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


Vinyl CD Sunset

Byron door crop BLK-webWe knew the time would come, but we were not quite sure when. In the end the parts suppliers called the day. CD players are slowly heading into the sunset. We wont say demise as some of these last few being made over the next few weeks will be playing CDs for the better part of the next decade. If our history serves as a guide then many will go on far beyond. CD collections are not going away in a hurry and many lucky offspring will inherit their parents’ collections. I personally am busy putting up some CD wall racks in my new home sound room/office. My 3 year old knows how to use my CD player and often dictates what I listen to. Mummy’s  Divine Comedy CD seems to be number one at the moment.

Over the years we have had two models of CD player, The Byron and the Bronte. The latter was discontinued officially a year or so ago although we continued to ship 100V models to Japan. So both will come to a complete end in 2014. The last Bronte CD players ever were shipped last week to Tokyo.

The Byron, affectionately known as the Vinyl CD player due to its vinyl like sound, has been a Sonneteer staple for 15 years. It has had a few iterations due to CD mechanisms becoming obsolete, but retained the same DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) throughout. The same DAC also enjoyed some success on its own as the gut that drove the original Sonneteer Dryden.

As a Sonneteer product the Byron will be leaving us on a high and will remain the reference point for all Sonneteer digital players of any kind in the near and distance future I am sure. So this is certainly a reluctant sunset as a recent review in HiFi Wigwam demonstrates that despite its age it was still right up there with and ahead of many of the best, “Byron is revealing layers of detail I’d not tuned into before. And it’s doing this without sounding bright or cold…..The detail and insight are really remarkable and yet there is no price to pay for this.”

Under the Wigwam with Sonneteer

HiFi WigwamAvid readers of the HiFi Wigwam will have noticed Sonneteer featuring a little recently. Via one of our notable dealers, Purite North they got their hands on some of our kit. We were more than happy for them to have done so as it seems they were quite taken by it.

Sonneteer Orton Close up SilverThe first review came in June with the audition of the Sonneteer Orton integrated amplifier. Here’s a snippet:

“The build, fit and finish is exceptional. It’s quite Germanic in this respect, I really can’t see this thing letting anyone down for 20 years to come. Fit and forget? Nope, you’ll be having too much fun playing air guitar to ever forget it. This is an amp that manages a rare trick: you get oodles of pace rhythm and timing, but without it ever sounding in-yer-face or shouty. My first day with the Orton was spent re-visiting my extensive collection of Rock and Electronica, it was huge fun with dynamism and pace in spades….

Tonally the Orton is very neutral, I get an honest reproduction without colour. It inspires confidence.

Do you get the impression I like this amp? I’ll tell you how much I like it: I’m now feeling a bit of a fool for gushing so much over previous amplifiers I’ve reviewed. I didn’t leave myself enough headroom for weekends like this when I am properly amazed.” Read the whole review here.

I know we are blushing a little too.

Sonneteer Byron with OrtonIf you thought they liked that then what a follow up in August when they put the Sonneteer Byron CD player through its paces. Again let the Wigwam do the talking: “All the technical details can wait. Eleanor Rigby from the Beatles’ Love album has just started and we need to talk about the sound – Now! Anyone familiar with George Martin’s re-engineering of the classics will know that this is a beautiful sounding album. But the Byron is revealing layers of detail I’d not tuned into before. And it’s doing this without sounding bright or cold…..The detail and insight are really remarkable and yet there is no price to pay for this. The bass goes deep, the mids have warmth, the treble doesn’t tish or splash –  it’s an enjoyable easy sound…..This kit sounds good dammit and people deserve to know.” Read the full review here.


Sonneteer the HiFi Choice at Doug Brady’s

hifichoicelogoOpen the June issue of HiFi Choice Magazine (yes it’s may and they are already on the shelves) and turn to pages 90 and ‘The Brady Bunch’ are waxing lyrical with the ‘Choice’.  In keeping with our own day spent at  Warrington’s hifi specialists it seems HiFi Choice were made very welcome and left smiling and brimming with confidence that hifi retail is alive and well.

What has kept us smiling is the fact that Sonneteer were well represented in the article and in a very positive way. In fact they came away saying that ‘Sonneteer enjoys a slightly lower profile than some of the other British Audio brands, but looking at the Byron, it is not easy to see why’. A clear statement that we need shout louder. It seems we impressed in both performance, aesthetics and build quality.  we are happy to concur with the point of view.