The Sonneteer story
Sonneteer (plural Sonneteers)
A writer of sonnets.
Sonneteer came to life in 1994, but it all started a little earlier than that.
While at University in the late 80’s and early 90’s Haider Bahrani and Remo Casadei started a business to organise gigs or concerts and recordings for small bands. Haider had a band so it was mainly a vehicle for this although it did branch out to a number of other student bands. As electronics students Haider and Remo, not content with some the sound equipment they had to hand they modified it and often built their own. In fact Remo was known to rarely travel without a soldering iron and a multi-meter in the back of his car.
In his final year, Haider designed a hi-fi amplifier. Other than the requirements of his degree, he also wanted a good amplifier to monitor his personal music recording. Remo, a true hi-fi enthusiast, had other ideas. So taken with the original design, when Haider decided to go on a month’s holiday after graduating, he popped round to Haider’s parents house and ‘borrowed’ said amplifier to show off to a few hi-fi aficionado and dealer friends. They loved it and by the time Haider had come back from holiday Remo, a highly skilled product engineer, was already cooking up a production version of this amplifier. All products to date are co designed by the two gentlemen.
The original business at University was called Fine Thang Musico. The small amount of money they had left from this was used to start up an incorporated Fine Thang Musico to be known as, FTM Marketing ltd the current mother company of Sonneteer.
Why Sonneteer? Well Haider has a passion for writing and wanted to name products after writers and poets. The first amplifier was to become the Sonneteer Campion, after Thomas Campion. The rest of the separates range followed suit and the Bard range, in name, was barely a departure from that. The Morpheus music centre is the first not to directly pronounce one who spills their thoughts by means of a quill or a modern version thereof.
Morpheus is the Greek God of dreams and is coincidentally referred to in Thomas Campion’s ‘The cypress curtain of the night’ from the Books of Ayres was adopted for the latest music centre as it brings together all that is desired in a luxury music system of the modern day. More than enough for a poet to [ehem] muse over.
Sonneteer established as a British high end audio brand. The ethos of high quality sound performance was ingrained from the start
Launch of the world’s first consumer separates high end, digital amplifier the Bronte as part of a set of amplifier and CD player by the same name.
Bronte amplifier wins ‘Editors choice’, Product of the Year for Gramophone magazine. The digital revolution begins.
Show off pioneering Bard high end wireless system at the Consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
Sonneteer’s Bard amplifier, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, goes to market and revolutionises high end audio amplification.
What hi-fi? Magazine proclaims, “Bard is a stroke of genius”.
Sedley phono stage wins Audio Excellence Award from Japan.
Bard, wireless system wins Audio Excellence Award, Japan. Exceptional reviews from the global hifi press, continue.
Sonneteer Sedley phono stage, a product for vinyl record lovers, wins another Audio Excellence Award from Japan, this time for the USB version. The award, in this case was as an accolade for design innovation.
The year of the Sonneteer Morpheus Music Centre first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show Las Vegas after winning a place to represent UK Trade and Investments’ British Designs and Innovations. The Morpheus changed everything. A luxury music system that encapsulates all modern ways of playing back music yet retaining the ethos of tradition high end hi-fi products that Sonneteer are renowned for.
The Sonneteer Morpheus Music Centre wins Audio Excellence Award after nomination by a customer.
The Morpheus Server was launched to marry with the Morpheus music centre. A product that sits silently in the living space in its beautifully hand engraved, aluminium casing whilst able to store an entire CD collection losslessly and allowing any number of network connected devices, including the Morpheus music centre to access them.
The Sonneteer Byron and Bronte Mark Five CD players launched.
Sonneteer Bronte CD player wins Visual Grand Prix Award, Japan.
The Sonneteer Orton Mark Three announced promising even greater refinement to this iconic, British hifi amplifier.
Sonneteer announce the retirement of the Campion and Morphues products.
The Sonneteer Alabaster (orinally based on a more powerful Campion is given the upgrade treatment.
Early in the year, the last ever Sonneteer CD players are shipped. The last buy order was over subscribed by 3 to 1.
The Sonneteer Orton Mark Four is launched including a fully machined aluminium and stainless steel crafted remote handset.
December: More light is shed on Sonneteer’s ‘Heart beat’ project.
January 2015 sees the launch of an Alabaster with a phono stage included.
All Sonneteer products are assembled by hand with one person taking responsibility for each unit made. Not one single Sonneteer music playing product leaves the workshop without being listened to by one of the founders. It is said that they can tell if an Alabaster has a wrong component in it simply by listening to the first note of a melody played through it. Read more in our Magazine.
Classic high fidelity
Sonneteer was born of an age when High Fidelity separates components were considered the epitome of audio reproduction equipment for the home. From the very first outing of the first prototype amplifier which was to become the Campion integrated amplifier, Sonneteer have proven that they are the epitome of a manufacturer of the ilk. The age was also still one that was synonymous with high readership numbers for magazines like Electronics World, HiFi News and HiFi World. Some might even remember Sonneteer’s own Haider Bahrani’s scribblings in the latter. It is also said that Remo Casadei (the other Sonneteer founder) managed to sneak in an article or two in the technical pages while Haider was sunning himself somewhere hot with the [now] mother of his child.
Although this was already the age of computers, home entertainment was still defined by the home central music system and at the higher quality end or luxury end of this was the British hifi separates system.Vinyl records, which have enjoyed a mini revival lately were still competing on a level with CDs (Compact Dics) for sales and compact cassettes were still the dominant audio recording medium. The year was 1994.
“I was right in the middle of a Master’s degree course at Imperial College and Remo was technical Director of a big set top box manufacturing and distribution company at the time. At weekends and in the evenings Remo (as I was stuck in a laboratory in West London) was getting my original quite messily built prototype into a production ready product. We then managed to somehow wangle a spot at the Heathrow Hi-Fi show, which was very big in those days and the rest just followed on from there.” an extract from Haider Bahrani’s Blog, Haiderway.