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Berlin very close to Fonel's headquarters

Here is a short email interview I conducted with DSB [left].

How did the brand Fonel come into being and what about its unusual made-in-Germany designed-in-the-Ukraine connection? One would assume manufacturing in Germany would be prohibitively expensive for a brand specializing in value-priced offerings. Does the name Fonel signify anything in particular?

Here is a brief time line of our company:
• 1999 - the beginning of R&D
• 2003 - the foundation of Fonel Audio GmbH
• 2004 - certification of production and R&D laboratories by Germany's VDE Prüf - und Zertifizierungsinstitut and issuance of the Е1 certificate.

We employ a team of 30 and operate two R&D facilities, one in Berlin, one in the Ukraine. We have fully equipped facilities for the development, engineering and production of small runs in either.

We conduct all our own development independently and have patents to protect it. We don't manufacture anything outside of Europe. If our own facilities cannot produce something, we order items like chassis and paint jobs from our Berlin subcontractors with whom we have established good relations and who can conform with our quality demands. We select and use the best parts from around the world and our basic design criteria are sound quality, build quality, reliability and ease of use.


Our beginning in 1999 was an attempt to create more perfect playback equipment which could reproduce the sound heard in a concert hall or recording studio without distortion. We already had sufficient experience with components from different manufacturers to understand both their limitations and how to improve the sound and user interface. Some on our team have a formal music education and 30+ years of design experience. We all love music and audio electronics. We thus began our design work only after a careful analysis of our combined backgrounds.

shaker table

By 2003 and after 4 years of intensive research we attained the desired result, a new circuit which fundamentally surpassed everything we had encountered before. After that we registered the brand Fonel and began formal production. Now it would be correct to say that we have another goal. We still aspire to create devices which concede nothing to or surpass the best of our competition. As professionals we know that we are capable. Our quality criteria are very strict. We should surpass ourselves each time. Only that is acceptable.  Moreover we remember that our gear should be priced to remain accessible to average music and electronics fans. 

Actually there is nothing unusual about our products being made in Germany but designed in the Ukraine. In the Ukraine we enjoy a big intellectual advantage and operate an excellent engineering staff with massive hands-on experience. Even so it is very difficult to actually manufacture there due to the poorly developed support infrastructure. Thus we operate two R&D facilities, one in each country. Each has complete sets of design, engineering and manufacturing equipment for small production runs but all final assembly and testing occur in Berlin. This split of duties within our organization suits us best at the moment. The name Fonel is from the Greek φωνή for sound and el for electronics to become sound electronics. The obvious meaning is the creation of devices capable of reproducing the original live sound.

Your website links to the Areon car audio brand. Do I assume that this is your higher-volume older operation which has and continues to fund the high-end home audio subsidiary?

You are correct in that Areon is our second brand for car audio. We developed the Fonel and Areon brands simultaneously and the latter achieved excellent results. Three of our Areon amplifiers over the course of several years took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the European reference class. Cars equipped with Areon amplifiers have won ten champion titles in car audio competitions. We eventually understood however how aggressive advertising is more important in that market than superior sound quality. Hence we ceased to pay much attention to that industry even though up to now our customers remain loyal to the brand and good showings in competitions continue. For example Jörg Wiederrecht recently became the silver medalist in the 5-channel master class.