Sonus faber Amati G5 loudspeakers
The Amati G5 is very much a modern Sonus faber that while it’s part of the Italian company’s Homage range does not seem have a lot in common with the models that it was created to honour. The Sonus faber Guarneri was first made in 1993 and while it had a similar lute shape shape section was not as substantial nor as wide bandwidth as the fifth generation Homage in this Amati G5 form at least.
Back in the nineties my first experience of Sonus faber loudspeakers left me feeling that they were a little too delicate and refined for my tastes, probably because my musical tastes lacked in those areas. Frank Zappa and Led Zeppelin required a greater volume of air to be moved than appeared to be available. Since that time the company has been through many changes and these include a broadening of the market which in turn has resulted in loudspeakers that can do what I was looking for back then and to an extent still am.
The Amati G5 is the largest of the fifth generation Homage models, each one weighs in at over 55kg (112+ lb) and while very elegant they have a distinct presence in the room. Not overly large but thanks to superb levels of finish and elegance of design you are not going to miss them, especially in the lavish red and wenge finishes. I had the relatively conservative graphite version probably because that’s what the UK market tends to like.
Amati G5 isn’t just a beautiful bit of cabinet making from Sonus faber’s Santi woodworking facility, there’s a lot more to it. It has separate tweeter and mid chambers and the latter is ported into a second sealed enclosure in order to control maximum pressure behind the driver. It’s a unique system to my knowledge and claims to make for a more even impedance load for the amplifier which should result in a more linear response. The midrange driver has a six inch natural fibre cone with a neodymium magnet and a short wide voice coil for a faster response and greater power handling, the phase plug in the centre is designed to reduce turbulence and produce higher clarity with a smoother response.
The two bass drivers on the Amati G5 are identical but one is used for low bass up to 200Hz while the other hands over to the midrange at a slightly higher 270Hz. Both have 220mm cellulose and syntactic foam cones and not one but two voice coils per driver, Sonus faber say this results in a considerable increase in force which presumably equates to greater power handling, an integrated heat sink indicates that this is the aim. The tweeter is a 28mm soft dome with an ‘Arrow Point’ device that damps the apex of the dome, the idea being to minimise early high frequency roll off. The response is quoted at 28Hz to 35kHz with the latter being good for a dome of this size. The 28Hz bass figure looks optimistic but the listening results suggest that it’s probably true assuming the usual -3dB parameter. Sensitivity is good too at 91dB albeit this and the four Ohm nominal impedance don’t indicate actual ease of drive, a minimum impedance figure would be useful here.
Build and finish are clearly first class as is expected of Sonus faber, the Amati G5 combines deep gloss lacquer over lavish veneers with contrasting grey metal work. The fluted fins that form the spine of the cabinet contain the openings for two exponential reflex ports for the bass system. At the bottom are two pairs of cable terminals and underneath the metalwork is what’s described as a phase coherent crossover. This is apparently a hybrid network developed using simulation software and listening, it incorporates Jantzen inductors, custom made Clarity Caps and Mundorf capacitors and resistors. In other words no expense has been spare in this department.
Support for the Amati G5 is provided by four outriggers which bolt on to the metal base of the speaker and harbour substantial stainless steel spikes, quite scary ones in fact. Discs are provided to protect smooth flooring but as I’m not a spike enthusiast these were removed and kept safely in the boxes along with the distinctive grilles, the latter are more about style than driver protection and are very unlikely to affect the sound.
The Homage sound
Amplification was provided by my Moor Amps Angel 6 (150W, Class AB) and control by a Townshend Allegri Reference preamp, sources included a Rega Planar 10 turntable, Melco N5-H50 server/streamer and an Innuos Pulsar streamer via an iFi Pro iDSD Signature DAC. The resulting sound was very nice indeed, in fact while this is a far more capable loudspeaker in just about every way than the models it pays Homage to, the one area that it reflects its predecessors is in the beauty of sound that it produces.
There are plenty of high end loudspeakers that impress with dynamics, imaging and micro detail but not so many that reveal the heart and sheer beauty of the music as well as the Amati G5. You only have to play a few tracks for this to become apparent, it’s achieved by the sheer natural transparency of the presentation. There isn’t a hard edge to be heard, everything is fully formed and three dimensional within a clear and well defined soundstage. Sonus faber know how to voice a loudspeaker that’s for sure, and they do it so well that the Amati G5 is as good with electric music as it is with acoustic varieties. The latter have greater tonal depth so have more to gain by this degree of resolution but there’s plenty of shape and body in amplified and electronic sounds too.
Imaging is also a distinct strong point, rather than an outline of each instrument or the notes they produce the character of each is fully formed with depth, width and height, three dimensions described in sound to an uncanny degree. This was obvious with the electronic and acoustic instruments and voices on A Frozen Western by The God in Hackney as well as the all acoustic instrumentation of Gianluigi Trovesi’s rather charming Stravaganze Consonanti (ECM) which was simply glorious thanks to the unusual mix of jazz and chamber instruments, this is a fabulous album that really came to life with the Amati G5. Maybe its Italian origin gives it a special symbiosis.
Likewise Tom Waits’ Shore Leave (Swordfishtrombones) where a real vista, a street scene, is created by the placement and nature of the instruments and the story told by the lyrics. Such is the vibrancy of the instruments and voice that it feels like you can hear right into the mix and taste the salty air, feel the urgency of the situation and see the “new deck of cards (with girls on the back)”. Playing Ike and Tina Turner’s Feel Good album on the turntable exasperates because the band sounds so thick but thrills with the way that Tina’s voice cuts through, supreme and bursting with energy, style and dynamics. There will never be another like her.
With a decent recording of Keith Jarrett’s solo piano at the Carnegie Hall the result is transcendent, you can hear the low thud of his foot keeping time on the stage and the scale and body of the piano itself alongside every murmuration from a player who can’t keep his mouth shut when the muse takes hold. It’s all part of an inspiring performance that the Amati G5s describe so beautifully that I couldn’t help but be moved when the audience roars its enthusiasm at the end. Often the dynamics of this rapturous applause upsets loudspeakers, the sound hardens up because of the sheer volume and density of the sound, here it got louder but there was no sense of compression or distortion, just phenomenal energy.
Low end appeal
Somehow I have got this far without mentioning the bass, that’s because these Sonus fabers present a complete and coherent whole that doesn’t emphasise any part of the spectrum. But with the right track the bass is truly jaw dropping, going down lower than I have encountered from a great many of the big speakers that have passed through the system in recent years, and doing so in a controlled and clean fashion. It’s hard to pinpoint why they are so good in this regard, it must be down to numerous factors in the design and execution of the Amati G5. I guess when a loudspeaker enters its fifth iteration its creators have had plenty of time to extract maximum performance in virtually all areas. Sonus faber makes larger and more expensive loudspeakers than this so there must be more to hear, but what I hear from the Amati G5 is more than enough to want to go on listening for a very long time. This is a beautiful loudspeaker but the music it makes is even more appealing.