Sonus Faber Il Cremonese Amp Pairing suggestions

I'm a newbie and this is my first post on an audio forum. I got into the hobby a little over a year ago looking for the best combo for enjoying 2 channel stereo and home theater. Since then, I have upgraded my gear multiple times and now taking a huge leap on my front towers from Lumina V to Il Cremonese.


I'm currently running: Anthem STR stereo amplifier (600W/ch to 4ohm) powering Lumina V, AVM90, MCA 525 gen 2 5 channel powering Olympica Nova C2 center and Lumina II surrounds, Wireworld Equinox 8 speaker cables and silver eclipse XLR. I also have 2 JL E112 subs. The STR really brings the Luminva V to life with excellend imaging and clarity with a crossover at 100hz.

Although I love the DAC on the AVM90, I understand a stereo preamp/DAC is a superior solution in the future. I wanted to get the best speaker possible, then build my 2 channel around that by upgrading amps, speaker cables, and preamp. 

I've been told that the STR amplifier isn't sufficient to enjoy the Il Cremonese like they should be played. The Mcintosh MC611 pair and Luxman M10X have both been suggested to be as a solution under $20k. I'm interested to hear if you think the STR would be a "laughable" pairing for the Il Cremonese? And what other suggestions you may have?

I really appreciate your feedback and time! I've enjoyed reading this forum for the past year, but haven't found any threads that exactly address my situation. Thank you!


My recommendation is listen to as numerous amplifier manufacturers and notice the difference in character revealed through the speakers.  Ideally this is done at home.  

I believe you will notice there's a difference between how your STR amplifier sounds with other brands such as McIntosh or Luxman.  Hopefully you'll also notice and identify your preferences on the difference between manufacturers.

I've heard both McIntosh and Luxman and I do appreciate the sound.  Have you been able to listen to either?  And did you notice a preference between them or your STR amp? 

We used to sell anthem it is decent gear and is up to the task for the sonus a pure tube preamp would take the str amp up a notch over the avm 


We had both the avm 70 and 90 the Audio Control Maestro was far better sounding




I’m interested to hear if you think the STR would be a "laughable" pairing for the Il Cremonese?

No, not at all (for now anyway — read on). In fact, as you’re already familiar with the the sound of the Anthem gear I’d highly recommend you continue to use it with the new speakers for a couple months and let your ears/brain settle in to the new sound. You probably know this, but if the speakers are new you should wait at least 200 hours of playing time before making any firm conclusions. Now, after the speakers are broken in and you feel confident you know the sound as it exists, identify which areas you’d like to improve upon and then do research to find equipment that has strengths in those areas. Moving too fast and trying to choose any equipment now is at least a waste of time and worse you could end up with a combo of gear that doesn’t ultimately synergize to your tastes/liking. That’s why you need to set a firm baseline with the Anthem gear and then determine the direction you want/need to go. BTW, when you’re listening in 2-channel do NOT employ the Anthem room correction because your new stereo preamp or integrated stereo amp won’t have it and you need a pure apples-to-apples comparison here.

As you alluded to, with speakers at this level you’ll want a separate DAC, stereo preamp and amp (yes you are going to replace the STR), or a kick-ass integrated amp. Obviously you’ll keep the AVM90 for HT duties and run its front L/R preouts to the stereo pre or integrated so there’s that. Once you’ve acclimated to the new speakers and determine what direction you want to go sonically start looking/researching for the components above that go in that direction. By all means do not rush this process or you could very well make some potentially bad — and very expensive — decisions you may really regret. Take your time, enjoy the process/search, and get it right. It’ll pay off huge in the long run, and these speakers deserve the effort.

BTW, why the II Cremonese? Have you heard them? There are many phenomenal speakers in that price range from the likes of Magico, Wilson, Rockport, Joseph Audio, Vandersteen, Usher, Raidho, etc. out there and are well worth auditioning just for perspective if nothing else if you haven’t already. Anyway, just my $0.02 FWIW.



Wow. That is fast upgrading. Congratulations. You have some word class speakers there. I completely agree with Soix. You want to let them break in and more importantly, you need to understand what your system sounds like so you can make good decisions. With these speakers, if carefully paired with appropriate and synergistic components and with the proper room treatment you can have yourself a world class system.

