Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeakers

Posted on 15th December, 2015
Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeakers

Sonus faber; the Italian loudspeaker manufacturer that generally needs no introduction, at least to audio enthusiasts. Loosely translating to ‘hand-made sound’ in Latin, Sonus faber have over the years raised the benchmark in loudspeaker design, finish, and of course ‘sound’.

My first introduction to the undisputed beauty that is Sonus faber happened around 15 years ago. I was charged with training judges for a national car audio competition, and Alex Encel generously opened the doors to his iconic Richmond (VIC) store after-hours for a group of bright-eyed judges, all wanting to re-establish their ‘reference’.

To this day I don’t know exactly which Sonus faber speakers they were, nor do I recall the electronics that were driving them. In many ways, I’m glad I don’t know, as that evening remains firmly tucked away in my memory as the finest music playback system I’d ever heard, and I’m happy to let it live there in a bit of mystery.

Sonus faber was founded in 1983. In many ways they took the humble loudspeaker ‘box’, and turned it into an object of beauty. Combining sophisticated and luxurious design, they introduced materials including leather, finely polished wood and even metal.

While Sonus faber ownership commanded a premium price for what is undoubtedly a premium product, discerning buyers around the world joined the club, and quickly established the brand.

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeaker

For many joining that club was just a dream on a bucket-list, but earlier this year Sonus faber made the decision to position the brand more within reach of the next generation of audio lovers. And so, the ‘Chameleon’ range was added to the brands prestigious repertoire.

THE CHAMELEON

 

Without getting ahead of myself, the Chameleon range consists of three models, the floor standing speaker or tower (T) and the subject of this review, the bookshelf variation (B), and finally the centre speaker (C). Unique to this line is that firstly, it’s the most affordable range of speakers from Sonus faber. Secondly, each of the speakers has the ability to change the side panels for a choice of 6 finishes. Neat.

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T LoudspeakerPerhaps I’m overthinking it, but aside from the obvious old world lizard and its unique ability to change colours according to the surround environment, could the name reflect the new direction Sonus faber has taken? The once exclusive brand reinventing itself to capture a wider, more contemporary audience perhaps? Yes, definitely overthinking it.

Designed for both music lovers and multi-channel systems, Chameleon T is a relatively compact 3-way loudspeaker rated at 90db sensitivity. All drivers are designed by Sonus faber and built by Germany’s DKM. The model ‘T’ features two 150mm woofers, one 150mm midrange, and one 29mm fabric dome tweeter. With a forward firing port, it allows for more flexible room placement of the speakers.

Marketing material suggests a frequency response of 38Hz – 25kHz.

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeaker

The Chameleon range may not be as luxurious as its higher spec’d siblings, but coming in at $3699 RRP locally it sure draws upon what Sonus faber do well. A contemporary style, characterised by simple and clean lines, the trapezoid shaped cabinet is wrapped in leather, embellished with aluminium trimmings and just like the lizard of the same name, can be styled to suit the surrounding environment. The exchangeable side panels are well engineered and solid. Even the recessed dual speaker terminals at the rear of the cabinet are very well executed and finished.

Incidentally, the review pair arrived at our office from the Australian distributor, Synergy Audio Visual, conveniently flanked with StereoNET orange panels. Well played Synergy!

While the Chameleon range has lowered the entry fee for the Sonus faber owner’s club, you can’t help but wonder just how the Italians have managed to produce a hand-made, Italian manufactured loudspeaker that can be offered at such an affordable price point, across the globe. All credit to them.

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeaker

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeaker

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeaker

The Chameleon T speakers each arrive with their base plates requiring fitment to the base of the speakers. The review pair have previously been used for demonstration, so had been fitted once before. Armed with a screwdriver it was simply a case of reattaching them to the previous holes.

ASCOLTO

That’s ‘listening’ in Italian, by the way.

Benefiting from substantial run-in time already, it was obvious that the Chameleon T loudspeakers were not too fussed about speaker placement within the room. This is refreshing as our large, acoustically treated dedicated room (7.1 x 5.5m) often requires hours, if not days tweaking the speaker placement before we’re confident enough to start a review.  

Review: Sonus faber Chameleon T Loudspeaker

Another HiFi commentator wrote recently that a reviewer should not comment on whether they ‘like’ the sound of a product being reviewed, but instead just ‘describe’ it. I think that’s a bit of nonsense really; the listening itself is subjective, as are the terms we use to describe what we’re hearing. You can’t describe it without liking it or not, and that’s why readers seek out multiple reviews before committing to a purchase or seeking out an audition themselves. They value the opinions of reviewers who are fortunate enough to spend most of their time listening to and comparing countless products, and are therefore, experienced.

So with that said, let’s press on and see if I ‘like’ Sonus faber’s latest creation, Chameleon T.

Marc Rushton's avatar

Marc Rushton

StereoNET’s Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi Home Theatre
Tags: sonus faber  chameleon collection  synergy audio visual 

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