The year was 1994 and it all began. Well sort of. Some years earlier, while studying Electronic Systems at University, Haider (one of the Sonneteer founders) had a band and Remo( the other Sonneteer founder) decided to get involved. Remo was fond of music and was a big HiFi enthusiast, but didn’t play an instrument. So he got involved in a more technical sense. In many ways this is where all the magic began. Strapped for cash, every time the band needed something to enhance their recordings or live performance, the soldering iron came out and wonderful things happened.

As a hobby, and for a short period professionally as a sound engineer, Haider records music and for his Degree, final year, project he decided to design an amplifier as an improvement over the one he used to monitor his recordings. Rock stardom didn’t quite beckon at the time, but he did have a period (in between degrees) running a music studio for a pop star as well as a number for years writing for a book stand audio magazine.

As far as Sonneteer was concerned, this final year project and Remo’s hi-fi enthusiasm was key. It also took Haider (and Remo) on a journey designing for a number of other audio brands with some award winning successes, but that’s another story. Haider, after completing his MSc would have been just as happy continuing to play guitar and write poetry and pros(yes he is writing these very words you read), but the lure of the three legged semiconductor and Remo’s nagging enthusiasm set a course and the wind blew onto the sails.

Here’s Remo’s take on what happened next in a extract from his Blog:

As we are[were] about to re-launch the CD players, I got a bit of a deja vu feeling and found myself reminiscing the initial Sonneteer journey while I was talking to a chap about the business.

Haider was making an amplifier for his university project… I was working on a satellite receiver project for my placement company. Although we were both really into music I remember I was far more into Hi Fi than him, and my friends were into it too and so were my colleagues and so on… you get the picture.

Anyway, I remember back then Haider often came to my place with his black box project of an amplifier with a bag of bits and try things out. It usually happens after him blowing it up at his place so let’s just say he was changing and updating components quite often! Back then, we used any bits available so long as the values were fulfilled and he started to notice those changes of component often changed the way the amplifier sounded! So quite often he comes over to my place and say, “tell me I’m not losing it, but if I do this the thing sounds different!!!”. Quite often I agreed and it wasn’t long until the sound we got out of that ugly black box with a hand written “h” on it was out performing my own system.

After the degree was over, Haider decided to take a holiday in the USA to cool his heels and left his pride and joy of an amp in his room. I really don’t know what got over me but one day I decided to go to his place, rang the door bell and told his mum I needed to “borrow” something from Haider’s room… and I ran off with the little amplifier.

I took it to my place and gave it a good listening to and found it wiped the floor with my system… I then took it to a friend’s house who had a far superior Hi Fi system than mine, and that little amp did the same to his system… he looked at me and said nothing, but that look was enough for me.

Last thing I remember was I rushed back to Haider’s room and put the amp back exactly where it was as if it never left… a few days later Haider came back and I went there and said: “Let’s start a business making amplifiers…”

Remo Casadei 27/07/2011

Here’s Haider’s version of events:

“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.”

Haider Bahrani
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