Songs Faber are very natural / musical sounding speakers. I have had three pair. They have a very known synergy with Audio Research components and Transparent interconnects and cables. Assuming you want a natural sounding musical system... meaning realistically recreating the musical experience... as opposed to accentuated detail, treble and bass which is very common to make them sound really dynamic (the salt, sugar and fat of the audio world). Then an ideal pairing would be Audio Research Reference 6SE preamp (yes, you need and want one... this is a whole discussion that has happened many times, no need to rehash here), and Audio Research Reference DAC9, and ARC Reference 160s or 160m monoblocks. This equipment is of appropriate quality to complement your speakers. You can see my system under my user ID.


There are other sound types. Like Holographic... if that is what you are going for, you start with Wilson speakers. If rock music with a kick to your chest is what you are looking for then one would start with B&W speakers and maybe Macintosh components. 


Hopefully the kind of sound you are looking for is what I described. Then you are on track.

I really appreciate the well thought out responses so far! Yes, I chose Sonus faber Lumina V for the natural sound. For my critical listening I have a vast collection of Jazz and Classical music. I have my current setup with perfect speaker placement that creates a realistic almost holographic soundstage at the main listening position. Everyone that hears the system is very impressed by the imaging and detail, especially for $3k speakers. I figured if they sound this great, then the Il Cremonese will be the ultimate experience beyond my wildest dreams (a ton more of a great thing). I got a great deal on perfect condition lightly used speakers that are a few years old, so they should come broken in. I will actually receive them in a few weeks and was trying to plan ahead. I will take the advice of spending time to carefully choose my new gear and not rush into it. I’m relieved that no one said the STR will be awful and I need to replace it immediately!

One factor I’m trying to figure out is whether I really need a lot of watts to make the Cremonese sing. For my Lumina V I tried: Marantz 90wpc, Anthem 170wpc, Anthem 400wpc, then finally the STR 600wpc. They didn’t really start reaching maximum potention until I put then on the 400wpc MCA before getting the STR. I don’t want to make the same, and more expensive mistake with the Il Cremonese, by underpowering them. Still getting great sound quality, but not opening them up enough?

I will look into everyone’s suggestions.....

Just a thought off the top. Your first concern for an amp should be if it offers the sound characteristics you’re looking for because if not what’s the point and then concern yourself with power.  The Cremonese’s sensitivity is a relatively high 92dB with a nominal impedance of 4 Ohms. What this tells me is that even more than higher Wpc you should pay attention to an amp’s power supply. With a nominal impedance of 4 Ohms it’s reasonable to assume it drops below that in at least one if not two points over the frequency range, so you need an amp that has the power reserves to handle those dips. With their high sensitivity I kinda doubt you’d need much more than 200Wpc if that amp can double into 4 Ohms and close to double again into 2 Ohms. Bottom line is you don’t necessarily need huge Wpc to make the Cremonese sing in full voice.

That said, do not ignore the importance of the preamp that is often at least as important as an amp, and in many cases, like mine, the preamp can have significantly more influence on a system’s performance than an amp. Balance in a system is critical, so your amp and preamp should be on the same level performance wise or one could easily become a bottleneck. Likewise the DAC should be at a similar performance level as the pre and amp, and personally I wouldn’t attack cables until I had these other pieces in place, but eventually they’ll be important to address too and need to synergize with everything else. Again, FWIW.


@soix, thank you for your thoughts and wisdom. I certainly opened up Pandora's box with this purchase. No regrets.... just a new journey with a lot of pieces. From my experience upgrading equipment for the past 1.5 years -- just when I thought it couldn't sound better -- it does.

The Luxman M10X puts out 1,200W at 1 ohm. That does sound like an important quality. Not all the brands publish all of the same specs though so its hard to compare all the stats. Also, there is truth beyond the numbers with how it sounds in your system...

So far, the AVM 90 with its 6 layer board and top of the line ESS DAC really impressed me by lifting the veil off the music and seemingly revealing many hidden details. I've been impressed with its 2 channel and surround performance, but I'm sure separates at a high level would be better. My dad has the Linn Select Organik dual mono DAC ($22k) on order, so maybe I can borrow that and see what it sounds like on my system.

It seems that for amps, and maybe all equipment, its hard to really know what it will sound like until you put it in your home. That would require a lot of buying/selling or someone willing to do in home demos I guess. I can say that I love the Lumina V paired with the Anthem STR and AVM90. It is musical, detailed, imaged well, and not harsh. I can listen for hours without fatigue. I suppose I'm looking for the same experience with the Cremonese. I just want to make sure I'm getting an optimal experience and doing them justice with the upstream gear!

So maybe Audio Research, Luxman, Mcintosh.... it all comes down to slightly different sonic tastes....not necessarily better or worse for the speakers? But perhaps the STR isn't at the caliber of those so it wouldn't quite do them the justice they deserve.

