The last speaker I remember with the name Sara was made by Linn in the 1980s, and you don’t come across them very often any more. But it seems that Finnish speaker maker Sami Penttilä of Penaudio has been using the name for a while and has two Sara’s in the his company’s range; the Sara S and the slightly bigger Sara Signature. Sami likes Italian food and Italian cars (the faster examples, rather than Fiats), but he prefers his speakers to be made of laminated wood with a more Nordic styling angle.
The laminated construction has long been a signature of Penaudio’s designs, and it allows the loudspeakers to stand out in the sea of very similar models on the market. Sami says that he chose the material not simply for its looks, but because by laminating different materials, you end up with a cabinet that has a more even, less spiky resonant character. The Penaudio cabinets are built with differing thicknesses of birch plywood as well as MDF and real wood veneer to achieve this end.
If what I hear about sourcing plywood is anything to go by, it must be difficult to find material that has a good enough internal consistency for this approach. Any variations in laminate quality, gaps, or knots tend to show up when when you cut through the sheet, but I guess if you made a list of countries that can produce high-quality timber products, Finland would be at the top of the, er, tree. Penaudio uses Finnish ply, but builds the speakers in Latvia where labour costs are presumably more affordable.
The Sara S is a metre high, two-and-a-half-way design, which sits on a plinth that Penaudio builds into the cabinet, so there’s no need to bolt it on yourself as is often the case. The plinth leaves an attractive shadow gap under the speaker cabinet itself, and gives what is a fairly narrow structure a wider base for stability. The Sara S sports a pair of SEAS magnesium cone drivers with a 300Hz crossover point, the lower unit being dedicated to bass and the upper one covering bass and midrange. These drivers have copper rings above and below a T‑shaped pole piece, in order to reduce non linear and modulation distortion, and they sport a distinctive copper phase plug, too. The tweeter is larger than usual at 30mm and is made by Wavecor. It covers the range from 4kHz up to 28kHz, but cannot be directly driven as Penaudio has elected to use a single pair of high-grade WBT cable terminals.