Sonus Faber Extrema

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
108
70
258
These speakers are 30 years old but are intriguing. Has anyone heard them? If so, how do they stand up in performance to today’s comparable speakers including large monitors? I have a pair of reference 3A Reflectors which I am really enjoying but recently acquired MasterSound PF100 monoblocks and Spettro preamp so these Extremas go along with the Italian theme. Would love to hear your insights and observations. Sonus-Faber_extrema.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jhellow

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2011
12
4
408
I own a set, and have had them for 20 years. Every time I make a change in the system these speakers reveal the change, good or bad. They are picky about amplification. They did not like my Goldmund amp much at the bottom end, but love the Concert Fidelity monoblocks. They are also speaker cable critical. Bi-wire Goertz AG-2, which seems to work well on everything else, were easily surpassed on the Extremas with MIT Oracle V1.3 bi-wires. My only gripe is with the cable terminals. They are not well spaced for bI-wire, and frankly, they are not very good terminals. The plastic surround actually blocks good contact and should be sanded down and they are gold plated brass, They need to be replaced, but it’s not an easy job.

You won’t regret owning them.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,497
1,097
688
I have owned the SF Guarneris and SF Strads, and heard a number of other SF speakers over the years, including the Electa Amators, SF Amatis, but sadly never the Extremas. However, what I can say is that the BALANCE that Franco Serblin achieved with a number of his speakers, particularly the Guarneris, the Electra Amators and to a degree his Strads, is spectacular.

I have heard many speakers that might possibly excel in one area or the other, but what I have found delivers the most long term satisfaction is BALANCE. When you listen to music, and you just enjoy music...not a particularly element or feature that happens to stand out...you can find long term musical satisfaction. And I have to say Franco Serblin's work exemplified this for me. Of the innumerable speakers out there for me, if I were inclined to 'collect' the choice pieces, the Guarneri and I suspect the Extrema would certainly be 2 of the ones I would choose to collect and enjoy.

I am intrigued by Jhellow's observations as an owner of them. I know and deeply respect the importer of Concert Fidelity here, Paul Stratton of Z:Axis Audio. Thus, I have an idea of how great the Concert Fidelity monos must be. In fact, I myself am looking at new monos, and considering amps that originate from that rarified pantheon of Japan-based designers.

And if Extremas mate well with them, that is also good to know, and more reason to think they are an incredible set of speakers to own. Surely, the stuff of legend.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
1,332
334
340
I've heard the original Extrema's albeit 25 odd years ago--you are correct they are a superb transducer at the time I wish I could've afforded a pair

:( -but settled for the Electa Amators and was sorry I sold those.

I currently have the same vintage Guarneri Homages and wouldn't swap them nor any upgrade to the present SF lineup.

Franco took 90% of the SF legacy with him--RIP.

BruceD
 
  • Like
Reactions: ashandger

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
424
584
98
68
I‘ve had some really fun times with Sonus Fabers and had 2 systems (in series not parallel) one based around an absolutely gorgeous, as in stand and admire and gently brush with the fingers, extremely dense and heavy Extrema with its incredibly effective almost horn-like acoustic impedance which boosts bass efficiency and allows the Extrema to create room energising bass to levels and frequencies that unseen, you‘d never attribute to a 2 way stand mounted speaker, at least not in those days. The downside of these speakers is literally their weight and therefore the ’resistance to moving‘ you encounter every tIme you want to try a different playing position, which in the very beginning meant moving this small ‘behemoth’ many times around the room looking for their optimum position. Lots of sweat and grunting involved. Before setting out I developed a simple algorithm for finding the optimum place, which involved a lot of moves and comparisons, moving, comparing, establishing new bests, then moving again in smaller increments until the most optimum was found. Same process for width, same for toe in. Its very laborious and must be carried out in 1 day, and contains a couple of moves simply to confirm the quality of the final reference. When the Extremas were positioned in this way and driven by Balanced Audio Technologies’ VK 500 SS monoblocks, the power and naturalness of the music they could produce had to be heard to be believed and their reputation as a high-end loudspeaker was well deserved. The measure of a great speaker is its ability to completely thrill its listeners with intense feelings and emotions and this is exactly what the Extrema did. It was a speaker that needed a dedicated room to sound its best because its best position was well away from walls, far apart and well toed in towards the listener, who sits in a reasonably near field position, formed by a very wide, relatively flat triangle. With the system set up this way, it felt like it was putting on performances of the music it was playing, with lots of drama and spacial accuracy. I had a large basement room which was almost ideal once it was well treated to deal with the many hard surfaces and I had lots of good vinyl and BAT’s tube phono and pre-amps and later their VKD5 and D5SE CDPs……Happy days and for sure its the ‘proverbial speaker I wish I’d never sold’. Many years later but I’m certain the Extrema still represents a very special transducer in terms of its ability to create a hugely wide and deep, 3 dimensional sound stage
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,497
1,097
688
Great story!, Blackmorec! What was your other system?
 

