Your basket is empty

Section :
Testing Ground

Sonus Faber Omnia Test: Wireless Music with Class and Elegance

By Alban Amouroux |

Sonus faber Omnia Test: Sonus faber has dived back into the world of wireless speakers with the Omnia: and it’s doing it in style. After creating a high-end wireless speaker six years ago, the new Omnia is making this Italian manufacturer’s wireless options a little more accessible. The technical concepts of this speaker have resulted in an original piece of audio equipment, both in terms of design and speaker layout. This is an unusual speaker that we just couldn’t wait to test.

It’s easy to spot a Sonus faber speaker. The Italian brand has a recognisable aesthetic featuring wooden accents and a flawless finish. They make speakers to suit every budget: from super affordable to ultra-high-end. Plus, all their speakers are exclusively made in Italy.

Back in 2016, Sonus faber released the Sf16, an oval-shaped wireless speaker with motorised speakers. This exclusive speaker only featured in their catalogue for a limited amount of time. This isn’t exactly a surprise as its hefty price tag was only just shy of £10,000 and wasn’t intended for the masses. The Omnia has maintained the curvaceous shape of its predecessor and, although it’s still a premium speaker, it’s definitely more affordable too. What’s more, its visual design and functions were awarded two Red Dot Design Awards this year.

Specifications

● Wireless 4-way stereo speaker
● Price : 1,799 €
● High Resolution Audio : 192 kHz/32 bit
● Connections : Wi-Fi ac, Ethernet, HDMI ARC, RCA line/phono MM input
● Network capabilities : AirPlay 2, Chromecast audio, Roon Ready
● Accessoires : Infrared remote control
● Dimensions (w x h x d) : 650 x 130 x 280 mm
● Weight : 7.6 kg

Omnia Overview

The design of the Omnia is in keeping with other Sonus faber products, which are well-known for their wood accents. It also features the classic lines that have been indented into the wood prior to varnishing. On their classic speakers, this is a purely decorative element, however, these lines are functional on the Omnia (something we’ll explore later). The wood is available in two finishes: walnut or graphite. Both finishes are coupled with black fabric.

The Sonus faber Omnia is flat on the top and curved on the bottom with cut-outs on the sides. It’s nothing like the cube or cylinder-shaped wireless speakers that you usually see. Resting on a sturdy metal base, the Omnia is guaranteed not to budge. It’s also 65 cm wide, so it’ll need to be placed on a piece of furniture large enough to accommodate it. Overall, the Omnia is a beautiful piece of equipment with a timeless aesthetic.

The front and sides of the speaker are covered with acoustic fabric, hiding the seven speakers. It also has 4-way stereo sound and the front channels consist of 19 mm tweeters and 76 mm mid-range speakers. To give the soundstage more width, 44.5 cm full-range speakers are located on the sides, facing outwards. Bass is provided by a 16.5 cm long-throw aluminium cone woofer in a down-firing configuration. The total power output is 490 Watts, although Sonus Faber does not specify the distribution. The broad frequency range is equivalent to that of a very good pair of bookshelf speakers.

The specific configuration and positioning of the speakers is based on a technology developed by Sonus called Crescendo. In order to provide the widest possible soundstage capable of rivalling a pair of speakers, this new technology combines a mix of in-phase bipole and anti-phase dipole sound schemes. Sound processing plays on stereo, delay and phase in order to give the soundstage width and distribute pressure by avoiding monophonic 360° dispersion.

Physical connectivity includes an Ethernet socket for networking, a HDMI ARC to connect the speaker to your TV and a proprietary mini-DIN connector. A supplied adapter converts this socket into an analogue RCA audio input. This is configurable in line or phono mode (MM) with the required ground terminal. The speaker also works wirelessly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth making it perfect for everyday use.

Using the Omnia

Sonus chose DTS Play-Fi wireless audio playback protocol for the previous Sf16. This works with a mobile app that includes streaming services. This app is shared with other manufacturers. The Omnia, however, doesn’t have its own dedicated app. This means there’s no specific installation procedure and no accessible settings. The Omnia has been tuned by Sonus faber via an internal DSP for optimal results without offering a sound mode or equalizer.

