Sonus Faber Pryma
The mere mention of the Sonus Faber's name immediately attracts attention, and not without reason. This is one of the most recognized manufacturers of high-end speakers and - at the same time - one of the first major companies that have decided to go beyond the audio market and turn tu artists, architects, even people from the fashion world. Surely it would not be so successful if the Italian speakers were just ordinary, angular boxes with drivers. For many years, Sonus Faber has been setting standards and creating fashion copied by others. Sleek lines described by the designers as the 'shape of the lute' inspired many other designers, but the performance was difficult to forge. Italians remain faithful to natural materials and rely on everything that is beautiful, exclusive and - what can I say - expensive. In addition, they show photographs illustrating different stages of production, from covering the leather, polishing wooden boards to grinding metal decorative elements. They do not launch new models during the exhibitions, but rather in amphitheaters. Their speakers can be found not only in music lovers' homes but also in museums and art galleries, as well as in exclusive cars like Pagani Huayra.
When we heard that Sonus Faber is working on headphones, we already knew it will not be an ordinary product. Over time, some leaks (probably controlled) started to appear on the Internet. First images, first press shows, and finally we saw one of the first pairs during a press conference in Warsaw. The headphones were presented to us by Luca Vernacci, representing Fine Sounds Group, but due to the schedule of the event there was not much time to have a second look. That is why right after the press conference we got them for a review, as one of the first magazines in the world.
Design and functionality
These headphones are not only extremely tasteful but also made in absolutely perfect and luxurious way. The story starts from a package. The hard box opens like a small suitcase. In one part, you will find headphones divided into two earpads and headband, lying under a layer of foam in separate embossing. The second part is a drawer with accessories. The only missing thing is a mirror so that we could see ourselves with our new headphones on. In the drawer, you can find all the documents, a cable and three bags - two small and one large. Why? Because we can change the appearance of the equipment whenever we want. Pryma headphones are available in four different colors - white earpads with brown headband and silver metal elements; black earpads and headband with gold ornaments; black earpads and headband with silver detail, and burgundy headband and earpads with copper metal elements. The latter has been delivered to our office and is shown on pictures. But four options is nothing... What if the owner is bored with the black headband? No problem - it will be possible to buy another headband in the company's online store or in the showrooms. Other earpads will also be available. Elements can be configured freely and this is very easy - you just need to slide the end of the headband through the buckle, insert the pin into one of the four holes and lock it by turning the tip by 90 degrees. Likewise, you can change the leather-covered cushions - they are attached magnetically, so changing them is a piece of cake. The company is preparing other color versions - earcups will be available in the carbon fiber version. Perhaps we will also see some results of collaboration with companies like Prada or Zegna? Who knows... But I guess that for people strongly interested in fashion, these headphones will now be the new 'must have'. Sébastien Loeb, Cedric Gervais and Paris Hilton have already posed some photos with them.
Let's move on to the quality and comfort. I must admit that at first I was concerned, for two reasons. Firstly, I have a big head and I wear most of the handphones spread to the max. Adjusting the distance of the earpads by four holes didn't seem like a very wise option. Fortunately I was wrong, because after clicking on the last hole, the size turned out to be perfect for me. Maybe I was lucky. For example, I do not know what would happen if I decided that the size between the third and fourth hole would be ideal for me. We can't rely on the flexibility of the headband because the softening foam layer in it is very thin. Similarly to Sennheiser Momentum model, it is quite a rigid slat covered with leather, without the 3-cm layer of foam. The second reason is the potential size of the earpads. And here again, I was lucky, because cushions covered my ears perfectly, but I note that I have rather standard or even small ears.
As for quality - it is the worldwide, high-end class. No one can deny that Sonus Faber took care of materials and how they were finished. As you can watch the speakers of this brand with great pleasure, it could not be otherwise with the headphones. Prymas are perfect, and simply beautiful. In the pictures, they present themselves wonderfully, but you really have to touch them to understand their beauty. The mounting of the earpads is very pleasant. When you look under the pads, you will see the drivers behind the protective foil, magnets for attaching pads, screws, a serial number, and the interesting detail under the clips - the engraved inscription - 'Fatto a mano give Sonus Faber Italia'. As Luca Vernaccia explained to us, the idea was to emphasize the fact that the product has been made by hand in Italy. Why is not the standard 'Made in...'? Well, because this text is in English, and why would the Italians apply English subtitles for their products? It is also worth mentioning that the metal frame of the earpads was prepared by the company that provides metal parts for iPhones. Bottega Veneta was responsible for the finishing of the headband - it is a manufacturer of high-performance apparel, leather goods, and cosmetics. So if somebody says that Prymas are expensive, ask them to check the prices of wallets of this brand - they shall quickly change their mind.
