Review: Sonus Faber Guarnieri Homage Speaker

Category: Speakers

This is a review of a very late produced pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri Hommage's, They were ,according to my dealer, the last pair imported into the US prior to the change over to the GM's.
What is immediately noticable is the quality of the packing materials used to ship these speakers. The main speakers come in a wooden crate with cloth covers over the speakers to protect their finish!
Upon opening the crate, you are greeted with an inner box to support the GH's. The stands are in a seperate box as are the stone bases. All are packed with obviously much thought given to their shipping protection, no cheap carboard thin boxes here.
Once up and ready, the speakers sit on the bases protected only by an apparent sheet of velvet between the bases and the speakers themselves. At first sight, I thought this wasn't very effective, but it seems to work well. There is no provision for spikes or height adjustment whatsoever and as a die-hard 'phile, I thought think that maybe some improvement could be had here with the option of outriggers or spikes or? I have not tried these options as the speakers are not set up at all for them, maybe one day.
I bi-wire my pair and I strongly believe that bi-wiring is the way to go, you do need an additional pair of speaker cables though. ( A bi-wired single set is IMHO a no-go).
I have had these in my system for just over 2 years now and from first listen I could tell they were a keeper.
The fit and finish has been mentioned in many other articles over the years, I will only say that every day that I look at them a smile comes across my face.
The sound is what this article will concentrate on.
Since I am a STRONG believer in the superiority of analog, this is my impressions with analog in the front end only.
Listening to the MFSL 200 gram recording of Getz/Gilberto on the track 'Girl from Ipanema' with this speaker you can hear the air escape from the tenor sax of stan Getz as he blows each note. Moreover, when Astrud Gilberto begins to sing, she is literally there in the room with you. I have heard this LP on many systems and what is a true test is how Astrud's voice is handled by the speaker. With the GH's you can almost believe she has a smile on her face as she sings. The imaging on this piece is in my system what I expect of a smaller speaker with phenomenal imaging characteristics, extreemly precise with the players seeming to occupy their respective positions on the stage with perfect depth and precise location of instrument.
Listen to a good LP of a guitar, be it steel string or nylon and you can easily tell that this is how the instrument sounds in real life. The Esotar is able to produce the bloom and the dynamics/harmonics of the strings! I have heard many speakers that utilize metal domes and even electrostatic drivers that simply cannot come close to this level of realism. Most metal domes to me have a certain hardness ( metallic coloration/ringing if you will) and almost all of the electrostatics sound plasticy ( with the possible exception of the new speaker from David Janszen that I recently heard) The silk dome exhibits none of these colorations. IMHO the esotar in this application is superior to the various ring-radiators and all metal domes on the market. ( I'm thinking Wilson here).
The midrange is were music lives, if you don't believe this, then you probably are into RAP or maybe techno, don't buy these speakers if you are. The midrange reproduction is far superior to my previous Hales System 2 Signatures which utilized dual Dynaudio 17W75 drivers ( which are no slouch in this area). Listening to the track Desafinado again from Getz/Gilberto, one can easily hear when Getz moves around on the stage a little bit!
What are the weaknesses of this speaker, well in a small room I believe they may be the best speaker ever made. In a large/ largish room, the bass is lacking. Probably the GH's go down to about 45+- Hz's but anything below that, forget it. Much of music has a foundation below 50Hz's and I think that this is the only weakness of the GH's. This of course applies to all speakers with small drivers that cannot move huge air ( Including the Magico Minis etc.). Adding a sub would be difficult, since the sub would have to be lightning fast and very very accurate. I have heard the Wilson-Benesch Torus sub which would most likely mate well with the SF's. One day I will try this combo, I would expect it to be an absolute SOTA world beater.
If money was no object, then a larger room and the Torus add on would result in audio nirvana I suspect.
With the system the way it is, I cannot think of another speaker that is in the same league as the GH's.
BTW, this is my 26th year as a 'phile and this is my tenth system. The GH's are no longer manufactured, I believe because they were simply too expensive to manufacturer and frankly too difficult to better.

Associated gear
CAT signature with rolled in tubes, Jeff Rowland model 8 with choke power supply, Linn LP 12 with WTA arm modded by Van den Hul and a Benz Ruby 2, EAD 3000 Mk3 DAC, Philips cd80 transport, Pioneer DVD414 DVD transport, Highwire cabling throughout, Harmonix tweeks and PS audio, IVAC and TG audio power cabling.

Similar products
Magico Mini, Harbeth 40.1, SF Guarneri memento, SF Cremona M's, Quad 2905's,
Acoustat 3's, Hales System 2Sig's, Harbeth HLS 7's, Wilson Sophia's.
Nice review Dave - I share almost all of your findings with my experience with the Guarneri's. I have had at least a dozen speakers, including Avalon (Avatar and Eclipses), Magnepan 2.3, Eaglestone Rosas, Gallo Nucleus, Avantgarde UNOs, Totem Mani2 and Tabu to name some of them and no one have had the musicality, tonal rightness and driver integration as the SF guarneri homage.

This is not to say that the other speakers were bad, what keeps me happy owning the SF is the fact that they deliver a balance of virtues that keeps me hooked to my LPs and digital collection and with no rush to look for an upgrade in that department.

Thanks for sharing your expertise with the G's in this review.
Fernando, today I fired up the system and listened to the MFSL Lp of 'Alison Krauss and Union Station Live'. I simply cannot recommend this remarkable LP highly enough.
The GH's are seemingly built for this album and together I experienced the best sound I have ever heard from an
audio system in 30 years!!!
Listening to 'The boy who wouldn't hoe corn' you are literraly able to hear every fingering of Ron Block's banjo and of Jerry Douglas's dobro. Absolutely unbelieveable!
If you have an opportunity to listen to this combo, I think
you will be as amazed as I was.
I see there is some inacuracy on technical data, this speaker do not use dynaudio esotar tweeters or its modifications. its diferent tweeter(esotec) with much smaller magnet and custom made rear wood chamber.