Franko Serblin

Beautiful, Glorious, world class loudspeaker creations out of Italy
"My passion for music, as well as my interest for musical instruments and their materials, heve lead my research since the early’80. Lutes and violin, through the use of wood, strings, their forms and harmony of their constitution, have inspired my systems".

Franco Serblin was the creator of the magnificent ACCORDO stand mount and KTEMA Floorstand speakers that have already become classics in their own right. Franco Serblin doesn't need special introduction, for those who has been in hi fi game for some time, Franco is a legend, for newbies he is an original founder and designer of Sonus Faber Speakers, before company has been acquired by Fine Sounds.

ACCORDO stand mtg speakers:
"I have always loved small speakers, for their discreet presence, for their suitability in less critical  environments, for the “magic” which they often are able to create in music reproduction".
........ Franco Serblin

KTEMA floorstand speakers / The birth of Ktêma - Proscenium speaker
"To be able to communicate, using the language of music, those feelings that cannot be narrated with the most private of words - this is my task. I am Ktema, a loudspeaker". 

I am a fusion of the old, enduring experience with the light, free, searching spirit. My birth came about by chance, by the strange destiny of the simplest things that fascinating us - the things that give life to great passions and enthusiasm... 

I"t was because of a mysterious string of events that a simple phrase – written in pen along the margin of a wiring diagram – began to represent the inception of an arduous project. Little by little, it took form and depth, generating my conception".

"The following phrase was sent to the person who, through time, “gave me shape”, words from a friend with whom he had continuously carried out accurate and attentive research over the years, intent on delving into the innermost definitions of what music reproduction actually “means”.
........ Franco Serblin

All Products


All Products

Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

NZ$ 13,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
Mono & Srereo Ultra High-End Audio comment: This is the latest and as fresh as it gets. Franco told over the telephone conversation, that this speaker will be  something really unique. We...
Geometry: 2 way compact speaker Cabinet: Super-rigid, arch-shaped Solid wood structure Aluminuim-...
Expanded review:
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

Floor Standing

NZ$ 8,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
THESE EXQUISITE DESIGNER SPEAKERS from ITALY ARE AVAILABLE FOR AUDITION The company has taken three years to develop and now the Lignea speakers are ready to roll They were one of the last...
EXTENDED REVIEW: Open your eyes; this is a dream you can have right now. Chief designer...
Floor Standing
NZ$ 23,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
After years of research, the Franco Serblin Accordo Essence is the newest speaker from the Franco Serblin family. The Essence combines a perfect finish in combination with a sublime sound. ...
REVIEW: If you are a devotee to Franco Serblin’s era of Sonus Faber then Accordo Essence will not,...
Floor Standing
NZ$ 46,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
The Ktema Proscenium has exquisite finish and attention to detail, plus it is the flagship of the range. When you see and hear this speaker you immediately know why, it is extremely transparent and...
Floor Standing


Franco Serblin factory visit and report
Matej Isak

Artisan story goes on
Franco Serblin needs no introduction. He was one of the few true audio artisans who could seamlessly close the unthinkable gap between the technology and art in the service of music. And in true Italian way. With his genius vision in the form of timeless design ability he brought many people into the world of high-end and music that would normally never step into this wonderful universe of music. Let it be his appeal for design or sense of aesthetics combined with traditional wood craftsmanship, his work and heritage left behind made him already at his world presence a true living legend. His contribution to high end goes beyond audio as he managed to inspire so many and in high-end audio both listeners and manufacturers. 

With the sad news of Franco passing this year many wondered and ask me what would happen to the company. This is the reason we organised the meeting for the report. With Igor Kante of Vklop-Ubiq who knew Franco very good from the early Sonus Faber years, and who Franco really loved, we hit the road toward the sunny and beautiful Vicenza.

New premises
Franco Serblin son in law awaited us at the new factory building. He’s the mastermind behind Laboratorium  and the man who took the task of preserving Franco’s legacy and family business. Even at the times when Franco was present Massimiliano was already in charged of whole production and company operations for building Accordo and Ktema speakers. If you’ve ever looked closely on both speakers models, there was always a small description on them noting: “Manufactured under the license of Franco Serblin by Laboratorium”. 