Disadvantages? I do not quite understand the solution with a circle on the cable. I didn't find out what was the idea of the designers, but I think I would prefer a standard cable with a remote control. Of course, both cables are plugged to the earpads because they are not permanently attached to the headband. The 2.5-mm jacks without any blocking mechanism are the ending. Here I understand it because it is better to unplug the cable for a while after an accidental jolt than to break our headphones or destroy the jack in one pad. For pedants it can be a flaw that while putting the headphones on the desk or table, you can scratch one or the other - the metal edges are in fact the elements in contact with the surface. It's a pity that the manufacturer did not include a hard case, in which the Prymas could be transported. The lack of the 3.5mm to 6.35mm jack adapter is a tiny drawback.
Anyone who is familiar with the sound of Sonus Faber's speakers will immediately notice that the engineers successfully transferred the philosophy of imaging the sound to the first headphones in the company's history. It can be instantly heard that Pryma was created by the same people who designed the last Sonus Faber's speakers. At first, their sound seems slightly tinted, but the adaptation does not take more than five minutes. We discover that there is enough treble here - certainly less than in an ideal situation, but really nothing important is missing. I guess that partially it is associated with the vision of the sound to which Italian designers have been faithful for many years. This is also a clever solution designed to protect us against possible unpleasantness, which can lie at the source of the sound - a phone or tablet, that are very common nowadays. Poor components in most mobile devices often mean sharp and brash sound. Pryma has been tuned to 'absorb' the dirt, giving us greater comfort in contact with the music. Overall tonal balance is shifted toward the bass, but it is not exaggerated and unnatural. The deviation is very small and is aimed at focusing more of our attention on vocals and the rhythm of the bass.
The performance of Pryma is aimed at long listening sessions. The top priority was to provide the pleasant journey through various musical moods, without the things that might introduce an unnecessary annoyance. In these headphones nothing squeals, crackles and discomposes us. Listening to them is like driving a large, comfortable limousine. Pryma is not only comfortable - its sound is also elegant, refined and well-arranged. Of course for the same price, you can buy a different model which brings out every detail of our favorite recordings and overloads us with dynamics, but Prymas are the sort of headphones you can use every day - with a smartphone, computer, for the office or a plane. Their sound is natural, consistent and slightly warmed up, but still dynamic enough and sufficiently detailed. We certainly do not feel the discomfort associated with searching for something that was cut off.
Probably the audiophiles will divide between two groups here. Some will say that a nice performance in combination with high quality and sensational appearance is something they were looking for. I perfectly understand it, because such headphones are very rare, or was not available in such a high-end edition. The second group won't be interested in listening to music from the iPhone as they can buy very good headphones for home use, which sound better connected to a small DAC or amp. And both groups will be absolutely right. In my opinion, the Italian designers have managed to engineer exactly what they wanted. Pryma can play every genre of music, in every situation, always looking and sounding splendid. In terms of sound this is a very safe option, that will not be in conflict with any device or type of music.
Build quality and technical parameters
Prymas are dynamic, closed-back headphones. The manufacturer in a very clever way allows users to assemble them by dividing into three parts - two earpads and a headband. It means the convenient replacement of the headband to another - useful if we want to change the color or damage it in some way. However, this seems unlikely considering the reputation of the company responsible for finishing the headband - Bottega Veneta. The material is, of course, the Italian leather filled with microfibre foam. The earpads are made of aluminum and stainless steel or copper - depending on the version. The cushions in the shape of a pentagon are attached magnetically, which also makes it easy to replace them. The cable with 3.5mm jack and microphone is plugged in each earpad. Inside the earpads, we find 40-mm transducers with mylar diaphragms and neodymium magnets. Oversized coils were made of oxygen-free copper with a purity of 99.99%. Headphones have friendly parameters for mobile devices - 32-ohm impedance and the sensitivity of 118 dB.
Asus Zenbook UX31A, Marantz HD-DAC1, Naim CD5 XS, OPPO HA-2, T+A E-Serie Power Plant Balanced, iPhone 5S, iPad Air 2, Asus Nexus 7.
The Italians once again created something beautiful. This is probably not surprising for anyone. But for the first time this is a product that will not only decorate our livingroom, but also us - both at home and outside. The build quality of Pryma is the reason why the manufacturers of products only for audiophiles can be green with envy. I really think that concerning the design and craftsmanship, many can learn from Sonus Faber. Performance? Typical for Italian company - natural, slightly dim, warm and excellent for long-distance listening. To be clear - at this price we can a buy a lot of headphones offering better sound. It's just that very few products rais such desire. Take Prymas in your hands, look at them and try them on - if they fit, I guarantee you will not want to give them back. Despite what the jealous and evil-doers say, there is some magic about Sonus Faber's products.
Construction: dynamic, closed, circumaural
Frequency response: 10 Hz - 25 kHz
Sensitivity: 118 dB
Impedance: 32 Ω
Cable length: 1.3 m
Remote: iOS, Android
Weight: 355 g
Price: $499 ($549 for Carbon Marsala)
Manufacturer: Sonus Faber