Sonus faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker

More Than Skin Deep

Equipment report
Sonus faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker

For her debut compact disc Fantasy, violinist Tessa Lark had the good fortune to be recorded by veteran engineer/producer Judith Sherman. Several of the works on the CD are unaccompanied, including a pair of Telemann Fantasias and Lark’s own Appalachian Fantasy. The tonal shadings created by the soloist on her 1683 Stradivarius are reproduced with realistic immediacy through the Sonus faber speakers—bow grabbing string, the resonance of the instrument’s hollow body, minute changes in bow pressure, the room adding body to the sound issuing from the violin. String quartets, solo wind instruments, and keyboard recitals are enthralling, utterly believable in tone and timbre—these loudspeakers are a chamber music lover’s dream. And aficionados of great singing will find the most distinctive voice rendered with every ounce of its character intact.

There’s no smoothing over of shortcomings in a recording or remastering, I hasten to point out. The Nova IIIs will not make a silk purse of a sow’s ear. I have a 24-bit/88.2kHz file of Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits. Phony-sounding strings, a pedal steel that sounds like a primitive synthesizer, a lack of dimensionality, and an aggressive edge to Ronstadt’s vocals are heard in all their off-putting glory. I can imagine that other loudspeakers might be kinder to a recording like this. But is that what we’re after as audiophiles? Of course not.

For most people, $13,500 is a lot of money to spend on a pair of loudspeakers. But even a non-audiophile that examines the Nova IIIs may conclude that they’re worth the asking price, based strictly on aesthetics and the quality of their manufacture. When music is played, there could be a bona fide epiphany as well for that civilian, that there’s actually something to this peculiar hobby of ours. The Sonus faber Olympica Nova IIIs are beautiful, alright, but the beauty is way beyond skin deep.

Specs & Pricing

Type: Three-way, para-aperiodic vented box
Driver complement: One 28 mm (1.1") silk-dome tweeter, one 150 mm (6") cellulose/kapok/kenaf midrange, two 180 mm (7") cellulose/syntactic foam woofers
Frequency response: 35Hz-35kHz
Impedance: 4 ohms
Sensitivity: 90dB
Dimensions: 14.8" x 43.5" x 18.1"
Weight: 77.1 lbs. each
Price: $13,500

36057 Arcugnano (VI)
[email protected]

SUMIKO (North American Distributor)
6655 Wedgewood Road N Suite 115
Maple Grove, MN 55311-28