In this way Franco Serblin already ensured the safe path for future. 

With Franco Serblin passing away everybody wondered about the spirit of Franco and his company existence. Let me assure you; there is no better person on the planet to carry on the brand unmatched legacy then Massimiliano. I’m working with people all my life and my intuition rarely fails me. Massimiliano not only took his part of carrying on Franco legacy seriously from the business perspective, but by hearth. In Italy family means everything. It’s a matter of culture. Tears came to his eyes repeatedly when we talked about Serblin his time together and work.

Franco Serblin Company was started from the ground, as a true artisan workshop and it remained as such. Everything stayed the same. Subcontractors, the building process, building materials, handwork, hand assembly etc. Once you learn a thing or two about speaker design it’s instantly become clear speakers like Accordo and Ktema can only be manufactured in Italy and only by persons of true passion for woodwork. Its in Italian blood. 

For Massimiliano the keeping of artisan production unchanged is the most important thing and life vision. Like from the first models of Accordo and Ktema he assembly each speakers alone. Yes, alone! Checking each part quality, screwing the parts, measuring, packing etc. Even the soldering, which is done in point-to-point fashion is done by him sole. He wants to keep it perfect and by doing it personally it is the only way to control the quality and outcome. I saw the man’s passion and dedication and it won my hearth very quickly. In this an age you rarely see this kind of efforts to build and ensure the production of a true “slow” hand work. No rush, no panic. Like with Japanese Katana sword making; a process of building itself is an art and a matter of pride. It further reminded me of the process of high-end watch assembly or one of the kinds Hermes dedication for their perfection of hand work. Just for example. It takes a whole day to assemble Ktema’s. 

You’ll see from the pictures that only selected materials are used and everything in factory space is organised very nicely an on hand. Woods used as a part of speakers are left for at least two months once arrived to be dried up and ready to use. And even then they’re once again checked and rejected if not to the standard. 

There were numerous Accordo enclosures waiting for assembly at the factory. You can see from the pictures that the finish is new. It’s called Accordo Grey and it will be approximately 1000 euros more expensive then walnut version. It’s not only the finish that is different. Accordo Grey is multi layered hardwood and made of 1 mm layers of multi layered hardwood. This gives certain rigidity and a sound. The new Grey color is done in mirror like finish with twelve layers of hand brushed and polish. Result is eye catching and with premium feel. For example Franco Serblin Ktema black piano finish carries the similar twelve-layer finish, but with Ktema it’s done by piano company. 

Last wish
Franco last wish was to produce speakers for everybody. To make and affordable artisan speaker for people. Not only that, he wanted to give music also to those in pain in illness. He deeply understood the potency of music as realised in last years by science. Music can have a healing potential and its appeal is not only pleasing, but emotionally en-charged. For that he asked Massimiliano to make this project happen. 

New speaker
There are few projects in the future pipelines, but first one to come in a good year is a two-way floor-stander. This speaker will be even more affordable then Accordo and it’s the one, which Franco wanted to reach more people as mentioned above. Nothing will be done half way with this new third speaker. Same quality parts and hand assembly, just in the respect of Franco last whishes. 

Italian hospitality
Massimiliano was a perfect host. His energy and openhearted nature won me over. We finished our meeting by the perfect Italian lunch on the top of the evergreen hills. There is no place like Italy and even food taste differently, in better way. We talked about things generally and especially where high-end industry is going. Time passed to quickly in great company. Review on new Grey Accordo was set and I’ll report more in due time. 

For me the visit it only deepened my respect for Franco Serblin as person and now as brand to be carried on. There is no other person on the planet that can push on the legacy preserved as imagined by master himself, but Massimiliano. He’s the man of true passion and dedication, a family man with the deepest respect for masterwork left untouched and presented as such. 

With the late happening in high-end audio where everything get fast forward and measured by the numbers Franco Serblin speakers remains built by hand, passion, heart and real people! 

