Franko Serblin

Beautiful, Glorious, World Class loudspeakers 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.

Franco Serbiin was the creater of the magnificient ACCORDO stand mtg speakers and KTEMA Floorstand speakers that have already become classics in their own right.

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$ 10,995.00 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$ 5,995.00 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$ 39,995.00 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

.....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