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Sonus faber Venere 3.0 Floorstanding Speaker Review

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Sonus Faber Venere 3.0 Floorstanding Speaker side view

Morning Workout

The next morning I positioned my stationary bike in the sweet spot and loaded Michael Jackson’s Thriller to help me get my heart rate up for the workout. I had used this record on several occasions in the past to test components in my main system, with special emphasis on pace, rhythm and timing and tight extended bass. I figured that I should find out immediately if the Venere 3.0s would give me ponderous bass and rounded rhythms, or whether it would give me the energetic presentation that was crucial to the essence of Thriller. I was not disappointed. Wanna Be Starting Something exploded out of the speakers the way it does on good systems, and I immediately knew that these speakers were more friendly to rock than the Sonus faber speakers I had listened to years ago. My aerobic workout got very intense. In addition to Wanna Be Starting, Something, Beat It and P.Y.T made it impossible to sit still, while the bass line in Billie Jean was more than just respectable. Not only that, but soundstaging was excellent, with both the solos and choruses placed appropriately in a wide soundstage. I was clearly getting big-speaker soundstaging from a moderately sized floorstander. The Venere 3.0s easily passed my basic PRaT and soundstaging tests, so that night I planned to delve deeper.

Evening Introspection

After I returned from work that evening I decided to play Steely Dan’s Gaucho for the first time in over two years. First, I went into my main listening room, where I played my hires download of Babylon Sisters through my MBL 1611 F DAC, Electrocompaniet amps and Vivid G-1 speakers. I then took a redbook CD of the same recording and loaded it into an old Pioneed Elite DV-37 DVD player and played it using my old Sony EP 9 ES DAC, NAD midfi amp and the Sonus faber Venere 3.0s in my secondary home theater room. I obviously did not get the same slam, extension or soundstaging, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much of the qualities of this recording came through when listening to the Sonus faber’s. Glamour Profession was very lively, with the choruses coming across with just the right amount of “breathiness,” while Donald Fagan’s distinctive vocals stood out without sounding out of place. There was excellent coherence to the entire musical presentation, with individual performances distinct while simultaneously integrated with the overall performance. Third World Man conveyed the appropriate gravitas while imparting the subtleties of each instrument The Venere 3.0s managed to always present a very good sense of musical scale, both at moderate and high volumes.

So to summarize, the Sonus faber Venere 3.0s did a very good job on tests 3 and 4 – coherence and scale – especially for speakers costing under $4000/pair.

Evaluating the Detail in the “Big Room”

I had a few hectic days of business that prevented me from listening to the 3.0s for another week, but two Sundays later I put on Patricia Barber’s Modern Cool. Although during original setup I had been able to immediately appreciate the Sonus faber’s resolution, I had really not focused on that aspect of the speakers. Modern Cool is highly atmospheric, and part of that atmosphere is the detail that comes across in the nuances of the instruments and the spatial cues of the recording venue. I wanted to be sure that I got this part of the evaluation right, so at this time I moved the Venere 3.0’s into my main listening room so I could hear them with the MBL DAC, Electrocompaniet amps and high end cables. Based on what I had heard to date, I should not have been surprised by the result. Highs were detailed and extended, and the midrange was warm without being flabby. Bass was very respectable and balanced out the treble and midrange in appropriate fashion. Granted, the bass wasn’t anywhere as firm or as deep as with my Vivid G-1s, but very few speakers are, and the Vivids cost 10-20 times more. For example, the sound of the grinding bass at the end of Touch of Trash was not as impactful or room-filling, but the bass the Venere 3.0s did produce was tighter than I’d expected, with good physical impact when the music called for it, such as in You and the Night and the Music.

A Third Venue

About a week later I moved the Sonus fabers into my second floor loft and connected them to the small-in-size 50 wpc Wadia 151 PowerDac Mini and played music from my iPad through the Wadia 171i Transport. I cranked up the volume on Robert Lucas’s Luke and the Locomotives and let it rip. My loft is open on one side, but “Big Man Mambo” absolutely rocked with power and weight, which is the way it’s meant to sound. At the same time, “Shed a Tear” had Robert Lucas’ vibrato smack in the middle of the room, right-sized and rock-solid regardless of the volume at which it was playing. This clearly demonstrated that the 3.0s were an appropriate buy for a variety of rooms and systems.

