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Testing Ground

Sonus Faber Lumina III: tower speakers with solid and luminous sound reproduction

By Alban Amouroux |

In creating the Lumina series, Sonus Faber wanted to make the brand's know-how accessible to an even wider audience. The Italian house has simplified the design but has not made any concessions in terms of technique. That means that we see options from the higher-end models being made available here, so as to preserve the Sonus Faber signature and spirit. Let's see what these little towers have in store for us.

When we think of Sonus Faber, we immediately imagine these huge speakers with slender shapes, made out of first-rate materials. These speakers are characterised by a mix of leather and lacquered wood decorated with fine black stripes. These objects are a perfect picture of Italian-style luxury. If you like, Sonus Faber is the Maserati of speakers. These decisions mean that their speakers immediately stand out from the crowd: and this rare and unique quality plays a role in the brand's image and longevity. The name Lumina was not chosen at random. It has meaning: LUxury, MInimalism and NAtural.

The Lumina range consists of three models: the Lumina I bookshelf speaker, the Lumina Center (the clue is in the name) and the Lumina III tower. Simple and effective. You can opt for small bookshelf models for a small room, and towers for a larger room. And you can bring all the elements together for a home cinema system. Additional subwoofers can also be found in the Sonus Faber catalogue: the Gravis I and II. Lumina models come in three finishes: lacquered black, walnut (light) and wengè (dark).

Features

Price: € 2,000 per pair
Type: 3-way bass reflex tower speaker
Speakers: 2x woofer 15 cm, 1x mid-range 15 cm, 1x tweeter 29 mm
Bandwidth: 40-24,000 Hz (+/- 3dB)
Sensitivity : 89 dB
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms
Recommended power: 50-250 watts
Weight: 15.9 kg each
Dimensions (H x W x D): 989 x 228 x 277 mm 

Overview of Lumina III

The Lumina III is a modestly-dimensioned tower. It stands just under 1 metre tall. Its thick black base is wider than the box. These speakers are individually packaged in double cardboard with polystyrene for optimal protection. The box contains spikes and stands to be inserted under the base.

When laying the speaker horizontally in its protective wrapping to insert the spikes, one can admire the large flared bass-reflex vent. It opens under the enclosure and makes use of the space created by the spikes. That means that they have to be inserted! Small counter-pointed cups will protect a parquet floor.

The front panel consists of a plywood panel one centimetre thick, somewhat exposed. It's here that the speaker's finish is placed, as the sides and top are wrapped in black leather. As for the back side, it has the same satin black finish as the base. The speakers are protected by a large magnetic fabric cover that bears only the Sonus Faber logo.

The Lumina III works in three ways with four speakers. The treble is taken care of by the DAD tweeter, short for Damped Apex Dome. The 29 mm silk dome with controlled damping is combined with an anti-phase component. Its design is taken from the higher-end models although obviously we find the simplified version here. Complex passive filters are equipped with components developed specially by Sonus Faber.

The 15cm mid-range uses a membrane made from a mixture of cellulose and different natural fibres. It comes directly from the Sonetto range. The woofers are paired to improve power handling in low frequencies. They also measure 15cm. With their cellulose membrane, they were developed specifically for the Lumina series.

Setting up Lumina III

Lumina III speakers need some space to express themselves. Nevertheless, the position of the vent under the speakers makes it possible to stick them more or less right against the wall without inflating the bass artificially. In this regard, it will always be more effective to lay this type of speaker on a stable support, either a hard floor, avoiding flooring that's too light; or on heavy intermediate slabs such as marble. The double nickel terminal block allows bi-wiring or bi-amplification if needed.

The Lumina III has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. For this test, we combined them in mono-wiring with an integrated Accuphase E-370 with an output of 2 x 150 watts (into 4 ohms). Sonus Faber advises an amplification of 50 to 250 watts: and after this test, we are tempted to advise you to go for the higher end of this range. We used a Bricasti M5 network player and a RME ADI-2 Pro AE DAC as a source for Qobuz Hi-Res streaming integrated with Roon. The speakers were about 2.5 metres apart, 3 metres from the listening position with the towers turned slightly in towards it.

Listening

We made the most of the release of a new edition of the album Frenchy by Thomas Dutronc, embellished with some additional tracks. La Dernière Séance in duet with original performer Eddy Mitchell gets us in a jazzy mood right away, with a very fine presence of vocals in the higher registers, much higher than the horizontal alignment of the Lumina III tweeters. The two singers are very close and meld together. The instruments spread a little lower. There is both an excellent separation of each musician and an osmosis of the whole, which offers a warm restitution. It is reinforced by a little reverb on the phrase endings which lends depth to the scene.

La Grande Tarantelle by Louis Moreau Gottschalk lets us check the powers of resolution on the DAD tweeter designed by Sonus Faber. This track has a very present treble line which foregrounds the violins, the woodwind section, and the right-hand piano keys. The Lumina III demonstrates a mastery of the upper register, with nuance and detail. Without pressing too hard, the tweeter makes it possible to easily differentiate the different instruments at play. For example, the notes of the violins follow each other precisely without overlapping or amalgamating: each touch of the string is rendered perfectly.

On the track Read My Mind, the voice of Lianne La Havas materialises in dead centre, lined up with a punchy kick, laying foundations of this piece with its nu-soul feel. The Lumina III restitutes the voice's warmth well. It gives it body and presence, and again separates it out from the other instruments, with the two guitars out on either end of the stage. The ensemble is brought together well, thanks to support from bass and choir, making for an extremely pleasant listening experience with the Lumina III.

The two 15 cm woofers associated with the bass-reflex vent are comfortable with bass and sub-bass. We took them down the electro path with a few different tracks including North Star by Tale Of Us. A charged, pared-down piece that would bring many speaker systems out in a cold sweat. The Lumina III copes handily here once again, with a good dose of impact and a rounded sound. The undergirding for this piece is all there, without any frustrations. The bass is sustained and we are pleased to witness the excellent combination of the bass-reflex vent with the quiet work of the speakers (there is no air noise), which do not excite the floor unnecessarily. To achieve these results, feel free to turn up the power.

Pros :
High-end finish
Towers that are an easy fit
Sharpness in the treble
Depth in the sound stage
Mastery of lower frequencies

Cons :
Slight lack of weight in the higher bass

Recommended power and use

Conclusion

Sonus Faber wanted to make its range even more accessible, and their gambit has succeeded. 2,000 euros is a fair bit of money, of course. For this price, you get a pair of towers offering very high-quality sound reproduction. The Lumina III brings what you would expect from towers alongside bookshelves. That is to say, a more consistent foundation and exploration of the bass, making for a sound with realism and presence. The house DAD tweeter can handle reproducing a precise high register without being wearing. The soundstage takes on both height and depth, in which vocals and instruments are nicely separated out from each other. And at this price, you have speakers which are made in Italy, with an exemplary finish. Although it is simplified compared to the real works of art that are the Superior Sonus Faber models, the design is enhanced by this lacquered or inlaid facade and the leather-wrapped casing. In addition to making music, these speakers are very pleasant to contemplate. You've got it: Lumina III are absolutely not Sonus Faber at a discount: quite the contrary!