Sonneteer, British made luxury hi-fi, news blog. Established 1994.

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Upping the grade again: Campion and Alabaster tweaked up.

Sonneteer Alabaster hifi amplifierThe Campion has been with us since inception and the Alabaster arrived not long later. Since the mid 1990’s these two integrated hifi amplifiers have been the foundations on which Sonneteer has been built. The Sedley may have more Google hits and the Byron may have had a few more column inches in the press, but neither pluck our strings like the original amplifiers that marked our existence.

As sentimental as this all sounds it’s important to know that when we started off as young just graduated students, ideological by nature, we had this purist dream and the Campion was a fulfilment of that. In high fidelity terms we were purists and in business terms we were novices. So the first development embodies these facts. This lead to the Sonneteer Campion being critically very successful with reviewers’ hands aching  as they scribbled so much prose in praise of it. The Alabaster which was based on the same design, but with a little more power followed soon after and was received with even more fanfare. The words,”the best amplifier ever made” were bandied about often as were the words “amplifier specialists” referring to us at Sonneteer. In the mean time, as the Sonneteer range has expanded and evolved, the Alabaster has been at the heart of our reference system ever since. With the exception of a few enforced changes due to supplier part modifications, it and the Campion have changed little since.

Sonneteer Orton hifi amplifierNot that long ago we announced the Orton upgrade which in itself was a long effort to better an already well respected amplifier. We can now reveal that at the same time and using much of the same learnt ideas the Alabaster and Campion amplifiers were going through a transition of their own. It would be foolish of us to think that we peaked in 1994 and that we can’t do any better. So we can make it official and tell you that a Campion or Alabaster that you buy today shares some of the ‘trickle down’ knowledge from the Orton and that there is indeed a new reference Alabaster now sitting in our listening room. Pop off the lid and the untrained eye will see very little. This really isn’t about oil filled capacitors and deionising spray. We do own an Oscilloscope or two and spectrum analysis tools are aplenty here too, but our most important tools are our ears and our brains. The trained eye will spot a few mechanical tweaks and some firming up in the power supply stage electronics. It doesn’t sound so glamorous, but the refinements, in our view, have taken the sonic performance to a higher plane.