The year the Sonneteer Orton, dual mono, integrated amplifier was launched. 2004 in some way was the culmination of a decades worth of work. Essentially the Orton started with our original Campion amplifier. We were at a show hosted by our dealer in Friesland, Rinsma HiFi, Jan Rinsma and his assistants had tried driving a pair of ARS loudspeakers using a pair of Campion amplifiers by using a single channel from each. The Campion was perfectly capable of driving them on its own but this was another level of experience. So it got us thinking. Originally we were just going to take the Campion design and put it in a box with two power supplies. We, however, are design engineers and the Campion was, well, 10 years ago. We could surely do better? So we did.

The Orton took on a number of refinements. We noted that most people prefer the DIR (direct to volume) input on both the Campion and Alabaster. So the Orton has 6. We also noted that some people still like the higher gain line level inputs. So each of teh six inputs can be programmed (separately) to be a higher gain input. In this case the input would take a small detour through a pre-amplifier gain stage before amplification. Oh and it has a remote control.

How does it sound? Let’s ask some friends:

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 have listened and listened,to everything from Nirvana to Handel and it has never put a foot wrong. in fact it hasn’t once failed to put a grin on my face… I like this. A lot. HiFi Wigwam

Other than the aforementioned linearity, the best part of the Orton’s overall sound is that it does everything very well. Soundstage, timing, tonal balance—none of it comes to mind during listening sessions because none of it calls attention to itself. Just music. The Orton is an extremely accomplished integrated, and should delight all who want to hear music, and not music gear…The sophisticated polish of the Sonneteer Orton’s appearance mirrors its sonic attributes. The Orton is firmly of the “Do no harm” school, in that, music flows with a seeming effortlessness that rarely has you concentrating on the amp itself…eminently natural…Plenty of exorbitantly priced amplifiers and speakers are tuned to produce goosebumps on every song from “Haffner” to “Happy Birthday.” The astounding accuracy that makes you a willing listener to a reference recording of “One Tin Soldier” played on a wooden flute is rarely approximated in  downmarket products. Too often, the attempt to capture that high end sheen results in an integrated that is super quick, super detailed, and super annoying. The Orton is none of those things, thankfully. Positive-Feedback.com

 

In the meantime the Bronte amplifier  and CD player were still making waves. This year in what were to become their biggest markets Russia and Japan.

The amplifier demonstrated a pure and natural sound, without any signs of hardness and fatigue inherent in the ‘digital’ sound. You can enjoy a Sonata without the slightest discomfort…The song Immenso Sogno by Russell Watson from the disc Reprise, It proves the superiority of Brontë in the management of acoustics compared with many, even more expensive amplifiers. Translated from Russian AV1