Sonus faber Electa Amator III Loudspeaker Page 2

It was with this mind-set of anticipating great losses that I fired up the 'IIIs. The move from Wilson-to-LS3/5a meant a blatant quantitative sacrifice, with reductions in the absolute scale of the soundstage, a truncation of maximum levels, reduced bass extension and everything else you would expect to be abridged proportionately. Even so, the LS3/5a, thanks to my total insistence on placing things in the right context, maintained its dignity and my respect. It still sounded amazing – only smaller.

Audiophile Swoon
This was what I assumed would be repeated with the 'III. How wrong I was. The Kodo drummers were playing, from the CD Warabe [Sony Records SRLC4671], as I had just been revelling in the gargantuan soundstage and cavernous bass that the Sasha DAWs provide with such aplomb. Who, in a million years, would have foreseen a not-too-dissimilar quantitative experience from a speaker barely the size of the Sasha's upper section?

Let me stop you right there, before you think I'm about to tell you something impossible. The Electa Amator III is no substitute for the Sasha DAW. It's less than a quarter of the size and price, has less wooferage, yadayadayada. But damn, it sounded so good, so convincing, so large, so open that I went from one to the other without feeling the need for any mental adjustment. The best analogy I can provide is to liken it to finding a £20 bottle of wine that nearly impersonates one costing £80.

With Kodo drums, bass quantity, extension, overall impact, transient decay and other percussive characteristics are tested to the maximum. While the Electa Amator III couldn't plumb the depths of the Wilson Sasha DAW, it certainly came mighty close to satisfying on a similar level. At no time did this sound like a speaker so small that you could almost hide it behind an LP sleeve.


It was the fullness of the sound – not, I regret, available via the LS3/5as – which best mimicked the capabilities of a larger system. At the same time, as evinced by Lou Rawls' At Last [Blue Note CJ32-5050], the speaker also behaved like an LS3/5a in its imaging capabilities. It wasn't just the musical diet I chose which replicated my listening to Sonus fabers of the Serblin era, for the 'IIIs use the same extreme toe-in familiar to the brand's devotees.

As Franco proved to me time and again, his speakers can image like perfect point sources, with the sort of width, depth and – if the recording offers it – image height which makes a certain type of audiophile swoon. The opening track had Rawls and Dianne Reeves positioned in their own spaces, the instruments had the correct scale and the 'IIIs seemed to disappear. The closest sound I've heard to it is the midband of stacked pairs of LS3/5as on AB1 subwoofers, but without the Electa Amator III's top-end refinement.

Vocal Champ
As you will have surmised, then, this loudspeaker isn't just a device for superior reproduction of scale, space and, yes, rich bottom octaves: it's also a champion with vocals. The interplay between Rawls and Reeves has long been one of my aural litmus tests, and the 'III sailed through it with aplomb. Detail, controlled sibilants, ideal contrast in the vocal textures – the title track oozed warmth and realism, even sounding valve-like when driven by the D'Agostino Momentum Stereo.

On to Keb' Mo's Peace… Back By Popular Demand [Okeh/Epic EK92687] to hear the twang of the bottleneck guitar, the sublime piano on 'Imagine' – the Electa Amator IIIs simply sang. I could surely live with these, concerned with only one downside: I'd be up every night until 3am, trying to hear my entire record collection just one more time.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
After many ups-and-downs with Sonus fabers over the past decade, it warms my heart to be able to call the Electa Amator III 'the best I've heard from the brand since the original Guarneri'. Yes, it's that impressive, that commanding, that correct. Above all, it does exactly what the late Franco Serblin demanded of all his creations: it reproduces music so convincingly that the listener is transported. Bravissimo!

Sonus faber SpA (Fine Sounds Group)
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
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