Since its acquisition by Fine Sounds, Sonus Faber faced something of a conundrum. Its higher end models, like the Homage series, retained – and in some cases, improved upon – the sumptuous finish and refined sound quality that was always a function of the brand, but the lower end has to deal with new buyers coming to the brand, and their demands have changed significantly in recent years. Sadly, at that end, the days of wood and leather are coming to a close.
Although also available in a walnut finish and a gloss black, the white lacquer finish on the review pair of Sonus Faber Venere 2.0 standmounts would have been unthinkable a decade ago. But far from cheapening the brand, this is proving a popular choice among new generation music lovers. In fact, a lot of the old design cues are gone (it’s not a rectangular box wrapped in bits of tree, and the top-plate slopes down toward the listener, thereby making the loudspeaker neither a plant-pot holder nor a lookout tower for a cat) and – in part because these design elements are not simply there for show – the speaker’s are all the better for that.
As has been long-held at Sonus Faber, the Venere follows the lyre shaped body type, with the cabinet expanding out at the sides and then tapering off to the rear, to help eliminate internal standing waves from parallel cabinet walls. But recently, to help minimise the problem still further, the top plate of the cabinet has been raised fairly significantly. To make this look less like either a bishop’s mitre (or a ski jump), the Venere 2.0 is backtilted slightly on the custom stands (more on these later).
The larger of two standmounts in the Venere range, the 2.0 is, as the name suggests, a two-way design, with a letter-box port at the front and bi-wire terminals at the rear. The company doesn’t make its own drive units, but ‘specs’ units to its requirements from drive unit manufacturers of repute; this means Sonus Faber can take advantage of the skills of the driver maker, while getting a 29mm soft dome tweeter and 180mm composite polyproplyene ‘Curv’ cone woofer. The DKM-derived tweeter sits in a very deep oval horn, but this oval is wider top and bottom, yet again to allow better dispersion when slightly back-tilted. The product development follows an increasingly common trend of starting on the computer and ending in the listening room, but Sonus Faber takes this common concept a stage further to ensure the productson the production line receive a degree of fine tuned listening to ensure they are both consistent and consistently good. Not that there’s much to tweak; just a simple first-order crossover.
In short, the Venere project is the result of a team effort, distinct from the lone designer or the giant corporate plans of a committee design from a huge company. The result is a lot of loudspeaker in a relatively inexpensive box, and that is only possible through the medium of audio’s most oft-repeated mantra today; designed in Europe, made in China. The Venere range – like so many products today – is built in a Chinese factory using SFtrained staff, in a manner not dissimilar to the training method used by B&W – engineers are flown to the original factory in Italy, trained up on the company’s top lines and when shown to have the skill set needed to make good speakers the Sonus way, they return to China in order to build us excellent loudspeakers at relatively reasonable prices.