It was only a couple issues ago that I reviewed the smallest member of Sonus faber’s newest series of entry-level loudspeakers, Venere. That particular compact, the $1199 Model 1.5, which I dubbed “tiny goddess,” might’ve been diminutive in stature but it spoke with such an authoritative and musical voice that it handily nabbed Product of the Year honors in the Affordable Loudspeaker category (Issue 229). So thoroughly taken was I with this suave two-way that I concluded my review with a cliffhanger—waiting in the wings was the Model 1.5’s floorstanding sibling, the Model 2.5.
The $2498 Model 2.5 is a 2.5-way speaker in a bass-reflex enclosure. A slotted, front-firing, foam port is positioned at the base of the baffle. As for drivers, the Model 2.5 retains the tweeter-in-waveguide soft dome of the Model 1.5 but departs from that monitor with a larger pair of 7" mid/bass transducers. The point five in the 2.5 designation indicates that one woofer rolls off acoustically (6dB per octave) around 250Hz while the other, designated the mid/woofer but otherwise identical, electrically crosses over to the tweeter at 2.5kHz.
If anything the Model 2.5 is even more architecturally graceful than the stand-mounted Model 1.5 and invites further comparisons to Sonus faber’s exquisite $120,000 Aida floorstander. It’s all about flowing lines, arched side panels, and a raked, time-aligned front baffle. Designed to avoid diffraction artifacts, the Model 2.5’s non-parallel surfaces not only increase structural rigidity but also reduce internal resonances. Graceful accents abound from the tempered glass floor plinth to the unequal-length footers that rest outboard of the cabinet to ensure stability. Familiar too is the “ducktail” top panel of tempered glass with the silver foil screen of Sf’s logo. Like the 1.5 the speaker terminals are rear-mounted and nicely offset from one another for easy access. They are doubled up for bi-wiring or bi-amping. The quick-release, magnetically attached grilles are a pleasure to use. Available finishes are a glossy arctic white or a hand-rubbed piano-black lacquer. Newly introduced at CES is a classic walnut finish—a look more in keeping with Sf tradition.
One thing is certain, the Model 2.5 will never be accused of being a wallflower or a stodgy foot-dragger. It’s dynamically lively and tonally well-balanced with a vivid midrange palette that permits music to emerge brimming with energy. Even if it overshoots the mark on occasion—a little dip in the presence range or a touch of added bloom in the bass—these are minor deductions in light of its overall performance.
While the Model 2.5 bears some striking similarities to the Model 1.5, in practice it’s an altogether different animal. The key distinction is the weightier tonal signature and midrange voicing that give music a firmer and more grounded presentation. In many ways the Model 2.5 shares a larger percentage of family sonic traits with the appealing, up-market Liuto. “Sheer abbondanza” was my description in Issue 199. As applied to the Model 2.5 it equates to a comparable low-frequency warmth-quotient and a genial earthiness below 100 cycles, plus an uncanny ability to reproduce all kinds of music from a precision chamber group to a thrashing metal band. It pressurizes a room, and drives dynamics more forcibly and with greater linearity than the compact Model 1.5, in fact than most typical compacts. The Model 2.5 is warmly effusive in character so that during the Vaughn-Williams Wasps Overture [Previn, LSO, RCA] it conveyed the orchestra’s lower strings and winds with rewarding heft and extension. String sections are tonally smooth, nicely delineated, yet appropriately powerful. Violins are pitched forward a bit more than they are with the Model 1.5, but this is mostly in keeping with the greater dynamic reserves the Model 2.5 possesses. Dynamically, transitions are nicely graduated—the sensations of strings and winds winding up in intensity and slowly softening during the finale of Wasps are elements that one hears in the live experience.
The track “Darkness” from Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas disc reveals a lively vocal presence, expressive and intimate but in no way aggressive. The female backing chorus is suitably ethereal and bewitching in a space well behind Cohen’s vocal. As for bass resolution, the 2.5 just seems to reach down and grab the deepest rumble of the electric bass in a way that only a floorstander with a spine is able to do.