So I've owned two of the classic monster Krell amplifiers from the distant past, the KSA 50 and later the KSA 250. Both great amplifiers in their time and both collectible for those interested in that kind of stuff. I'm generally a fan of D'agostino as a consequence.
I'm currently shopping for a new solid state amplifier to pair with potentially new speakers (Wilson or YG or Von Schweikert or Magico or Joseph - long story for another day).
So recently while auditioning at my local dealer the system was powered by the current D'agostino M400 mono amplifiers. While the sound was good I couldn't help but notice how TINY the $65K amplifiers were sitting on stands near the speakers. OK they had nice metal work and were shiny but I couldn't help wonder WHY are these things so expensive?! Later at home photo's of the insides of these amps on Google led me to wonder even more!! The power supplies and interior construction in these things are nothing like the monster supplies and parts in the classic Krell's
Plus while the Krell's were expensive in their day (with great sound) the current D'agostino's have absurd pricing, far exceeding inflation.
Are people spending this kind of money for fancy heat sinks? Really?
I'd rather have an old Krell and a new Porsche Boxster or C8 Corvette for the same money.
D’Agostino is a brand that I believe appeals to an a’phile who primarily is concerned with the look of the case...and not so much the total SQ. While his amps and preamps don’t seem to fall down in the SQ department anywhere, I think they can be bettered by a number of competing products at equal and lower price points. You will not get the ’bling’ factor that his products are known for ( fancy casing, large dials and gauges etc) but you will get superior sound in some instances. IME, High end is solidly in the camp of price high/ high looks. This is a marketing decision based on an obvious knowledge of who the current high end/high price consumer is...and more importantly what he expects to spend for the ’look’. Your older KSA50 and KSA 250 were from a period when function was more important than form, now it is swinging the other way, IMO.
While I don't disagree with anything you're saying, I also know that yg acoustics uses D’Agostino amplifiers in their in-factory listening room. Given that they could afford to have anything in there, I do believe those amplifiers can be a preferred option under some use cases and there is more to the brand than bling. Unfortunately I've never gotten to hear any A/B's vs competition.
The OP never said anything in the initial post about the sound quality.
So what it's expensive? So is a lot of other stuff out there. Cars, clothes, airplanes, yachts, cameras, Art, and don't get me started on watches. Oh man!
How does it stack up (sound) in an A/B comparison with other similar quality and costs amps? That is the test. Don't change anything but the particular equipment to be tested.
I've heard these and other D'agostino products many times. I can tell you that they are top quality sound. He wasn't held back by the issues he encountered at Krell.
Yeah, they are expensive. So is Boulder, and a lot of other audio equipment out there. Everything here is relative. I don't even discuss the price of my equipment with people that don't know about or appreciate sound quality. They think I am crazy probably. But they have no problem distinguishing between a Subaru (nice, by the way) and a Mercedes S-class or Bentley. But go buy a Patek Phillippe watch and you are on the far side of nuts to them. Even an Omega watch may be too much.
One can critique the price-to-value ratio of an expensive product on an audiophile forum, right? That’s not ad hominem; that’s what is supposed to happen on an audiophile forum. No need to defend rich people’s “right” to waste their money. They already have all the cards they need to win, anyway.
I’ve heard the d’Agostino in München with S.Faber.. nice to see, but not to hear. Very expensive for that kind of sound. It’s beautiful to see, but that’s it. I propose CH , Nagra, Soulution , Wavac !! Ear, Jadis , Jeff Rowland. Speakers: Ilumnia Magister, Magico, Keff muon...
I heard a couple of the D'Agostino's running a giant pair of Magico speakers at Axpona in 2019. They were set up at the end of a deadend hallway surround on 2 sides by glass, and they made it sound like a live concert. It was one of the best sounding setups at the show, and the most amazing part was that it was in the back of a hallway, not even a room. Yea, crazy expensive, but sound amazing. -Geoff
I like the steam-punk style of his amps. Never heard one and probably never will. Often we get caught up in the marketing of parts inside the boxes and parts can make a difference, and several brands make a big deal about this and push it in their marketing. But are those parts put together to produce the sound you like? If not...do the parts matter? I like to get the best sound for money spent...that said, buy what you want and enjoy it! We will all leave this planet one day and you sure can’t take it with you!😀
We all know that looks & name play a factor in pricing. That is a given.
Something I don’t have a handle on is the R&D that goes into these components. That has to influence pricing. Given that major dealers are upgrading components practically each year, there must be quite a bit of R&D and testing that gets factored into costs,.
Many luxury products are designed, produced and marketed based on the well founded belief that their customers have a surplus of money and a scarcity of sense. The majority of us are constantly required to maintain some semblance of an equilibrium between our money and our sense of what to spend it on. The very wealthy have no such restrictions, possess the freedom to purchase products based on emotions that a surplus of money bestows and certainly have no responsibility of explaining their purchases to anyone . Money equals freedom in direct proportion, the more you have the freer you become and this freedom extends to the ability to buy wisely or stupidly. I'm pro-freedom, I admire and respect it and would definitely enjoy a bit more of it.
At AXPONA 2018 I talked to a guy from D'Agostino during a slow period on the last day. He told me how expensive and difficult it was to make the copper heat sinks and how they had to replace a bunch of them under warranty from early in the production run because the lacquer would flake off. The copper pieces have to be machined and coated within minutes because copper instantly starts to corrode. They could only find one machine shop with the capability to meet their standards and I'm sure that shop charged a hefty price. I was a little surprised about him being so open about the cost of a purely cosmetic feature of the amp.
