Sonus Faber Guarneri G5 Review: New favorite speakers?

Artistic impression the latest generation of the Guarneri, Sonus Faber Guarneri G5, is as beautiful as ever, but Ed Selley thinks that it’s so much more than just a pretty face. Tested at £13,000.

What is Sonus Faber Guarneri G5?

Of Sonus faber’s longest running models, the Guarneri has established a reputation for also being one of the most attractive. The Sonus faber Guarneri G5 is, as the name suggests, the fifth iteration which remains a relatively compact, two-way standmount. The tweeter is a 28mm soft dome unit featuring the ‘DAD’ (Damped Apex Dome) structure over the top in order to assist with phase.

Sonus Faber Guarneri G5
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The Sonus Faber Guarneri G5 is remarkably dynamic once it gets some air moving

This crosses over at 2.2kHz to a 150mm cellulose pulp mid/bass driver designed to give many of the characteristics of paper with greater overall rigidity. A purpose-built neodymium motor system combined with a new tuning frequency allows for deeper extension without distortion.

Sonus faber Guarneri G5 Specs

ProductSonus faber Guarneri G5
OriginItaly
Type2-way standmount loudspeaker
Weight14.6 kg each
Dimensions (WxHxD)239 x 377 x 375 mm
Features28mm silk dome tweeter, 150mm pulped paper mid/bass driver, Claimed sensitivity: 86dB/1W/1M (4 ohm)
DistributorFine Sounds UK
Websitesonusfaber.com/en, finesounds.uk

As well as beefing up the motor, Sonus faber has worked to reduce the mass of the entire driver assembly to improve responsiveness. The crossover allows for bi-wiring in the classic Sonus faber tradition.

The cabinet keeps the lute shape profile when viewed from above, but the whole assembly is now more heavily braced than before. The most noticeable difference for this latest version is the aluminium sections at the top and bottom of the cabinet. Called Dampshelves, they help to quell resonance. Around the back is a metal ‘spine’ that runs the full height of the cabinet – called Stealth Ultraflex. This system of aluminium fins directs the air that leaves the cabinet and increases rigidity at the same time.

The visible metal sections and the darker ‘Wenge’ finish are more contemporary than some of the older iterations (a more traditional red wood and very smart graphite finish are also available), but the quality of build and finish is immaculate too. Our review sample comes with the matching stand – £13,000 a pair.

Sound quality

The changes Sonus faber has made to the way it builds the Guarneri have not altered many of the things we ‘expect’ one of its speakers to do. The way it handles Leila Moss and Gary

Numan’s duet on Vanishing Shadows is rich, sonorous and utterly convincing. The interplay between them – two organic sounds in a sea of electronic noise – is wonderfully tangible. The larger scale instrumental of Olympian by The Neptunes is no less assured. Instruments have definition and character without losing any sense of the wider performance.

There is also no shortage of low-end extension. So long as you have the power to drive it satisfactorily the Guarneri G5 is capable of remarkable heft for a relatively slender cabinet. This is tied to a level of control and definition that ensures even the huge but complex low notes of Grimes’ So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth are reproduced with the correct combination of articulation and impact.

The only quirk to this is that, as well as needing a reasonable amount of power, the Sonus Faber Guarneri G5 is somewhat restrained at quieter listening levels. Some of the scale and three-dimensionality is less apparent at low volumes and can lack a little excitement. Wind the volume on, however, and it is capable of genuine drive. Much of the reputation that Sonus faber has amassed over the years for being a bit pipe-and-slippers is unfair anyway, but this latest loudspeaker is remarkably dynamic once it gets some air moving. The only catch is that these levels might be a little high for some listening spaces, so some care will need to be taken.

Gallery

Competitors

If you’re looking at competitors in the same league, you’d typically consider other high-end bookshelf speakers that offer similar performance levels and design appeal.

  1. KEF LS50 Meta: Known for their innovative Uni-Q driver design, KEF speakers like the LS50 Meta are loved for their clarity and imaging.
  2. Wilson Audio Sabrina: Wilson Audio is known for their accurate sound reproduction, and the Sabrina model is a popular choice for those seeking musicality.
  3. Magico A1: Magico speakers are admired for their meticulous engineering and the A1 model offers exceptional clarity and dynamics.

VERDICT

If you do have the scope to run it at its preferred level, the Sonus Faber Guarneri G5 is a delight. You can reasonably argue that £13,000 is a very large sum for such a small speaker, but the overall combination of engineering, sound quality and those movie star good looks are impossible to ignore. The result is one of the very best standmounts on sale today.

Sonus faber Guarneri G5 Review
10 Total Score
Recommended Sonus faber Guarneri G5 Review

So long as you can give it the level it requires, the Guarneri G5 is a truly wonderful standmount speaker

TODAY'S BEST DEALS
PROS
  • Impressive scale and impact for size
  • Tonality
  • Exquisite build
CONS
  • Not cheap
  • Subdued at low levels
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Author

  • Ed Selley

    Ed Selley has been active in the audio industry since 1999 initially in retail before moving to work for manufacturers. A five year shift at Audio Partnership overseeing technical support, product training and competitor analysis was followed by shorter stints at Yamaha and Opus Technologies. The fortunate side effect of this chopping and changing was that he was involved in multiple product categories so is equally at home (or at sea depending on your perspective) with conventional two channel audio as he is with streaming and multichannel.

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UNBOXING: Sonus faber Guarneri G5 speakers (English subtitles / CC)

Sonus Faber Guarneri G5 Review

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