Positive Feedback Logo

Olympic Glory…Sonus faber’s Olympica Nova Loudspeakers

09-11-2019 | By Gregory Petan | Issue 105

The last event I attended at the World of McIntosh (WOM) Townhouse in SOHO NYC featured the debut of Sonus faber's Reference Aida 2. After about 10 seconds with the Aida 2 I realized I was in the presence of greatness. The Aida 2 is one of the very few experiences in recent memory that forced me to re-calibrate what I considered a true reference speaker.

When I was invited to attend the launch of the Olympica Nova line in late August, I was thrilled to get a shot at hearing the latest addition to the Sonus faber lineup, and hoped to hear some trickle-down brilliance from the Aida 2 to the Nova line.

The seven product Olympica Nova line begins with the compact 2-way $6500 stand mounted Nova I, (stands cost $1200 per pair). There are 2 dedicated center channels at $5000, $7000, and a $4000 (each) on wall speaker as well. The 2-way Nova I sports one bass / mid-range driver and tweeter.

Next up is the first of three floor standing models, all 3-way designs. The Nova II utilizing a single bass driver, a midrange driver, and tweeter. The Nova III has two bass drivers (midrange driver and tweeter as well), while the top-range Nova V has 3 bass drivers and represents the full-scale floor stander of the line.

Exterior revisions employed on the entire line include removing the leather baffle wrap, though leaving the leather surround of the mid-range driver and tweeter, and the leather top insert, as well as the leather that ran down the rear spine found on the original Olympica design. If this move would have been described to me before I saw them, I would have considered this a move in the wrong direction. In person however, the fully wrapped veneer across the baffles looks less fussy and, honestly, presents a very clean and clear design vision.

All models utilize the DAD (damped apex dome) silk dome tweeters (man, I love silk dome tweeters!). The drivers are an air-dried, non-pressed blend of cellulose pulp and other natural fibers like Kapok and Kenaf, giving the cone a slightly rough surface of varying density, which reduces resonance, guaranteeing a natural sound with increased transparency and detail.

We started with the $16,500 Olympica Nova V placed in the same 4th floor room I had auditioned the Aida 2. The amps were Audio research 160M mono amps, Ref 6 preamp, McIntosh D1100 DAC, and a Roon server. All wire was Transparent reference. I turned the music choices over to the very trusty Josh Dellinger, Experience Director for the WOM Townhouse, and all that was asked of me was to just kick back. I was not certain of what to expect, despite my intimate familiarity of the Sonus faber sound. Whether the Olympica Nova V benefited from modest expectations or truly excelled on its own merits, was a question that was answered quickly and decisively.

The Olympica Nova V is simply phenomenal. In an effort to offer a concise description, the Olympica Nova V shows off seamless driver integration, stellar imaging, a very smooth, warm, yet clear and crisp treble that integrated beautifully into the mid-range. The bass has power, control and pitch stability that pressurized the room with ease. I felt like an even bigger room would be well served by the power and great dispersion characteristics of the Olympica Nova V. This is a very refined speaker that does not have a mean bone in its body. It reproduces sounds like real voices and instruments, organically if you will, without any driver-induced obvious distortions, allowing your brain to just go with the flow. I experienced a rush of adrenaline in anticipation what the other models would yield.

The next stop was the smaller 5th floor room in which I have spent much time chatting with Josh over the last few years. The stand-mounted Olympica Nova I was driven by All Audio Research again fed by a Roon end point (a shout out to Roon, a fantastic music platform). Jumping from the big Nova V to the Nova I, I was sure it would be a vastly different experience.

No, no it wasn't. 

The little 2-Way super compact cabinet maintained the essential character of its much larger sibling. The designers of the Olympica Nova line, Livio Cucuzza and Paolo Arturo, have done an outstanding job at delivering the essential musical / tonal experience throughout the Olympica range while, in my humble opinion, they have simultaneously improved the aesthetics. And the best news is that they shared a character and sound that is not only similar, but fantastic. After listening to a few tunes on the Olympica NovaI I, this impression was cemented, and I had become an evangelist for the Olympic Nova range in total.

Finally, the Olympica $13,500 Nova III speaker did nothing to change the earlier impressions.  Located on the top floor, and despite its loftier price, it may be the best value in the line. Components changed from Audio Research to a full McIntosh line up, and the sound suffered not one bit. I was unable to audition the $10,000 Nova II due to circumstances beyond my control, so I won't comment beyond going out on the proverbial limb and doubting there would be any drop off in performance or some pothole within the line.

Ultimately, The Olympica Nova speaker line reminds me of great champagne served in four different sized glasses. Cheers, and drink up!

There is very good news afoot for those that aspire to join the Sonus faber family, or perhaps upgrade from a past model. The Olympica Nova line opens up serious high end sonics to a broader audience via accessible prices, while offering a sonically rich, musically balanced performance. Sonus faber has managed to capture some of the magic I heard in the Aida 2, and yet created a line of speakers that truly stand upon their own merits. Beautiful design through an edited use of material (the Olympica Nova come in matte natural walnut and a darker wenge wood) wins the day. A compact foot print making room integration a breeze—and did I mention those sonics?

These are can't-miss speakers for any audiophile and music lover, regardless the price you are considering. Please visit sonusfaber.com for a full technical education.

Very well done, Sonus faber!