Once you experience the brand and man behind as such, it’s hard not to hanker after the products as Accordo and Ktema even more.
.......Matej Isak

Ken Kessler's comment on Franco Serblin
Ken Kessler

As one grows older and witnesses the passing of one’s mentors, there’s a sense of deprivation not a million miles removed from the loss of a parent. No mentor, however influential, can provide the same impact as those who brought you up from birth to adulthood, but the specificity of a mentor’s guidance in his or her area of expertise can attain similar importance to, say, your mother teaching you how to roast a chicken, or your father showing you how to get that dimple in your necktie.

Franco Serblin taught me about much more than sound. Our conversations covered myriad topics, from the finer points of language -- the nuances fascinated him -- to the sounds of varying concert halls to how one alters perception with a line or a curve. I never failed to learn something from Franco, not least when he helped me with the vagaries of the Italian language, like the correct plural for “osso” or which syllable to emphasise in “cronografo.”

I wasn’t the sole benefactor of his piercing intelligence, his wisdom nor his vision. Indeed, he taught -- singlehandedly -- the entire industry how to make loudspeakers presentable to normal people. At a time when nearly every speaker builder has eschewed boring boxes, it’s easy to forget the era when cubist visual abominations dominated hi-fi. Google “hi-fi shop circa 1975,” and I’ll wager up will pop a wall of brown rectangles. Aside from the odd panel, they could have been factories for pet coffins.

Sonus Faber arrived in the 1980s, and it was like the time colour TV replaced black-and-white, stereo supplanted mono, or word processors killed off the typewriter. While there remain hold-outs, most speaker builders have, at the very least, rounded off the sharp corners, curved or chamfered the edges, and created grilles that are neither as dull as mere stretched fabric nor as cheesy as reticulated foam. (The latter, too, had an unanticipated shelf-life. Try finding mid-1970s JBLs or JR149s where the foam hasn’t decomposed.)

Franco Serblin applied the elegance of his own lifestyle to the looks of his loudspeakers -- and the occasional amplifier, it must be recalled. While sound came first and presentation a close second, the attitude was unmistakably a manifestation of the man. This was true of other innovators: if you ever met Alastair Robertson-Aikman, you would understand the precision and clarity of SME tonearms and turntables. Spend an hour with Dan D’Agostino, and you will know why his amplifiers are built like military matériel, with power to spare.

With Franco, precision, too, was crucial. He would contact me from time to time to proofread the English translations of his company’s literature, which originated in Italian. He would suggest and consider alternatives to single words with the same attentiveness as Flaubert. Natty attire, ever appropriate, even when dressed casually, his look suggested the embodiment of the Italian concern with “la bella figura,” but without pretence. In this regard, he had the natural poise of a David Niven or Gianni Agnelli.

Why are these non-audio qualities important? Simple: he changed hi-fi forever, as cited above, but everything was a product of his worldview, his comportment, his generosity of spirit. The Serblin philosophy, as it pertains to sonic performance, may be narrow vis-à-vis sound -- one of his overriding obsessions was soundstage recreation above other concerns -- but his attitude about the physical presence of the speaker in the room was revolutionary. Nothing prepared all of those hidebound, geeky, unimaginative, ultra-conservative speaker designers for the arrival of his first designs -- and I don’t mean the radical Snail.

That speaker presaged the later invasion of central subwoofers and small satellite speakers, which are now a norm for everyone from Bose to Sonos and which were sired in part by home cinema. The Snail, however, was too large, too complex to be anything other than a breathtaking exercise in what could be done to resolve the modern move toward small speakers, while maintaining bass.

Inspiring the current Sf16 all-in-one table-top design some decades later, Sonus Faber’s original Snail took the form of a subwoofer in a box with two long, wooden arms extending outward, with a small speaker attached to each. How many were produced I don't know, but collectors seek them out the way Japanese enthusiasts initiate lifelong quests to find mint examples of the equally radical JBL Paragon.

It was followed by a flood of designs, including the Electa Amator, the Minima, the Guarneri, the Extrema, and too many more to list, that -- it must be said -- humiliated the rest of the industry into creating speaker enclosures which were more appealing than the cubist affairs that suited studios, where function always trumps form. I recall during my days in retail the sickeningly regular whining and kvetching of the stereotypical wife who wished to stop her husband from “putting those things in my/our living room.” But, with hindsight, who could blame them?

