If it has not become obvious after 4 decades of award-winning engineering and industrial design, Italian manufacturer, Sonus faber doesn’t cut corners and there is both a cost and benefit to that.The wireless loudspeaker category has suffered through a decade of rather tepid and stale industrial design, but things are about to change. If you thought that Sonus faber’s Chief Design Officer, Livio Cucuzza and his team would release anything less than the Sonus faber Omnia – you don’t understand their commitment to both design and sound quality.
We were just in Italy last week for an exclusive look at the Sonus faber Premium Loudspeaker System for the Maserati Grecale SUV. Chris Boylan took the Italian system for a spin outside of Vicenza and you can watch his video review here.
If you are going to ask consumers to spend $1,995 USD on a wireless loudspeaker that will get labelled by some as a “lifestyle” product, it needs to deliver a very different kind of experience; both tactile and emotional.
It’s not enough to be just elegant or seductive; Sofia needs to deliver the sonic fireworks of Laura Pausini.
There needs to be genuine layers of substance beneath the fancy wood finish; the sausage and gravy mixed in with the Rigatoni needs to reduce one to silence as the flavors expand inside your mouth and set off the neural circuits in your brain that cause pleasure.
Yes – everything Italian revolves around food.
When the Sonus faber Omnia first arrived, I was slightly startled by the size of the packaging because my first thought was that they had created something akin to the Ruark R7 Radiogram which was not going to be very popular in a house already overrun with loudspeakers.
Sonus faber went slightly overboard with all of the protection but at least you know it’s going to arrive in perfect working condition, and it does all come together rather easily. It took less than 20 minutes to be out of the box and running which might be a record.
The Omnia is designed for the tabletop or a credenza and it’s going to create more than a few conversations.
I strategically replaced my dining room system (Croft, NAD, Q Acoustics) with the Omnia knowing that my children would immediately notice the absence of clutter on our dining room credenza and take a closer look.
The top panel of the Omnia features 2 new Sonus faber innovations; the touch sensitive SENSO interface that allows you to directly control all your source devices, mode, and volume, and the new CRESECNDO advanced signal processing system.
You can turn the Omnia on/off using the top panel or supplied remote control and everything was quite responsive to the touch.
The Omnia does put on an interesting light show when you turn it on and it’s a clever design feature that will remind users of its presence.
During my conversations with Livio and his team at the beginning of the review process, they were quite candid about the challenges they faced during the pandemic in terms of supply chain issues, work hours, and the challenge of creating something really unique.
The Omnia is not Sonus faber’s first kick at the football in the lifestyle speaker category and while that first product was utterly magnificent from a design and sound quality perspective, it was also prohibitively expensive for most people and that would include many audiophiles.
What’s obvious looking at both the Omnia and its excellent remote control is that its design has been influenced by both the lute and sailboats.
Cucuzza confirmed that the shape of the lute has always figured in to the design of their loudspeakers but that the deck and shape of a sailboat figured heavily in their thinking when it came to the Omnia.
The top panel is available in Italian Walnut or Graphite and the pictures do not embellish one iota; I was actually nervous during the review because a lot of people wanted to touch it and it doesn’t take much for one to scratch it with a ring if they’re too handsy.
The placement of the drivers on three sides of the cabinet (and below) contributes enormously to the spacious sound that it delivers.
The Omnia has a few interesting design features that need to be explained and it’s something that I raised with Sonus faber when I connected the Pro-Ject Debut PRO Turntable to the system.
A quick look at the rear panel reveals an HDMI ARC input, Ethernet port, and a single analog input which does not use RCA jacks.
Sonus faber made a design decision to utilize a dongle with a MM/line-in option; meaning that there is a MM phono stage that you enable with a switch if you decide to connect a turntable to the system.
You select the other setting if you’re running a CD player, network player, or other source device.
My initial reaction to this decision was that I didn’t love the idea of having a dongle hiding behind the speaker, but the truth is that it works perfectly and I never touched it more than a few times when I had to change a source.
The Omnia features a bottom-firing 6.5-inch woofer and the construction of its internal cabinet would have interfered with the placement of more input jacks, phono stage, and other electronics.
There are trade-offs to every design and the dongle will not become an issue for people.
Sonus faber have maximized their use of available real estate inside the cabinet with 7 drivers; 0.75-inch silk dome tweeters (2), 3-inch paper pulp cone midrange drivers (2), 1.75-inch inverted dome cellulose membrane drivers (2), and the aforementioned 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofer that is downward firing.
The Class D amplifier delivers 490 watts divided between all 7 drivers.
The Omnia weighs a hefty 17 pounds and at 26″W x 11″D x 5.2″H is big enough to sit atop an IKEA Kallax unit with 4 shelves; which is where I placed it in my office system with excellent results.
The overall build quality on the Omnia is excellent and the speaker grilles are firmly in place.
Audiophiles love to complain when a network player or wireless loudspeaker doesn’t support their favorite platform or Bluetooth codec and it’s becoming quite tedious to respond to.
I think people believe companies can just add those features for free or without any other compromises and I find the dogmatic “if it doesn’t support…” attitude rather bizarre.
