Blackie Pagano: Audio Artisan

In this video I profile New York-based tube electronics technician Blackie Pagano, who fixes and upgrades "anything that makes or passes music and utilizes vacuum tubes." I first learned of Blackie when looking for a repairman to take my Fisher 800-C to. JA, Herb, and everyone I asked said—without hesitation—"You have to take it to Blackie. He's the best for the job."

Blackie's been a tube audio mechanic and high-performance audio builder for over 25 years, but before that, he worked as a roadie, live sound engineer, recording engineer, and studio technician. His client list includes David Bowie, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Prince, The Strokes, and a slew of notable musicians. In addition to repairing and upgrading, Blackie also does custom builds, and recently released a bass preamplifier through Kickstarter that Herb wrote about in 2015.

In this video, Blackie takes us on a tour of his Lower East Side repair shop and evaluates a kit-built sample of Dynaco's classic Stereo 70 tube amplifier.

ken mac's picture

The visuals of all Jana's videos are great, but I especially like the sounds: the clang of metal, screws unscrewing, jingle jangle jiggle wiggle....adds intimacy. Nice!

jimtavegia's picture

JVS and AD are on a roll. MF's $30K tonearm is a little out of my league, but a fun read. More than my first two houses for crying out loud.

Glad to see Quad back. I heard a pair at Underwood Wally's place (Underwood HiFi) and was so sad that they were and are out of my league, but everyone needs to hear them if they get the chance. Very special presentation. Amused To Death was remarkable on them.

tonykaz's picture

People will be looking at these Jana Videos a hundred years from now.

They'll be looking at the earliest days of Electronic Music.

If Blackie does quality work he'll need to start Autographing it, it's gonna be worth Big Bucks from now on!

Tony in Michigan

soundhound's picture

Just a note worth noting; Blackie identifies the bias rectifier diode in the Dynaco Stereo 70 amplifier as being germanium. That is incorrect. It is in fact a _selenium_ diode which was in very common use in the days of the original Dynaco amplifiers. He was correct that it needs to be replaced as a matter of routine as they build up internal resistance as they age.

Let's just keep the facts straight, please!

Howard Swayne's picture

The late Walt Bender, one of the last of the Western Electric guru's, told me that Germanium is actually the best material for making sonically excellent transistors but is to soft and will not hold leads...or something like that, its been a while.

soundhound's picture

Probably ture! Ampex used germanium transistors in the early AG-350 tape machines which recorded many records of the period in the mid 1960s. Germanium transistors had the disadvantage of being more fragile than the silicon transistors which followed - and when transistors fail, things usually burn! Germanium transistors and diodes have a lower voltage drop than silicon, but that isn't such a big deal. When low voltage drop is needed now, Schottky diodes are used.

For AC rectification duties, when vacuum tubes were not used, selenium rectifiers were the norm (as in the bias supply of Dynaco tubed amplifiers and many other brands).

JL Main's picture

Thanks Jana for the tour of Mr. Pagano's shop. There has always seemed to be a very short list of people that do this kind of repair and restoration work. Our consumer culture is almost completely focused on "the new." It's good to know that Blackie is still out there doing the Lord's work saving one tube amp at a time. And the most important tool in his toolbelt...the taser.