Sonus Faber Venere 3.0 Floorstanding Speaker close up top

Back to Where I Started

I eventually moved the 3.0s back into my secondary listening room/home theater and listened to them in the morning during my workout several days a week and then in the evening once every week or two for the next several months, so I got to know them quite well in several systems and in several rooms. Even in my 24×29 main listening room the 3.0 had sounded surprisingly robust and solid – way more than a $3500 speaker is normally expected to sound. In smaller rooms with good electronics they left you feeling that there was no reason to want more. These speakers do well in presenting a wide and stable soundstage. Even soundstage depth – which is almost always the exclusive purview of much more expensive speakers – was very respectable. The presentation is also quite musical, with good detail that never crossed the line into becoming analytical. The Veneres also worked well with many types of music, including rock, classical and jazz, as opposed to excelling only at one genre. Though my “formal” review only cites four albums, I in fact listed to a much wider range of genres on the 3.0s. I always enjoyed the music I was listening to, in no small part due to the Venere 3.0s balanced sound that sounds “right”, even to an audiophile.

Conclusion

The Sonus faber Venere 3.0 is a speaker I can easily recommend to anyone looking for a pair of speakers costing up to $5500/pair. While there is a lot of competition in the $4000-6000 range, at $3500 this speaker really stands out as a great buy. Highly recommended.

9 Responses to Sonus faber Venere 3.0 Floorstanding Speaker Review


  1. Andreas says:

    Hi and congratulations for this very accurate review, probably the best i have seen for the Venere speakers. I have the 2.5 and i think when you say “In smaller rooms with good electronics they left you feeling that there was no reason to want more” you really nailed it. Those are my thoughts exactly. Hard to explain it considering the real world price of the speakers=))

  2. Mark Niehoff says:

    Ed’s review is spot on. I have owned these for about a year now and love the sound I get from them in my bedroom setup. I especially enjoy the midrange out of these speakers. Plus like Ed said, they can be set up in any room in my home and still sound great. Definitely a keeper at this price range.

  3. Jared Purdy says:

    I can’t comment on the 3’s as I only heard them once in a stereo shop in Toronto, Planet of Sound. I decided, based on the size of the room that they were going in, that I preferred the size of the 2.5’s. I initially compared them to a pair of KEF speakers that were more than $500 more, and the after I listen to both pairs, it was clear that the 2.5’s left them in the dust. The store staff agreed and said that every customer who comes in says the same thing. Fast forward a few days and I found myself at Toronto’s Bay Bloor Radio. I had basically forgotten about the KEF and the Sonus Faber speakers as was there to audition a pair of Totem Forest floor standers, speakers that cost around $5000. They had a fabulous sale on a particular colour and so it seemed a no-brainer. Then I found out that Bay Bloor also carried Sonus Faber. I had the customer service staff set up the Forest’s, a pair of $3000 PSB speakers, and the Sonus Faber Venere 2.5. For music, I brought a range, including Joni Mitchel’s Mingus, a recording of the Grateful Dead, a fairly recent Taj Mahal recording, Abdullah Ibrahim and Johnny Dyani’s Duets and Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain. It was immediate for every recording: the Faber’s had a much bigger sound stage and a warmth and clarity that was lacking, even in the much more expensive Totem Forest speakers. It was an easy decision. As the author says, the fit and finish is flawless, they look incredible everything I play through them is faithful. Neutral is a good term that I would use to describe playback. I too was surprised at the relatively hollow sound that I heard when I gave a knock on the side about mid centre. I’ve seen a schematic on the interior layout, so it’s obviously not an issue in terms of design build or sound. I’d love to compare them to the much more expensive Olympia line. My system is composed of NAD Master Series M3, M4 and M5 components, a Project 2Xperience turntable (acrylic) with an Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge, a Cambridge AZUR 651P phono preamp and Hi Diamond interconnects with Xindak speaker cables.

  4. Guido says:

    I am evaluating a Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 to replace my B&W 805s, running on a Mc Intosh 6500.
    But after reading several reviews I am not sure is an upgrade anymore. Any comment please…
    Regards,
    Guido Gallegos from Lima, Peru

    • Bryan Daniels says:

      Guido, I actually just did the exact upgrade. Replaced my B&W 805s for the Venere 3.0. Driven with the Krell KAV-400xi. The B&W is a great speaker but there is just no comparison to the 3.0 and there shouldn’t be with one being a bookshelf and one a full range floor stander. The thing I was missing with the 805s was the bass. Now I have a full rich sound with the bass I was missing. Hope this helps.

  5. Trent says:

    Bryan, do you use a sub. If using a sub would you still prefer the venere 3?

    Thanks,

  6. Greg Olsen says:

    I have the 3.0 and they definitely need a sub. Very nice though with just a touch of sub.

    • K says:

      I’ve done the same setting up 3.0 with a sub, using Audia Flight FL3S. The delivery sounds much fuller and lively. A good quality sub has really complimented the soft bottom end of the SF.

  7. Arty says:

    Hi everyone) I am planning on buying Venere 3.0 but I wanted to ask one thing — do you think the sound of these could be characterized as “warm and smooth” (as opposed to just “not analytical”)
    I just really hate when speakers accentuate mid/high range, especially on female vocals. Thanx!

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