Sonus faber Serafino Tradition loudspeaker Page 2

Life is made all the more fun by the Serafino's excellent, lens-like midband, highly focused and detailed yet delicate. It doesn't assault the listener with midrange detail, rather it dissolves and lets the recording speak for itself. This classic '80s Trevor Horn production sounded really pacy, and with a lovely lustre and sparkle to the proceedings. Swap to more modern electro from Gorillaz' 'Clint Eastwood' [from G Sides; Parlophone TOCP-65932] and the same attributes shine through. This recording is dramatically different, instantly showing how dated the previous one is, yet the Serafino works the same magic. It lets the listener right into the mix, where he or she can delight in what's going on with heady abandon. The infectious way that it handles rhythms, down to its great transient speed, makes it all the more seductive – as does the great thump from the bass drivers when, and only when, it is called for. So the Serafino is something of a gentle giant for despite being 'big boned', it's supple and agile too.

The midband isn't just excellent in two dimensions; this loudspeaker images extremely well in three! Grant Green's 'Ease Back' [from Carryin' On; Blue Note CDP 7243 8 31247 2 5] is a beautiful slice of late '60s jazz, with strong funk overtones. All Blue Note releases from that period seem to have superb stereo soundstages, and this is no exception.

Like Being There
Through the Serafino it was writ large in the air of the listening room, seemingly escaping through its boundary walls. The great midband focus really helped here, locating instruments accurately in space. The music sounded wonderfully vibrant, funky and full sized – the recorded acoustic was really well carried. Even at lowish volumes, the Serafino conjured up a really believable sense of being there at the time of the recording, immersing you in the atmosphere of a great musical event. Aside from the quality of its drive units and the relative 'silence' of its cabinet, I think the tweeter's open, extended and spacious sound really helped out in this instance.

This loudspeaker's true quality is most apparent with classical music. The opening movement of Mahler's Symphony No 9 [LSO/Valery Gergiev; LSO Live LSO0730] showed the Serafino's sublimely textured string sound playing with vibrant woodwind and brass. Most striking of all, though, was the marvellously three-dimensional recorded acoustic and pinpoint imaging. All this time, the music was lilting and melodic, yet could really jump up and bite you with its dynamic power. Only when you put it up against the very finest speakers can criticism be levelled at the Serafino, and even here designs that do better in one respect may be inferior in others.


So, with 4hero's 'Give In' [from Play With The Changes; Raw Canvas Records RCRCD02] I did find the tweeter sounding just a little 'tinselly' – just failing to achieve that ultra-quiet, fade back-into-nothingness sort of sound that you get, for example, from a top ribbon design. And yet the better the recording, the more this loudspeaker rises to the occasion. And partnered with the finest ancillaries it is capable of spectacular results.

That Nth Degree
It's the last few percent of the recording that it captures so well. Lesser speakers may give a good account of this, yet the Serafino Tradition goes right in and gets the last nth degree of detail out. At the same time, it keeps the music lilting and melodic – so I loved the superb string timbres and tone (always a Sonus faber speciality) in the Mahler, the delightful handling of the flute trills and the great sense of all component parts of the orchestra playing together in the Barbican Hall in 2011.

There's so much right with this speaker that is almost churlish to complain, and if you want a really capable big box that covers all the bases, there's little to compare.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Considering its price, Sonus faber's new Serafino should be a superlative loudspeaker, and so it proves. It's not absolutely distinguished in any one area, yet is so impressive across such a wide range of performance parameters that it makes an unbeatable case for itself, and against price rivals. This realistically-sized floorstander has huge panache and a quality of build and finish that puts many to shame. What's not to like?

Sonus faber SpA (Fine Sounds Group)
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
0208 971 3909