With the benefit of hindsight, only a true churl would deny the achievement of Franco’s revolutionary contribution to speaker design. After he parted from Sonus Faber, he founded his eponymous brand, which has produced the Ktêma, Accordo, and Lignea -- all radical and original and unlike anything else on the market.

Sadly, Franco passed away in March 2013. His son-in-law, Massimiliano Favella, has kept the brand alive, choosing to mark the fifth anniversary of Franco’s death with the presentation of a pair of Accordos to the Mozarteum in Salzburg on 10 April. They will remain on permanent display, providing visitors with a taste of Mozart in a dedicated listening room. To the delight of all, and reaffirming Franco’s intuitive eye for a form that complemented sound, came a divine coincidence: the listening room enjoys the exact same shape as a Sonus Faber Guarneri.
. . . Ken Kessler

Forgive the melodrama, but this is a speaker ‘to die for.’
Ken Kessler,

Hi-Fi News Verdict: Take this with a caveat, as I’m biased toward 1) small, beautiful speakers and 2) anything Italian. That said, my reaction heightened by years of anticipation, the Accordo is one of the most alluring, nay, seductive speakers I have ever heard. It commandeers the term ‘musical’ and makes it its own, the way Joe Cocker stole ‘With A Little Help From My Friends.’ Forgive the melodrama, but this is a speaker ‘to die for.

hfnoutstanding.pngAt long last, we get our hands on the iconic Franco Serblin Accordo. Does it redefine the small loudspeaker?

We may have waited over five years to review the Franco Serblin Accordo but, as I found within five seconds of switching them on, it was worth the hold-up. The Accordo is one of the late Franco Serblin’s last designs, chronologically falling in between the Ktema and the Lignea, and its appeal to the archetypal British audiophile is blatantly overwhelming. With its predecessor and follow-up both floorstanders, the Accordo differs as a petite two-way standmount, complete with a 740mm angled pedestal. The Accordo is sold in mirror-imaged pairs, in walnut with the integral stands, or in high-gloss grey for an additional cost.

Dreams Fulfilled
Carrying on the Serblin legacy after Franco’s untimely passing in 2013 is his son-in-law, Massimiliano Favella. He explained that the Accordo was born of Franco’s love for small speakers, ‘for their discreet presence and for their suitability in less critical environments, for the “magic” which they often are able to recreate’. The Accordo was designed with its uniquely shaped cabinet and a stand encasing the crossover network as the ultimate solution to avoid transducer interference.

In keeping with Franco’s strict criteria, Accordos are made from solid walnut. Because of this, ‘All the processes to obtain one single cabinet require lot of time. The drying of the wood to get the right stability requires six to eight months at least. Everything is undertaken in Vicenza: the aluminium chroming treatment, the stainless steel spikes and bolts hand-brushed under strictly quality control, the sound checking – that’s the reason we can only produce a few batches per year. I know Franco’s name is famous and I want to keep the brand going, and to pay homage to his design philosophy’.

Favella’s company continues to produce all three of the Franco Serblin speakers, but he also revealed ‘During the last two years, I have been working on a fourth model that he left to me. It is taking time and care to achieve good sound and ideal aesthetics, but Franco taught me that if you have the passion, then dreams can come true’.

With the Accordo, you quickly see the cabinet’s extreme asymmetry, and this angularity ensures that set-up is achingly critical. The only speakers I can think of with as strict a positioning regime are Wilson’s, sited to the centimetre, and, unsurprisingly, most Sonus fabers – both Serblin era and post-Serblin.

As expected of Franco, the sculpted looks are augmented by build quality of the highest order and the arch-shaped enclosure is reinforced with a ‘decoupling aluminium-magnesium component to obtain resonance control’. The appearance is enhanced by grilles made up of elastic strings, a concept directly descending from the original Sonus faber Guarneri, while the black columns sit on massive chrome bases to prevent them from tipping over. As I’ve just mentioned, these uprights also contain the crossover networks and multi-way binding posts near their base.

