between two speakers
very much enjoy reading your reviews. Ive gotten the itch to upgrade my current
Sonus faber Grand Piano Domus floorstanding speakers, which I purchased new in 2009. I
have narrowed my choice to the Wilson Audio Sabrina and Sonus faber Olympica III. Your April 2016 review of the Sabrina was extremely helpful. I noted
that your colleague Dennis Davis reviewed of the Olympica IIIs.
Although I live in New York, there isnt a retailer that has both models in their
showrooms. I actually have to travel a fair distance between two different retailers such
that it makes comparing the speakers difficult. Its hard to remember exactly how
each sounds when theyre not both in the same room.
was wondering if you could help add some perspective on how these speakers stack up to
each other and whether one comes out on top in terms of sound quality in your view. Given
the cost of each speaker, I want to be extra careful in my selection process.
question highlights an issue with auditioning audio equipment (and reviewing it): whether
results in different systems travel -- tell you definitively which of two products is
better. I'm afraid I can't help you with that regarding these two speakers. As you point
out, TAB reviewed both the Wilson Sabrina and Sonus faber Olympica III, but
neither writer has heard both speakers in his system. We both have heard the two speakers,
but for one of them it would be at a show, so once again the situations weren't equal.
you already own Sonus faber speakers, the Olympica IIIs may be a safer choice, because you
already admire the brand's sound. However, I can say that the Wilson Sabrina is a very
special speaker -- even within the Wilson product line. Its extreme coherence, its sense
of sounding like a single driver, is very alluring, and while the Sabrina is Wilson
Audio's smallest floorstanding speaker, it doesn't sound small or quaint, delivering the
bass power and dynamics for which Wilson speakers are known and casting full-sized images.
It is a standout choice in the $15,000/pair price range; in fact, I would say that it will
compete with -- and better -- many speakers that cost twice as much. I don't know of
another small floorstanding speaker like it. -Marc Mickelson
Acoustics and Rockport
you spent any time with FM Acoustics? The other day, I was at a loose end and spent some
time reading about Mr. Hubers products. The whole product line seems to be cloaked
in secret this and that. His top-of-the-line line stage houses a Linearizer
and Acoustic Resonance Control" -- consisting of about ten buttons. Strange how
this all flies in the face of the notion of a straight wire with gain that
some (many?) manufacturers espouse.
is this a lot of voodoo or . . . ? I guess I find myself feeling a bit incredulous, given
the prices of the FM acoustics stuff and given that there are virtually no reviews and the
products are all largely concealed from inspection.
I was planning on talking to Andy Payor about some speakers today, but just got too busy.
What do you think of his new Lyra loudspeaker? At first glance it looks like a much more
elegant solution for using aluminum than that used by Magico, with their myriad nuts and
bolts and tensioning rods. Im curious, though, about the viscoelastic polymer that
is bonding the two aluminum cabinet members together. Viscosity and elasticity -- any idea
of the life-span of this kind of material? I wonder if, over time, the stuff will sag.
the old FM question.
cant explain how FM Acoustics arrive at their designs, their prices or their overall
philosophy. Nor can I explain why their systems sound so darned good -- and they do. The
only unit Ive had deep personal experience with was the FM 222 phono stage and it
left me seriously impressed -- in terms of sonics as well as sticker shock. Yet Manny
Huber can always be relied on to make great music and put on a great show.
well remember my first contact with him (I use the term advisedly). Wandering the
corridors at my first-ever Frankfurt show (the predecessor of High End in Munich) I
chanced upon the FM Acoustics room, wherein Manny was in full flow. Waiting for some
music, I stooped to flick through the stack of records and third up found something
Id been seeking for years -- and fifth, sixth, eighth -- and so on. This wasnt
just a stack of pure gold -- it was the mother lode! Intrigued, I sat and listened -- and
enjoyed, marveled and stayed to chat with the impresario. How I asked,
can you risk these records at a show?
responds Manny, "I have very a strict rule. And then, without missing a beat,
I only bring records to a show if I have at least two duplicates.
is the weirdly parallel universe in which FM Acoustics exists and from which its equipment
arrives. I cant even start to justify (or understand) the cost of this equipment or
the thinking behind it, but I can only admire the results -- a conclusion which in its own
way leads straight to your second question.
cabinets have received a lot of attention recently, a lot of it unquestioningly
uncritical. As is always the case in audio, its not what you use but how you use it
that matters -- and too much aluminum alloy gets expended without any serious engineering
thought applied to the problem. Simply bolting chunks of metal together isnt just a
bad way to build a speaker cabinet; its not even a particularly good place to start,
unless, like Stenheim, you have some serious damping technology up your sleeve.
look at the Rockport approach: not only is it unquestionably ambitious, its elegant,
well thought out and (importantly) its a natural extension of Rockports
existing, proven approach that actually uses the stiffness and energy transfer of aluminum
to advantage, while dealing comprehensively with its tendency to ring. Would I have any
qualms about the polymers employed? No, because Rockport have been using them for years
and their behavior is well established. This is genuine engineering -- not just brute
force -- and the end results are as visually elegant as they are physically impressive. I
havent played with (or even heard) the Lyra, but Ive recently spent
considerable time with several of Andy Payors designs and they left me with
considerable respect for his thinking and execution. -Roy Gregory
add me . . . "
add me to your list of upcoming articles. Thanks.
be added to TAB's reader list and find out about new articles first, send e-mail
to firstname.lastname@example.org. -Marc