Digital amplifiers, up till this point were considered somewhat of a novelty. Not many knew that as plasma and LCD televisions were becoming popular, just about everyone of them included a Class T or Class D (commonly known as digital) amplifier inside. Apple were starting to use them in their computers, and we were already considering them for our Bard range to be released in years to come. HiFi aficionados had been quite suspicious an sceptical thus far about the whole idea of ‘digital’ amplifiers as very few, if any had lived up to their high standards of expectations. It was a mere fad it seemed. 2002 marked a turning point.
Back in 1999 we first showed off our work at the IFA show in Berlin in partnership with Tripath Technologies, the front runners in digital audio electronics at the time. Their European reps1 had been trying to get their chips into hifi, but were struggling due to the less than favourable audiophile nature of their evaluation modules. So, without any real intention of producing anything other than a concept product we put our hands to ‘Audiophiling’ them. The concept shown off in Berlin, became the Sonneteer Bronte amplifier that went on to meet with global praise including a magnificent review in Gramophone magazine and a follow up ‘Editor’s Choice’ in the 2002 product review.
This [Bass] extension can come as something of a surprise on first audition, but the Brontë is just as accomplished across the rest of the frequency range. That makes it able to deliver the smallest nuance of a voice or solo instrument as well as it does the full force of a symphony orchestra. For that reason this is a fine all round choice, as to the extent that one could almost forget its USP — the digital amplification — and just consider it as another amplifier. And while I’m sure the digital engineers at Sonneteer wouldn’t take too kindly to such an approach, that’s meant as high praise indeed. Gramophone Dec.2002
The Bronte went on to become one of our most successful products with Best Buys and awards heaped upon it from as far flung fields as Japan, USA and Russia as well as our near field continental cousins.
Sadly and due to the demise of Tripath, despite the subsequent adoption of their technologies by the likes of Sony (Smart Digital range) and Sharp amongst others, we at Sonneteer, have had to knock the Bronte Amplifier on the head for the time being, with the last amplifiers leaving the door in 2008 heading towards Paris and Tokyo. We also very rarely see them back and certainly have not had one on our servicing tables since we waved the truck to Paris goodbye.