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
424
584
98
68
Great story!, Blackmorec! What was your other system?
my other system was based around BAT Rex tube amplification and a pair of SF Guarneri Homage augmented by a couple of SF subs. The subs were necessary to extend the bass down far enough to get uniform phase response across the whole audio spectrum, but getting them set up to sound ‘as a whole’ was one of the most challenging speaker positioning exercises I’ve had. They eventually ended up close to the corners of the front wall, with the woofer firing into the corner and the 2 auxiliary bass radiators into the room. With the Guarneris producing the higher frequencies and the subs looking after the omnidirectional deep bass the result was extended bass that imaged beautifully…the upper frequencies identifying the point source for each bass note and the subs providing the room filling deep impact as the notes bloomed and expanded. The Guarneri is likely another speaker you’d look back on and wish you’d hung on to. Very different from the Extrema in terms of optimum room size although with rather similar positioning requirements in terms of set up width, distance from walls and toe in. The dilemma was always between wall proximity to get maximum bass and the optimum distance for the widest, deepest sound stage…..hence the addition of subwoofers In order to get deep bass and the best soundstage.
 
Last edited:

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
17,932
2,416
810
Portugal
I‘ve had some really fun times with Sonus Fabers and had 2 systems (in series not parallel) one based around an absolutely gorgeous, as in stand and admire and gently brush with the fingers, extremely dense and heavy Extrema with its incredibly effective almost horn-like acoustic impedance which boosts bass efficiency and allows the Extrema to create room energising bass to levels and frequencies that unseen, you‘d never attribute to a 2 way stand mounted speaker, at least not in those days. The downside of these speakers is literally their weight and therefore the ’resistance to moving‘ you encounter every tIme you want to try a different playing position, which in the very beginning meant moving this small ‘behemoth’ many times around the room looking for their optimum position. Lots of sweat and grunting involved. Before setting out I developed a simple algorithm for finding the optimum place, which involved a lot of moves and comparisons, moving, comparing, establishing new bests, then moving again in smaller increments until the most optimum was found. Same process for width, same for toe in. Its very laborious and must be carried out in 1 day, and contains a couple of moves simply to confirm the quality of the final reference. When the Extremas were positioned in this way and driven by Balanced Audio Technologies’ VK 500 SS monoblocks, the power and naturalness of the music they could produce had to be heard to be believed and their reputation as a high-end loudspeaker was well deserved. The measure of a great speaker is its ability to completely thrill its listeners with intense feelings and emotions and this is exactly what the Extrema did. It was a speaker that needed a dedicated room to sound its best because its best position was well away from walls, far apart and well toed in towards the listener, who sits in a reasonably near field position, formed by a very wide, relatively flat triangle. With the system set up this way, it felt like it was putting on performances of the music it was playing, with lots of drama and spacial accuracy. I had a large basement room which was almost ideal once it was well treated to deal with the many hard surfaces and I had lots of good vinyl and BAT’s tube phono and pre-amps and later their VKD5 and D5SE CDPs……Happy days and for sure its the ‘proverbial speaker I wish I’d never sold’. Many years later but I’m certain the Extrema still represents a very special transducer in terms of its ability to create a hugely wide and deep, 3 dimensional sound stage

We had a thread on the Extrema long ago - I fully agreed on your main points . See https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/sonus-faber-guarneri-homage-vs-extrema.1984/

I owned the Extrema's twice and still feel tempted every time I see a pair being advertised, but I resist. ;)
 

Raker24

Member
Jul 28, 2020
37
23
8
66
Owned the Extremas for eight years, and still regret selling them (which decision seems today to be completely incomprehensible). One of the truly great classics. I saw a pair recently here in Singapore, and my heart went into palpitations.

