All the technical details can wait. Eleanor Rigby from the Beatles’ Love album has just started and we need to talk about the sound – Now! Anyone familiar with George Martin’s re-engineering of the classics will know that this is a beautiful sounding album. But the Byron is revealing layers of detail I’d not tuned into before. And it’s doing this without sounding bright or cold. There’s huge insight here.
You see, I think it’s easy to make “revealing Hi-Fi”. You just ramp down the lower mids and bass a bit. The mid range and treble are therefore emphasised and reviewers rave about the unrivalled levels of detail and taut bass (then in a sub paragraph mention that the bass might be deeper). The Byron doesn’t play that trick. It – unsurprisingly – shares some characteristics with the Orton amp also reviewed here. The detail and insight are really remarkable and yet there is no price to pay for this. The bass goes deep, the mids have warmth, the treble doesn’t tish or splash – it’s an enjoyable easy sound.
I actually considered buying the Orton amplifier but have resisted ( I might yet weaken) as I want to remain impartial. But you know what? This kit sounds good dammit and people deserve to know.
The Byron does have weaknesses of course. For £1500.00 I want a CD tray that doesn’t rattle as it ejects. I also want a digital input. If I’m buying a CD player based on how it sounds alone (is there another reason?) I want it to make my streaming devices sound this good too.
Anyway, back to the sound.. I’m being drawn into the cymbals, for the benefit of Mr Kite. The plodding bass line has a round chewy feel to it, while the merry go round organ is flying off the walls. This is fun without being tiring. Sonneteer really have made a good range of kit here. The build (CD Tray aside) is rock solid. You could bang nails in with the chassis (if you can lift it that high). It sounds sure footed, confident and transparent. Open and clean, like the amp, this is very easy to like. Easy to live with and handsome looking, a little bling maybe, but handsome none the less.
I could live with this for years to come and not feel the itch, I could take this to Bake-Offs confident that my peers will approve… I just got up to change CD, and I’m waiting for it to load and it took a bit long. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King.. quicker please, the slight KT88 hum of the Beard amp is not nearly as sweet as the music.
The sound-stage is nice and open, my speakers and amp give loads of this anyway, so it’s hard to measure the CD player’s contribution, however it’s certainly not holding anything back. Albert King is on the left, Stevie on the right and the Hammond organ behind Albert.. Drums roll across the stage and the guitars sing high. Happy again… it’s all so musical. As a set up I really don’t need any more and it’s possibly as good a sound I’ve ever had in this room, from these speakers.
This is another thumbs up for Sonneteer. I have to be honest, had I seen the kit in a show room I would have admired its looks and moved on, with the phrase “style over substance” in mind. I am very glad to have my preconceptions blown away – you can have good looking kit that also sounds good at this price point. Oh and the words “Made in England” are somewhat satisfying too!
There’s a remote control. A display, and standard set of outputs. The meagre features are not why you will buy one of these when you hear it. It’s because you will be sure that every penny has gone into the sound quality.
I never did get to those technical details did I? Well, I could copy and paste them here, or you can just click here for the full pdf.
Audition soon, call Paul or Sam at Purite North
Discuss the review here