After 20+ years of being hifi aficionado, I finished with Sonus faber and McIntosh Laboratory Inc. combination.
The previous system consisted of high-efficiency loudspeakers and a valve integrated amplifier.
In Zagreb, Croatia, there is one nice hifi shop, RotaryAudio, run by Mr. Božidar Savi. We know each other for years now as I am a regular visitor/buyer in his shop. This particular time I visited him to get Pryma headphones, and he proposed to take a pair of Sonetto II and Primare i15 integrated for auditioning.
I put all together in the car, took home, and the rest is history, as someone said.
I installed it, connect everything, and just turn on. It was, actually, my first experience with Sonus Faber other than on hifi exhibits.
It worked great, very musically, very subtle in every way. It was a little bit different than anything else I had previously. But there were some things Sonetto was missing; details, micro, and microdynamics. The middle, however, was just great. Terrific.
I had this combination to get used to Sonus Faber for three weeks or so, and the first upgrade came.
Speaker was changed for Olympica I and the amplifier for McIntosh MA252 Integrated (btw, I am not a huge fan of separation of preamplifier and amplifier but got nothing against it I have to choose between two, I rather use integrated).
The improvement was huge. There is nothing common between Sonetto II and Olympica I but the fact both of them are stand mount speakers. Olympica got much better details, go extremely deeper with the tight and precise low spectrum, and much clearer highs. Musically, they are the same; Olympica is just a few steps better in every way.
After a few months, I get a chance to audition for McIntosh MA 5200 Integrated. Right after connecting, it was clear that it works much, much better with Olympica I. Almost as there are no limitations on large passages and output power seemed unlimited with Olympica I.
Somewhere in September, Sonus Faber had an official trade in action (it is now on-going in the UK, as far as I know) where you could upgrade just for a list price difference.
I spoke with Mr. Savi, the owner, and we made a deal. The decision was to upgrade to Olympica Nova II.
Guys from Rotary Audio bring new pair to my home (as my car is just too small for boxes Sonus Faber uses).
It was not easy. It was not hard. Large boxes with speakers covered in fabrics and accessories, very nice books, and that were it.
Just after installing, it was clear that Nova II is a different speaker than the original Olympica I. Lower are much better; no need to explain why, the tighter and overall sound was much better after only unpacking and connecting without any burn-in.
For the last two months, I am living with Olympica Nova II.
The way I am listening to music now changed. First of all, it perfectly fits into my room (which is also the living room). The second, as a load on amplifier Nova II is much easier than Olympica I was.
I am now not thinking anymore about amplification or speakers, as this modest combination just works great. Just the way I like it.
I am a very heavy concert visitor, playing the piano (at least I used to until I broke my left arm), and I am quite familiar with how music is supposed to sound.
During the time I had a chance to audition almost everything Sonus Faber made in high class (SE17, Aida, Lilium, *not sure about Cremonese; Amati, Serafino, Guarneri, both Amators (which are miracles), different Olympica and Olympica Nova models) on different amplification, mostly McIntosh Laboratory Inc. and Audio Research Corporation.
Would I like to have an Aidas? Yes. Do I have a place for them? Absolutely not. I live in a normal European apartment (about 100+ sqm). Are they too costly? No. They got the buyers, obviously.
I plan to live with this system for a long time, eventually replace digital sources (one is Lindemann Audiotechnik CD1, the other is Bladelius Embla). Computer audio is not an option for me (at least to the moment someone makes it right).
Have a nice Sunday, everyone.