On the top of the stand is an aperture through which a pro-grade cinch connector emerges, mating with a female connector on the speaker’s underside, while the top plate is drilled for two bolts that lock the speaker to the stand. Overall, it’s a thing of beauty, so svelte that its overall height (1.1m) is countered by the sheer sleekness.

Inside the cabinet is a 29mm silk-dome tweeter designed by Sonus faber co-founder Ragnar Lian, and the result of an on-going project that ran for over 30 years. The 150mm ‘sliced paper’ cone mid-woofer is custom-made and optimised to control break-up. The crossover uses Serblin’s minimalist approach, first experienced in his Sonus faber period – low-order, ‘phase coherent’, and voiced ‘to achieve precise soundstaging, focus and depth of image’. As with everything about the Accordo, it uses premium parts. 

sqnote.jpgPercussive Thrills
Desperate to hear the Accordos in my room, I wired them up to my Audio Research REF 6 preamp and REF 75SE power amp with Crystal Cable. I fed it with LP after LP via my SME 30/12, with London Gold cartridge via an EAT E-Glo phono stage. As much as I wish to portray the first salvo in a rush to play concomitant with a virgin male meeting his Mrs Robinson for the first time, it was far more measured than that. I followed the set-up guidance for toe-in, distances from walls, with or without a foam bung in the rear port. These speakers demand as much free space as you can give them. They sounded best with the drivers pointed to an apex of a triangle just in front of the seat, and with one’s ears at tweeter height.

A single adjective kept popping into my head, regardless of the music: silky. No, I didn’t turn to Boz Scaggs or the Pretty Things so I could torment you with puns. As it turned out, I was listening to open-reel tapes (via a Sony TC-755) when the Accordos arrived, and kicked off the sessions with the US pre-recorded tape of Beatles VI [Capitol L2358] – the Americans’ mash-up of Beatles For Sale and the UK version of Help!. It was a life-changer, hot on the heels of stacked LS3/5As, in part because I was still reeling (!) from the sound of the Fab Four on tape

Like all Yankee baby boomers, I ‘hear’ US rather than UK track listings, and this was always one of my favourite LPs because it contained five of my all-time most-loved mop-top masterpieces. What nailed me to the chair was a mere two drum beats at 30 seconds into ‘Every Little Thing’. Stage right, a couple of hammerings of the tom-tom (or timpani?) delivered the percussive thrills I usually expect only of Kodo drums via some loony-tunes audiophile pressing. Despite an absence of truly deep, quartet-of-15in-woofer-type bass, the minuscule Accordos delivered the proper, complete and convincing sensation of man pounding a taut drumhead, moving lots of air. A small, simple thing, but the authenticity was undeniable, confirmed by the more powerful percussive opening to ‘What You’re Doing’. 

In The Room
Ah, what a reveal! ‘Tell Me What You See’ for harmonies, tambourine and electric piano. The build-up and the clapping on ‘Eight Days A Week.’ The luscious, lyrical and utterly peerless guitar twanging that opens and underscores ‘Words Of Love’. And the vocals! So natural, so sibilance-free, so, so in-the-room! I could go on... so how to dispel accusations of foregone conclusions? Despite all my prejudices, a part of me is even tougher than might be deemed necessary on anything toward which I might seem pre-disposed. So I turned to a milestone album that was of dubious sonic worth.

Yes, Derek & the Dominos’ Layla has been ‘audiophiled’ to death despite its occasionally muddy, murky sound – which actually suits the swamp-rock nature of the album. While its stereo properties are beyond question, it takes something like the latest Mobile Fidelity two-LP version [MFSL 2-470] to peel away a layer of grunge. What Layla did for me was provide a taste of – if not quite the final word on – the Accordo’s ability to convey a sense of grandeur in direct opposition to its diminutive size.

