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Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 5 vs Wharfedale Elysian 4


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Hey guys. I am currently running a pair of Yamaha NS-F700 as my fronts, double duty as home theatre and stereo, driven by an Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 3.

 

I am looking at upgrading to something more "high end".... Generally, I prefer rich vocals like Leonard Cohen and would want my music to sound "musical" more than analytical... though I do enjoy tracks like Within by Daft Punk for its "musical cymbal" sound....

 

Wondering if anyone has any experience with these two choices - SF Olympica Nova 5 and Wharfedale Elysian 4.....

 

I know the SF is 65% more expensive than the W on paper.... but let's forget about that for a second and just say they are the same price. And obviously at this sort of price levels, this would be my "end game" purchase I think....

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Jinster
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not familiar with those particular models, but have listened to other less expensive offerings from both brands. the sf sound is mellow and easy listening. wharfedales are quite forward and in your face. i think youll like the sf sound more. i think both brands are quite consistent with their sound signature across their line up.

Edited by pezzy
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1 hour ago, pezzy said:

not familiar with those particular models, but have listened to other less expensive offerings from both brands. the sf sound is mellow and easy listening. wharfedales are quite forward and in your face. i think youll like the sf sound more. i think both brands are quite consistent with their sound signature across their line up.

What Wharfdale models are you talking about ?

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I own the Elysian 4 and they are definitely NOT “in your face”. Smooth top end, spacious mids and incredible body, weight and scale in the lower registers. They will handle all genres very well which I would argue is not the case with the SF.

 

If you are keen on SF, grab the Amati Futuras that are up for sale - Serblin design and sound sublime.

Edited by Hydrology
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23 minutes ago, Hydrology said:

I own the Elysian 4 and they are definitely NOT “in your face”. Smooth top end, spacious mids and incredible body, weight and scale in the lower registers. They will handle all genres very well which I would argue is not the case with the SF.

 

If you are keen on SF, grab the Amati Futuras that are up for sale - Serblin design and sound sublime.

Hi Hydrology. I saw the SF Amati Futuras listed on the forum. I can probably get them new for a similar price so I am not in a rush to get those in particular. The truth is $25k is quite a bit more than I want to pay for speakers.... So I am looking in the $15k zone and for me the Nova 5 would fit in that zone. $15k is the retail for Elysian 4 so hopefully I can find a good deal on those but we'll see...

 

What are you driving your Elysian 4 with? Are these the most high-end speakers you have owned? Any deficiencies you've identified? Thomas and Stereo has recently done a review and a designer interview on these. He seems to like them quite a bit. But then again he also really favourably reviewed that terrible little bluetooth speaker so.... meh.

 

I can't find much on SF Nova 5 though...

Edited by Jinster
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Have you also considered other speakers anywhere in the $7-20k range such as those in the forum tagged page speaker shortlist. For example, VAF I-66 and 93, ATC 40 and Yamaha NS5000 all of which have better midrange and overall than the SF speakers.

 

 

 

Edited by Al.M
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Your healthy budget brings ATC 40 actives into consideration. If you're looking for long term loudspeakers, that's my recommendation. Leonard would approve.

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Unless you’re buying on impulse, it doesn’t really matter what strengths or weaknesses I may find with my Elysian 4 - you’re going to have to seek them out, audition (and anything else for that matter) and draw your own conclusions.

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6 hours ago, Bunno77 said:

Leaves plenty of room to upgrade amps which should be done if you buy any speakers

 

 

These look too much like my NSF700..... I won't "feel" like I am upgrading... lol

 

I am looking for good looks as well as sonic signature.

 

Hydrology, I get what you are saying. Indeed this would be an impulse buy. I don't really NEED a $15k pair of speakers in my life..... I am more "lured" because my SF discount offers probably won't last too long and the Elysian 4 just looks so dam good for the price, especially in piano walnut. To be honest, I am looking at them more as furniture right now... 🙂

 

Unfortunately, Melbourne is still very much locked down. So no auditioning anything at the moment.... I am not sure if there is even a dealer with E4s in stock here.... I don't fancy multiple quarantines just to audition speakers at this point... hahaha

 

VAF/ATC/5000 - I will check out that thread.... always have a soft spot for Yamaha products.. my place is full of them for Musiccast with Alexa. Thanks Dean.

 

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37 minutes ago, Jinster said:

These look too much like my NSF700..... I won't "feel" like I am upgrading... lol

 

I am looking for good looks as well as sonic signature.

