Let there be light! So suggests the promotional material from Italian loudspeaker brand Sonus faber on the introduction of its new entry-level Lumina series released last September. The three-strong range marks a new entry-level price point from the speaker specialist, which is best known in hi-fi circles for its handcrafted and sumptuous designs.
As with all its designs, the Lumina collection is handmade at its Vicenza-based factory. Looking to attract a wider audience, the range starts with the competitively-priced £799 Lumina I standmount and includes the floorstanding Lumina III at £1,999 and for home cinema setups there’s the Lumina Centre at £649. It’s the baby Lumina I that’s being reviewed here and I wouldn’t mind betting that the attention to detail lavished on this remarkably cute standmount at the price will have grabbed the attention of competitors everywhere.
Sonus faber is all about using high-quality materials and traditional craftsmanship in all of its loudspeaker designs. First impressions fresh out of the packing box suggest that this is just as visible in the Lumina I model and demonstrates that the entry speaker series remains true to the company’s high-quality production values.
So, what savings have been made to keep factory production costs down and the retail price so competitive? Firstly, the Lumina series cabinet shape is a conventional box with squared-off edges rather than the softer, more elegantly rounded cabinet edges I’m used to seeing on the maker’s more costly speaker designs. There’s no asymmetrical lute-shaped cabinet construction here – as displayed in many of the models moving up the Sonus faber range. Nevertheless, the multi-layered cabinet construction feels solid and nicely proportioned and the leather wrap (something of a brand trademark) is perfectly applied. Front baffle finishes come in wenge wood (main picture) and walnut wood veneer (both with maple inlays) as well as gloss black.
It’s impressive to see how Sonus faber has managed to echo its unmistakable style and quality build of models further up the range and bring these recognisable brand elements to a speaker collection at a very competitive price
As a compact standmount, the Lumina I measures 280 x 148 x 213mm (HxWxD). It’s a two-way driver configuration with a 29mm DAD (Damped Apex Dome) tweeter that uses the same silk diaphragm developed for the company’s Sonetto speaker series. This is partnered to a newly developed 120mm mid/bass driver that uses a cellulose cone material blended with other unspecified natural fibres. The tweeter appears to be set back a little inside the cabinet and this arrangement and surround is said to help improve dispersion and extend the high frequency range before roll off. The Lumina I claims to achieve a frequency range of 65Hz to 24kHz, which although the figures are unqualified is pretty impressive for such a compact design.
At the bottom of the font baffle there’s a slotted bass reflex port, which undoubtedly helps to assist the compact box in achieving its claimed 65Hz low frequency output. Its forward-firing placement should also help to make the cabinet less fussy about placement and proximity to rear walls. Speaker sensitivity is rated at 84dB and nominal impedance at 4ohms. At the back, two sets of robust nickel-plated terminals facilitate single and bi-wiring speaker connections via the removal of the two links.
The Lumina I is easily one of the best-looking compact loudspeakers I’ve seen in a very long time and the classy wenge wood cabinets quickly earn it pride of place either side of the TV screen, substituting a much less stylish pair of stereo speakers previously in situ. The chrome rings outlining the surrounds of the drivers are a very neat touch and it’s impressive to see how Sonus faber has managed to echo its unmistakable style and quality build of models further up the range and bring these recognisable brand elements to a speaker collection at a very competitive price.
If you have any understanding of the laws of physics then it’s very easy to make judgements on a hi-fi speaker’s bass output based on cabinet and driver size, but don’t let the cutesy dimensions of the Lumina I fool you into thinking that it can’t deliver a big sound. Okay, its bass output isn’t likely to shake out any loose plaster from my listening room ceiling, but it does deliver real-world bass depth greater than its size and specs might suggest.
Hooked up to Rega’s Brio integrated amplifier rated at 2x 50W power output into 8ohm (73W into 4) via a single wire pair of Chord Company’s Rumour 2 speaker cable, Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself to Dance sounds terrifically funky. As the Lumina I gets into the track’s groove, its bass output digs surprisingly low, delivering the incisive rhythm with enough energy to hold my attention and get my toes tapping.
Soundstage is good too with the speakers placed 2.5 meters apart and sat on top of a pair of solid wood X50 speaker stands supplied by Hi-Fi Racks (£298.27). I apply a slight toe-in so that the tweeters fire directly towards me when sat in my regular listening position and this also helps snap the stereo soundstage into focus and bring centrally-placed vocalists and instruments to the fore.
There’s a good sense of front to back depth, revealing the expansive venue acoustics on Nils Frahm’s Some. The lumina neatly highlights the delicacy of the piano playing and the tiny vibrations as the hammers hit the strings. This kind of intimate messaging continues with the brush strokes and sense of the recorded acoustic on Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club, delivering an excellent sense of the stereo soundstage with drums and cymbals placed left and right of the soundstage as the track plays out.
The Lumina I’s voicing is perfectly pitched. The DAD tweeter delivers superb clarity without ever straying into harshness and partnered with the new mid/bass cone the same Lana Del Rey track is effortlessly conveyed and hits the sweet spot showing off the beautiful vocal and pulling out the lovely backing vocal harmony and guitar. The tonal balance has a slight warmth perhaps but it always sounds natural and brings the Italian loudspeaker specialist’s house sound to an attractive price point.
The Lumina’s compact size and remarkably balanced voicing make it a strong solution for an AV setup. Placed either side of my TV screen and connected via QED XT-40 speaker cable to a Marantz SR7001 multi-channel amplifier that’s been configured for stereo only, TV dialogue is resoundingly clear and free from any sense of cabinet colouration or nasality. There’s no hint of harshness and there’s a clarity to speech broadcasts that makes the Lumina I entirely suited to this kind of installation. Music programmes on BBC 4, for example, really shine and my TV viewing has a more musical dimension with the Lumina I in situ.
After several weeks in the company of Sonus faber’s Lumina I standmount and listening in several different scenarios around my home, I was truly reluctant to see this pair of speakers return to their distributor. Compact enough to sit either side of a desktop and thoroughly engaging when it comes to delivering TV or movie sound, the Lumina I is a remarkably versatile and well considered compact speaker design. Most importantly though, the way it handles music is a real ray of light. As the monicker given to this new collection suggests, this little Lumina represents a bright introduction to the company’s luxurious design and house sound and is highly recommended at the price.
Type: 2-way standmount speaker
Dimensions: 280 x 148 x 213mm (HxWxD)
29mm DAD tweeter driver
120mm mid/bass paper cone driver
Quoted sensitivity: 84dB/1W/1m
Nominal impedance: 4ohms
Frequency range: 65Hz to 24kHz
Distributor: Fine Sounds UK