Taken at face value, the Omnia is a perfectly logical addition to the range of the stylish Italian speaker brand, Sonus faber. Wireless speakers are hugely popular at the moment and ones that can pull double duty as an external speaker for a television even more so. For Sonus faber though; a company with a reputation for making products that are as beautiful as they are musical, the move is not without risk.
Internally, the Omnia makes use of the same driver materials as the more traditional members of the range. A pair of soft dome tweeters and drivers made from natural fibres are mounted at the front of the cabinet that has no bass port to make placement easier. To augment these drivers and ensure that you hear a decent level of bass response, a single aluminium bass driver is fitted but, instead of firing forwards, this is mounted facing downwards through a hole in the base of the cabinet with the foot of the Omnia giving the required clearance to help stop unwanted vibrations (nasty for the sound) from surface the speaker is sitting on.
Then, rather unusually, at each end of the cabinet is a ‘full range’ cellulose driver. These operate in addition to the forward firing drivers via a system that Sonus faber calls CRESCENDO. The idea is that the Omnia monitors what you are playing and uses these drivers dynamically to control the soundstage that results. This is different approach to any other wireless speaker and promises a more spacious presentation than can often be the case from a one box device.
Connectivity is a mix of good and slightly individual. The Omnia can access content over a standard UPnP app, is completely Roon compatible and has both AirPlay2 and Chromecast. Spotify and Tidal Connect are fitted and wireless functionality is rounded off with aptX HD capable Bluetooth. The all important HDMI ARC connection is there too to take care of TV needs. There’s no dedicated streaming app though and you have to plug in a (supplied) adapter to choose between a line in or a moving magnet phono stage which is a little ungainly.
The good news is that Sonus faber has successfully managed to bring their aesthetic flair to wireless speakers. In the wrong hands, the Omnia’s top touch panel that combines wood with inset LEDs that show volume level and other functions could look cheap and half-baked. Here it looks absolutely fantastic and it genuinely adds to the usability as well. The build is excellent too and an attractive if slightly odd remote control finishes the package off nicely.
However unusual the idea of side firing drivers might sound, the key factor when listening to the Omnia is that they work like a charm. The arrangement helps the Sonus faber to sound bigger, more assured and less single source than almost any equivalent product. Compared to two carefully placed stereo speakers, the Omnia has to concede a little ground but it’s far more spacious than most single box designs. It also makes TV and film viewing a rather more immersive experience than many speakers of this configuration can manage. It’s hard to judge exactly where forward drivers end and the side ones begin which is very much the point.
No less importantly, it sounds like a Sonus faber too. There is a fractional midrange emphasis to the Omnia which is never overblown or distracting but simply means that voices and instruments are picked out of the mix in a way that makes them the focus rather than a distraction. This has been achieved without harming the upper and lower frequency response either. The Omnia has an impressive level of bass extension and it manages to deliver impressive levels of low end shove without being slow or boomy. The top end is barely less impressive. The Sonus faber doesn’t truly relish playing heavily compressed material but with everything else, it balances detail and refinement very effectively indeed.
Something else that the Omnia does consistently well is use this control and its genuinely impressive levels of headroom to effortlessly fill spaces that you might assume it would struggle with. It never feels strained or lacking in control while you do so either and while there are key rivals that can sound fractionally more fun with high tempo material, most of them will have begun to lose their composure when the Omnia is still sounding big, controlled and thoroughly enjoyable. This means that the Sonus faber is a device you can listen to all day, every day and be completely engrossed while you do so.
So long as you don’t have a huge library of your own music to access (unless you are also a Roon subscriber), the Omnia is slick and easy to use. The Cast and Connect functionality works a charm, as does the auto power on and switching to HDMI with the HDMI ARC connected. The dimensions are well judged and the two finishes will work well in most room spaces.
The Omnia isn’t perfect but it manages to combine the virtues and aesthetics we have come to expect from Sonus faber with a selection of functionality that will work well for most owners. As a balancing act between high tech and high art, it does an absolutely superb job.
Seasick Steve Love & Peace
This ‘rough music, impeccably recorded’ aesthetic from Seasick Steve sounds glorious on the Omina thanks to its gentle midrange emphasis giving detail to Steve Wold and his guitar and the effortless space it ekes out of the recording.
Fleetwood Mac Then Play On
The highlight of the Peter Green Mac era, has some glorious melodies on it and, the well integrated bass response of he Omnia doesn’t miss a beat with any of them while the guitar and vocal harmonies are treated to the Omnia’s fabulous midrange.
Public Service Broadcasting Live at Brixton
The almost cinematic width of the Omnia comes to the fore here with a glorious perception of the venue and a believable relationship between the band the crowd. Just as importantly, the Sonus faber captures of the joy of euphoric evening perfectly.
The Sonus faber Omnia is a fine choice for anyone looking to combine music with boosting their TV performance and want a little style while they're at it. The combination of its spacious and lively sound and the excellent industrial design will ensure it drops into most rooms and looks very good while it does so.