Sonus Faber Fenice Speaker

The Italian high-end bastion Sonus Faber is well known among audiophiles for its superb speakers. Just over a month ago, the company introduced its latest creation—the Fenice—at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

The driver complement and configuration is somewhat more complicated than found in many speakers. On the front face, the highs are handled by a 1-inch ring-radiator tweeter that is visco-elastically decoupled from the main baffle, and it sits in front of natural-wood acoustic-labyrinth chamber with a mechanical anti-resonator. The midrange driver is a 6.5-inch cellulose pulp/papyrus cone that, like the tweeter, is decoupled from the main baffle.

Also on the front face are two 10-inch woofers, whose cones consist of high-tech syntactic foam sandwiched between layers of coated-cellulose pulp, giving them the same character as the midrange driver. Bringing up the bottom is a side-firing 15-inch subwoofer with a similar sandwich construction, except in this case, the outer layers are a nano carbon-fiber material. Two low-frequency reflex ports are treated with special material to fine tune them and reduce any port noise.

Two more drivers are positioned on the back of the speaker—a 1-inch ring-radiator tweeter and 4.5-inch, ported, paper-pulp/papyrus midrange driver—in a module called the Sound Field Shaper.

Adjusting the direction and output level of this module with controls on the back panel affords you some control over the direct/reverberant soundfield.

Many steps were taken to minimize vibrations in the cabinet. For example, it employs dual-curvature, cross-grained plywood with a double-thickness constriction layer. Also, the cabinet is decoupled form the floor through a patent-pending suspension system, and aluminum "vibration conveyors" on the top and bottom of the enclosure "collect" vibrations from the cabinet walls and drivers—somewhat like a parabolic antenna collects radio waves—and transmits them to a "mass damper" that cancels structural resonances by vibrating out of phase.

The result of all this innovation is a frequency response from 20Hz to 35kHz and a sensitivity of 92dB/W/m. And the cost? The press release says "over 140,000 euros" per pair ($186,000 as of this writing). Sonus Faber has decided to make only 30 pairs of the Fenice, so order yours now to avoid disappointment!

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