Sonus has integrated various network broadcasting protocols: AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Roon, each one with their own respective app. As for connecting the Omnia to Wi-Fi, you’ll need to go through the usual procedures via AirPlay on an iPhone, or via Google Home on an Android smartphone. Once this is done, the speaker will then be available for wireless playback. If you connect via Ethernet, you don’t need to do anything, the playback protocols will automatically find the Omnia.

Let’s revisit those indented lines on the top panel of the speaker. These light strips are actually part of a backlit Senso touchscreen display which allows you to control the main functions of Omnia: the shortest bar corresponds to power on, and the two small dots control the volume. The colour of the shortest bar indicates the selected input. It lights up in eight different colours and, though it’s hard to remember what each of them mean at first, you soon pick it up.

This device also comes with an infrared remote control that replicates the functions carried out by the display on the top panel. It’s equipped with nine basic buttons for power, playback, volume and source selection. One button switches the touchscreen display’s backlight on and off, with three light levels available. It does the same thing to the indirect lighting under the speaker.

Thanks to its HDMI input, the Omnia can easily replace a soundbar. As you’d expect, you’ll need to install and centre it under your TV and, because the Omnia is quite tall with a height of 13 cm, you’ll struggle to centre it well if your TV is on a piece of furniture. It works best placed on a cabinet or shelf underneath a wall-mounted TV. Just remember to set the TV audio output to PCM, not bitstream, otherwise you’ll get no sound. Omnia is not compatible with Dolby and DTS formats.

Listening Experience

When we listened to Biréli Lagrène in solo on his latest album, Solo Suites, we were immersed in the sound right away. The guitar is reproduced incredibly realistically with rhythm, precision and speed. With the Omnia, music sounds full-bodied. We’re able to hear the full resonance of the guitar and every last piece of phrasing. You can really hear the difference between the Omnia and the wireless speakers that come in at under £1000. Of course, the higher price point is a result of the use of better components, but that’s not the only reason. You need to do more than use a lot of speakers to create great sound, and this is high-quality sound that Sonus faber is offering.

Low frequencies are controlled to allow the speaker to work in a range it’s best suited to. When listening to Ella Mai Heart’s R&B album Heart on my Sleeve, there was no sense of over-compression that would make the bass sound monotonous. The music developed with impact and strength all the way up to unreasonable sound levels. The result is comparable to what can be achieved with a good pair of bookshelf speakers equipped with 15 cm woofers.

We listened to Miel de Montagne’s electro-pop album Tout Autour de Nous to make the most of the processing applied to the stereo in an effort to widen the soundstage. Reverb is well reproduced and the soundstage reaches beyond the limits of the speaker. Nonetheless, it still doesn’t compare to what can be achieved by using a pair of speakers. The Omnia falls right in the middle of the spectrum, somewhere between conventional speakers and a single wireless speaker, so their efforts to widen the soundstage have paid off to some degree.

Large orchestral formations, such as the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, are also reproduced well (and with great tone). The sound of both the brass and string sections are of great quality and the reproduction is free of any detrimental flaws. Just don’t expect a detailed soundstage with extensive width or depth. The stereo effect is limited although the ambience is sufficiently developed. The main stream of sound is contained within the framework of the speaker and it can be tricky to define the different layers. In particular, the soundstage lacks verticality, though this varies depending on the height of the cabinet the speaker is placed on and your listening position. It seemed to have more of an impact on the listening experience when we were sitting higher than the speaker.

Pros :
Unparalleled design
Beautiful tone
Bass control
Wide range of connectivity

Cons :
Soundstage is limited in terms of verticality and depth

Conclusion

The Omnia wireless speaker is instantly recognisable as a Sonus Faber device, boasting the classic aesthetic the Italian brand is known for. Whether in walnut or graphite finish, the Omnia is a stunning piece of equipment that will look great in any room. The sound performance is also in line with what you can expect from Sonus faber, with the Omnia’s beautiful tones being one of its best qualities. It knows how to detect and reproduce detail. However, the soundstage is arguably where this speaker loses points. It’s definitely much wider than alternative all-in-one wireless speakers, but the soundstage still lacks detail despite the number of speakers and advanced signal processing. This doesn’t stop the Omnia from being a great speaker though. Though the price point is quite high, it has a lot to offer. For example, it features full connectivity including a HDMI ARC link, making it a great alternative to a soundbar or HiFi system.