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Review: Sonus Faber’s Lumina I Loudpeaker Is a Mighty Pint-Sized Performer

The smallest of the brand’s Lumina series can sonically fill a room while perched on a bookshelf.

The Sonus Faber Lumina I speaker. Photo by Emanuele Tortora, courtesy of Sonus Faber.

Proving the old adage that “good things come in small packages,” Lumina loudspeakers from Sonus Faber bring a welcome addition of stylish design and luxurious materials to the world of smaller, more affordable speakers. With its entry-level series, the manufacturer best known for more costly components joins a few other notable brands that now offer products punching well above their weight in terms of engineering, sonic performance and build quality.

Sonus Faber cleverly breaks down the three syllables of Lumina, Latin for “light,” to describe the project’s design brief, where LU = luxury (beautiful materials); MI = minimalist (clean design) and NA = natural (accurate sound). The series includes the Lumina I ($899 per pair), a truly compact bookshelf ideal for stereo or surround-sound applications. The Lumina Center I ($699 each) is designed for home-theater applications, and Lumina III is a slim floorstander ($2,199 per pair) designed for two-channel or surround-sound systems. Available Gravis I and II subwoofers are ideal for a 5.1-channel configuration.

Lumina enclosures are distinguished by a multi-layer genuine wood front baffle in matte-finished walnut or wenge, or piano black, while the cabinet top, sides and bottom are wrapped in genuine black leather—a luxurious aesthetic perk in contrast to most inexpensive speakers that come wrapped in wood-grain vinyl. Two pairs of nickel-plated terminals at the rear allow bi-wiring or bi-amping, should the urge strike.

Drivers developed for the Lumina I include the 29 mm soft-silk diaphragm tweeter crossed over at 2,000 Hz to a 4-inch mid-woofer, with cone material in cellulose pulp and natural fibers. The Lumina Center I uses two of those 4-inch drivers, while the Lumina III uses three 5-inch drivers in place of the 4-inch unit; one for middle frequencies and two for low frequencies.

The Sonus Faber Lumina I speaker.

The Sonus Faber Lumina I.  Photo by Emanuele Tortora, courtesy of Sonus Faber.

We wanted to see how the smallest of the Lumina trio performed in a setting best suited for a speaker of such modest dimensions. The Lumina I, at less than 6 inches wide, 11 inches tall and 8.5 inches deep, is perfect for an office or study; in this case a room about 12 feet wide and 15 feet deep, with 8-foot ceilings. Using our regular A&E floorstanders as “stands” elevated the Lumina tweeters about 8 inches above ear-height, compensated somewhat by raising our Aeron chair accordingly. The speakers were matched to solid-state electronics from Quad, including a CD player, preamp and 100-watt amplifier, which provided ear-watering volume driving the 84 dB-efficient Lumina I.

Bass output is surprisingly satisfying, and while it doesn’t do much below 65 Hz, the fact that these are a bass-reflex design adds some wallop and substance to low frequencies. The Stealth Reflex design, as Sonus calls it, ports the bass waves out a bottom slot at the front of the cabinet. That also means the speakers can be pushed closer to rear walls or placed in bookcases. Ours were more ideally situated about 18 inches away from walls and corners.

Of course, midrange and crystal-clear treble frequencies are what most impressed, reproducing everything from smaller-scale Baroque ensembles to acoustic jazz trios with detail and transparency approaching—almost—references like the venerable LS3/5a or current KEF LS50 family. Because most listening in an office or study is not done at ear-splitting levels, it’s hard to imagine a more adept, practical performer in such a setting than the Lumina I, especially given the price of admission.

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