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Sonifex Marks 50th Anniversary

Broadcast audio gear manufacturer celebrates 50 years of changing with the times.

Irthlingborough, UK (April 12, 2019)—Broadcast audio gear manufacturer Sonifex celebrated its 50th anniversary in March. Sonifex designs and manufactures audio products for the radio and TV industry and currently exports more than 70% of its products out of the UK.

The company was founded by Paul Brooke in April, 1969, started in the front room of his house in Wellingborough, UK. While Brooke had trained as an electronic engineer at Marconi, he had been recently laid off from an electronics job and used the time to start designing and making a mixer that he could sell to film and recording studios in London. Doing bespoke electronic design work became his trade and in 1973, he moved to a factory in Irthlingborough.

In the late 70s and early 80s, Sonifex become known for designing and building successively better cart machines used for playing radio jingles, and higher sales led to the company moving in 1985 to where it is today—a purpose-built factory in Irthlingborough. Cart machine sales increased rapidly during the late 80s, resulting in, at one point, a 35-week lead time for cart machines from Sonifex.

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Always a family-run business with various relatives working as part of the staff, son Marcus Brooke took over the company as MD in 1994. Since then, the company has had to reinvent itself a number of times as technologies change product demands and categories. Cart machines were redesigned to floppy disk cart machines to PC-based playout systems; tape-based loggers changed to hard disk-based loggers to software loggers; analog audio made way for digital audio to now IP audio. The company’s current-day Redbox range of analog and digital audio interfaces grew out of this need to keep pace with the times.

Nonetheless, some things haven’t changed. All Sonifex products are designed and manufactured in house in Irthlingborough. The R&D team still does its own analog and digital circuit, hardware and software design. A surface mount manufacturing line was introduced in 1996 and was replaced with a newer line in 2011, able to place dense BGA FPGAs and small components. An engineering workshop has CNC machines to manufacture the product chassis, front and rear panels for more than 150 different Sonifex product lines.

Today, Sonifex estimates there are a quarter of a million Sonifex products on the market, with the majority of those sold to more than 120 countries worldwide.

MD Marcus Brooke commented: “It’s hard to summarize 50 years of a business; there are so many memories and so many events. On a day to day basis, we don’t sit back and reflect on what we’re doing; we just get on with the work in hand. But really, we ought to genuinely marvel at the huge range of skills that we’ve got in-house, and the level of detail and quality that we achieve in our work in our small factory in Irthlingborough. I’d like to thank all of the staff that we’ve had over those 50 years and all of our amazing customers that have bought and used our products. Without them, we’d be nothing at all.”

Sonifex •