I really love the high-end and I'm not being facetious. So much of it just cost so much money. If I had the money I would love to listen to the ultra expensive stuff and let my ears decide. I'm a firm believer that incremental improvements cost some serous money. The improvements aren't worth it to some. For those that can afford it, I understand.
Meet Your Maker - Dan D'Agostino interviewExclusive talk with the top amplifier designer byAlan Sircom
Jun 01, 2015
The next thing I’m going to build is a new product line called the
Progression, set to be priced somewhere between $10,000-$20,000. The
first product in the line will be a big mono power amplifier, similar to
a Momentum but costing somewhere around $16,000-$18,000. And it will be
very powerful. I’m hoping that will appear before the end of the year –
I’ve told the factory ‘August’, which means I’ll probably finish it in
Once the Progression line is done, I’ll turn my attention back to the
Helius amplifier I’m building. Helius is truly a monster amplifier. It’s
made of three chassis – it’s got a ‘plus’ amplifier and a ‘minus’
amplifier because it’s a purely balanced design. People say they’ve made
a balanced design, but I don’t think anyone’s made a truly balanced
design like this. It’s got two completely mirror imaged amplifiers that
are virtually identical, only one is inverted from the other.
And then, I took the insides of the amplifier – all the bit stuff, the
transformers and electrolytics and power devices and heat sinks – and
put them all in one case. But no input board: the input board is inside
the base, fully isolated chamber with its own power supplies, and sits
below the amplifier on some suspension equipment made by Mike Lapis of
HRS fame. So there’s no vibration, then it’s totally sealed with µ-metal
and copper shielding around it so no influence from the amplifier.
The amplifier is built out of a solid block material, and the toroid is
10” in diameter and it’s seven inches tall. So the toroid itself
probably weighs about 130lb, and that is actually milled into a block,
the outside block of the amplifier; the toroid fits into a hole and is
The electrolytics capacitors, of which there are a total of 12 in the
two sides, comes out to 1.2F. Each transformer is 6kW, 12kW in total.
It’s got a giant copper heatsink; 10” tall, 28” long, and 1.5” thick.
That’s bolted to a piece of specially designed aluminium designed for
heat reduction in aircraft known as 5051, and each fin of that heatsink
is milled out whilethen the base is bolted to the outside of the
copper. And that’s three inches deep and of course 10” tall and 28” long
– it’s a single piece. And that’s the heatsink for the output stage.
The capacitors, and power supplies are all in this great big block. If
you imagine the block is 11” deep, 10” tall, 28” long – that’s where the
block starts – and then it’s hollowed out to fit the transformer and
the six electrolytics. Then in the back – where it’s ‘empty’ – is where
the protection circuits and the hook ups and all that go, then that part
is slid onto that heatsink, there’s bolts that go through the inside
web of the heatsink to hold that block on, so it’s one rectangle.
If you add up all the parts, the amplifier is going to weigh 780-800lbs.
Per channel. Each plus amplifier and minus amplifier has its own cord;
it’s designed to run on 220V or 240V… it doesn’t run on 110V. And you
need two of them for each channel.
It’s got an extraordinarily gorgeous meter on the front. It’s about
10-12” in width, and six inches high that sits on the front. It’s really
strange – it’s almost Bauhaus in design, but looks like a Momentum from
another dimension. This is not that big for the kind of power it will
produce, though, because it will produce up to 20,000W into one ohm!
Once I get the Progression amplifiers done, this is next in line. I
would love to have it ready for CES, but maybe I’ll just show the case. I
have the metalwork ready. But it will definitely happen by March next
year. Or maybe CES 2017!
You need to chill. He was only making a joke, just like I was when I said you need your own nuclear power plant to operate them. Personally, I will quietly stick with my McIntosh at about 2% of the price of his amp. No one was bashing Dan.
stereo5, Don't get too upset by those comments. Jealousy is a terrible thing. I'm sure that many of us would love to try or own them if we had the room and the funds. At very least, they will be a thing of beauty. Of course, 95% of us wouldn't need that much power.
What's really interesting is that a friend of ours is good friends with Dan's daughter. She has no clue about fine audio and when she mentioned the name I asked about his background. She said it was "something like that". I wonder if I could arrange a private listening session? (in my dreams)
Dan D'Agostino is a great amp designer no doubt, however, some of his later work at Krell is total crap, The Showcase HT processor comes to mind along with the KAV series with insufficient cooling. The
KAV-250a, KAV-250a/3, KAV-500i and KAV-1500 were recently recalled for this problem.
That’s an old issue, nearly 10 years old. ’Recently recalled’, on a 10 year old design.
Eg, that would never really happen in most other consumer industries - that would be end of life stuff that is expected.
We know that we expect longer lifespans out of audio gear, though. We hope for 10 year old audio gear to be the equivalent of maybe mid 30’s age (compared to human lifespans). We’ve come to expect and demand it as part of the high end package..
Overstating it in the negative is not the best thing to be doing....(not that I need to be here defending anything -just sayin’, kinda thing. More like playing the other side of the reasoned debate table).
No ones even mentioned this thought; Maybe some of us have a limited range of hearing! Oh my! Could you be one of those? Really, I go to audio shows and super expensive speakers and amps don't do anything for me. Maybe, just maybe my ears aren't that great. This is the untalked about subject. Does anyone else think their ears aren't up to hearing the uber best? Joe
My Dennis Had amp is hand made and cost 1200 bucks used (it was new less than 6 months before I bought it). I realize it's somewhat less that 1500 watts (around a thousand times less actually) but serves to make the point that not all great sounding things are expensive.
The good folks at McIntosh build the MC 2KW amps with nearly the exact same aproach of one chassis for negative, one for positive and one for the power supply. Not 800 lbs or 250k but still impressive in the approach.
I used to think Krell was so awesome, and I had a Krell amp for over a decade. But I'm over it. The truth is, Dan D'Agostino is not in the top tier of amp designers-- he's no Nelson Pass or John Curl. It's all about more more more and overkill. His latest creations are the Bugatti Veyron of amps (and that's not a compliment). And here's the sad economic reality: a Wall Street hedge fund tricked him and pushed him out of Krell when it was in desperate shape financially, so now he's selling stuff at crazy prices to try to rebuild his fortune at a late stage in life.
Stick with Pass and Curl for the best sound. D'Agostino and all the Swiss companies are just aiming for people who piss money away.