A Spectorian wall of sound filled the room, but – unlike a Spector masterpiece – it was wall-to-wall stereo, with every instrument enjoying its own turf, and with possibly the best front-to-back depth I’ve encountered this side of a Quad ’57. I could hear Franco’s measured tones, telling me about why his speakers had a ‘hot seat’ for optimum listening. Sure, they’re fine off-axis, but the prime listening seat, with everything in focus, yields about as convincing a 3D space as one could desire. Yet this is not a speaker for everyone, because – convincing scale and abundant detail aside – its lower registers are typical of a speaker limited by a 150mm woofer. They are lightweight, and bass addicts might find them wanting.

A Big Hit
Fortuitously, a batch of RCA ‘Living Stereo’s came my way thanks to an old friend, so I was feeding the Accordos with what are generally regarded as some of the best-sounding LPs ever issued. Perez Prado’s Big Hits By Prado [RCA LSP-2104] is a perfectly recorded orchestra, and all it took was a burst of ‘Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White’, with the volume turned up to much louder than one expects of a small box, to hear that orchestra in my room. And, yes, it was, indeed, as ‘silky’ as could be. Brass that punches like Tyson... shimmer... sheen. I’m in love. 

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Take this with a caveat, as I’m biased toward 1) small, beautiful speakers and 2) anything Italian. That said, my reaction heightened by years of anticipation, the Accordo is one of the most alluring, nay, seductive speakers I have ever heard. It commandeers the term ‘musical’ and makes it its own, the way Joe Cocker stole ‘With A Little Help From My Friends.’ Forgive the melodrama, but this is a speaker ‘to die for.’

While listening to the Accordo Essence I could relax as if all the audiophile world was left behind and I entered sunlit pastoral landscapes painted in layers of translucent colours. The Accordo Essence are music interpreters they interpret it beautifully

REVIEW SUMMARY: During my life with the Accordo Essence I heard the same act of speakers dissolving within the soundstage that MJ described in his review of the Accordo when the speakers were toed in excessively. Well, this is not unusual, other speakers can also disappear effectively. What I liked even more was that while listening to the Accordo Essence I could relax. As if all the audiophile world was left behind and I entered sunlit pastoral landscapes painted in layers of translucent colours. The Accordo Essence are music interpreters and they interpret it beautifully.

REVIEW: If you are a devotee to Franco Serblin’s era of Sonus Faber then Accordo Essence will not, once again, disappoint. There is no revolution happening to the ‘essence’ of the Accordo monitors that we had reviewed earlier apart from the Accordo Essence sounds full-fledged and more mature thereof. The sound is tuneful and masterfully balanced in a way that makes you enjoy the music instead listening to the sound.

100% - EASE OF USE
69% - SOUND

The all new Franco Serblin branded floorstander is a direct descendant of the acclaimed stand-mounted Accordo monitor with which it shares almost everything. The Accordo Essence is however bigger and equipped with a dedicated 180mm bass driver based on reinforced cellulose pulp. The cabinets are once again a completely asymmetric design, additionally braced to stiffen the larger assembly. More details on the philosophy of building Serblin’s heritage speakers can be found in our review of Franco Serblin Accordo. And alike the Accordo the Accordo Essence are here to please the eye and ears with beauty. This pretty much explains how they sound.


SLAM - 71

It all begins with warm bottom end that lends sufficient volume and rounded attack to a plucked double bass. The instrument has real size which was not achievable for the Accordo monitors as MJ commented in his review: “The Accordo’s physical dimensions cannot exploit the full harmonic envelopes of instruments that operate in the low end of the frequency spectrum. A double bass provides a deep and exciting journey into techniques of plucking, depicts how resonances of strings rise and decay, yet you do not feel the body of the instrument. Similarly a Steinway is a downsized version of the instrument and a symphonic orchestra is rendered in a zoomed out perspective. I missed the flesh, the mass, the scale. This is not a criticism of the smaller Accordo, rather the criticism of any stand mount speakers.” Hoever with the Accordo Essence the sonic pictures are specific and sizable without being overdone – you know, the piano stretched all across the front wall and similar naughtiness does not happen here. The sound is very solid and images keep locked in their places. As said the bass is slightly more ear-candy than it could be, yet it provides you with what I would call Italian bel canto - the beauty of tone comes first and the technology is just the way to reach it. The sound of the Accordo Essence owed also quite a lot to the Jadis electronics so I could savor authentic instrumental recordings like Alia Vox (Montserrat Figueras & Jordi Savall), but also ECM discs (Jan Garbarek), which were pure and tonally saturated through the Accordo Essence.

