Sonus faber Liuto Review Columbia SC
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Sonus faber Liuto Review
February 15, 2010 By Steve Guttenberg
Sonus faber may be a small Italian speaker company, but you can literally see its influence in the curvy look of various B&W, KEF, Magico, Tannoy, Wharfedale and countless other speakers.
Thanks to Sonus faber, the box is out and round is in.
Franco Serblin founded Sonus faber in 1983 to build speakers that played music instead of merely reproducing it. The company has recently brought in a new designer, Paolo Tezzon, and the Liuto is the first of his designs I've sampled.
Tezzon's definitely on the right track. The Liuto's sound is at once very different and is still very Sonus faber. The Liuto's tweeter is something of a departure for the company. Over the past decade or so most of their speakers have used "ring radiator" tweeters. Tezzon's 1-inch fabric dome tweeter is more conventional in design, but its sound, all the way up to a claimed 25 kilohertz, is excellent. This is one high-resolution tweeter that'll never hurt your ears.
The midrange driver is unique. It features a woven, thermo-molded polypropylene cone, which is something I've never seen or heard before. Sure, plain vanilla molded polypropylene cones have rightly gone out of favor, mostly because they had a rather noticeable hollow, "plastic" coloration. Yet Tezzon's woven, thermo-treated polypropylene cone sounds smooth, detailed and lifelike.
The 9-inch aluminum/magnesium alloy woofer sports a "coaxial anti-compressor phase plug." This machined aluminum device was designed to reduce cavity resonances that build up behind the woofer. That makes sense—think of a woofer as a pump that moves a lot of air—and pressure build-up directly behind the woofer would interfere with the woofer's movements. Not on the Liuto's woofer, though. Similar devices have been used on Sonus faber's higher end speakers for years.
All three drivers are made in Denmark and built to Tezzon's exacting specifications.
Looking straight down on the top of the Liuto's cabinet you can't help but notice its curves mimic those of a classical lute (liuto is the Italian word for lute). The shape has graced a number of Sonus faber speakers, but instead of the company's traditional solid-wood cabinets, the Liuto's is milled, medium-density fiberboard. Its high-gloss, black-lacquered flanks are of more than cosmetic interest; its rounded sides minimize the speaker's resonance. Inside, strategically placed structural ribs further quell cabinet resonance, because unlike musical instruments, the best speaker cabinets are acoustically dead cabinets. They let the tweeter, midrange and woofer "speak" for themselves.
The Liuto's front baffle is covered in buttery soft faux leather, and again the goals were functional and aesthetic. The leather connotes pure Italian style and also serves as a gasket material to seal the driver frames to the cabinet.