Sonus Faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker Review

2020-08-10T17:02:13+00:00February 28th, 2020|Reviews, Speakers and Subwoofers|55 Comments

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian hammered the Bahamas. That historic storm wrought a catastrophic death toll and an untold amount of suffering. I can only wish the survivors the speediest of recoveries for what was (hopefully) a once in a generation disaster. If you can afford to, please donate funds to any of the entities still actively trying to help the Bahamian people.

Not to make light of that horrific tragedy, but, as an audiophile, I wondered: if a hurricane was blitzkreiging its way towards my home, which of my audio components and cables would I try to save? After I’d hastily ushered the wife, girlfriend, favourite stripper, cats, dogs, food and water rations, medical supplies, emergency single-malt Scotch whiskeys, and treasured Montréal Canadiens’ memorabilia into the 12-seater rescue canoe, which audio items could I NOT leave behind?

I recently reviewed Sonus Faber’s Sonetto VIII speakers – check out my review here:

I was so impressed with their sound quality, that I bought them. Stated emphatically, I could NOT let go of them.

When NOVO asked if I’d review Sonus Faber’s new Olympica Nova III floorstanders, I was happier than Fluffy Trudeau on a meth bender announcing mandatory classes in modern dance and more carbon taxes to punish Albertans who stubbornly refused to vote for him.

Product Description:
The new Olympica Nova series is the second generation of the original 2013-era Olympica family. Every speaker in the line-up is handmade at Sonus Faber’s factory in Vicenza Italy.

The Olympica Nova III is a 3-way, full para-aperiodic vented box loudspeaker that utilizes SF’s patented Stealth Ultraflex venting system. Running the entire length of the cabinet along its spine, this *structure* vents air through the duct to reduce cabinet vibrations and speaker resonances.

The uniquely shaped Nova III has dimensions of 43.5” high x 14.8” wide x 18.1” deep. The lack of flat or parallel walls in the cabinetry maintains the asymmetrical angled teardrop shape familiar to Gen-1 Olympica series speakers.

Unboxed, each Olympica Nova III weighs 77.1 Lbs. The new Nova models come in real wood walnut or wenge finishes. Even if SF needs to raise their prices, I hope and pray that they’ll reconsider offering these speakers in the breathtaking black graphite-maple finish again.

Here’s the full Sonus faber Olympica Nova family of speakers in the Wenge finish.

The Nova III combines one 28mm silk dome tweeter, one pulp/fibre composite 150mm mid-range driver, and two 180mm alloy-coned woofers. SF custom fabricates all of their own drivers. The midrange driver uses an air-dried blend of cellulose pulp, Kapok, Kenaf, and other natural fibres. The cone has a textured surface that varies in density. SF claims that this texturing reduces resonances while increasing resolution.

The 180mm woofers are made by combining two sheets of cellulose pulp with a syntactic foam layered in-between them. The result is a highly rigid cone structure with a low mass. As such, the woofers are extremely well damped, but also stiffer than Ron Jeremy after he’s consumed a handful of Nitric Oxide tablets, a ½ bottle of liquid Vitamin C, and a quintuple espresso.

The crossover network uses SF’s paracross topology and has two sets of binding posts for bi-wiring or bi-amping. It’s a 3-way design that features Clarity Cap capacitors for filtering.

The luthier-level of finish carpentry showcased in the Nova III is jaw dropping. The cabinets are comprised of eight(!) separate layers of bended wood. Sonus Faber doesn’t use cheap laminated vinyl veneer paneling. The God-inspired fragrance of the hand polished walnut woods crafted into these speakers triggered fond memories of visiting artisanal finish carpentry shops in old-world countries. The Nova IIIs look and smell like antique grade furniture.

Inside, aligned structural ribs reduce cabinet resonances and dissipate vibrations caused by the drivers. The cabinets are extremely inert. For increased stability, the speakers use outriggers with conical steel spikes.

The Nova III has a 90dB (2.83v/1m) sensitivity rating and a 4 Ohm nominal impedance. Even 40-watt amplifiers won’t have to turn purple with exertion to drive these speakers to high volume levels. Their profoundly deep resolution will easily let a listener hear how proficient (or… not so proficient) the amps driving them are. I’d recommend using amplifiers with healthy watts and wide bandwidth output transformers; especially if you’re into tubes.

The Olympica Nova III combines breathtaking looks with advanced driver and crossover technologies. ‘Craftsmanship’ is a word I rarely use when I’m describing modern loudspeakers. Why? Simply because most speakers these days are made by machines that have zero humanity. Sonus Faber has hand-crafted the Nova III with a genuine and passionate effort. Stated emphatically, these speakers are a mesmerizing work of art. So… how do they sound?

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