There's a new challenger for the best wireless speaker crown, and it's from a name that high-end hi-fi aficionados will know well, but most people won't be familiar with: Sonus faber. The Italian company makes beautiful speakers in a signature lute-shaped design, using wood shaping techniques borrowed from local ship-building traditions – and its new all-in-one music system has just become my most-anticipated release of 2022.
The Sonus faber Omnia is a seven-driver, 490-watt beast of a speaker, and it's made to be able to get music from anywhere: you can stream over Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, TIDAL Connect, Roon and aptX Bluetooth. It also features HDMI connectivity to use as a soundbar, and has a turntable MM phono connection.
It's got a beautiful boat-like shape with gorgeous wooden finish on top, with three lines of light that indicate what options are selected, and also swish back and forth in cool ways, for good measure.
It costs £1,599 (about $2,160), and is available today. That price puts it in upper echelons of wireless speakers, but it's right in line with the likes of the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation, which is the level this is aiming at. But it's a reminder that when Sonus faver talks about the company's "rich Italian heritage" they could mean it in more ways than one.
Odds are, it'll be more than worth the price for music lovers, in any case. The 490 watts of amplification is powering two silk-domed tweeters, two three-inch mid-range drive units, one 6.5-inch long-throw bass driver, and two 1.7-inch full-range drive units. The latter are specifically powered by their own custom signal processor, called CRESCENDO (yes, all caps), which aims to add "a greater sense of dimensionality and immersivity." Specifically, the Omnia is tuned for "class-leading clarity and a wide soundstage that mimics live performances".
I've always loved the design of Sonus faber's traditional loudspeakers, and the way the company has designs based around both that traditional wood-shaping ship-building technique, so I asked Chief Design Officer, Livio Cucuzza how that heritage translates to the Omnia. He said:
“I still remember the physics lesson at high school where the teacher said, 'Air is a fluid.' That really opened my mind and created a new consciousness. We’re used to considering a space as ‘empty’ if there are no objects, but in reality, it is not. The fluid that gives us life is everywhere: we are immersed in it. Without air, there’s no sound. So, I always imagine the products I create as if they are living in that fluid in the most natural way, just like a sailing boat’s hull is gliding on the water. Omnia’s design is the result of that inspiration, combined with the classic Sonus faber lute shape.”
There's definitely a distinctive boat shape to the Omnia, and the wooden finish on top very much has that 'Mediterranean pleasure cruise' feel. Sonus faber's last wireless speaker, the SF16, was also all luxe metal and wood, but looked more like the spaceship that people in the ’60s imagined we'd be flying around in today.
At 650mm wide, 280mm deep and 130mm high, it wouldn't be too difficult to accommodate on a sideboard or shelf. Between the audio quality and just the general beauty of it, the Omnia is gadget I'm lusting after the most in 2022 all of a sudden…