Manufacturing

Published: March 12, 2021 | Updated: March 13, 2021

Microphone company used by Adele has plenty to shout about after celebrating best-ever year

More than 10,000 of the Podcast Pro have been built since its official launch in February 2020.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

“Mind-boggling.”

Trevor Coley, Founder, Managing Director and Designer of microphone manufacturer Sontronics, sums up the last 12 months.

And, in particular, the response to – and subsequent demand for – the Poole-based company’s first product for the consumer sector, the Podcast Pro microphone.

Launched just over a year ago, more than 10,000 of the broadcast quality mic have now been built with Sontronics six-strong team, which includes Trevor and his wife Lisa, Operations Director, pulling out all the stops to keep up with demand.

All the microphones are hand-built and tested at the company’s premises at the Wessex Trade Centre in Ringwood Road.

A card slipped into each box gives the name of the person building it.

Trevor, pictured left, said: “Mind-boggling is really the only word I can use to describe the last year.

“We have doubled our business.

“I literally have to pinch myself to believe it’s true.”

It was back in 2004 that Trevor, a musician and audio enthusiast, decided to pursue his dream of creating a range of microphones delivering professional-quality results at affordable prices.

He began sketching out designs for innovative-looking mics with classic styling and a unique sound too.

Sontronics was launched at the 2005 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade fair with a small range of studio microphones.

Since then, it has gone from strength to strength.

The range has grown to include small – and large – diaphragm condensers, multi-award-winning valve mics, affordable dynamic mics, phantom-powered ribbon mics and instrument-specific mics for drums, guitars, vocals and guitar amps.

Sontronics’ products are now used by some of the world’s biggest artists, entertainers, producers, composers and studios.

They range from Adele and Ed Sheeran to BBC Strictly, Glyndebourne Opera and schools and universities.

All the products are designed and developed in Poole by Trevor.

The prototypes of its newest models have been put through rigorous beta-testing with top British producers including Flood (U2, Editors, The Foals) and Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay, U2) as well as several engineers at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios.

The majority of the microphones are made in Dorset with most of the metalwork parts, electronics and packaging manufactured and supplied in the UK.

The rest, as well as the metalwork and cases, are hand-built to the company’s specific designs under strict conditions in its own manufacturing facilities in Shanghai.

All the products are individually checked and tested in Dorset before being packed and shipped.

It was in 2019 that Trevor first looked into producing a broadcast quality microphone specifically for the podcast market.

He said: “We like to do things differently but better.

“We also don’t like to jump on bandwagons.

“What we came up with was different from anything else available on the market.”

The Podcast Pro was exhibited at NAMM in America in January 2020.

Trevor had arranged production of 200 units apiece of red and black mics, depending on orders at the trade fair.

On the first day of NAMM, 1,200 Podcast Pro’s had been ordered.

By day three the number had grown to 2,000.

“It was unbelievable. In fact, absolutely staggering,” said Trevor.

The Podcast Pro was officially launched on February 24, 2020, and by the end of last year 8,000 units had been sold.

Last week Sontronics released five new colours: blue, gold, green, purple and cosmic grey.

They were made as one-offs for fun over Christmas.

But after Lisa shared pictures on the company’s social media accounts, the response and subsequent order requests led to them going into production.

“It was literally within ten seconds of going on Instagram that someone said they wanted a purple one and it didn’t stop from there.

“It’s been quite amazing,” said Trevor.

There were concerns that the pandemic could hit the company’s fortunes.

But the combination of the Podcast Pro, and a decision by a large number of professional studios to use lockdown to re-equip and invest in Sontronic’s most expensive microphones, led to a doubling in turnover in 2020.

“It was our best-ever year,” said Trevor who, together with Lisa, pictured right, and the four other members of his team, assembles and tests the mics in Poole.

The company is now planning to take on more staff, possibly another four in the next six months, as well as look at selling the Podcast Pro in stores such as PC World and Argos.

Trevor said: “I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with our small team.

“We’re also fortunate to have our family of worldwide stockists and distributors.

“Our brand recognition has gone through the roof and our Podcast Pro is regarded as the height of cool.

“Podcasting is a colossal market which is growing all the time.

“We’re very well positioned to take advantage of it.”