Sonus Faber Serafino G2 Speakers REVIEW
This is a review written by Terry Ellis August 2023.
For my video review please see my YouTube channel link here
The new Sonus Faber Serafino G2 speakers are an interesting mixture of new and old where a company takes their heritage speakers from three decades ago and brings them right up to date with all their latest thinking and technology. Crucially they retain the key parts of what made the original speakers so special. The result, I think, is something really special because not only are there are some vintage easy listening sonic characteristics but with a higher quality level more befitting modern day audiophile expectations with a stunning and unmistakable Sonus Faber styling.
There may be some of you who prefer a different aesthetic, but from the front, side, top and even from the back these are superb looking speakers. It is, perhaps, a shame that when you are sitting down and listening to them, you don’t get to appreciate their amazing curved shape and, being vertically challenged I rarely got to appreciate the lovely top profile including the SF logo. It was only shooting the video for the video review I got to take a proper look at the Serafino from various interesting angles and they definitely have the wow factor.
When they arrived, I put them in the usual marked position in my room, spent about five minutes tweaking toe in and I haven’t needed to touch them since. This reflects their easy to set up and unfussy nature, to a point. Don’t let these comment fool you because the Serafino are speakers I would call ‘politely brutally honest’ which I’ll get into later.
The finish on the cabinet is amazing. There are nine layers of natural wood matched according to the grain, that are hand-painted with nine coats of lacquer and finish colour. This is crazy when you think about the size of a company like Sonus Faber still doing a lot of finishing by hand but I like it a lot. There is also a lot of aluminium used in the speaker a lot of it you can’t see due to the speaker having an aluminium exoskeleton, another wow.
The Serafino is a 3.5 or three and a half way design. They are 4 ohms with a 90db sensitivity and so relatively easy to drive. They have dual 180mm or 7-inch bass drivers, with a 150mm or 6-inch mid-range, and 28mm or 1-inch tweeter. They are rated up to 300 watts which is pretty crazy as with a big McIntosh amplifier I also had here I didn’t get much above 40 watts on the VU meters playing bonkers loud. Each speaker weighs in at a seriously heavy 48.5kg.
One very cool thing I was given as part of the review is what I called a “box of goodies,”a selection of the parts that make up the Serafino presented very nicely. I am sure it’s meant for dealers to show customers where their hard earned money is going but it mean’t, if you watch the accompanying video, here, I can show you the speakers parts in much more detail.
Let’s start with the tweeter, which is the famous D.A.D. tweeter employing a soft dome, but with the addition of clever technology to stop the tweeter rolling off too early, I assume to keep the high frequency energy there. Sonus Faber have tried to get the benefits of the sweetness of treble of a soft dome whilst retaining sparkle and very high frequency details information. I have listened to several more affordable Sonus Faber speakers and their D.A.D. tweeters haven’t always been my favourite, but I have to say this itteration of the design made much more sense to me because it provides delicate easy listening with sparkle and its never strident.
Next is the mid-range driver which is a doped paper cone with an improved phase plug for better behaviour higher up in its frequency range into the crossover region. This is important for how the crossover needs to be designed and, I assume, how it can be simplified. It’s a heavy and substantial driver for mid-range duties and what is interesting is the use of Intona technology. The speaker’s designer Livio Cucuzza explained the intent of this technolofgy to me recently at the Munich High End Show – you can see this in my video here
Livio explained to me about about the new £50k Stradivari speakers, they use the same technology as used in the Serafino costing not even half that. If I have understood it correctly, it’s the use of a dual rear chamber system for the mid-range driver. Normally as pressure builds up in the first chamber, around the driver’s resonant frequency, this would normally affect the impedance of the driver but, with the Intona technology the pressure is released into the second chamber so that the mid-range driver’s impedance is more consistent, again allowing for a simpler crossover and a cleaner, clearer mid-range.
I have been hugely impressed with the vocal delivery of these speakers as it’s a fantastic mix of tight focus, relaxed but still detailed, with a strong tonal quality and it has the ability to pull you through the speakers to the vocals rather than hammer you with them. Even big female belters like Lady Blackbird you feel you are looking at a performance happening in front of you from a few rows back rather than being very front row, edge of your seat.
For the bass drivers, in the goodies box was a half cut out of the driver cone material, its paper on both sides, with a foam centre. The Serafino G2 is supposed to have a new motor system for improved bass performance and its also a weight balanced design to stop any additional vibrations from the driver’s mechanical motion reacting with the cabinet adding any vibration to it.