AIR - 83

For a rock music fan I am not sure that the Accordo Essence is the final speaker. Yes, it is nice, the bass is weighty and soft, guitar lick smooth and melodic, yet its sound may be too beautified for some tastes. It will depend on lot on your preferences and reference points; what I want to say is that the Accordo Essence is a speaker for music lovers, not for hardcore audiophiles that listen to the music with a stethoscope.

Ambient overtones and decays, no matter whether natural or added by a hall effect, are conveyed reliably by the Accordo Essence, yet in a very understated way: I noticed them only when I knew they were there. To my ears it meant that I had to search for some nuances that were audible more clearly with other speakers; with the Essence these microsounds were very low in level. This is perhaps why I also missed a bit more of lingering transparency which I knew was there with the stand-mounted Accordo. The bigger cabinets with the bottom-end slightly tilts the voicing into the comfort for which the tiniest detail is a trade-off. In the music that is does not feature the lowest octaves, like chamber pieces, for example, the effect of masking was not apparent and long sustained tones were resonant and sound with crisp and silky highs.


Vocals, male, female or massed, were superb through the Accordo Essence. The midrange is the highlight of this Franco Serblin speaker. It was no surprise that, for example, saxophones were presented with full bodied sound that was very physical and tangible. Frederic Chopin (AJ Trio) blossomed with amazing instrumental colours of piano and double bass  in the room, almost idealized in their exactness and richness. The colours were pastels rather than thinned acrylic, the huge wooden cabinets of the instruments were clearly heard.


During my life with the Accordo Essence I heard the same act of speakers dissolving within the soundstage that MJ described in his review of the Accordo when the speakers were toed in excessively. Well, this is not unusual, other speakers can also disappear effectively. What I liked even more was that while listening to the Accordo Essence I could relax. As if all the audiophile world was left behind and I entered sunlit pastoral landscapes painted in layers of translucent colours. The Accordo Essence are music interpreters and they interpret it beautifully.

.....I suspect those of you that track a pair down will never part with them. You owe it to yourself to arrange an audition.
Jeff Dorgay

SUMMARY: Imagine the world’s best mini-monitor; highly resolving, magnificent imaging with midrange so clear, clean and uncoloured it feels as if there are no speakers in the room at all. To make this vision even more inviting, forget the tiny, rectangular box that most familiar small monitors come packaged in; wrap whatever it takes to achieve these electronic goals in a pair of sculptures that look at home in one of the world’s top museums.

EXTENDED REVIEW: Open your eyes; this is a dream you can have right now. Chief designer Massimiliano Favella mentions that the Lignea is the last of the legendary speaker designer Franco Serblin’s visions. While I haven’t ever qualified a speaker as a “jazz” speaker, or a “rock” speaker since I was selling JBL’s back in the early 1980s, the more acoustic music auditioned through the Lignea’s leads me to believe they are more of an acoustic, or real music speaker. It’s not that you can’t play rock with these petite beauties. Steven Stills voice and the accompanying harmonies sound massive through these speakers in my living room, which only measures 11 feet wide and about 17 feet deep. 

Set up per the instructions, placing the speakers about 3 feet in from the side walls and about 3 feet out from the back wall, tilted in on a triangle putting the listening spot about 6 feet back is perfect. The harmonies in the Beatles’ “What Goes On” are equally inviting. Revisiting some of the most listened to Beatles tracks divulges more intimate secrets from albums I thought I knew thoroughly. This is the magic of the Lignea. 

The reason perhaps that I categorise the Ligneas as acoustic speakers is because they have such a high degree of resolution and musical accuracy without ever sounding harsh, forward or strident, they do so much justice to reproducing acoustic instruments. Observing Dave Grisman’s fingers command the mandolin, or Chick Corea master the keyboard, they paint a lovely musical picture in my listening room. 

