Dan D’ Agostino Progression Power Amplifier
Dan D’Agostino is one of the most famous audio designers in the World and the name is synonymous with quality sound and of course amplifier design.
I first heard of him as he originally designed amplifiers for Krell back in the 1980’s and I remember hearing the KSA50 and KSA100 Class A amplifiers for the first time and being absolutely astounded by the sound quality. Even by todays standards they are among the best power amplifiers ever made. At that time I didn’t really understand the differences between the Krell Class A amplifiers and the normal Class AB but I certainly heard the difference. Essentially Class A amplifiers are able to immediately transfer dynamics much faster than Class AB designs so everything sounds much more like a live performance, the downside is that the Class A designs run very hot and use more electricity. However given that they are generally very expensive designs customers who can afford them probably are not too bothered about using a bit more electric.
Since then Dan has parted company with Krell and set up his new company Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems. Initially only one range was available the Momentum which has expanded into integrated, phono stage and pre and power amplifiers. However there are now two less expensive ranges the Progression range which features both pre and power amplifiers and the Classic range which feature a two channel and three channel power amplifiers. There is even a Master Reference Series amplifier which come with a POA.
However the product we are focusing on for the purpose of this review is the Progression Stereo Power Amplifier which sells for a hefty £24,998 so it is a very serious product and unfortunately only affordable by a relatively small number of people. Thats a great shame because not only is this an exceptional amplifier by sonic standards but it is a work of art aesthetically.
What makes this amplifier special is the design and the use of the innovative Super Rail Circuitry which delivers amazing control and high fidelity sound to the speaker. Each amplifier employs two voltage rails, a positive and a negative one which deliver the power to the loudspeaker. Normally the issue for an amplifier is that there are limitations and the music signal never fully reaches the output rails full capacity. The Progression Power amplifier much like a turbo in a car engine employs higher voltage rails and this boost allows the music signal the rails full potential resulting in better dynamics, lower distortion and better control. This amplifier puts out 300 watts per channel into 8ohms but doubles to 600 watts per channel in 4ohms and then can produce 1200 watts per channel into 2ohms. Now perhaps you start to understand why this amplifier is expensive.
With Dan D’Agostino you have to talk about how stunning this product looks. Now I don’t want anyone to think that you are simply paying for a pretty product here but there is absolutely nothing wrong, in my humble opinion, with a product looking as good as it sounds. The look is inspired by Swiss watch design with a really cool exposed Power Meter on the front with two 90 degree needle swing arm power meters. Standard finishes include black and silver but custom finishes are also available.
The sound from this amplifier is simply effortless, all the best audio equipment always sounds like it is not even trying and the Progression amplifier is no different. Music simply flows from it with a pure sound which is almost reminiscent of a Single ended Triode valve amp but with the ability to drive pretty much any speaker at serious levels. Musicality is something which I believe is crucial in any quality audio component and this amp has it in spades. The high frequency is completely free from grain or any brightness or hardness, the midrange is open and delicate and instruments like piano are produced with incredible realism, the bass is fast and dynamic yet is also deep and controlled and bass lines can easily be followed.
When listening to this amp for the first time it immediately reminded me of the sound of the Krell KSA50 I heard all those years ago so Dan D’Agostino has definitely not forgotten his roots. Lightning fast dynamics, exceptional control, musicality, subtlety, delicacy, you just run out of superlatives in trying to describe how good this amplifier is.
Of course you do need to run this product with good quality ancillaries and I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a YBA Signature preamplifier, a pair of Audiovector SR6 Avantgarde speakers, a YBA Passion CD player and some Titan Audio Nemesis silver interconnect and speaker cables as my normal system is simply not good enough to be able to appreciate all that this amplifier is capable of.
You may have gathered that I really like this amplifier, that would be an understatement. I really dread the fact that I only have this beauty for a very short time and I really don’t know how I am going to live without it and some of the other equipment kindly lent to me.
The downside of reviewing equipment, especially equipment that you can’t afford and are never likely to be able to afford is that it is very hard to go back and listen to anything else. Thats the rub really and the only fault I can honestly point at Dan D’Agostino and his Progression Power amplifier is that it is very expensive. I’m not saying it is not worth the selling price, it most certainly is, if you can afford it. Its just that so few people will be able to experience it and thats a crying shame because it is so special.
If you even get the chance to hear any of Mr. D’Agostino’s amplifiers do so. Honestly, it is an experience that you are unlikely to forget. I think the term Hi-Fi is used to describe everything from a small mini system to separates at every price. However, don’t forget the term Hi-Fi is short for High Fidelity and that only really applies to high-quality audio equipment. The Progression Stereo Power Amplifier is most certainly High Fidelity and to date remains one of the best power amplifiers I have ever heard. I can’t imagine how good the Momentum and the Master Reference Series amplifiers must be.