Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' Eye Candy

Given Dan D'Agostino's products recent awards—Stereophile Joint Amplification Component of the 2013 for the original Momentum monoblock amplifier, and CES 2014 Innovations Design and Engineering awards for the Momentum preamp—it's no wonder everyone was buzzing around the new Momentum integrated amplifier ($45,000). Manufactured in—you're going to love this—Carefree, AZ, the Momentum integrated is a no-compromise design that includes the same preamp and stereo boards used in the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' separates.

It offers six balanced XLR inputs and bypassable tone controls, and delivers more than 200Wpc into 8 ohms and 400 into 4. It also draws less than 1W of power in standby mode, which is a very, very good thing. Although I couldn't listen to the baby, it was paired with Wilson Audio Duette 2 loudspeakers—significant because Wilson's Peter Mc Grath has raved to me about the combination of D'Agostino and Wilson.

Et Quelle's picture

This might be one of the few amps that is actually price justifiable.

xsipower's picture

Mr. Quelle,

What is your explanation for saying that the $45,000 price is justifiable?

I really wonder if this product would get as much acclaim if it did not have it's ostentatious case and the reputation of it's designer. I really wonder how much of our listening perception is influenced by what we see and want to believe. The "High-end" industry is not dumb, they know that making it look expensive, having a reputable designers name is the largest justification of the price. What's inside, the circuitry, does not require rocket science to make them measure and sound good. As long as the engineers follow very well know techniques to make the amplifying components operate in their most linear regions, use local feedback, all of which then minimize global feedback and higher order harmonics.

I'm sure there are a lot of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing in this business. I don't mean people, but the products. I've been reading Stereophile for a long time and what strikes me is the discrepancy between the measurements and the listening review. Some of the products measure quite poorly compared to others, yet the listening review says wonderful things. Other times it's the other way around. Some argue that this is because we don't have instruments that can measure what the ear-brain perception does. That's partially true. We have instruments that can actually measure far better than the human ear can, but we do not have instruments that can reproduce the interface between the subjective ear and the object brain perception of sound. Will we? I don't think we will.

As with any human endeavor, experience and training are capable of honing and amplifying a persons abilities. There are people who are blind who have gained the ability to "see" using their ears. The visual cortex has been rewired to their ears, thus allowing them to see their surrounds very similarly to bats. What a marvelous device the brain is. But that's not the whole story. We aren't simply listening device, we have what no oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer has and that is consciousness. The ability to be aware that we are hearing music. That consciousness is like a flash light that when turned to something that we want to pay attention to it become perceived. everything that is not illuminated is unknown and therefor does not exist at that moment.

That consciousness most of the time has to wade through a storm of sensory input as well as thoughts and memories that constantly bombard it. What music is capable of doing at times is making our awareness only focus on it, so that everything else disappears. That's the "wow" moment, when your whole being is lost, even time disappears and you and the music seem to merge. I'm sure I'm not alone, but this has happened to me listening to music through a crappy car stereo. It didn't require $$$$ of equipment to do it. What was required was for me to not be distracted my anything, but to let go. Of course this letting go can happen more easily when the mind is relaxed, the sound quality is good and the perceived environment is conducive to that transition, from "I am listening to music" to simply "listening to music".

What is the maximum distortion allowable for that transition to happen 0.0001% or 5%. How flat a frequency response and temporal accuracy is required? The answer depends on who is listening, because what each one of us deems as distracting or not conducive to enjoying the music depends on or personal ability to get into the zone of true perception, of getting past the noise of our environment and our own minds.

So is $45,000 justifiable? For some it just might require that much money, but for others it might be a fraction of that to attain the holly grail that music lovers aspire for, to be swept away with music, to be in that beautiful and enrapturing holistic realm of losing oneself in the music. 


corrective_unconscious's picture

Low content to word count ratio. Approach with caution.

shel243's picture

Well played, CU, very well played!