 

Hydrology, I get what you are saying. Indeed this would be an impulse buy. I don't really NEED a $15k pair of speakers in my life..... I am more "lured" because my SF discount offers probably won't last too long and the Elysian 4 just looks so dam good for the price, especially in piano walnut. To be honest, I am looking at them more as furniture right now... 🙂

 

Unfortunately, Melbourne is still very much locked down. So no auditioning anything at the moment.... I am not sure if there is even a dealer with E4s in stock here.... I don't fancy multiple quarantines just to audition speakers at this point... hahaha

 

VAF/ATC/5000 - I will check out that thread.... always have a soft spot for Yamaha products.. my place is full of them for Musiccast with Alexa. Thanks Dean.

 

As an owner, I cant fault the E4. Huge soundstage, great depth and scale. Seemless integration of the drivers. Music is exciting, agile. They seem as comfortable with a 30watt tube amp as they do with a 301 watt Hegel amplifier.

And the looks, well yes, they are truly beautiful.

 

For me, next step up would be the Wilson Sasha DAW (65K) to justify improvements.

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I have heard Elysian 4 in the shops an a slightly larger size than average sized room and was very impressed by their sound - bass for a biggish speakers was very good.- controlled deep and not boomy 

 

i also own Revel f208 and for the money $10k was impressed enough to buy and again can say they work well in my smaller sized room. 

 

Enjoy looking and listening 

Edited by cafe67
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On 15/10/2020 at 11:56 PM, Al.M said:

Have you also considered other speakers anywhere in the $7-20k range such as those in the forum tagged page speaker shortlist. For example, VAF I-66 and 93, ATC 40 and Yamaha NS5000 all of which have better midrange and overall than the SF speakers.

 

 

 

The impression I get is that nobody thinks highly of the SF here.... lol They look beautiful but apparently all sound too warm and "old".. not analytical enough... I will audition some myself as soon as Dan let's businesses open up and turns himself in to the police for HR violations. Ha! I digress.

 

I've had a look at the VAFs and ATCs and most of the others on that list... quite a lot of models I haven't even heard of! They all look very serious though... I remember the good old days when VAF used to advertise/feature in Silicon Chip and/or Jaycar stores.... I forget which is the correct association... good (albeit vague) memories...

Edited by Jinster
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I have seen, though unfortunately not heard (didn't have time that day) @Hydrology's Wharfdale E4 and I was astonished at how incredibly good-looking they were. Wharfedales have the reputation of being an everyday sort of speaker, a relic from a previous generation, indeed I owned Wharfedale Dovedales for many years and loved them dearly. No, these look like serious high-end fabulous transducers, anything but ordinary, pic's I've seen don't do them justice. I have to call back in to Franks to pick up some LP's he's cleaning for me, I must trouble him to fire them up for me this time. If I wasn't sttled on my system that's where I'd be heading.

Edited by Grimmie
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On 16/10/2020 at 8:32 PM, Jinster said:

The impression I get is that nobody thinks highly of the SF here.... lol They look beautiful but apparently all sound too warm and "old".. not analytical enough... I will audition some myself as soon as Dan let's businesses open up and turns himself in to the police for HR violations. Ha! I digress.

 

I've had a look at the VAFs and ATCs and most of the others on that list... quite a lot of models I haven't even heard of! They all look very serious though... I remember the good old days when VAF used to advertise/feature in Silicon Chip and/or Jaycar stores.... I forget which is the correct association... good (albeit vague) memories...

I think anyone dismissing SF speakers as being too warm or not being "analytical enough" probably hasn't heard them in a long time.

 

From my experience their sound changed a fair bit from the auditor m/Cremona m series to the release of the olympica series. The older speakers I find to be a bit lacking in high frequency detail and wouldn't are not a speaker I would own. I do however own a pair of the Olympicas and really enjoy them (I know there's a fair number of people who hold the opposite opinion to this and think the older models had a kind of magic the newer models are missing!). I consider them a very accurate and "real" sounding speaker. I'm not sure if this translates to the new nova series, I've not auditioned them.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Fangzie said:

I'm not sure if this translates to the new nova series, I've not auditioned them.

A lot of SF owners hold this view - that the new series are not as good as the old.

 

It seems once SF moved away from the designs that Serblin left with them, that the brand had changed. I believe Olympicas are one of the last Serblin designs.

Edited by Hydrology
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33 minutes ago, Hydrology said:

A lot of SF owners hold this view - that the new series are not as good as the old.

 

It seems once SF moved away from the designs that Serblin left with them, that the brand had changed. I believe Olympicas are one of the last Serblin designs.