That said, thirty years have seen much progress in the art of speakers. They were also almost impossible to drive well, very demanding of the partnering power amplifier (from experience, tube amplifiers don’t work, the bass becomes much too flabby). As well, even with powerful solid state amplifiers (I used a Norwegian Adyton Cordis 3B in those days, which with small modifications became the Forsell Reference), as a two way with a passive radiator in the back, the bass was either a little bit too flabby or a little too restrained (depending on the membrane tension adjustment of the passive radiator).

Very demanding and frustrating in the long term, since they would go “off song” with any small change in the system, with a concomitant long period of adjusting the system, and changing components, cables, and/or power treatments, to get them “on song” again.

By way of comparison, I also owned the Sonus Faber Stradivari Homages for all of thirteen years, as well one of the truly great classics.

Today I own the third generation TAD CR1 TXs (driven by TAD’s M700 mono amplifiers) which, although a three way, remind me very much of my long gone Extremas. Some similarity in overall concept (massive state of the art stand mount speakers). In fact, the TADs may be my attempt to recreate the “Extrema experience” after all these years. Objectively (although my heart protests loudly), the TADs are better speakers (thirty years of progress do make a difference), more resolution, and much better bass, amongst other things.

So keep your great memories of the Extremas in your heart forever, they really deserve a high place of honor there, but, purchasing speakers today, I would (very reluctantly, I admit) rather look at a modern state of the art speaker. Not the new Sonus Fabers, which seem to have lost their “soul” after Franco Serblin’s departure (despite what the reviewers say), but, depending on your personal taste, TADs, YGs, etc.

But I am still in love with the the Extremas, and will remain so until my dying day.
 

Popspin

Well-Known Member
Apr 28, 2015
79
10
213
I‘ve had some really fun times with Sonus Fabers and had 2 systems (in series not parallel) one based around an absolutely gorgeous, as in stand and admire and gently brush with the fingers, extremely dense and heavy Extrema with its incredibly effective almost horn-like acoustic impedance which boosts bass efficiency and allows the Extrema to create room energising bass to levels and frequencies that unseen, you‘d never attribute to a 2 way stand mounted speaker, at least not in those days. The downside of these speakers is literally their weight and therefore the ’resistance to moving‘ you encounter every tIme you want to try a different playing position, which in the very beginning meant moving this small ‘behemoth’ many times around the room looking for their optimum position. Lots of sweat and grunting involved. Before setting out I developed a simple algorithm for finding the optimum place, which involved a lot of moves and comparisons, moving, comparing, establishing new bests, then moving again in smaller increments until the most optimum was found. Same process for width, same for toe in. Its very laborious and must be carried out in 1 day, and contains a couple of moves simply to confirm the quality of the final reference. When the Extremas were positioned in this way and driven by Balanced Audio Technologies’ VK 500 SS monoblocks, the power and naturalness of the music they could produce had to be heard to be believed and their reputation as a high-end loudspeaker was well deserved. The measure of a great speaker is its ability to completely thrill its listeners with intense feelings and emotions and this is exactly what the Extrema did. It was a speaker that needed a dedicated room to sound its best because its best position was well away from walls, far apart and well toed in towards the listener, who sits in a reasonably near field position, formed by a very wide, relatively flat triangle. With the system set up this way, it felt like it was putting on performances of the music it was playing, with lots of drama and spacial accuracy. I had a large basement room which was almost ideal once it was well treated to deal with the many hard surfaces and I had lots of good vinyl and BAT’s tube phono and pre-amps and later their VKD5 and D5SE CDPs……Happy days and for sure its the ‘proverbial speaker I wish I’d never sold’. Many years later but I’m certain the Extrema still represents a very special transducer in terms of its ability to create a hugely wide and deep, 3 dimensional sound stage
Hi:
I loved your story about challenges faced in moving your Extremas into their prime position. I’ve been working on that effort with a new pair of Lilium’s. (Please resist making comments on pre and post Franco sound signatures).
Weighing 230lbs with weight not distributed evenly, I found that by placing plastic furniture sliding disks under each footer, the Lilium’s became rather easy to slide around my carpeted listening space. I made good progress but failed to reach perfection.
But perfection is near! Next week, a gentleman named Will Klein will be positioning my Lilium’s. Will works with Sumiko, US distributor of Sonus Faber, Audio Research and McIntosh. His reputation for locating speakers in a room is legendary, with a nation-wide recognition of his expertise.
I can’t wait to watch and learn from a master.
popspin

ps: I know you’ve moved on to other speakers now but I really enjoy your Sonus stories.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Andrew S.

