To Doug Schneider,
I am considering the purchase of floorstander speakers (my Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolutions, although eminently civilized, often sound too thin). You have reviewed three models that interest me: Sonus Faber Olympica III, Focal Sopra No2, and PSB Imagine T3.
The Sopra No2 I have auditioned at home and found a bit too harsh for my taste; the Olympica III I intend to audition soon. Unfortunately, the PSB Imagine T3, which I am very curious about given their whole concept, user opinions, and rave reviews, aren’t auditionable here and would imply a blind buy.
Would you be so kind as to comment on its relative merits vis-à-vis the Olympica (and, BTW, the Guarneri)?
Thank you for your time.
I’ve witnessed too many cases where someone buys something unheard and isn’t happy afterwards, so I always caution against it. As a result, I’m glad you were able to hear the Sopra No2 and that you plan to audition the Olympica III. In my opinion, if you like the Olympica III, just buy a pair and forget about the Imagine T3 if you can’t hear it. But if you don’t like the Olympica III and you’re still wondering about how it compares to the T3, I’ll give you some thoughts, though I’d still caution against buying based only on what I say, whether here or in the reviews. Remember, I loved the Sopra No2 when I reviewed it, but you found it too harsh sounding.
PSB’s Imagine T3 is probably the most neutral- and natural-sounding speaker Paul Barton has ever designed. It exhibits a very smooth- and even-sounding midrange, clean and extended highs, and extremely deep bass -- quite a bit deeper than the Synchrony One, which it replaced. Overall, it has such a balanced sound that some have criticized it for being a little bit boring sounding, since no part of the audioband sounds too forward or too relaxed or sticks out in any way. For those who value strict neutrality, they’ll likely love it because it really doesn’t have much of a sonic personality. However, for those who want a little bit of character, they might find the T3 lacking pizzazz that other speakers exhibit.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that Sonus Faber’s Olympica III is full of character, but it does have more character than the T3. Compared to the T3, the III’s midrange is smooth but subtly relaxed, which gives it a bit of laid-back sound; its highs are actually a little more prominent, yet always clean and sweet; and its bass is a little fuller, though it doesn’t go quite as deep and isn’t as tight. When I reviewed the Olympica III, its departures from strict neutrality were obvious, but I still loved the sound because it was so pleasing overall. Insofar as how Sonus Faber’s Guarneri Evolution compares, I can’t tell you, because I’ve never auditioned it critically. The only thing I will say is that the Imagine T3 and Olympica III don’t sound thin.
Broadly, that’s how I think the Imagine T3 and Olympica III compare; however, as I mentioned, don’t base a buying decision on what I just wrote. Whenever possible, try before you buy for long-term satisfaction. . . . Doug Schneider