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What sort of sound did I expect?
Based on appearance I reckoned on civilized, neither too forward in the highs nor porcine down low but elegant, well resolved particularly in the vocal band and of course endowed with plenty of assured precise soundstaging as is a general forté of compact two-way monitors. And how did the press release put it? “Fresh, room-filling, tonally even yet direct and compelling. A sound to surprise the casual listener whilst satisfying the most demanding audiophile.” If the Venere 1.5 could prove equal to its ambitions, I’d be thrilled. Off into the listening room.

To preview, I was impressed right off by one particular aspect. To stick with our Berlin idiom, soundstaging was absolut knorke. Flippin’ rad. The room-filling bit of propaganda was quite fitting. The music disconnected so completely and readily from the speakers that the room literally came alive. Take the Esbjörn Svensson Trio’s Strange Place for Snow. “Serenade For The Renegade“ is a chilled-out number that kicks off with sparse piano chords to which are added a somewhat scratchy cello and minimalist percussion. Later we cross paths with various noise producers like a rainmaker and cymbal trills before at the very end sundry electronic effects contribute from left field. From the first sounds the Venere 1.5 drew out a tangible concert grand feathered out broadly from left (low register) to right (short strings) with no semblance of originating from the transducers. The brief but brisk brushed snare appeared millimetre-precise at half right, the cello central somewhat in the background.

The concert grand sounded fantastic. I wanted to bathe in its natural richness which surely wasn’t to the sole credit of Sonus faber but also the tone meister and sound engineers in the recording studio. String resonance was audible as were the strangely dull harmonics created when a clef is hit with a partially enabled sustain pedal. When the first rainmaker effect whooshed through the panorama left to right, I felt nearly startled by how real it occurred in my room.

And you know what? I’d only meant to sample one or two tracks but ended up listening to the entire CD beginning to end. Why? I think it had to do with the absolute relaxation these speakers exuded. They completely removed themselves to leave just the music. Good preconditions to try out some orchestral fare. Antonin Bruckner’s 8th Symphony spreads over four movements whose second and third are exercises in high contrast. The former begins as a Scherzo, Allegro moderato with fiery sharp brass attacks whilst the latter (Adagio, “feierlich langsam doch nicht schleppend") contains some of the most achingly beautiful moments in all of classical literature. Think extremely gentle softly melting strings of Janus-headed chords morphing from major to minor and at the most kitsch juncture Bruckner even throws in a harp arpeggio. Time to swoon…

… and in high style over the Venere 1.5. Here too after very few bars, the virtual stage was already clearly established and mapped out to think one could walk it blind. Of note wasn’t merely the believable width but the surprising height. The first violins and even brasses clearly extended past the speakers’ top edges. Perhaps their sloping tops conspired for this effect? Remarkable too was how fleetfootedly the Venere 1.5 presented edgy brass attacks and guttural tympani hits. One wouldn’t have thought compact speaker at all. This effect was obviously bought with a small upper-bass emphasis but more on tonality anon. For now the fact suffices that in matters of bass and room volumes I didn’t feel forced to look for reinforcement. Au contraire. Due to the slot-loaded frontal ports the bass was highly precise and articulate as though room involvement had been strategically diminished.