Sonus Faber may be a small Italian speaker company, but you can literally see its influence in the curvy look of various B&W, KEF, Magico, Tannoy, Wharfedale, and countless other speakers. Thanks to Sonus Faber, the box is out and round is in.
Looking straight down on the top of the Liuto's cabinet, you can't help but notice its curves mimic those of a classical lute (liuto is the Italian word for lute). The shape has graced a number of Sonus Faber speakers, but instead of the company's traditional solid-wood cabinets, the Liuto's is milled medium-density fiberboard. Its high-gloss black lacquered flanks are of more than cosmetic interest, and its rounded sides minimize the speaker's resonance. Inside, strategically placed structural ribs further quell cabinet resonance, because unlike musical instruments, the best speaker cabinets are acoustically dead cabinets. They let the Liuto's tweeter, midrange, and woofer "speak" for themselves.
The Liuto's front baffle is covered in buttery soft faux-leather, and again the goals were functional and aesthetic. The leather connotes the speaker's pure Italian style and also serves as a gasket material to seal the driver frames to the cabinet. The Liuto is 40.6 inches tall, 9.3 inches wide, and 16.3 inches deep.
You can order a set of Liutos in any color you want, as long as the color is black.
It's very much an audiophile speaker, but it really came to life with rock and roll. Don't get the wrong idea, it's no slouch with classical or jazz, but this Italian speaker was a seriously gutsy performer. Spin a James Brown CD and you won't be able to sit still.
I was knocked out by the way the Liutos brought a less-than-stellar-sounding CD, namely Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Live in Europe", to life. Remastered in 1987, it's usually a rather lifeless and dull-sounding affair, but the band totally rocks out. Fogerty screams his guts out and the band's performances are a bit sloppy, but the feel is awesome. Cranked up to a healthy volume, "Live in Europe" is rock-and-roll heaven over the Liuto. Don't let the sophisticated design fool you; this speaker kicks butt!
You can read the complete Liuto review on the Home Entertainment magazine Web site.