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HAIL THE HOMEGROWN
Sonodyne audio systems are used by global superstars like Beyonce

It powers the sound of Beyonce, Duran Duran and Take That, and has made its way into the hallowed portals of Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. And it’s a hundred per cent home-grown Calcutta enterprise.

Sonodyne, established by city-based technocrat Ashoke Mukherjee in the early 70s, has quietly consolidated its early thrust on research and tech transfer to put Calcutta firmly on the cutting-edge of the high-fidelity global professional audio business.

Amar G. Bose, a professor of electrical engineering (now retired) at MIT, had revolutionised the world of audio hardware when he founded Bose Corporation in 1964. Another Bengali’s pioneering research in audio innovation, carried out mostly in his hometown Calcutta, is now reaping rare recognition.

“Today, we are directly competing with hi-fi industry leaders like Focal of France and Adam of Germany, and Sonodyne is the first Indian audio company to have its brand sell in 40 countries,” says Anindya, son of the founder-MD — as well as a pianist and singer — entrusted with making the Calcutta brand heard across world venues.

Francesco Cameli and Simon Bohannon of Sphere Studios, London’s prestigious music recording pad, concur that it was “a no-brainer using Sonodyne studio monitors, since they outperform far more expensive competitors”. The BBC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation also use the Calcutta company’s hi-tech equipment.

Back home, the prolific concert-touring band Indian Ocean’s drummer Amit Kilam and vocalist-guitarist Sushmit Sen trust Sonodyne studio monitors for their “perfect detailing”. For prominent Bollywood sound designer Nakul Kamte of Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai fame, nothing but the SM 50 Aks from the New Alipore-based firm would do. Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen’s preferred sound engineer Anup Mukherjee too trusts “only Sonodyne” studio monitors.

The company, which provides in-store sound solutions to Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Shoppers Stop, Planet M, MusicWorld, Barista and Cafe Coffee Day outlets, among others, is now gearing up to increase its retail presence in India, with a re-launch of both its professional and domestic audio lines.

“We are planning at least five more flagship showrooms pan-India, including two more Sonodyne listening rooms in Calcutta by 2010. Besides, there’ll be at least 25 new counters and maybe five store-in-store formats to be unveiled by the next year-end. We aim to become the country’s largest speciality audio manufacturer in the next five years,” adds a company spokesperson.

Today, Sonodyne has three manufacturing locations, two R&D facilities, four branch offices and a national network of distributors, dealers and installers. The research is still spearheaded by Mukherjee Senior himself and the wing, called Mukherjee Innovation Centre, innovates not only in high-end home audio, but also in alternate enclosures for speakers, assisted listening devices, digital signal processing, disaster alarm systems and professional audio.

The company’s studio speaker range is currently distributed to Singapore, China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Australia and New Zealand. It participates in top international trade fairs like Music Messe (Frankfurt), IBC Amsterdam, Broadcast Asia (Singapore), and AES (New York) every year.

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