To Doug Schneider,
I have read your really good review of the Sonus Faber Olympica IIIs and have a question about amplification. In the past, Sonus Faber speakers have been a bit warm/dark, but you say this model has changed that. Do you think tube amps are still too much of a good thing? I have Genesis M60 tube monoblocks, but was looking at a Coda 15.0 (class A to 100W).
I agree, Sonus Faber speakers of yesteryear had a very warm and dark sound. Frankly, I didn’t like them at all because they sounded way too unnatural to my ears. The new Sonus Faber models aren’t like that, with the Olympica III being a good example of their new approach of making far more neutral- and natural-sounding designs. But that is not to say it doesn’t have character -- the Olympica III has fullness in the bass, super-sweet highs, a slightly laidback character through the midrange. I really liked the sound of the Olympica IIIs that I reviewed, not to mention loved the way they looked in my room .
Still, I’d have concerns using tube amplification with a pair, but not because of adding warmth, but due to other factors. One thing I’d be worried with is having sufficient power. The Olympica III presents a nominal 4-ohm load. According to Genesis’s specs, the M60 monoblock is rated at 60W into 4 or 8 ohms. Oftentimes, 60W is sufficient for normal listening levels in an average-sized room; however, it doesn’t leave much headroom if you want to play music loud. On the other hand, the 15.0 is a solid-state stereo amp rated at 300Wpc into 4 ohms (150Wpc into 8 ohms), which will provide more than enough power for a pair of Olympica IIIs.
The other thing I’d be concerned about with any tube amp is how well it can control the drivers. In general, tube amps have a higher output impedance than solid-state amps. A higher output impedance means a lower damping factor. The lower the damping factor, the less control the amp has over drivers. I found that the Olympica III needs an amp that has really good control over its woofers. If not, it can sound a little loose and boomy in the bass. Will your M60s be up to the challenge? It’s hard to say unless you try them on a pair of Olympica IIIs. I believe that the Coda 15.0 will be fine, as would many other solid-state designs.
Without question, the odds are stacked against your M60s if used with the Olympica IIIs. Still, there is always a chance you’ll be happy with what you hear, so you probably will want to try them on a pair just to see what will happen. Thankfully, if they don’t perform well with the IIIs, the Coda 15.0 will. Now it’s up to you to decide what to do. . . . Doug Schneider