No matter what industry you are in, there are always a select few people that are able to make a name for themselves as being the best at what they do. In the hi-fi world, when it comes to amplification, Dan D’Agostino is the man.
Dan’s reputation was built by his decades in charge of Krell, which he founded in 1980. Though Krell built a variety of great high-end products including CD players, speakers and even subs, if you ask any audiophile about Krell, they will most likely talk about their amps.
So what makes Krell amps so revered amongst those in the know? In simple terms, it’s the authority that they give. Krell amplifiers are able to control every note from top to bottom, meaning they are able to get the speaker to do exactly what it should be doing. Krell amps keep every note dynamically, positionally and tonally accurate.
So when Dan left Krell in 2009, it came as no surprise to most that he would start his own Dan D’Agostino range off with amplifiers.
Dan has not shied away from his reputation; in fact he wanted to cement it even further with his new collection. The ‘Momentum’ range shows tremendous ambition. From the design, the price and the fact that every piece bears his signature on the front, you get the impression that D’Agostino has set out to build his masterpieces.
Having a piece as stunning to look at as the Momentum Integrated in our showroom, I felt it was my duty to truly sit down and review it. I wanted to know if Dan has been able to improve on the great amps he made at Krell, and if so, by how much?
An amplifier of this quality deserves a true high-end source and some fantastic speakers, so I used the dCS Vivaldi system for the source and plugged in the Wilson Audio Alexia speakers. These are two of my favourite products we have in store so I was expecting big things.
To my eyes, this amplifier is beautiful. I find the solid aluminium (somewhat industrial) look illustrates the level of precision involved in manufacturing a product like this. Amplifiers are most the time stuck at the bottom of a rack, whilst the record or CD player is the showpiece of the system. This is not the case here; this amp will be a focal point in any room. This is just my opinion though; I know it is not to everyone’s tastes. I’m sure you will have already made your mind up as to whether or not you like the D’Agostino aesthetic. I have spoken to people on both sides of the fence.
The Momentum is a fully balanced Class A/B design. It is a two part system with a power supply unit which sits underneath the amplifier. The base of the amp has 4 spikes which helps isolate the amplifier and control the resonances.
The amplifier section is rated at 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 400 watts per channel into 4 ohms. So it packs a punch if necessary. There are some nice added features including tone controls, standby, phase, balance, mute and home theatre pass through.
As soon as the music began I could hear that the authority of Krell was still there. The bass was controlled but powerful, the amplifier never let the bass get ahead of itself. The separation was also impressive, everything was clear and defined, and there was no smudging to the sound at all.
Now, this is when it gets really interesting. Yes, the authority of Krell amplifiers is there, but what Dan has managed to do is add more musicality to the sound. When I put on a well recorded track like ‘We Know Who U R’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, every instrument was so expressive, I could hear the wood of the instruments, voices were so realistic, and there was just a real natural warmth to the sound.
The aim of all hi-fi should be to create a representation as close to live music as possible. For me, the Momentum Integrated amplifier gets supremely near the real thing. It is able to make you believe you are listening to live music and not a hi-fi reproduction of live music.
I tested this out with a few live recordings including a version of ‘Rip it Up’ by Edwyn Collins and it was so impressive. The soundstage and imagery was such that I could close my eyes and pick out exactly where each instrument was coming from.
I then switched the speakers from the Alexias to the Magico S5. I listened to ‘Exit Music (From a Film)’ by Radiohead and I was so engaged. The end of the song builds to a crescendo followed by a few softly sung lines with a rumbling wind in the back ground. Listening to this through the Momentum had me feeling like a storm was passing right over my head.
Testing this amplifier out on the Wilsons and the Magicos showed me that this amp can really get the best out of your speakers, whatever they may be. There are a few little niggles to this amp that people might not like – the design isn’t for everyone, it is all balanced inputs, and it had to warm up for a while before I got the best results from it. However, it is obvious to me from listening to this amplifier that Dan D’Agostino is a man with a deep understanding of music to have engineered an amplifier capable of this type of performance. If you are looking to create the sound of live music in your home, you need to come in and try this amp for yourself.
Reviewed by Lewis Prince
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the Momentum Integrated Amp.