The Italian loudspeaker manufacturer Sonus faber is no stranger to our Robb Report audience, especially to music lovers who take pleasure in sophisticated product design and the artisanal craftsmanship for which the audio brand is known. When I visited the factory late last year, one question I asked chief designer Livio Cucuzza was whether the company would enter the wireless streaming world with a product combining source, electronics and speakers in one compact component. Oh, and will it have the distinctive design signature of Sonus faber, and not look like anything we’d ever seen before?
Apparently, my prescience struck a nerve, though I had to wait until the beginning of this year to learn that, indeed, Sonus had something up its sleeve. That something is the $1,999 Omnia, which arrived at my studio about a month ago and has been filling the open industrial space with lots of music ever since.
At a little more than 25 inches wide, 11 inches deep and about five inches high, the Omnia could be just about anything but a stand-alone sound system. The flat wooden top panel, in luxurious book-matched walnut or graphite veneer, is punctuated by the touch-sensitive Senso interface, a trio of flush light arrays that indicate the unit is alive, and a shorter one that indicates mode, input and volume. Operation at a distance is possible with the small handheld remote control, a smartphone or tablet. Acoustically transparent black cloth covers the hull-shaped enclosure—imagine a miniature racing yacht—which houses electronics and a complement of seven speakers.
Of course, the Omnia can make music without any tether but its power cord. Wireless playback is the order of the day, and the interface allows listeners to use mobile devices with integrated Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast Built-in functionality. For highest resolution streaming, we listened mostly with Tidal Connect, playing master files of lots of well-known, favorite recordings.
The Omnia let us enjoy jazz tracks like Gloria’s Step, from Bill Evans’ Sunday at the Village Vanguard, with a casual ease. Instead of assuming the “serious-listening” position and parsing details from a pair of giant loudspeakers, I was able to experience the genuine luxury of just letting the music bloom in the open warehouse, whose concrete floors and 18-foot ceilings lend an acoustic signature altogether different from our dedicated listening room with its sound absorption as dead as a funeral parlor’s acoustics. The Omnia does exactly what it’s supposed to do in an open-floor-plan space, as one might encounter in a kitchen, on an outdoor deck, a party venue or anywhere music lends to the magic of the moment.
Part of the magic comes from Sonus faber’s Crescendo technology, a proprietary signal-processing system that uses a combination of in-phase bipole and anti-phase dipole dispersion to add a greater sense of dimensionality to the music. That dimensionality is further enhanced through the use of two 1.75-inch extended-range Neodymium drivers, one at either end of the enclosure, that lend noticeable ambience and scale to the musical picture.
At the front of the cabinet are two 3-inch, pulp-cone midrange drivers—the workhorses—each flanked by a .75-inch silk-dome tweeter with a Neodymium motor that takes frequencies out to 25 kHz. A single 6.5-inch long-throw, aluminum-cone woofer fires downward into an open port, through which is cast a gentle illumination around the elliptical base of the unit. A total of 490 watts powers all seven drivers.
Whether being listened to near-field or from way across the room, the Omnia paints a bigger-than-it-has-any-right-to-be soundstage, proof how clever engineering of a DSP-optimized closed-box system can render larger-than-life sound that is natural and never strained. And web-based setup allows users to tailor the equalization (EQ) modes for specific room placement, further improving the sound.
Although the Omnia is wireless, users have some wired options. At the rear of the unit is a LAN connection, along with an HDMI ARC input that connects the Omnia to the TV. Importantly, a supplied MiniDin-to-RCA cable accommodates sources like CD players and turntables (the latter equipped with an MM cartridge), thanks to a switch on the rear panel that engages the Omnia’s phono section into the signal path. This flexibility really makes the Omnia an all-in-one solution for LP collectors who want to add a good-looking turntable to their system.
Listening to the Sonus faber Omnia is akin to taking a musical vacation from the rigors of formal, sit-down listening. It’s like sipping endless cocktails from a deck chair instead of squeezing into a cramped booth with too much glassware and not enough wine on the table. The Omnia, available from May 22, really pours it on.