The Omnia supports Chromecast, Spotify Connect, TIDAL Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth aptX HD, and is Roon-Ready.
I successfully streamed Spotify, TIDAL, Qobuz and Apple Music from my iPhone with zero latency issues or connection hiccups.
The Omnia does not come with its own control app so you are free to use all of your favorite streaming apps natively.
For the purposes of the review, I connected my iPhone 6s (no laughing), Apple MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, iMac, Pro-Ject Debut PRO Turntable, NAD C 568 CD Player, and the Bluesound NODE Network Player.
Zero compatibility issues with any of them.
Listening to Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder (Qobuz, 24-bit/192kHz) was a great place to start with the Omnia because I wanted to judge how large of a stereo image the speaker system could create in a room that is 16′ x 12′ x 9′ while seated directly in front of it and also working on either end of our 12′ long dining room table.
Wireless speakers don’t have a great track record in that regard and I wasn’t expecting the Omnia to recreate something as wide as my Q Acoustics 3050i setup in the same space with the speakers 72″ apart.
The Omnia didn’t recreate a soundstage as wide as my usual dining room setup, but it certainly wasn’t confined to the speaker either; music extended out well into the room and with surprising soundstage height.
Morgan’s horn had a lot of bite and no hardness at all which was impressive until I raised the volume well past normal listening levels; the Omnia can play really loudly but I found that things became less organized at a certain point.
Metallica’s “One” from …And Justice for All (Qobuz, 24-bit/96kHz) was a more impressive test of the Omnia’s midrange energy and low end impact; the track can be problematic for some speakers with its dynamics and guitar energy.
The Omnia has a definite emphasis in the midrange and below and it is more than capable with rock, pop, electronic, and even hip-hop.
The tonal balance is most certainly tilted in the midrange and that worked perfectly fine with all of the jazz, blues, pop, and chamber music that I fed through it.
Vocals were clean, detailed, and nicely fleshed out; Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” off the BBC sessions CD was impressively well focused in front me and very clean sounding. The late-singer had all of the grit and force that made her such a powerful singer when she was able to keep her life together.
Aphex Twin, The Boards of Canada, and Kraftwerk were engaging, bouncy, and surprisingly spacious sounding considering the size of the drivers and loudspeaker; Tomorrow’s Harvest isn’t the cleanest sounding album of all-time but it certainly gave the Omnia a work-out.
Running the Pro-Ject Debut PRO was a really interesting experience because it was one of the best performing sources through the Omnia; music had a more organic feel and it was certainly not confined to the front baffle of the speaker itself.
Lee Morgan, Diana Krall, Jason Isbell, Cat Power, and Tennessee Ernie Ford all took their turn through the Omnia and demonstrated a few things that sum up the speakers’ overall presentation; engaging as hell, spacious, and definitely confident reproducing the human voice.
My two biggest nitpicks would be the treble which I found to be clean and detailed but not overly airy, and the extreme low end that could get somewhat wooly if I pressed down too hard on the gas.
Would I spend $1,995 on the Sonus faber Omnia?
I really hate the “lifestyle” tag because it almost immediately diminishes a product that might otherwise be a high-performance thoroughbred.
The Omnia succeeds on a number of levels where a lot of wireless speakers that have come before it failed; inspired industrial design, ease of use, streaming connectivity options, build quality, and consistently strong sonic performance that makes you want to listen for hours.
The Omnia’s closest competitor is the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Wood Edition Wireless Speaker which retails for $1,999 USD ($1,799 finished in black) and offers a very similar features set and footprint.
The Naim does have a multi-room option and a very well designed control app if you want to integrate all of your streaming platforms in one place.
It’s been awhile since I listened to the Naim but the two would be my only choices in the category if spending this kind of money.
The Sonus faber Omnia is a beautiful sounding wireless loudspeaker that needs to be on any shortlist if you’re looking for something for your den, dining room, bedroom, home office, or kitchen.
For more information: sonusfaber.com
Where to buy: $1,999 at Crutchfield | Audio Advice
February 23, 2022 at 3:23 am
Pretty. Veeeeerrrry pretty. But, it is a bit beyond my toadish wallet. It would take quite a while to save up for and it is pretty much not compatible with what I already have amongst them are a pair of the excellent Denon HEOS 7 operating as a stereophonic pair.
To those who have not that “problem”? Have at it! It is beautiful and looks matter and you shall doubtless enjoy the feastival of sight and sound.
Me? I am saving for the Pro-Ject Automat A1 and have been sorely tempted by the LSA Signature 50s. Stay the course, toad. One thousand points of light…
February 23, 2022 at 3:58 am
It is very pretty. I’m surprised that my wife liked it so much because she never likes anything I review.
I’m not entirely sure where she wants to put it because we’re out of room and I’m not moving the dining room system someplace else.
Sonus faber did an excellent job with it. Livio is a really talented guy and he’s very humble. Probably one of the nicest people I’ve met in the audio industry in 23 years.
March 10, 2022 at 8:57 am
You forgot B&O speakers, they have several options that compete with this guy.