Once again @soix +1


I am powering my Sonus Faber Amati Traditional with an Audio Research Reference 160s in triode mode… so 70wpc and can play them louder, many times the volume I would ever want listen to without loss of dynamics. If tubed amp… then I would not worry much about the wpc, unless very low.


A word about Luxman. If you are looking for natural / musical, this may not be the brand for you. They have great specs for power but have a very limited midrange and very poor rhythm and pace. Listen to the brand for sure, many people love them, but make sure you feel it is complementary to your system. To me McIntosh is in one end with accentuated bass and midrange and a real lack of detail and Luxman is on the other end with accentuated treble and bass, lacking in musicality and midrange bloom. You are right, best way is to try this stuff in your system.

I currently have the SF Il Cremonese speakers. I listen to classical and some jazz via either a turntable or Rossini apex DAC.

Over the last several years, I have tried several pre-amps and amps.  Until just several weeks ago, I was using the ARC REF6SE preamp.  This was a good, but not excellent, match in that the bass was a little less defined and less impactful (compared to current pre amp as discussed below).  Indeed, I did not realize just how low and controlled the Il Cremonese speakers could present bass.  The ARC midrange was also good, relatively detailed and neither analytical or particularly musical (warm).  Complex classical orchestral music tended to be homogenized.  Sound stage was very wide, and reasonably deep, but pinpointing precisely individual instruments was not its forte.  Treble was also good, but violins tended to be slightly harsh or brittle.

So, I traded for a VAC Master preamp.  It is still in the "break in" period, but what I can say thus far (in comparison to the ARC) is (a) bass seems to extend further, is more articulate,  more impact, never blurry and for double bass (in jazz recording) can easily discern the musician's method of "plucking" the strings or for orchestral, bowing as well. (b) The sound stage is much deeper, and as the unit breaks in, is widening as well.  While VAC presents a very holistic image, you can, if you so desire, pinpoint individual musicians within the orchestra.  (c) the mid range is very full, very musical, but detail remains-- you just don't necessarily notice it unless you really want to (d) venue is very evident, especially live or concert halls; (e) treble is improving daily and losing any harshness or brightness.  Violins are (as the unit breaks in) sounding authentic.  The tonal character of all instruments is clearly presented, even the type of strings on guitars. It is NOT warm as some tube preamps can be, but it is definitely not "cool" either. Its tone seems completely natural as if the instruments are in the room or you are at the venue.

All of this is, of course, dependent on the amp as well.  I upgraded from Rogue Apollo Dark Monos  (which are very good in their own tier and do hit above their price point) to a D'Agostino Momentum MxV stereo (not monos).  This is certainly permitting the character of the VAC to be appreciated as the DAGs are exceptionally taut on the bass, have an amazingly low noise level, no haze, no veil, etc.  With the tube preamp, the DAG is not too analytical, and the combination is very natural without sounding overly warm or cool.  

It is important, however, to recognize that the preamp and amp are only as good as the cabling in-between.  I directly compared Nordost Valhalla 2,  Odin 2 and Shunyata Omega interconnects, power and speaker cables and the differences were extremely noticeable.  In my room, on my system, the Nordost loom seemed veiled, lost detail, did not allow the preamp and amp to present the music as holistically or to allow me to discern detail as readily (when desired).  The shunyata cables were completely transparent in comparison.  Both looms were connected via a Shunyata Everest and dedicated 20A circuit.

Your choice of musical genres is critical because the character of the sound is different for say electronic, hard rock, heavy metal vs classical.  I have no experience outside of classical and jazz, although I have often heard others state that the SF Il Cremonese speakers are really not for heavy metal or similar music.

Incidentally, I have heard these speakers with MAC preamp/amp and feel that MAC is too warm, too ill defined, and does not present the music and instruments as faithfully  in comparison to my combination.  

Hope this helps.  Wishing you the best...  enjoy the music.

@craig Thank you very much for the thorough and well thought out response. Thank you for sharing your experience and describing the different results with different equipment. I have been extremely happy with Wireworld cables so far. With my current STR amp and SF Lumina V setup, the Equinox 8 OCC7N copper cables reveal a lot of detail and clarity. I find them to be tonally natural and all the instruments sound authentic. I currently run Silver Eclipse XLR from Preamp to amp and they do an excellent job conveying the source information. I'm considering moving up to Gold or Platinum eclipse for this jump in speaker quality to get the best I can out of the Il Cremonese. I will report back after I've tried out the new speakers.