There are two other things which affect the bass. Firstly, on the rear is what’s called Stealth Ultraflex, this is an aluminium shaped and styled grille that acts as an extension to the rear ports to better control the airflow out of the back of the speaker. Looking very closely at it you can see a lot of intricate detail in the metal work and assume this is for performance reasons as much as the aesthetics but its very nice either way. The second thing that affects the bass is, excuse the pun, the base and spike system. I started with the Serafino sitting on my carpet floor to make positioning them easier, and they sounded very good. Interestingly they sounded significantly better once installed on to their spikes, the bass was noticeably tighter and better controlled.
Whilst talking about the speakers’ bass performance I was extremely impressive with how tight and controlled their bass delivery is. Using the right amplifier, they sounded full and punchy. Using another amplifier, their bass was smooth, controlled and authoritative, with very good scale, like having a small subwoofer in the system. The bass quality overall is excellent, totally transparent and with a pleasingly rounded bouncy character that stands out to me and I really liked. For me, the output was excellent, very satisfying but not too much, probably by design so owners can use them closer to walls or in a smaller rooms. I assume the bigger-brother Amati speakers are designed for bigger rooms with positioning well away from the walls, purely a guess at this point.
I have already mentioned a few stand-out sonic characteristics, but for me the big one for the Serafino is I think they have been designed to give you a very impressive audiophile soundstage. You can see through the speakers on to the music with the vocals being the star, set beyond the speakers in a very three-dimensional holographic way. It doesn’t matter if the vocals are modern screechy female or older classic male baritone, voices have great clarity and a quality of tone or organic character as I referred to earlier with a politely brutally honest character that’s really quite different to just brutally honest!
The timing of the Serafinos is exquisite because they combine a very fast sound, which provides all the musical details, with smoothness and grace. You neither feel beaten-up by the music nor short-changed by it either and that is across the whole frequency range.
Another major stand-out characteristic is the Serafinos’ ability to be ruthlessly transparent to the HiFi system, without ever being ruthless to the music. They tell you everything about the system for good and for bad, but they also seem to bring out the best from your gear as well. I have listened to these speakers a lot in the weeks they have been here and I have not had one bad or disappointing listening session with them. Some sessions have been noticeably better than others, I have been ringing the system changes, but even the worst listening sessions were still of an excellent quality and very enjoyable meaning that every listening session was hard to finish.
I am acutely aware that I don’t think I was able to max out what the Serafino can do with the gear I had access to in my small-ish listening room. I think the Serafino were only ever coasting and maybe could offer even more realism with a better system driving them. They delivered music with great effortlessness, but I do think there is more in their tank, not bad when I have already heard great sound from them.
If I am to nit-pick here for any weakness or shortcomings it could be in the dynamics. I think the Serafino are designed for a smooth controlled listen-all-day-to-any-music sound and, as a result, they don’t have the turbo button to really let loose for some explosive dynamics. I think other speakers can give you a more raw sound that some might see as a more “live” sound. Music did not have the same dynamic lively edge to it as I had experienced from the Bowers & Wilkins 803 D4 and Chord Ultima pairing I had in here a few months ago for review. Bear in mind I am going from audio memory here and the Serafino may have been more dynamic powered from the Chord Ultima amplification given their honesty to the system. Also, the Gryphon EOS 2 I had here over the Christmas period last year certainly had more top end bite fromt their beryllium tweeter compared to the DAD soft dome, again going from memory and with a different amplifier again, although another McIntosh.
I think its worth noting that both of these other speakers felt more demanding of me for getting the set-up just right and the HiFi system quality was exposed in a more brutal fashion than with the Serafino. That is another of their stand-out qualities. Yes, you are going to need a great HiFi to hear the Serafinos at their best, but I was still getting great results from them with an Audiolab 9000a costing 1/10th of their price. They certainly take care of the incoming music signal and treat it kindly.
The Serafino G2’s technology, sound, and beauty do not come cheap, they cost £22,000 and that is a lot of money for HiFi speakers. There are a lot of speakers that cost a similar amount such as the Gryphon EOS 2 and the Bowers 803 D4 and for this kind of money you would only get much smaller speakers offerings from Wilson Audio and YG Acoustics, its worth noting.
Why would you choose the Serafino? Of course for their looks, they are beautiful speakers. They are very obviously Sonus Faber from their shape their angles and the fact they are real-world sized I think they could easily be used in a normal UK sized room, even a smaller room like mine. Sonically they deliver in all areas, with no real weakness that I can think of for their intended sound profile, which is definitely warmer than the bowers 803 and smoother than the Gryphon EOS 2. They are more vintage sounding than both of those very modern sounding speakers.
This has been a review I haven’t wanted to end. I have had a really good time with these speakers, and I have no doubt you would too.
An Essential Audition Award is granted in recognition of a products high performance but with a certain uniqueness that makes auditioning even more essential.
For the full specification of the Sonus Faber Serafino speakers please see their website linked here