I've seen the Momentums at a couple of shows and they really are beautiful. The term "audio jewelry" totally applies to these amps and I'm sure a significant part of their cost is the casework.
If I could afford them I would seriously consider buying them just as I would seriously consider an exotic car. I currently own a KSA 300S that I'm spending $3K to recap and renew so it will be good for another 20 years. It weighs 185 lbs and in my amp most of the copper is in the transformer instead of the heat sinks.
The Momentums sounded good but so do a lot of other amps. Dan has targeted a niche where appearance is a major selling feature of his top level amps. If you want an amp that has both beautiful casework and very expensive components D'Agostino has come up with the Relentless. For $250,000 you can have it all!
I call my system "Frankenstein". Lots of compromises due to space limitations and budget. Thankfully it works a lot better than Frankenstein's monster.
I've heard the D'agostino M400 monoblocks at Echo Audio in Portland, in their old space which was really terrible acoustically. That system sounded amazing. Maybe the best I've heard.
If I had the space and the budget and wanted to have a system that looks as good as it sounds, I'd definitely consider them. They don't fit my current situation, but that's no reason for me to disparage others who might find them just right for their situation.
M400's have an 1800 KV transformer as stated in this thread. I believe my KSA 250 has a 4500 KV transformer that by itself outweighs an entire M400 mono amp by 20 pounds or more. Just sayin'.....
I have nothing against paying a premium for a great product: in 1997 ordered and purchased a new air cooled 911, knowing it would be among the last of it's kind. Drove it to work this morning, and still love the build quality, engineering, look, feel and sound that will never be duplicated in a competing product.
Same with my SME V tonearm I purchased in 1990 and still use - a great high end product and totally worth what it cost at the time ($2500 though I paid less for a new one).
IMO no matter what it costs IF it's good value then it's worth it.
I'm not convinced D'agostino amps are in that category after at least a half dozen auditions and visual inspections.
Will admit they are pretty in a mini me sort of way … but since I'm more interested in sound AND value I could only consider one used at heavy discount (even then I'm not so sure).
Dan is a jerk. I can say that from extreme first hand experience backed up by my best friend who was with me at the time. The input selector of my Krell Ref 2 preamp had two dead contacts and the others were very scratchy. The unit was 11 years old. My friend and I bumped into Dan at the New York Hi Fi show. Must have been 1995 or so. Dan told us it was a custom part, there were none left and he was not going to have any more made. And I quote, " Go to radio shack and get a selector switch and just mount on top." Last a lifetime? My backside. Fortunately, nature saved the day and hit my house with lightening about a month later sending me into TacT land. One year later one of my Krell KMA 100s blew it's output stage. I traded them for a new set of ribbons for my Divas.
Clearthinker, you telling me that speakers are not overpriced? Maybe at the bottom end but at the top end like cartridges they are way overpriced. God bless Magnepan and Soundlabs. High end speakers at reasonable prices.
When I was at Axpona 2018, Paragon Audio had Wilson XLF’s powered by D’Agostino M300’s. That was (is) the most natural realistic dynamic sound I’ve ever heard. Everything they played sounded like live music. It brought tears to my eyes because of the cost. After that, I looked and looked and found a great pair of Wilson X1’s and life was grand. I was powering them with old Pass Labs Aleph 2 mono blocks. Just recently I ran across someone selling a pair of M300’s at a very good price and bought them to recreate those moments in Schaumburg. The difference between the Aleph 2’s and the M300’s is very subtle, even on very high resolution Wilsons. Is it worth the price difference? No. I do love them though. About Class D amps: If anybody thinks they sound as good as a quality Class A amp, you will benefit from better speakers. Specs can't measure how natural an amp sounds. Class D put a "veil" over the music. It’s almost exactly the same as comparing a well recorded vinyl record to its cd version (again, providing you have great equipment). Digital can sound great. But analog will always sound more natural, real and dynamic.
Lastly, of course it boils down to whether you can afford the equipment in the first place. Buy the best you can afford and enjoy it.
mg012, I love Class A amps and have not heard a class D amp that I would be tempted to buy but that is a gross generalization and I have a hard time equating vinyl playback vs CD to Standard VS Class D amplifiers
There are very good class D amps, but I don't think they will ever sound as natural as a class A amp. Class A amps are obviously much less efficient.
CD vs Vinyl is a good analogy to class D vs class A. Viny offers continuous information, class A uses continuous full bias, but digital music is broken up into bits and class D has variable bias. Both are solutions to reduce cost and increase efficiency and convenience.
bobbydd-----"I'd rather have an old Krell and a new Porsche Boxster or C8 Corvette for the same money"
I almost agree with you. I have a 35 year old Krell KSA-80B factory recapped driving my Apogee Scintilla One Ohms--and a BMW X3 30 e Hybrid. Feeding them with Roon/Nucleus+ and a Meridian Ultra Dac. Love them all.
after having owned many amps, i now run the Dagnostino Momentums and my "sound dreams" are fulfilled. My wife says, finally a piece of equipment that looks as good as it sounds. No regrets here on the cost. I have also found the company to be very responsive to my inquiries.
Let's not forget to factor in the level of R&D that goes into building these things. Even as simple as a heat sink can take 6-12 months to get right. If I was to guess (and I could be wrong) the copper used in the chassis is for more than just aesthetics.
Not saying it justifies the price, but if you like the sound, you are not only paying for the obvious parts and labor, you are paying for the process of getting you that sound. As an example, if it took a manufacturer 3 years to design and develop (time + money) then it is they need to get some sort of return on that investment. Even though it may seem otherwise, they really don't sell many of these in a year.
That being said, some of the pricing on really high end gear just shatters my mind, especially as it pertains to cables.