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Sonus faber Lumina V Amator

Lost in translation? Perhaps. Naming your speaker ‘Amator’ might suggest to our British ears something knocked up in a shed by someone who thinks they know what they’re doing, but in Italian we’re talking about a product built by or for an admirer or devotee of something. And Sonus faber’s ‘Amator’ products are designed and built by people who really do know what they’re doing, working in a highly integrated factory in Vicenza that handles everything from driver construction to high-precision woodworking.

That the company is good with wood is the first outward signature of the Lumina V Amator floorstanders, which at £2999 a pair are an upscale version of the company’s standard Lumina V model, and they come with £500 price-premium. These speakers are offered with a choice of three veneer finishes – red, wenge and walnut – with the veneer laid on the front baffle in two 45°-cut pieces finished with multiple layers of high-gloss lacquer. The top and sides of the enclosure, meanwhile, are wrapped in black leather. Oh, and while I’m explaining Sonus faber terminology, Lumina doesn’t mean the speakers light up: instead, it’s all about ‘LUxury and MInimalist elegance in NAtural harmony’. So now you know.

Apart from that superb woodwork, also notable is how tall these cabinets stand on their spiked feet, which screw into the stabilising plinth. It looks unusual, but there’s more than enough mass to keep the speakers stable – they weigh 22.5kg apiece – and the large gap to the floor is there for the bass-tuning port, which is pretty huge and vents downwards from the base of the cabinet.

But there’s more going on behind the striking face the Lumina V Amator presents to the world: within the cabinet, the treble and midrange units sit in a sub-enclosure inspired by the shape of a lute. This musical reference is an integral part of the company’s design language, and serves to isolate those drivers from the effects of the twin 16.5cm bass units and their tuning port. The tweeter here is unusual, too, a Damped Apex Dome design that places a little damper on a bridge in front of the 29mm silk diaphragm for better control.

Meanwhile, the 15cm midrange driver does more of the hard work than is usual in designs of this kind – under the control of the enhanced Amator crossover, using filters derived from further up the company’s range, it covers from 260Hz all the way up to 2.85kHz. Which, if it lives up to that billing, promises excellent coherence in the midband and fine integration across the frequency range.

Sound Quality

My immediate impression on setting up the Lumina V Amators is that the downward-venting bass port makes these speakers exceptionally undemanding when it comes to positioning. The manual suggests ‘at least 1m from the back wall’ and says the loudspeakers should be ‘at least 1.8m apart’ – but you can take those numbers as no more than a serving suggestion. However close to or far from the rear wall I place the speakers, the sound is consistent when connected to my long-serving Naim pre-power amp – and they also work well with the more recently designed Audiolab 9000A integrated. Just a little toe-in towards the listening position – enough for the merest glimpse of the outer wall of each cabinet – will firm up the stereo image, and that’s just about job done.

And if the speakers look classy, especially in the understated wenge finish of my review pair, that impression carries through to the sound. I could talk about the rich, well-weighted bass, the sweet-but-revealing treble, and the clean and open midband – but what’s really impressive is the way this design hangs all these elements together to create a compelling sound across a wide range of musical genres.

Actually, not just musical source material – while the speakers were plugged in and warming up/settling down, I had a bit of a podcast binge while writing some other stuff, and found myself distracted by the way the Sonus fabers give an impressive clarity and ease of listening to everything from straight spoken-word content to drama-documentaries. I get a bit irked when voices sound less than realistic, but there are no complaints in this respect, nor when I move on to music with pianist Tiffany Poon’s Diaries recital of Schumann pieces, which is delivered with suitable weight and skittish speed plus definition in the Kinderszenen.

Mind you, you don’t have to keep the music simple to hear these speakers doing their thing. Cueing up the Jan Kraybill/Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern recording of the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, the big, impressive Reference Recordings engineering is striking from the off, and the climactic final movement, opening with that ground-shaking organ chord, finds me inching the volume control up to enjoy it all the more. The same goes for some vintage powerhouse percussion courtesy of Max Roach’s take on A Night in Tunisia, where the Sonus fabers deliver both the punch and the texture of the playing behind the soloing musicians, drawing out everything the performance has to give.

True, you may find them wasted on many commercial recordings, making over-compressed or raw and aggressive engineering sound suitably fake – but to get you closer to the sound of real voices and instruments, I’d suggest these speakers are hard to beat for the money.

Living with

These aren’t the speakers to buy if you want ultimate sound levels, pounding muddy bass or treble to strip teeth and set your wallpaper on edge – they’re too refined for that. But they have both the looks and the sound to be something of a crowd-pleaser. They look – and feel – luxurious, are a real talking-point, and will delight listeners with their rich, yet spacious, sound. Just choose sources and amplification every bit as accomplished, and you won’t go far wrong.


The extra £500 cost of the snazzy veneer might seem indulgent, but the extra engineering included here pays dividends in a rich, refined and involving sound. If you listen to the music rather than the hi-fi, and have an eye for striking design, you’ll soon become an amator of these Sonus fabers.

Listening notes

Dizzee Rascal How Did I Get So Calm?
Taken from the rascal’s current album, Don’t Take It Personal, this track is a real test of a speaker’s ability to drive the shuffling beat and deep basslines while still keeping the lyrics of the rap comprehensible. The Sonus fabers pass with flying colours.

Paul McCartney & Wings Band on the Run
The recent ‘underdubbed’ mix of the best-known Wings album delivers new insights into recordings now 50 years old. The effect is clean, fascinating, and often unusual, but the clarity of the Lumina V Amators opens it all up.

boygenius true blue
Appreciation of this indie supergroup has been a long time coming, but current album the record (they do love their lower-case titles) lets the Sonus fabers open up the superb harmonies and musicianship the trio delivers.

What the press say

Why you should buy it

Sonus faber has a history of building speakers that combine fine audio engineering with stunning craftsmanship, and while the Lumina V Amator is almost the company’s entry-level floorstanding model – its flagship is the £695,000 four-piece Suprema speaker system – there’s much more than just a taste of what the company can do in these elegant, impeccably-finished loudspeakers.

Video review

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