When covering events like High End, we hardly ever include products that are being displayed away from the show itself. It takes too much time to visit offsite exhibits, which means we’d shortchange the event we’re supposed to be covering.
This year, we made an exception so that we could cover the new Sonus Faber Stradivari G2 loudspeaker—for two reasons. First, the Stradivari G2 was being shown at a downtown venue not far from our hotel, so Jason and I could stop by on the way to the Munich MOC without wasting precious time. Second, the Stradivari G2 is a reboot of the company’s original Stradivari, which was released in 2003. The G2 is being released in 2023 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original Stradivari, and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sonus Faber’s founding in 1983. In a nutshell, the Stradivari G2 is an important speaker that we knew our readers should know about—and it was easy for us to get to the launch event.
The hallmarks of the original Stradivari are apparent in the new G2 model. Like the original, the G2 has a superwide cabinet that’s also quite shallow. The string grilles are there, as are the four drivers on the front baffle. Thankfully, that’s where the similarities end. I say thankfully because I attended a demonstration of the original Stradivaris about 15 years ago. They looked cool but sounded awful: dark and muffled in the midrange, muted in the highs, and with lethargic, muddy bass. Some people at that presentation thought they sounded great, but they didn’t sway my opinion.
While the G2 has many hallmarks of the old model, it has been re-engineered from the ground up, with all new parts, a new crossover topology, and an updated industrial design that better reflects the current Sonus Faber aesthetic, which comes courtesy of industrial designer Livio Cucuzza. But the Stradivari G2 still captures the history of the brand.
From top to bottom of the front baffle are a 28mm (1.1″) DAD Arrow Point tweeter, a 150mm (5.9″) midrange, and two 260mm (10.25″) woofers—all of them bespoke Sonus Faber drivers. It’s a 3.5-way configuration, with the tweeter crossing over to the midrange at 2.2kHz and the midrange crossing over to the topmost woofer at 220Hz. The lower woofer operates below 160Hz only. The crossover is visible through a small, vertical window on the lower rear, near the binding posts and bass-output jumpers. The speaker is ported from the bottom with what Sonus Faber calls a Stealth Ultraflex venting system. The Stradivari has a high claimed sensitivity of 92dB (2.83V/m) but low-ish impedance of 4 ohms, so you’ll want a fairly stout amp to drive a pair. Big McIntosh amps were used in Munich, which is appropriate because McIntosh and Sonus Faber are sister brands, and because you want that kind of beef behind the speakers.
To my eyes, the G2’s tall, wide, and shallow profile is a welcome departure from the tall, slender, and deep cabinets we typically see today. Its all-wood cabinet is stunningly detailed, with a look that could be achieved only in Italy. No one does wood like the Italians—and no one does wood speakers like Sonus Faber. Three finishes are available: Wenge (dark brown), Graphite (dark gray), and Red (warm cherry), all of them with dramatic woodgrain that slants upward from the center to the edges on the front of the speaker, and downward on the back panel. Cucuzza and I agreed that Red was our favorite finish. That’s what he’s chosen for his personal set of Stradivaris, and what I’d choose if I could afford these speakers.
Which brings me to the price: the Stradivari G2 sells for €50,000 per pair. That’s obviously not cheap, but if you ask me, it’s a steal based on the look and build quality alone. Even though I tried to take good pictures, I can tell you that no photograph can do this speaker justice—it’s much better looking in person than my photos show. I told Cucuzza that the new Stradivari might have supplanted what I’d previously considered the most beautiful speaker ever made: a now-discontinued version of Sonus Faber’s Lilium, with a creamy white front baffle and light-colored wood on the sides.
The first 120 pairs of the Stradivari G2 will have individually numbered plates, sort of like a limited-edition artwork. But the G2 is not a limited-edition product. Sonus Faber will continue to sell the new Stradivari at the same price, but only the first 120 pairs will have that commemorative plate.
As Sonus Faber’s demonstration confirmed, the sound should entice too. The Stradivari G2s delivered clear midrange, sparkly highs, and awesomely powerful, tight bass—nothing like the original, which, if you ask me, is a good thing. Jason Thorpe listened longer and more intently than I did, and from a better vantage point. I was more focused on getting pictures. If you want to know more about the Stradivari G2, read Jason’s article when it comes online. I’m glad we attended this event. The Stradivari G2 is a rare product worth going offsite for.