Leaving Roon in radio mode, Blackberry Smoke’s “Waiting for the Thunder” joins the queue, making it easy to turn the volume up and enjoy how much these little speakers really can rock. If you live on a constant diet of heavy rock, EDM or hip hop, you will probably yearn for a bit more of the bass response of the Stradivari, perhaps Franco Serblin’s fnest creation, yet on a day to day, you may never miss it. 

Up close and personal 

The Lignea’s are a personal, intimate speaker; a private treasure you may not want to share with anyone. The subtle infections of Chuck Mangione’s flugelhorn on “Peggy Hill” is so involving and awash with detail, it’s as if you are glued to the listening chair. Not only does the slender shape help them to disappear, but the sheer transparency will fool you into thinking you’re listening to electrostatic speakers. And with a pair of Quads right here for comparison, I’m not pulling your leg. The Lignea’s are that good. 

And like the legendary British ESL’s, the Lignea’s are similar in the sense that they do what they do nearly better than anything else. 

Franco Serblin built Sonus faber on small two-way speakers that served the music. The Lignea is an ultimate expression of this concept. When you hear the natural timbre and decay of cymbals through these speakers, you may just be spoiled for anything else. My LS3/5a’s (even the cool vintage ones) sound course by comparison, as do some other speakers at my disposal.

Though these speakers are rated at a relatively low 83db sensitivity, possessing a very gentle slope, first-order crossover network, they are easy to drive with modest amplification. 

The PrimaLuna HP integrated that is our Product of the Year turns in an outstanding performance, as does the 20 watt per channel Nagra 300i and the 30 watt per channel Pass XA30.8. You won’t achieve concert hall levels with these speakers either way, so go for quality over quantity. 

Layers of texture come alive through the Ligneas. If hearing the classic “You Were on my Mind” from Shaun Colvin and Steve Earle doesn’t make you weep, and Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Miss Otis Regrets” doesn’t make you chuckle, you aren’t alive. These speakers excel at delivering tonal saturation and contrast, which helps you to interpret the emotional content of a performance that much easier. Every breath that Sarah Jarosz takes in “Lost Dog” comes through clearly, with the banjo in the background having its own distinct space.

Thanks to the small driver, small footprint, two-way design, the Ligneas also offer a superb sense of musical timing, acting as a point source. Lights on or off, it doesn’t matter, if these speakers weren’t so beautiful, you’d never notice that they were in the room. 

To grill or not to grill 

The stringed grilles are have been poorly imitated by a number of other manufacturers, yet they continue here with the Lignea and while I’m not sure if they add or subtract to the sound, they are beautiful to behold. However, their soft nature will not protect the soft dome tweeters from prying hands, noses or paws, so beware. 

The grilles are easily removed with modest effort, and though I usually remove the grilles on everything I audition, the Lignea’s just feel a little naked without them. 

Setting up the Ligneas is straightforward, but does require patience. Like a sports car with a small engine, you don’t have the luxury of losing horsepower anywhere. Achieving the correct balance between bass, midrange, and imaging is critical so that you don’t throw away any of the resolution the Ligneas are capable of. Once the spot is found, inch your listening chair or couch up or back to fnd the last bit of perfection. I highly suggest enjoying these speakers nearfeld for the most engaging results. 

While they are not as difficult to position as a pair of ESLs, take it easy and pay close attention to the process. When you get it right the stereo image explodes from left to right, but if you go too far in, it all disappears, becoming sound from two separate boxes. Ease your way back into the music and swim in a breathtakingly broad and deep soundstage that immerses you in music that just can’t be coming from these two tiny speakers. 

A whole lotta love 

Maybe I was Italian in another life. Whether it be a Ducati motorcycle, an Armani suit or this pair of speakers from Mr. Serblin, there is an emotional component to Italian products that I can’t ignore. Both in sound and aesthetic, the Lignea speakers are a beauty to behold. They won’t be the right speaker for everyone, but I suspect those of you that track a pair down will never part with them. You owe it to yourself to arrange an audition. 
……. Jeff Dorgay