We Ask 10 Questions For High-End
Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various
high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may
surprise you! This month we're featuring Dan D'Agostino Of Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems.
Perhaps no name is more closely associated with high-end audio amplifiers than that of Dan
D'Agostino. During his career of more than 35 years, D'Agostino pioneered countless advances in the design of amplifiers, preamplifiers, CD players, and surround-sound processors. He is known as the audio
industry's most passionate promoter of high-quality, high-powered amplification. Makers of the
world's finest loudspeakers rely on D'Agostino-designed amplifiers for their most important demonstrations.
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A. My first memory of falling in love with music was listening to my aunt sing with the radio when I was 5. There was always music playing in my home growing up and there still is. I've always been in love with different sonic passages from female vocals to jazz and almost everything in between. My love for music and passion for design and engineering is how I created two successful hi-fi audio companies.
Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A. My father was a hi-fi enthusiast. He started building his equipment from
EICO kits, I became interested which lead us to building together. Creating quality sound from nothing and the mechanics stuck with me. After the Navy I went to UC Berkeley to continue that passion for engineering.
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A. Marantz 8B vacuum tube power amplifier. To my ears, the best tube amp that was ever made.
Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A. During 1979 I started my first audio company, Krell. After Krell, I still had a passion for engineering and designing products to be better and more musical. I started my current company, Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems in 2009. We are now designing and manufacturing out of our factory in Arizona with three series of products, new products and new upgrades to existing products. The option for customer's existing product to be upgraded is always there, we want all of our customers to feel the value in their product.
Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?
A. Our signature product was the Momentum Monoblock Amplifier, released in 2010. It was introduced as a 300 Watt into 8Ohm doubling down to 1200 Watts into 2 Ohm. My engineering team and I are constantly coming up with new ideas for new products as well as improvements. The Momentum Monoblock is an example of that, we have since upgraded the amplifier, everything from the output stage, inputs to power. The power today is 400 Watts into 8 Ohm doubling to 1600 Watts into 2 Ohm. It was the product that launched our signature feature, copper. We use copper as our heatsinks in the Momentum and Relentless line due to the heat conductivity. Function over feature is always how we design, it is a nice perk that the copper is aesthetically appealing.
Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?
A. Survival and competition from other manufactures. There are always challenges to starting any new business. I had a lot of ideas and designs; it was more of a passion than a job and still is. We have not stopped growing and now have our 7200 square foot factory in Arizona; everything is made by hand by our team of engineers and technicians. We've built an amazing company that is a great team, which produces quality products that sound absolutely wonderful. I am proud of that.
Q. How have your products evolved over the years?
A. We've evolved tremendously over the 10 years, major electrical and audio enhancements. My team of engineers and I are all from different background. Collectively we bounce ideas off of each other on how to enhance a product's functionality, to heat control, to custom-wound transformers. Our goal remains the same, we are always focused on the sound quality, we want and I believe achieve all of our products to be very musical.
Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A. That is hard to say, the numbers year over year point to our Momentum M400 Monoblock Amplifier. The Momentum Monoblock was our first product, remains our signature product and most popular which speaks to its desirability and sound quality. However we did release an upgrade to the Momentum Preamplifier, now the Momentum HD Preamplifier that is doing very well. Some would say that it is like producing a brand new product, the original Momentum Preamplifier was one of my best designs. The Momentum HD has blown it out of the water.
Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
A. Well, we have numerous designs and products in the mix that we have not yet released to the public. The newest product that I can tell you about, that has been a crowd favorite is our Progression Integrated. It is the Swiss Army Knife of Integrated amplifiers. The preamp from the Progression line with a lot of design from the Momentum HD. The power of the Progression Stereo, 200 Watts into 8 Ohm, 400 into 4 Ohm for each channel. The analog platform has two single-ended inputs and three balanced, including theater pass through. There is an option to add in a moving coil phono stage if the customer wants to use a turntable. There is another option to add in a DAC that allows for coaxial, optical, and USB inputs to join Ethernet and wireless for internet streaming. With more people streaming and the services getting better, we added the technologies Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify to stream. It is a really cool unit and our least expensive yet.
Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A. I believe voice command high-end audio. There is a lot of software and companies coming out with convenient products, not in high-end but we in the high-end industry have to keep improving to stay current while maintaining our values and real sound.