Interview with Dan D'Agostino of D'Agostino Inc. and Matej Isak (Mono & Stereo)

Where it all started for you and audio?

My father loved music. We would listen to music on different audio components when I was a kid.

Would you consider yourself as an audiophile?

Yes I would.

Your history with Krell made you a living legend among high-end audio designers. Can you tell us a bit about your time with Krell and how you see your history there? 

My time with Krell started when people really enjoyed 2-channel audio systems. During that time I tried to enhance the enjoyment of music through 2-channel audio with the products I designed. I always created products to get the best sound from the components. It is all about the music.

Who inspired you most?

My father.

After all those years and great success you sold your par of the Krell and start your own company. Why?

It was not my intention to leave Krell. I was forced out by a hostile takeover.

We can see that many legendary names from high-end audio are going the same route. Recently Franco Serblin started his own speaker company and he shook the society with what most of them are saying, his best life's work. Why do you think this is happening? Why leaving after 20/30 years and starting on their/your own? 

I still enjoy designing and creating equipment that enhances people’s enjoyment of music. As with most designers, their best work comes in the later part of their life.

Would you say Momentum amplifier is also the culmination of your life's work?

Yes I would.

Momentum is a peace of art that captivate ones esthetic urge instantly. I'm all about classical Swiss watches and Momentum seems to radiate that special aura of elegance, precision, timeless beauty and even with that price part; a value?

Yes it is a value because it is handmade like a Swiss watch. It takes many of its ques from watch making.

What was exact inspiration of appearance?

A Breguet watch face with a rose gold case.

This is quite a step away from traditional Krell outlook. Lot less composing and much more intricate and refined? 

I agree. I always wanted to do something more aesthetically pleasing with high performance.

Copper is rarely used in massive elements. I adore the character of Copper that we can find in few of the world most recognized amplifiers (Kondo etc). Why copper?

Copper transfers heat 4x faster than aluminum therefore making it an excellent material for a heatsink.

Copper it’s very sensitive to work with as material. How did you manage to protect it’s own nature and oxidation while maintaining the proper heat disposal?

By chemically treating it and giving the copper a protective coating like a car finish.

You managed to blend aluminum and copper seamlessly. Hard work?

Yes it was very hard to conceive but the results are worth it.

Analog meter strikes you with its simplicity, yet avid elegance that reminds on some of the most classical watch dials. What is the story behind and what is it exact function?

The meter shows the power of the amplifier and is designed to look like a tourbillon watch. I used mineral crystal glass that is anti-glare treated like a high-end watch.

Can you tell us more about topology of Momentum? 

Momentum is purely analog, extremely high speed with through-hole components in a unique circuit design that allows for good sound.

From the specification it seems that you used ultra fast Sanken transistors. Can you tell us more? 

I picked the transistors for their speed, linearity and safe operating area.

How many transistors per channel?

The mono amplifier uses 28 power transistors in each unit.

The circuit board is assembled using through-hole construction. What’s so unique about this?

This was not unique 20 years ago. Now other manufacturers use surface mount. Through-hole sounds better and is more reliable for audio.

What is unique about Momentum electronics design?

The Momentum mono amp is designed with all original circuitry from my experience and the design will enhance the audio performance.

Class A/B? 


What do you think about pure A class? Is it a must for a true high-end performance?

No, it is not a must. Class A uses a lot of energy for very little performance difference.

Did you ever consider tubes?


Momentum seems to be greener (ecologically wise) and much smaller that  you would normally expect from the given specification. Can you elaborate?

The use of copper helps reduce the size. The copper conducts heat 4x faster so it takes less time to get warm. I designed the circuitry for a very low idle current.

I thought that high-end would fall into hibernate state, but last two years were exciting. Robert Koda Takumi amplifier, Miyajima Labs cartridges, Serblin Ktema speaker etc. It seems that something is building up? 

Maybe there is a new wave, I don’t know.

How did your past few decades of audio affected your vision with D'Agostino Inc? 

It made me more considerate of what people would like to look at and listen to.

Are there any companies that you still respect strongly?

There are many companies out there I respect.

40.000$ put Momentum out of reach for many music lovers. Why so much, many will ask?

Look at the materials we are using. We are also building and buying our materials in the USA. Each Momentum mono amp is hand built and tested in our facilities for quality control. It is much more difficult to make something smaller vs. large. Many watches cost more than automobiles.

Do you plan more affordable version of an amp?

Yes. Our stereo amplifier will be released in 2011.

Do you plan to introduce any other products?

The Momentum series will include the mono amplifier, preamplifier, high end rack, phono stage, cd player and stereo amplifier. (2011)

What is that sets Momentum above competition?

35 years experience in designing audio amplifiers that sound good!

These days you can get almost anything done in China. Many are saying that traditional high end appearance lost their classical value due over mass of power amplifiers that copied some of the traditional looks. How do you see this?

I see this as a trend I managed to change by building 100% in the USA and with all the parts procured in the USA.

How does audio world looks like through the eyes of Dan?

A shrinking market with sales available for the very best.

Is there specific company audio/sound approach or do you tend to be neutral sounding?

We tend to be neutral sounding but lean to the warm side.

Should musicality be the primal goal of audio designer or...?

It should be the primary goal but ugly amps never sound good!

Many companies are starting to use PWM class D amp's. What are your thoughts about it?

My thoughts are I hope I never have to do it.

Pure class A amplifier? An golden standard or?

My golden standard is my new Momentum amplifier.

What set your solid state design from others?


Are there some special and innovative approaches to standard solid state philosophy that you use with Momentum?

Yes but I am not at liberty to discuss.

What is the secret of Dan D'Agostino Inc.?

Our dedication to making all of our customers happy.

Is high price a must for such a unique product?

Only if you want it to look and perform the way it does. Why?

The cost of materials, labor, R&D, my standards in production, etc. When you see, feel and hear the Momentum you will not think it is overpriced.

Do you plan to introduce any more affordable products?

Yes. After the Momentum series, new products are planned for 2012.

What are your thoughts about past and present high-end society?

I think they are all good as long as their goal is to enhance the enjoyment of music.

Where do you think high-end audio is going?

Back to its roots.

Would you say that high quality is more affordable today or you have to pay premium price for best components and sound?

I think mediocre performance is much more affordable today but high performance is much more expensive. Look how much more a high priced automobile is compared to 20 years ago.

What is the goal of Dan D'Agostino Inc.?

To produce really high quality products that makes a difference in the sound quality of music and high end audio.

Designed and manufactured in USA?


Why Momentum seems to be so special and unique amplifier?

That is what I intended it to be. It is not for everyone but for the people who choose to listen to it, it is a very satisfying experience.

What was your goal when designing Momentum?

To make something beautiful, lifestyle friendly that sounds good. We have had hundreds of guests to our home (I love to cook!) and the majority of my guests are not interested in my stereo system. They love the look and size of the Momentum.

What is high-end reproduction for you?

Something that most closely resembles a musical event.

Who would you predict that Dan D'Agostino customers would be?

People who are on their 2nd or 3rd system and would like to enhance their life with beautiful things around them.

Any last thoughts for our readers?

Keep watching our website You will see many more exciting things over the next few years!

Matej Isak: text
Mono & Stereo high-end audio magazine
October 2010, All rights reserved