Serblin left the company in 2006. and died in 2013 He was dead well and truely before the Olympica range was out.

 

The last speakers Serblin worked on were the Elipsa's and the Amati Anniversario. It is unclear to what extent Serblin was involved with the Elipsa and Anniversario as he was on his way out around this time. All later Amati models, Futura included, were not Serblin designs.

 

The build quality on the older models was far superior to the new ones.

Edited by kelossus
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29 minutes ago, kelossus said:

Serblin left the company in 2006. and died in 2013 He was dead well and truely before the Olympica range was out.

 

The last speakers Serblin worked on were the Elipsa's and the Amati Anniversario. It is unclear to what extent Serblin was involved with the Elipsa and Anniversario as he was on his way out around this time. All later Amati models, Futura included, were not Serblin designs.

 

The build quality on the older models was far superior to the new ones.

When Serblin left the company he left them a wealth of designs / IP which they worked on / exploited / ignored even after his death. How much of his design influence in speakers up to Olympica remains a question only SF may answer.

Edited by Hydrology
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4 minutes ago, Hydrology said:

When Serblin left the company he left them a wealth of designs / IP which they worked on / exploited / ignored even after his death. How much of his design influence in speakers up to Olympica remains a question only SF may answer.

The Olympica's are voiced nothing like any of the original Sonus Faber speakers. You can listen to an old pair of Cremona's and a pair of Amati Homages and even at different price points the similarities are apparent..

 

I think anyone who has extensively owned the older models would agree that there are no similarities.

 

 

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33 minutes ago, kelossus said:

The Olympica's are voiced nothing like any of the original Sonus Faber speakers. You can listen to an old pair of Cremona's and a pair of Amati Homages and even at different price points the similarities are apparent..

 

I think anyone who has extensively owned the older models would agree that there are no similarities.

 

 

Again, read my post carefully, specifically this part:-

"How much of his design influence in speakers up to Olympica remains a question only SF may answer."

 

Not quite sure why there is a need to prove me incorrect or wrong when I am in COMPLETE agreement with you, which is that the SF portfolio as it currently stands , for better or for worse, sounds nothing like the older series as validated by SF owners.

Now maybe the thread can go back on topic and help the OP come to a decision about how best to move forward.

 

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4 hours ago, Hydrology said:

Again, read my post carefully, specifically this part:-

"How much of his design influence in speakers up to Olympica remains a question only SF may answer."

 

Not quite sure why there is a need to prove me incorrect or wrong when I am in COMPLETE agreement with you, which is that the SF portfolio as it currently stands , for better or for worse, sounds nothing like the older series as validated by SF owners.

Now maybe the thread can go back on topic and help the OP come to a decision about how best to move forward.

 

You stated above that the Amati Futura's were a Serblin design. They are not. You have since posted how much, if any influence he had on those speakers can't be determined but no speaker since the models I mentioned can be attributed to him.

 

That was my issue and it had to be corrected. Let the thread roll on.

Edited by kelossus
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50 minutes ago, kelossus said:

 

That was my issue and it had to be corrected. Let the thread roll on.

I’m glad that your comment is fact and more importantly that your issue is now resolved. I’d hate to think your weekend was spoiled in any way with this huge elephant  in the room.

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1 minute ago, Hydrology said:

I’m glad that your comment is fact and more importantly that your issue is now resolved. I’d hate to think your weekend was spoiled in any way with this huge elephant  in the room.

No worries mate appreciate your concern. Just next time try and get your facts straight. I don't want another weekend ruined.

 

Shoot me a PM if you want me fact check your posts next time.

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Great speakers both, and an interesting and lively discussion about their merits.

 

While it is off topic, I recently found one of my father's old books, purchased in 1953.

"Sound Reproduction" by G.A.Briggs, who founded Wharfedale Wireless Works, and who designed Wharfedale speakers for years. One of the most highly regarded authorities, on all matters audio, of that time.

A wonderful read, and if there is interest, I can start a thread to give SNA members an idea about some of the gems to be found in the book.

Sorry to go off thread, but the Wharfedale connection was a bit too tempting.

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No worries Paul. Lively discussion among hobbyists is why the community is fun.

 

There is actually a youtube video of an interview with the designer of Elysian 4 for anyone interested

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Hydrology said:

I hope Serblin's lawyers looked this over with a fine-tooth comb...

