Dan D’Agostino Progression Mono monoblock power amplifier

For as long as I’ve known about high-end audio, I’ve put Dan D’Agostino, co-founder of Krell, on the same pedestal reserved for the likes of Frank McIntosh, Saul Marantz, Avery Fisher, H.H. Scott, and Sidney Harman. The reason is simple: Dan’s the man whose achievements at Krell led me from the harsh sound of my first high-end amp into another dimension, one of truly musical sound reproduction.

I still recall the layout of the room where I first met D’Agostino—at an audio show, years before I began writing for Stereophile. I introduced myself in a trembling, fan-boy voice. (I did the same with John Atkinson.) Not many years later, when I found myself the owner of a Krell KSA-50S, its imaging blew me away. While the amp didn’t entirely meet my needs, my Krell experience only deepened my appreciation for D’Agostino’s work.

At the end of 2009, Dan and Krell’s cofounder, Rondi D’Agostino, were forced out of the company by what Dan terms a “hostile takeover,” but he wasted no time in founding Dan D’Agostino Master Systems. The company soon released a series of expensive Momentum amplifiers and preamplifiers, whose sound and distinctive “audiophile jewelry” enclosures further solidified his reputation as a cutting-edge designer (footnote 1). Now comes the less expensive but hardly plain-Jane Progression series.

The moment I heard the first pre-production pair of Progression monoblocks ($38,000/pair), driving Wilson Audio Alexx loudspeakers at Definitive Audio’s 2016 Music Matters event, I wanted them to be the first amps I would review for Stereophile. Alas, when D’Agostino’s longtime associate Bill McKiegan visited my home to install the first pair of Progression monoblocks manufactured in their initial, limited production run, technical problems intruded: First, a loose ribbon cable in one monoblock’s chassis caused it to emit a loud noise. Although McKiegan easily reattached the cable—its new header and pin should prevent future problems—both monoblocks…

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