The past is a wonderful place, a rose-tinted land where nothing bad ever happened and all hi-fi sounded wonderful. In fact, viewing past products with modern-day eyes can be an alarming reality-check, because many of those ‘wonderful sounding’ products fail to live up to their reputations. However, one of the ‘sort-of’ exceptions is the Sonus faber Electa Amator line. A core part of Sonus faber’s original DNA, models like the Electa Amator II of 1987 made a sound that enticed in a cabinet that enthralled and helped cement Sonus faber’s reputation among its many fans and followers.
Those days – sadly along with Sonus faber’s original owner and designer, Franco Serblin, who died in 2013 – are gone. But Sonus faber lives on, and to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2018, the brand announced its new Heritage collection, thus far comprising two models; the Minima Amator II and the Electa Amator III tested here. Both are two-way stand-mount loudspeakers that echo much of the design, technology, and sound of classic Sonus faber speakers of old.
However, simply preserving the 1980s and 1990s in aspic and producing what would be effectively clones of past masterpieces would be wholly wrong. Music and design (both industrial design and what’s possible from a loudspeaker) have moved on, and to copy slavishly the past risks damaging both the present and past reputation. So, instead Sonus faber took the longer route, making a product that pays tribute to that past without pastiche, and bringing it up to date without undermining the core values of what Sonus faber stood for then, and stands for now. In other words, a complete re-evaluation from first principles.
If anything, this is one of the hardest tasks of their careers for both Sonus faber’s Chief Design Officer Livio Cucuzza and R&D Manager Paolo Tezzon. The brand now has several key lines, from value-driven models to high-performance, cost-no-object designs, and many of these products are regularly refreshed and revised. This is different. The Electa Amator – alongside the Extrema – is to many the Platonic Form of a Sonus faber loudspeaker, and unlike the Extrema, the Electa Amator was less demanding and expensive than the Extrema and therefore more widely known and experienced. Not only does it demand to be a stand-mount with a sumptuous finish of wood, leather, metal, and stone, but if you mess up a product that carries the Electa Amator name, it’s only one step removed from outright heresy among the cognoscenti. Fortunately, Cucuzza and Tezzon have good ‘form’ in terms of making great products (both visually and sonically) and they don’t put a foot wrong here.