 

Sonus-Amati-Futura-IX-on-white.jpg.f2e17019decbfcf920dbe5ebf39c15f1.jpg1_5.jpg.19c0adc4f17255f67f03c53de82b0c4e.jpg

 

 

Very nice design. Love the piano polished maple red and the vertical grill strings! I do think though if Serblin was working for SF, SF probably owns all the IPs that result during the course of his employment/contract... that would be a standard clause in today's employment contract...

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Interesting history between SF and Serblin. Im also in the market to try something new so I went to audition a pair of Homage Amati few days ago. A few years back I auditioned the Olympica and Il Cremonese and found they lack energy and PRAT but recently I had the urge to revisit SF. The Homage Amati was very easy to listen to, playing classical and jazz was fantastic, however putting on classic rock, pop and Drake (yep, Drake!) and they just loses a fair bit of excitement. But I do admit nothing beat them in the look department, just not child friendly so not for me (im the child)
Will give the Wharfedale Evo and Elysian line a go and see how they go. Bought a pair of Triangle BR03 few days ago to try and very impress so far which sparked my interest of going back to budget gear such as the Wharfedale Linton, Yamaha NS2000 for a change.

Edited by MAST88
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10 hours ago, MAST88 said:

Interesting history between SF and Serblin. Im also in the market to try something new so I went to audition a pair of Homage Amati few days ago. A few years back I auditioned the Olympica and Il Cremonese and found they lack energy and PRAT but recently I had the urge to revisit SF. The Homage Amati was very easy to listen to, playing classical and jazz was fantastic, however putting on classic rock, pop and Drake (yep, Drake!) and they just loses a fair bit of excitement. But I do admit nothing beat them in the look department, just not child friendly so not for me (im the child)
Will give the Wharfedale Evo and Elysian line a go and see how they go. Bought a pair of Triangle BR03 few days ago to try and very impress so far which sparked my interest of going back to budget gear such as the Wharfedale Linton, Yamaha NS2000 for a change.

 

At these prices they really need to be quite good at everything, don't they?

 

My wonderful pre-shopping journey has taken me to the Quintet15 now from PAP..... open baffle design, DIY.... approx $9K USD shipped..... similar price range to the SF ON5 and W E4...

 

But maybe that's too big of a gamble I will regret.... also it looks like I might be able to build that from Ikea panels and locally sourced speakers to experiment with...

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32 minutes ago, Jinster said:

 

At these prices they really need to be quite good at everything, don't they?

 

My wonderful pre-shopping journey has taken me to the Quintet15 now from PAP..... open baffle design, DIY.... approx $9K USD shipped..... similar price range to the SF ON5 and W E4...

 

But maybe that's too big of a gamble I will regret.... also it looks like I might be able to build that from Ikea panels and locally sourced speakers to experiment with...

Those speakers sure do not 'disappear' lol, sure look like a lot of speakers for the money, you gotta opt for the Voxativ option!, have always wanted to try those full range Voxativ drivers.

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11 hours ago, MAST88 said:

Interesting history between SF and Serblin. Im also in the market to try something new so I went to audition a pair of Homage Amati few days ago. A few years back I auditioned the Olympica and Il Cremonese and found they lack energy and PRAT but recently I had the urge to revisit SF. The Homage Amati was very easy to listen to, playing classical and jazz was fantastic, however putting on classic rock, pop and Drake (yep, Drake!) and they just loses a fair bit of excitement. But I do admit nothing beat them in the look department, just not child friendly so not for me (im the child)
Will give the Wharfedale Evo and Elysian line a go and see how they go. Bought a pair of Triangle BR03 few days ago to try and very impress so far which sparked my interest of going back to budget gear such as the Wharfedale Linton, Yamaha NS2000 for a change.

 

I can agree with the rock comments but for I found it more to do with what they are being driven by (ive got olympica III).  I went through  quite a few amps (buying and borrowing from @Cafad) before I got a lavardin (the lowest power in watts I tried) before they started to sing.. Best Ive heard driving the olympicas is cafads technical brain then the lavardin followed by cafads zeus.  Hegel will drive them well but I couldnt get on with the sound, no emotion for me. Now they seem pretty good all round

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3 hours ago, gypr1961 said:

 

I can agree with the rock comments but for I found it more to do with what they are being driven by (ive got olympica III).  I went through  quite a few amps (buying and borrowing from @Cafad) before I got a lavardin (the lowest power in watts I tried) before they started to sing.. Best Ive heard driving the olympicas is cafads technical brain then the lavardin followed by cafads zeus.  Hegel will drive them well but I couldnt get on with the sound, no emotion for me. Now they seem pretty good all round

100% the amp place a good role. For me I try a lot of speakers so I tend to keep my electronic as neutral as possible so I can 'season' my music with speakers, otherwise I'll be changing the whole meal/system everytime I have the urge for something different lol. 😊

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I'm looking at these two speakers as well (and the Fyne Audio F703s). The only thing is that the E4s are made in China. I know there's nothing wrong with that, but can't help that it feels more "premium" if it is made in Italy (SFs) and made in UK (Fyne Audio F700 series and above).

