We 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.”
Open 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.
In Part 2 of our review of 2012 we head off to land of the rising sun, Japan. Our (Sonneteer) products enjoyed the poetry of Japanese reviewer on more than one occasion this year. In the Spring Audio Basic magazine wrote about the Campion amplifier and Bronte CD player stating that, “..these machines are the objects of craft work Comparable to drinking single malt whisky, straight. You can enjoy the high quality sound without colouration”. We wrote about it here in our May 2012 posting. The next episode came in the Autumn issue of Audio Accesory. This time the Bronte CD player on its own. Below are some translated extracts from the review which also spends some time praising our whole line up as well as the United Kingdom as country of Audio Aficionados.
The review starts by asking [on behalf of the reader] “who are Sonneteer?”. They went on to give a little history by stating that Sonneteer [that’s us] produce realistically priced products that are accessible to the true music lover”…” Established in 1994 they are a relatively new company in the Audio Kingdom [The UK], but their products are designed in the traditional British [They said English, but I am Welsh!] way. Sonneteer products are not made exclusively for the very rich but accessible to all music lover who like to buy something a little expensive for themselves.” They then went on to describe the transitional British sound by saying, ” They [The British] don’t make their sound too loud in volume but like nuances and sensitive dynamics to be pronounced more than us [The Japanese]. The British manufactures produce high resolution audio products that maintain their resolution even at low sound volumes. We who live in cities in Japan cannot play music at loud volumes so we are very grateful to have Sonneteer products.”
Beyond the history lesson the Bronte CD player was being reviewed here and they certainly liked it. ” The music was full of energy…clearly expressive with a very good perception of detail and rhythm.The playback Sound is Faithful to the principles [of the music] … The sound reproduction is not in the true ‘high end’ style, so allowing the true music lover to concentrate the music.”
Having started the year as a winner of the Visual Grand Prix Award the Bronte CD/SACD player ends 2012 with high praise from Japan’s leading audio magazine. If we are an audio Kingdom then they certainly qualify as an audio Empire.