vicenza have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto".

The reviewed model looks like a classic two-way bass reflex monitor. The former is true, the latter not entirely so. While neither port nor passive radiator are anywhere to be found, the Olympica is not a sealed design. The manufacturer describes their concealed slot as a "paralaminar stealth flow vent" which is closer to aperiodic loading than a classic port. Looking at the speaker from the side we see that one side is more curved at the back than the other. The resultant gap is covered by a narrow vertical perforated metal strip backed by resistive damping material on the inside. This is the aperiodic vent which controls the mid/woofer's rear radiation.

Due to the company's signature cross-sectional lyre shape the rear baffle is very narrow. What's more the cheeks aren't exact mirror reflections but shaped differently, vividly recalling the asymmetrical shape Franco Serblin concocted for his Accordo stand mount. Although his sides were concave and the Olympica's are convex, the underlying notion matches. Hence my assumption that to some extent these speakers are a tribute to the company's founder. Let me add that save for one other, this is the most beautiful speaker ever presented by the Italians. In perfect harmony and proportions it combines noble materials like wood and leather with minor metallic touches. Only the classic Guarneri Homage exudes something extra which renders it truly timeless. On visual taste the Olympica I otherwise carries almost identical DNA.

On the narrow spine Sonus managed to fit a biwire pair of custom terminals connected with metal jumpers. Front, rear and top are covered in hand-stitched leather which as usual looks insanely terrific. The sides display the firm's trademark bonded stave constructions this time augmented by narrow two-tone stringers. And as Sonus faber invented, a standard grill has become a mesh of removable vertical rubber strings. Stylistically matched stands don't tilt back directly as they do with the top Guarneri Evolution but achieve it more simply with longer frontal spikes. The monitor screws to the very small top plates for a firm connection. Sonus faber clearly know that proper product presentation is as important as the product itself. Their website and stock photos are among the best in the business to set an example others would do well to emulate. The Olympica speakers come in two finishes: dark graphite and light walnut.

Albums auditioned during the review: Alison Moyet, The Minutes, Cooking Vinyl/Modest! COOKCD585, CD (2013); Black Sabbath, 13, Vertigo/Universal MusicLLC (Japan) UICN-1034/5, 2 x SHM-CD (2013); Chet Baker & Art Pepper, The Route, Pacific Jazz/Capitol/Capitol-EMI Music CDP 7 92931 2, CD (1989); Frank Sinatra, Songs For Swingin’ Lovers!, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 538, Gold-CD (1956/1990); Gesualdo de Venosa, Quatro Libro di Madrigali, La Venexiana under Claudio Cavina, Glossa GCD 920934, CD (2005)...

... Jorgos Skolias & Bogdan Hołownia, …tales, 8Merch, NSA-V001, "Limited Edition, No. 0001/2000", CD (2004/2012); Martin L. Gore, Counterfeit e.p, Mute/Sire 9 25980-2, CD (1989); Martin L. Gore. Stardust, Mute RCDMUTE296, SP CCD (2003); Miles Davis, In A Silent Way, Columbia/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD-2088, "Special Limited Edition, No. 1311", SACD/CD (1969/2012).; Morales en Toledo, Polifonía inédita del Códice 25, Ensemble Plus Ultra, Michael Noone, "Los SIGLOS de ORE", Glossa GCD 922001, CD (2005); Radiohead, Kid A, Parlophone/EMI, 27753 2, CD (2000)."