 

ATCs look good, but I've heard that they only play well at a certain loud volume?

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12 hours ago, MAST88 said:

Those speakers sure do not 'disappear' lol, sure look like a lot of speakers for the money, you gotta opt for the Voxativ option!, have always wanted to try those full range Voxativ drivers.

They are the biggest things in this price range... I meant physically... They will either look really "specialised audiophile" or "DIY ghetto" depends on who is looking at it and how it's presented I guess.... Also being open baffle, I think room acoustics would play a major part in how they sound.... and my room is a bit "L" shaped.... so it's a huge gamble.....

 

Aesthetically the Horn option really stands out.... The design allows them both to be swapped for fun... at the added expense of course. LOL

 

 

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6 hours ago, douggie said:

I'm looking at these two speakers as well (and the Fyne Audio F703s). The only thing is that the E4s are made in China. I know there's nothing wrong with that, but can't help that it feels more "premium" if it is made in Italy (SFs) and made in UK (Fyne Audio F700 series and above).

 

ATCs look good, but I've heard that they only play well at a certain loud volume?

 

You know, I was choosing between two pairs of headphones....

 

Sennheiser HD598 was a great pair of headphones for the price. It's neutral, airy, has very clear treble... It's presented in a no-frills plastic box with paper sleeve. Made in China.

 

SF Pryma is a fantastic looking pair of headphones. The leather belt buckle design is so unique... hand-Made in Italy, proudly engraved on the earcups... presented in a fold out presentation box, with a slide out compartment for a pouch and manuals.... just an absolutely gorgeous looking unit... And they sound..... well... not the best... not terrible, but really is a bit too coloured/warm/bassy/cramped.....

 

My solution? Bought both of course..... one is for quiet listening pleasure at home; the other to wear around my neck when waiting for a friend to arrive at a cafe... LOL But obviously that would be a daft thing to do with these speakers...

 

Although in this case, there is the advantage that the Chinese made Elysian 4 in piano walnut look every bit as good as the Italian made Olympica Nova 5 Wenge... in fact, I would say it's better looking... Hopefully with Victoria opening up again, I can find somewhere to audition them both.

Edited by Jinster
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7 hours ago, douggie said:

I'm looking at these two speakers as well (and the Fyne Audio F703s). The only thing is that the E4s are made in China. I know there's nothing wrong with that, but can't help that it feels more "premium" if it is made in Italy (SFs) and made in UK (Fyne Audio F700 series and above).

 

ATCs look good, but I've heard that they only play well at a certain loud volume?

Head: Elysian
Heart: Olympica
Gut: Both
...follow your gut

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1 hour ago, Jinster said:

 

You know, I was choosing between two pairs of headphones....

 

Sennheiser HD598 was a great pair of headphones for the price. It's neutral, airy, has very clear treble... It's presented in a no-frills plastic box with paper sleeve. Made in China.

 

SF Pryma is a fantastic looking pair of headphones. The leather belt buckle design is so unique... hand-Made in Italy, proudly engraved on the earcups... presented in a fold out presentation box, with a slide out compartment for a pouch and manuals.... just an absolutely gorgeous looking unit... And they sound..... well... not the best... not terrible, but really is a bit too coloured/warm/bassy/cramped.....

 

My solution? Bought both of course..... one is for quiet listening pleasure at home; the other to wear around my neck when waiting for a friend to arrive at a cafe... LOL But obviously that would be a daft thing to do with these speakers...

 

Although in this case, there is the advantage that the Chinese made Elysian 4 in piano walnut look every bit as good as the Italian made Olympica Nova 5 Wenge... in fact, I would say it's better looking... Hopefully with Victoria opening up again, I can find somewhere to audition them both.

 

 

LOL. Thanks for sharing your experience. In a perfect world, I know I'd have all the best speakers in the house :)

 

Yes, I'll definitely audition and see which one better suits my taste. But it does seem that I'm leaning towards the Elysian 4.

 

Take care and stay safe.

 

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