DLS

Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2013
25
27
355
New York
I bought mine decades ago and they have been with me since. I love them so much that I bought a complete set of replacement drivers and crossovers as backup from Sumiko just in case anything ever happened (nothing has). From time to time I wonder about selling them and then read a post like this one where everyone who ever had them and sold them regrets it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Addicted to hifi

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
12,497
1,097
688
I bought mine decades ago and they have been with me since. I love them so much that I bought a complete set of replacement drivers and crossovers as backup from Sumiko just in case anything ever happened (nothing has). From time to time I wonder about selling them and then read a post like this one where everyone who ever had them and sold them regrets it.
I think that was a good move. When we sold our SF Guarneris, we already knew at that time that we would preferred to have kept them 'forever' given how good they are. We have no regrets because at the time there was no other way to make the upgrade to the 2nd hand SF Strads at the time.

If we go for a 2nd set of speakers, it would either be SF G's or SF Extremas. But as usual, we have focused everything on the best possible single system.
 

DLS

Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2013
25
27
355
New York
BTW - I think SF made "only" a thousand pairs and they almost never come up for sale. I suspect I could get close to original MSRP for them at this point, maybe more with the full set of replacement drivers and x-over. How many components in this crazy audiophile world can you say that of?
 
  • Like
Reactions: analogsa

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
108
70
258
These are the speakers I may be able to purchase. Can those of you who have knowledge of these speakers comment on these photos? Do the speakers and drivers look correct? Any obvious flaws? Any questions I should be asking? What about those rear bass controls? Do they tend to get wonky with age? Thanks so much.
 

Attachments

  • EBBD332A-E69B-463A-9E57-575C5D51B783.jpeg
    EBBD332A-E69B-463A-9E57-575C5D51B783.jpeg
    336.8 KB · Views: 32
  • 8EAA8DC2-95A0-4BE3-8917-66AB1BC6DD2E.jpeg
    8EAA8DC2-95A0-4BE3-8917-66AB1BC6DD2E.jpeg
    254.9 KB · Views: 31
  • 186E0B40-811D-4061-80F1-D1936A15D63F.jpeg
    186E0B40-811D-4061-80F1-D1936A15D63F.jpeg
    371.6 KB · Views: 31
  • C565EE3F-DF07-48C4-BCC0-263444FD7024.jpeg
    C565EE3F-DF07-48C4-BCC0-263444FD7024.jpeg
    396.4 KB · Views: 29
  • 6C97ECB0-881A-4C8B-A516-F705D6BF288E.jpeg
    6C97ECB0-881A-4C8B-A516-F705D6BF288E.jpeg
    261.5 KB · Views: 34
  • Like
Reactions: Addicted to hifi

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
2,131
629
235
50
Australia
These are the speakers I may be able to purchase. Can those of you who have knowledge of these speakers comment on these photos? Do the speakers and drivers look correct? Any obvious flaws? Any questions I should be asking? What about those rear bass controls? Do they tend to get wonky with age? Thanks so much.
Great pictures.
 

Raker24

Member
Jul 28, 2020
37
23
8
66
Looking very good, but missing the stands. Without the right stands, they won't perform very well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Addicted to hifi

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
108
70
258
Looking very good, but missing the stands. Without the right stands, they won't perform very well.
I am bummed this pair doesn’t come with the stands. But I do have the specs for the stands and have asked Sound Anchors, whose stands look very much like the original (assuming they can make a six post stand), to make me a pair:

21.5" Tall x 16" Deep x 11.25" Wide (at the base)

70 .2 lbs
 
  • Like
Reactions: Addicted to hifi

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing